Most Americans are able to identify their favorite apple by name from the handful of varietals available at most supermarkets.
Most Americans are able to identify their favorite apple by name from the handful of varietals available at most supermarkets. Consumers use varietal information in selecting the particular fruit and in anticipating their flavor or use (some varietals are better suited for cooking than others). Only certain fruits and vegetables are actually identified by varietal name – think pears, lemons, and avocados – and even these are limited at many groceries. The majority of consumers believe a lemon is a lemon, and that different varieties are quite rare.
The reality is that there are actually hundreds of varieties of fruit grown in the United States. In the quest to bring Americans closer to their food, allowing consumers the opportunity to gain familiarity with and choose from different varietals seems only logical. Encouraging the consumption of more whole foods or those with a short ingredient list, and preparing and cooking more meals at home, are only small parts of the equation. Appreciation and greater understanding of food can be met by the introduction of new varietals at supermarkets.
Introducing varietals at supermarkets provides retailers and farmers with a wonderful marketing opportunity that plays into the idea of getting to know your food, supporting local (within 100 miles) and regional growers, as well as eating more seasonally and sustainably. Sure, the simple commercial nomenclature may be more convenient for sorting, packing, marketing, and checkout, but the Lempert Report strongly believes in celebrating food, which absolutely includes promoting the different varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, and more available throughout the country.
Consumers should be aware that there are different variations of yellow peaches, red plums, green grapes, and so on, and be able to select the varietal that best suits their palate or cooking needs – while at the same time understanding the seasonality of such items. Retailers can spice up advertising by promoting different varieties and by holding in-store tastings so consumers can compare flavor and aroma side by side.
Having variety on our farms and our plates not only celebrates America, but also really allows consumers to get closer to their food, an important key in tackling our nation’s obesity crisis.