Arby's to of­fer veni­son sand­wich

Of­fi­cial: Flor­ida's crop dam­age will be felt at holidays

Tulsa World - - Work&money - By Bren­dan Far­ring­ton By Mike Aver­ill Mike Aver­ill 918-581-8489 mike.aver­ill@tul­ Twit­ter: @Mike_Aver­ill

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE, Fla. — Flor­ida's fa­mous or­anges are still fall­ing from trees and rot­ting on the ground weeks af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma, and the state's agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner said Thurs­day there will be fewer Flor­ida veg­eta­bles on Thanks­giv­ing ta­bles and a short­age of poin­set­tias at Christ­mas.

Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Adam Put­nam and Flor­ida farm­ers up­dated the state Sen­ate Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee that the storm dam­aged crops of all kinds, with losses top­ping $2.5 bil­lion. Losses are re­ported to peanuts, avo­ca­dos, sugar, straw­ber­ries, cotton and toma­toes. The storm also af­fected tim­ber, milk pro­duc­tion and lob­ster and stone crab fish­ing.

“The fresh win­ter veg­eta­bles that are on peo­ple's Thanks­giv­ing ta­bles won't be there this year be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Irma,” Put­nam said. “The losses are stag­ger­ing; in many cases, the tale of those losses will be mul­ti­ple years ... This is more than just dam­age con­tained in just one crop year.”

He said Irma's path couldn't have been “more lethal” for Flor­ida agri­cul­ture, with few crops spared. The cit­rus in­dus­try was par­tic­u­larly hard hit, with some es­ti­mates of more than half the or­ange crop lost.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture re­leased its Flor­ida cit­rus fore­cast Thurs­day, es­ti­mat­ing that Flor­ida will pro­duce 54 mil­lion boxes of or­anges, down 21 per­cent from last year.

But the Flor­ida Cit­rus Mu­tual said the fed­eral govern­ment should have de­layed the fore­cast be­cause it's still too early to tell just how hard hit the in­dus­try was af­ter the storm. It said pro­duc­tion would be closer to 31 mil­lion boxes of or­anges, or a 55 per­cent drop from the 68.7 mil­lion boxes pro­duced in the 2016-2017 sea­son.

“Irma hit us just a month ago and although we re­spect the skill and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the USDA, there is no way they can put out a re­li­able num­ber in that short time pe­riod,” said Michael W. Sparks, CEO of the Flor­ida Cit­rus Mu­tual.

The agri­cul­tural losses are ex­pected to af­fect con­sumers, but how much so is still to be de­ter­mined.

“I would ex­pect prices to rise as a re­sult of the win­ter veg­etable cap­i­tal of Amer­ica be­ing put out of the pro­duc­tion go­ing into the hol­i­day sea­son,” Put­nam said, but he added that there could be a flood of for­eign fruit and pro­duce en­ter­ing the mar­ket that could keep prices from ris­ing — some­thing he said could fur­ther hurt Flor­ida farm­ers.

Arby's has its sights set on hun­gry hunters with its lat­est of­fer­ing.

On Oct. 21 the quick-ser­vice res­tau­rant will of­fer a veni­son sand­wich at lo­ca­tions across the coun­try.

All Tulsa-area stores, ex­cept for the down­town lo­ca­tion, will of­fer the sand­wich that day.

Some stores will have 50 serv­ings while oth­ers will have 100.

“As you can imag­ine, it's dif­fi­cult to source a veni­son sup­plier for 3,300 Arby's restau­rants and be able to sell veni­son on the open mar­ket for a lim­ited time. It's just not sus­tain­able,” said Fred Fleis­chner, spokesman for Tulsa-based U.S. Beef Corp., Arby's largest fran­chisee.

“If you're one of the first in line at 10 a.m. when we open, you'll be able to be one of the lucky ones in Tulsa to get their very own veni­son sand­wich with­out hav­ing to sit up in a tree for some time wait­ing on the hunt.”

The veni­son sand­wich fea­tures a thick-cut veni­son steak and crispy onions topped with a ju­niper berry sauce on a toasted spe­cialty roll, ac­cord­ing to the res­tau­rant. The veni­son is mar­i­nated in gar­lic, salt and pep­per and sous-vide for three hours.

The ju­niper sauce is a Caber­net steak sauce in­fused with berries.

The sand­wich was first of­fered on lim­ited ba­sis last year in select mar­kets.

“The pos­i­tive re­sponse to our lim­ited of­fer­ing of veni­son last year was so wide­spread and pas­sion­ate that we knew we had to find a way to of­fer it na­tion­wide,” said Jim Tay­lor, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer of Arby's Res­tau­rant Group Inc.

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