What I love most about an industry I so gratefully get to support is the passion and dedication of those who bring specialty foods to our table every day. San Joaquin Figs (SJF) has a story that truly exemplifies that passion, and as Dale New, President and General Manager of Cal-Tropic Producers, marketing partner of SJF—tells me, it is a story of perseverance, hard work, and a deep desire to be the best and most progressive grower and processor of figs in all of California and the nation.
“Our Nutra-Fig brand is one of the most trusted names in California fig products,” Dale shares with me, adding that his company has been an SJF broker and associate for over 25 years. “San Joaquin Figs is a testament to the success of family farming in California, being a vertically-integrated company with most of the fruit it processes coming from its own 1,000 acres of figs—320 acres of which are farmed organically. The acreage includes all commercially grown varieties.”
One product that truly speaks to its desire and vision for bringing unique flavor and quality to the specialty food community is SJF’s Panforte, Tuscan-style fig cakes. Pronounced Pan-FOR-tay for those so inclined to let it roll off the tongue as they read, this item is a traditional Italian cake made from dried fruits, nuts, and spices. It can be sliced thin or in wedges, and then paired with cheese as an appetizer or with coffee as a dessert. Among Panforte fans, it is often served with Brie, Manchego, and/or Pecorino Romano cheeses.
“Panforte truly is a taste inspired by the Italian heritage of San Joaquin Fig’s founders, Roy Jura and his son Keith. Artisan-made from figs and nuts grown on SJF ranches, it is a delicacy which tells you joyfully, ‘Buona Festa’—have a great party!” Dale says with a smile.
An Old World fig cake with New World flair, this item comes in two unique and delicious offerings: Honey-Walnut and Cranberry-Almond. As a California-based company, SJF knows that differentiation is key in a state where the market demands excellence.
“The diversity of SJF’s farming operations helps to bring more value to our partners,” Matt Jura, Vice President of SJF reflects. “Figs are our primary crop, but we also grow the almonds and walnuts so plentiful in our Panforte. Figs are one of California’s most sustainable orchard crops inasmuch as they can be grown successfully with relatively little water. We know that sustainability is important to our customers and the end consumer.”
According to a Forbes Magazine report, 10 Macro Trends Impacting Food and Beverage Innovation in 2019, “A growing 1/3 of the (U.S.) population is choosing to actively eat less pork, dairy, and poultry. We call them flexitarians, and their behavior is driving a burgeoning plant-based ecosystem. This behind-the-scenes support system will enable the exponential growth of plant-based eating in 2019 and beyond.” Panforte is poised to take advantage of this trend.
With the added value of simple ingredients, gluten-free nutrition, and no artificial flavors or preservatives, this consumer says yes to opening her shopper’s wallet, and I imagine there is a resounding YES for many a retailer. Keep checking back with Deli Market News and we will bring you more on the fig category and how it is impacting the specialty food space!