oil is too low, the avocado was picked too early
and it won’t ripen.”
Other than oil content, why should some-
one buy avocados at Costco?
“Because they’re awesome!” Mark says.
“We tell our suppliers we only want the best of
He adds that Costco’s avocados are big.
“In general, our avocados are 20 to 50 percent larger than what traditional stores
carry,” he says.
I ask how he likes to prepare them. “I like
to open it up, remove the pit, sprinkle a little
salt and pepper on it, add a little splash of hot
sauce, then scoop it right out.”
I grew up eating blueberries in Alaska,
and have always loved them on cereal or,
more often, by the handful. I’m delighted to
discover they are considered a superfood
because of their high level of antioxidants.
“Costco has become a destination for blueberries,” says Todd Eagan, who buys berries for
the company. “That’s because of our value
proposition. We offer a quality product in a
bigger size than is usually sold at other stores.”
Costco sells blueberries in 18-ounce
clamshells during the winter, while most grocery stores I visit only sell them in 6-ounce or
smaller containers. (Beginning around May,
Costco carries them in 2 or 2. 5 pound containers.) The berries at Costco seem larger
and more uniformly blue than what I find
elsewhere. They also are available at Costco
year-round, barring any major weather issues.
“There are 70 to 80 different varieties of
blueberries,” explains Todd. “Lots of them, we
don’t like the way they taste, or they don’t have
the right texture. We only work with the best
suppliers, who have the highest quality and
best variety of berries.”
Chia seeds are packed with omega-3s,
protein, calcium and iron, and are a good
source of fiber. Just one ounce of chia has 17
percent daily value (DV) of calcium, 12 percent DV iron and 23 percent DV magnesium.
Kristen Hayes buys chia for Costco. She
likes the seeds’ versatility.
“It doesn’t really have a taste, so you can
add it to almost anything,” she says. “I like it in
Greek yogurt, and a lot of our members add it
to smoothies, oatmeal and baked items.”
I bought chia seeds at Costco recently
and like to sprinkle them on salad and pasta.
They remind me of coarse-ground black pep-
per, not because of their taste, but because of
their color and consistency.
Kristen agrees, and says color is an
important element of the quality. “Ideally,
chia seeds should be black or white. Brown
chia seeds are immature seeds that did not get
enough sunlight and water to mature properly, therefore the nutritional value may be
compromised. The key is to work with our
suppliers to set limits on the percentage of
immature seeds allowed in the bag.”
DARK LEAFY GREENS
Dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach
and kale, are good sources of vitamins A and
C as well as iron.
Costco makes it easy to add these to
meals, with the 1 1/2-pound bag of Organic
Power Deep Green Blends from Earthbound
Farm. Each bag contains a blend of baby kale,
chard and spinach.
“We are offering this blend because it
offers more nutrients than kale by itself,” notes
Costco produce buyer Dale Hollingsworth. “It
has become a staple item for us. Our members
are using it in salads and smoothies, and for
juicing. I like to sauté it with some olive oil and
a little garlic salt, and serve it with chicken.”
I do some quick math and realize that
means I save from 45 to 75 percent by buying
the greens at Costco. Those are some power-
Salmon is high in omega-3s and protein,
and rich in vitamins A, B and D.
Whether you prefer your salmon canned,
frozen, smoked or fresh, Costco offers it at a
terrific value. Consider the company’s
Kirkland Signature™ Farmed Atlantic Salmon.
Since it was introduced in 1987, Costco’s buyers have continually improved it from a bone-in, skin-on, untrimmed piece of fish into
what members will find today: a 100 percent
edible, skinless, boneless fillet.
“Nobody else in the industry has our trim
specifications,” says Lyle French, Costco
I ask him whether the farmed Atlantic
salmon is fresh or, as other retailers like to say,
“Our fresh salmon is fresh,” Lyle says.
“Each Costco location receives at least three
deliveries of fresh seafood a week.”
And how does he like to prepare it?
“I like to grill it, with a little bit of butter
and brown sugar,” he says.
Like blueberries, walnuts are considered a
super source of antioxidants. They’re also full
of omega- 3 fatty acids and protein.
Leanne Bender is the Costco buyer for
Kirkland Signature Walnuts. She doesn’t hesitate when I ask her why I should buy walnuts
“There are several reasons,” she says. “We
have tight specifications, including, for exam-
ple, how large the pieces are. Walnut halves
must make up at least 20 percent of our bag.
The color of walnuts is also important. We
buy lighter variety walnuts that we feel have
the best flavor.”
She continues, “And our pricing is great.”
Inspired by the buyers’ passion for quality
and their tasty-sounding serving suggestions,
I will be heading to Costco soon to stock up
on these superfoods. Grilled chicken with
sautéed power greens, half an avocado and a
blueberry-chia smoothie? Sounds like a super
idea for dinner! C
vs. the competition
Comparison shop conducted the week of November 10, 2014, in Washington and Oregon.
Costco Retailer A Retailer B Retailer C
18 oz., $7.99 6 oz., $3.48 6 oz., $3.98 6 oz., $3.99
45 cents/oz. 58 cents/oz. 66 cents/oz. 66 cents/oz.
,. z 9