Consumer interest in cooking at home skyrocketed during the pandemic, and Ryan Peterson, director of produce and floral for Jimbo’s, said the San Diego retail chain has continued to see strong organic produce sales in response to this trend.
“During COVID, customers invested in at-home cooking through kitchen remodels, outdoor cooking and dining spaces, self-education on new produce and ingredients, and expanding their palate to new flavors and cooking techniques,” Peterson said. “Our shoppers come to Jimbo’s looking for the best ingredients for their meals, and they’ve shown that they’re willing to pay more for items that are full of flavor and healthy.”
Ryan Peterson, Director of Produce and Floral, Jimbo's
Peterson said he believes the home culinary trend will continue, especially as ongoing inflation causes consumers to tighten their budgets and reduce how much they eat out. “It is crucial that we meet this demand by providing the highest-quality, best-tasting organic produce possible, staying consistent with our fresh and in-stock conditions daily,” he said.
Jimbo’s has prioritized organic produce since its inception in 1984, and its produce department has been exclusively organic since 2018.
Jimbo's organic produce department
“Jimbo’s has one of the strictest product ingredient standards in the industry. At the core of these standards, we are proudly committed to a 100 percent organic produce department,” Peterson said. “Organic produce ensures the health of consumers, the farmworkers, and the environment. Customers can shop in our stores with the comfort of knowing that whatever they are purchasing has met our standards and is a great choice for their families and the environment.”
In addition to ensuring a robust supply of organic produce for a surge in home cooking, Jimbo’s has a number of other recent developments related to its produce department.
“It is crucial that we meet [the home-cooking] demand by providing the highest-quality, best-tasting organic produce possible, staying consistent with our fresh and in-stock conditions daily.” - Ryan Peterson
Over the last year, the retailer has been working on an initiative to source all its packaged nuts from small California organic farms.
“All of the nuts you find in our produce department are grown and harvested from single-family orchards,” said Peterson. “Customer feedback on quality and sales have been outstanding in the category. The nuts that we feature are Santa Barbara Pistachio Company raw and flavored pistachios, Frog Hollow Farm almonds, Ferrari Farms red and Chandler walnuts, and soon to arrive for the first time in our stores—local San Diego-grown Dickinson Family Farms macadamia nuts!”
Dickinson Family Farms organic macadamia nuts
Late last year, Jimbo’s rolled out a new labeling initiative for hydroponic produce. “We decided to begin labeling on our signs any produce that is grown hydroponically,” Peterson said. “We feel strongly that the more information we can give our customers about our products, the better they can make decisions on what they would like to purchase.”
Jimbo’s is also making a storewide effort to support the new Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) seal, though Peterson noted it will take some time for the retailer to build up its ROC produce offerings due to the fact that there aren’t many ROC fresh produce operations yet.
“Regenerative organic agriculture is in its infancy, and just as we did in the early days of organics and the USDA seal, we highly encourage all brands to achieve Regenerative Organic Certification,” Peterson said. “Partnering with farms and manufacturers, we can help many producers accomplish the ultimate goal of Regenerative Organic Certification and ensure a future with healthy soil, thriving ecosystems, animal welfare, and farmworker fairness!”
Jimbo's recycled material pulp-fiber avocado cartons
Peterson noted that eco-friendly packaging and plastic reduction are a “huge trend” in the organic produce industry and said that Jimbo’s has been working with its vendors to identify environmentally friendly options. “One of our most successful partnerships has been with local San Diego grower Dickinson Family Farms. Partnering together, we found a solution to replace plastic net bags for avocados with a recycled material pulp-fiber egg-type carton that is home compostable.”
Peterson said Jimbo’s has also been expanding its eco-friendly packaging in the floral department, using biodegradable and compostable foam for floral arrangements, recycled glass vases, and compostable BioBags and paper wrapping for bouquets.
Jimbo's biodegradable and compostable foam for floral arrangements
When asked what organic produce items are currently popular at Jimbo’s, Peterson highlighted organic berries and stone fruit.
“The late spring months are an exciting time in our produce departments,” he said. “Locally grown San Diego strawberries and blueberries are at their peak in quality and flavor. Our strawberries are harvested within 24 hours of delivery to our stores, providing our customers the freshest, ripest, and best-tasting fruit possible!”
“Partnering with farms and manufacturers, we can help many producers accomplish the ultimate goal of Regenerative Organic Certification and ensure a future with healthy soil, thriving ecosystems, animal welfare, and farmworker fairness!” - Ryan Peterson
California stone fruit season just kicked off for Jimbo’s in early May with apricots from Frog Hollow Farm, which Peterson said is well-known for fruit with “truly tree-ripened flavor.” He also cited organic peaches and nectarines from Masumoto Family Farms as two other customer favorites this time of year. “All of these are absolutely outstanding-tasting pieces of fruit!” he said.