In the car and off to the next one.  This is a neighborhood store also but probably twice as large as the first store.  Again it is very well stocked, almost overflowing with merchandise and looks prosperous.   This store also has a restaurant tucked in back and a certain amount of cooking supplies.    A very friendly lady immediately came to help me.  When I asked her for Jujube  (and also Goji) she knew right what I wanted and brought them.  In our conversation she also indicated that the Jujube is a very good seller, in fact the size they offered was 16 oz.  It was larger and also a dollar more at $4.99.

16 oz. package of dried Jujube "Red Dates"

I asked about fresh Jujube and she told me they do not carry them because they only grow in China and have no way to get them here to sell.  Several times I tried to explain to her that we grow them and would she buy from a local supplier?  Finally she conceded she would although I am sure she thought she was just humoring me.  I was unable to find out exactly how much she sells of the packaged dried ones or her estimates of sales of the fresh ones, but with another visit and some samples I am sure we could get a more accurate assessment.

When queried about why she sells so much of the packaged dried jujube  she explained that her customers ate them almost daily.  They do not eat them whole like one would often eat dates but instead chop them or dice them and add to almost all rice dishes or stir fry.  She tried briefly to explain some of the Asian concepts of  food as medicine and how the jujube was considered an important part of this in Eastern culture. 

 There are a few interesting observations that make me believe that this is a market just waiting for a supplier.  Both stores while small, had a very loyal and good repeat clientele and had customers in them.  Both stores had the same brand and importer of product which tells me there is limited availability.  But most of all, the product I tried was not very good.  It was dry and had very little flavor.  I would guess also by its small size that the lowest quality is used for export and the best is consumed in China.  Virtually all dried Jujubes I have eaten here, even the types that were only made for fresh eating were better than the product I purchased.  I believe that with some samples and a taste test that these store owners would gladly carry a New Mexico  grown Jujube or red dates and that they would sell for a premium price. 

This is just a small sample of the places one could start to market this product.  There are at least 6 other stores in the metro area catering to the Asian population and a few that are much larger.  The amount of restaurants serving Asian cuisine is staggering and the market for the fresh product delivered in season could be very good.   You would want to develop an appealing package  and maybe offer 2 or 3 sizes for the dried fruit.  Another search of “the Google” showed many ethnic associations or “clubs” catering to these specific  groups.  This would provide an excellent venue for direct marketing or to gain customers for a U-Pick-It operation.  In summary, I think the future is bright for anyone willing to take the ball and run with it promoting Jujubes locally.

 

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