layered so that individual flavor integrity is
maintained and color bleeding is minimized.
Fragility is a prime consideration, with hardy
pineapple at the bottom and tender kiwi and
strawberries at the top.
“Some retailers cut their own fruit or vegetables in the back of the house,” says Mark.
“We partner with leading industry manufacturers strategically positioned around the U.S.
We want a totally controlled environment.”
Heather adds, “Costco’s pre-cut program
takes the gamble out of the equation. There’s
no more hoping the whole fruit you select is
ripe or that you are cutting a mango correctly. You also aren’t paying for inedible
skins, rinds, seeds or thorny pineapple leaves.
Instead, members purchase a totally transparent bowl filled with a premium blend of
4 pounds of 100 percent consumable, best-tasting tropical fruit. At some groceries this
bowl would cost $20 or more.”
Labors of their fruit
Costco’s fresh cut fruit program sources
produce from more than 40 countries and
hundreds of farms. Specific varieties are
required for each fruit or vegetable. For
instance, pineapple is only the Gold variety.
Gold is considered the world’s sweetest pineapple, with up to four times more vitamin C
than other pineapple varieties.
Each fresh cut item brings the same
quality hallmarks to the table. All are preser-vative-free, with no added sugar; made
fresh, never frozen; and delivered to Costco
warehouses multiple times per week, pro-
viding the longest shelf life and freshest
And, Heather reports, “When it comes to
labeling, Costco feels that providing the coun-try-of-origin information for each and every
item is important—it is information members
want to know.”
Consequently, the gourmet fruit bowl
plus sliced pineapple and mango have this
information on their labels, as does the gourmet vegetable tray.
Additional fruit packs
Other mouthwatering fruit offerings at
Costco include a 3-pound sliced Gold pineapple pack with two pineapples’ worth of
fully ready-to-eat fruit and a 2-pound sliced
mango pack filled with the equivalent of six
or seven whole mangoes.
Costco’s U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) certified, organic, pre-sliced apples,
available in an eight-pack of 6-ounce bags,
are the equivalent of one apple per bag. Pre-sliced organic apple varieties include Gala,
Pink Lady and Golden Delicious. Local U.S.
growers are given top priority.
Fresh cut vegetable trays
Mark reports, “We set out to create a veggie tray different from the standard retail
offering. Our upscale, 5-pound tray has
member favorites carrots, grape tomatoes
and broccoli, plus snap peas or cauliflower,
sweet mini peppers and 15 ounces of low-fat,
tasty peppercorn ranch dressing to add just
the right touch of pizzazz.”
Additional veggie packs
The peeled, U.S.-grown and USDA-certified organic carrots in both the 3.5-pound
24-pack of 2.25-ounce grab-and-go single
servings and the 5-pound bag are also member favorites.
Not to be overlooked is the healthy value
of these at-hand snacks. Many of the fruits
and vegetables offered are excellent sources
of vitamin A, which helps form and maintain
healthy bones, and/or vitamin C, required for
the growth and repair of body tissues. For
example, one serving of cantaloupe contains
120 percent of the required daily intake
(RDI) of vitamin A and 108 percent of the
RDI of vitamin C.
Don’t let it go to waste
Anywhere groups of people gather, you’ll
find these fruits and veggies used for instant
party fare and lunch treats, and as the perfect
snack for family or company picnics. (Costco’s
Business Delivery program also provides
fresh cut produce. You can access it through
If you have a smaller household and are
concerned about waste, you can be creative
to get the most out of these assortments. Use
the fruit in salads or to make smoothies. Use
the veggies to create healthy soups, stir-fries
or sautéed side dishes.
As we finish the tour, Mark reports, “We
cut as close as we can to market prices while
still providing ‘wow’ products.”
To which I respond, “Better that you do
the cutting than I.” C
Per lb. Price
$11.99 5 lbs.
$2.40 $12.99 40 oz.
3. 5 lbs.
$12.99 4 lbs.
Sliced pineapple $7.99
3 5% $10.99 2 lbs. lbs.
5. 49 41% 41%
5 5 $4.99 18oz. 4.4440% 40%
Comparison shopping done in Chicago on February 15, 2009
Seeded, peeled, delivered…you”re mine
WHOLE FRUIT CARRIES a lot of excess baggage. For example, 65 percent of a cantaloupe is inedible.
To find out how much it costs to make
Costco’s gourmet fruit bowl from scratch, I
purchase all of the items from a grocery and
do the prep work myself. What I discover
seals Costco’s $12.99 deal.
• Purchased 12 pounds of whole
fruit and lugged it home.
• Spent 47 minutes washing, preparing
and cleaning up.
• Threw away more than 6 pounds of
• Strawberries were mushy.
• Mango was red on the outside but hard and
tasteless; made another trip to the store.
Cost per edible ounce:
• 1 pineapple 0.139 cent per edible
ounce with 21 ounces needed = $2.91
1 cantaloupe 0.213 cent per edible ounce
with 15 ounces needed = $3.19
• Strawberries 0.325 cent per edible
ounce with 8 ounces needed = $2.60
• Red seedless grapes 0.187 cent
per edible ounce with 8 ounces
needed = $1.51
• 1 mango 0.214 cent per edible
ounce with 6 ounces needed = $1.29
2 kiwis @ 0.33 cent per edible
• Total: $13.48 plus time, aggravation and cleanup.