Produce is on every menu. It’s a healthy part of any diet, and it meets the consumers’ desire to see fresh food on the menu. Chefs rely on a consistent supply and quality when it comes to fruits and vegetables. The new Markon app offers ways for produce buyers to meet those needs.
Because produce is a commodity, prices go up and down often, depending on factors such as weather, sourcing, quality and supply and demand. A sudden change in price or availability can take foodservice directors and kitchen managers by surprise. With the app, it’s simple to stay up to date.
Real-time information direct from Markon lets you know whether prices are peaking or quality is at its best, according to Marcia Przybysz, Gordon Food Service North American Category Manager for Fruits and Vegetables. The app provides suggested substitutions and other solutions to make buying decisions, save on labor costs, reduce waste, manage plate costs and more.
The app opens to a touch screen with five options that lead to a wealth of information about products, recipes and Markon’s approved suppliers. Three tools on the app—the Fresh Crop Report, Product Catalog and Yield Calculator—put expertise and solutions at users’ fingertips.
1. Fresh Crop Report
The app makes a weekly Fresh Crop Report market update accessible to produce buyers, Przybysz says. The weekly report contains a list of highlights, an “Ask a Markon Chef” section, a menu feature, serving tips and links to recipes and videos to navigate products that are often volatile.
Easy-to-understand indicators—arrows, stars and dollar signs—advise on the volume, quality and price, along with chart that tells the growing region. “If you look up broccoli and find out the price is higher or the quality is lower, the app gives substitution suggestions,” she says. “All of this guidance is intended to help with menu planning.”
This information can be especially helpful if you use a cycle menu, says Gordon Food Service Healthcare Segment Manager Dana Fillmore. The app can help find a starchy vegetable or a green leafy vegetable to replace a similar product that sees a sudden price spike.
2. Yield Calculator
Fillmore says another fabulous feature of the app is a calculator that helps guide purchasing decisions. Using industry average yield rates and labor costs, it’s possible to compare the true cost of food prep in the kitchen with products that are ready to use.
“Instead of buying a whole pineapple and cutting it yourself, the calculator can provide data that may show it’s more economical to buy pre-cut, packaged pineapple,” Fillmore says. The pre-cut product provides 100 percent yield and saves kitchen time and labor, savings that contribute to improved plate costs.
The calculator has two purposes, Przybysz notes. One is the ability to compare bulk items to ready-serve produce. The other is to highlight Markon’s commitment to the foodservice industry higher yields in every case compared to packer label products. That can play a big role in product waste, which adds up to significant cost over time.
“Markon packages with the foodservice operator in mind, with higher average usable pounds in each box,” she says. “That yield also can be compared to other brands so you can get a better picture of portioning and plate cost.”
3. Product Catalog
Not only is the catalog and easy way to find items, but Przybysz says it’s a convenient resource for product information that’s important to operators—seasonality, sourcing, product claims, nutritional facts and even storage and handling tips.
The product specification are tells whether produce is gluten-free or non-GMO, positioning that is more and more important to today’s diners. The catalog also provides country of origin and sourcing information. This is helpful for operations with “Buy American” provisions or for customers who want to know where products come from. For example, Przybysz says in January, green leaf lettuce was sourced out of Yuma, Arizona. During March and April, production moved to a farm in California. Sourcing awareness can affect purchasing or menu descriptions.
The handling information is also extremely useful, she notes. Understanding such factors as proper storage temperature or whether the produce emits ethylene gas is important. Improperly stored fruits and vegetables can increase spoilage and hurt the bottom line.
Another app advantage
For users who enable push notifications, the app will provide product alerts directly from Markon. This is not a substitute for recall alerts the Gordon Food Service Quality Assurance team sends out. But when a recall notice appears in the media, it’s a way to double-check whether a Markon product is involved.