Supply Chain Insights

We are monitoring produce supplies and quality closely. Weather events have wreaked havoc on produce from California, Florida, Mexico and other major growing regions. Substitutions and requests for meal pattern waivers may be necessary soon.

We're working hard to minimize menu substitutions in light of supply chain issues. So far, we've gotten certain products from different manufacturers if our normal products are in short supply. We've also subbed varieties of chips due to limited availability of certain spices. The spice shortage is also causing our procurement team to get creative to source particular ingredients for our Hmong menu items.

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More concerning to us, however, are the effects of California's heat wave last month and a soil disease there on the quality and quantity of produce. Our distributors are warning of very limited supplies of iceberg, romaine and green leaf lettuce and quality issues like internal burn, sun scald and mildew. They are only able to provide 20% of quantities ordered! Iceberg seems to be the hardest hit, followed by romaine. We may need to substitute these with other varieties of lettuce or broccoli to satisfy the National School Lunch Program meal pattern.

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Similarly, broccoli and cauliflower are showing signs of heat stress like yellow bead, discoloration, pin rot and breakdown. Supplies of these vegetables are also tightening.

We are monitoring this situation closely. If the shortage and quality of both broccoli and lettuce worsens, it could make it very difficult for schools to satisfy the dark green vegetable subgroup in the National School Lunch Program meal pattern. It may be necessary for schools to contact MDE to request a waiver to the meal pattern. We will keep you posted.

Strawberry supplies continue to be very tight, and quality has been hit or miss. Oranges may vary in size and may have some regreening, which is purely cosmetic and does not affect the flavor of the fruit.

The tomato market will be very volatile in the coming weeks and maybe even months due to weather events. Growers in Florida and Mexico are recovering from hurricanes while California supplies have been affected by the heat wave. Quality will also be below normal standards while the growers work to get caught back up in the aftermath of the hurricane.

CKC and our distributors strive to provide fresh, quality produce as much as possible. We are working with our distributors daily to source safe produce with minimal damage. The produce we provide may have some discoloration or other minor signs of heat damage but the produce is safe to eat. Thank you for your understanding. We will continue to update you.




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