National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Salad bars - good. Industry effort wanted. More study needed.

Those nine words sum up the March 8 edition of the Perishable Pundit, which devoted 13,317 words to the topic of salad bars. Good perspectives and interviews, of course. Remarkable loquaciousness, especially considering that I have it on good authority that the Pundit types hunt and peck style.

By the way, this 2005 research drawn from Southern California schools said this about the prospects of salad bars as a path to increase fruit and vegetable consumption at schools:

“Environmental interventions combined with educational approaches may be needed to effectively promote children’s fruit and vegetable consumption at school. This study suggests that merely providing a self-service salad bar is not a sufficient intervention to improve elementary school children’s fruit and vegetable intake. However, salad bars with more variety were associated with higher intakes. If confirmed in further studies, salad bars with a high variety of fruits and vegetables may become a recommended strategy for meeting national fruit and vegetable intake goal.”

 With targets for industry-donated salad bars set ever higher and with the help of many industry leaders pulling the same direction, the once-envisioned "recommended strategy" is becoming a reality.


I was talking to with a couple of Northwest leaders the other day and our conversation turned to the apple economy. The price strength of Washington apples is something to marvel at, considering the state's fresh crop this year is busting out at near 130 million cartons, up an absurd 21 million cartons compared with the non-too-shabby 109 million carton crop of last season.

Because of the shorter crops in the Midwest and East, apple buyers have supported the ample crop in the Northwest with higher prices. Through March 9, the average price for fresh apples in Washington were $25.90 per carton, up from about $22.49 per carton a year ago.

Even with orchards devoid of their normal bounty in Michigan and New York, the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association reported that March 1 U.S. fresh apple holdings of 63.3 million cartons were up 13% from a year ago.

U.S. Apple reported that a whopping 61 million cartons of that total were found in Washington state. For those of you in Rio Linda, that’s an astounding 96% of the U.S. total apple holdings.

Big gains in fuji inventories were noted compared with last year; March 1 holdings of fujis were 9.8 million cartons, up from 5.8 million cartons the same time a year ago. Red delicious and gala holdings were also up, but not as big as fujis.

The last USDA retail price report for fruits and vegetables shows that retail promotions of fuji apples are way up compared with a year ago. The USDA reports that 4,673 retail stores were promoting fujis at an average price of $1.26 per pound on March 22. Last year at the same time, only 2,440 retail stores were promoting fujis, at an average price then of $1.20 per pound.

Exports from Washington state are also doing well, with 21.6 million boxes shipped abroad by the end of February, up 8.3% ahead of last year. Check out weekly apple shipment trends here.

Looking ahead, there is plenty of uncertainty ahead for the apple industry. The scope of future production seems daunting, particularly if a full crop in Washington is met with vigorous crops from Michigan and New York.

Not only does the size of the U.S. apple crop have the potential to grow, the number of apple varieties is also climbing.

Noted economist Desmond O’Rourke wonders if the proliferation of proprietary apple varieties – nearly every major apple marketer has a selection or two - will lead to the imposition of “slotting fees” by retailers. Are too many apple varieties vying for shelf space?

What do readers think?  Check out the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group question about the prospect here.

Are slotting fees an acceptable method to help retailers determine what varieties/brands are displayed? For example, fees for new apple varieties seeking shelf space? Why or why not?


Looks like Food Chemical News is getting credit for the discovering the Office of Management Budget edited versions the produce safety rule and the preventive control rule for food facilities. For the record, I saw the edited version of the food safety rule some time ago and noted it in a March 1 Fresh Talk post.