Inside this Food Report


April 1, 2017

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Hello Everyone,

It is that time of year again….spring in the Northwest! Trees and flowers are beginning to bloom and the spring rain just won’t stop!
Peas are being planted and corn seeding should begin in a few more weeks. Time seems to be flying by and before we know it, we will be in the middle of the corn harvest!!

For anyone selling products to Japan, we thought our below article on the massive population decline would be interesting. Japan’s government is implementing policies to try to combat the shrinking population and we will go over those in an upcoming newsletter.

As I write this a few of us here at Noon International are preparing to head to the beautiful country of Japan. We are looking forward to seeing many of our customers and hope to find good weather and some cherry blossoms to admire.

All The Best,

Betty And The Noon International Team

Himeji Castle, Hyogo, Japan

CropVeggies United States: Drought conditions in the United States are much improved, especially with rains in California, that state is now out of its 5-year drought. In fact, prices for California carrots are rising due to the recent heavy rains in that state. Another crop affected by rain is California’s tomato crop, with delayed plantings due to wet soil, lack of sun, and a shorter processing season volumes could be tight.

Pea plantings in the Northwest were delayed by about a week due to continued cold weather. At this moment, approximately 40 – 50% of the pea crop is planted. Corn plantings should begin during the first two weeks of April depending on weather conditions.

We heard at the AFFI convention last month that some processors are reducing acreage on peas and corn due to inventory and low prices. Prices are expected to rise this season with the main driver being the cost to implement the new food safety rules and regulations dictated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Also in the state of Washington a higher minimum wage law which went into effect on January 1, 2017 will eventually cause prices to rise.

Increases in organic plantings will take place in the Northwest due to the demand for anything organic. The result could be less conventional product available.

Midwest peas are going in the ground this month.

Potato processing factories still running at capacity with enough raw material potatoes available. One Northwest potato factory is increasing its capacity this season by 300 million pounds.
Potato plantings in the Columbia Basin were delayed. Plantings normally begin at the end of February, however due to cold soil temperatures, seeding began in March. This will delay crop development and is in sharp contrast to our season last year.

Weather predictions for the Western part of the United States are for a warm and dry spring. The El Nino weather pattern is expected to bring warmer temperatures in March and could raise drought concerns in later summer and into winter. The Southern part of the United States is experiencing an early spring (2 to 3 weeks earlier than usual) with flowers and trees already blooming and turning green.

Mexico: Conventional Broccoli and Cauliflower are in peak season with good quality and volume.
Mexico’s organic broccoli season will commence end May/Beginning June depending on weather conditions.

Guatemala: Broccoli season is now completed and will start up again in July. Cantaloupe and Honeydew melon season continues through May. Another disappointing season for both Sugar snap peas and snow peas due to weather conditions. Yields are down and many will need to import to fulfill customer requirements.

Chile: Blueberry season in Chile completed. Luckily the recent wild fires did not affect the blueberry crops.

Peru: Unusual rains due to a coastal El Nino have caused widespread flooding in Peru. Corn, rice and banana crops have been affected. Mango production is okay since most of the crop was completed before the rains arrived. Avocado season will commence this month.

Europe: Most vegetables are in tight supply and offers limited due to a poor growing season in 2016 caused by cooler weather and rain. Green Bean and Brussel sprout harvest were delayed in some areas due to the plants not developing enough. Some Belgium suppliers are estimating a loss of the Brussel sprout crop of nearly 35% to 40% overall. Inventories of Brussel sprout are limited or non-existent.

A cold spell that hit Spain in January has reduced volumes of broccoli and cauliflower coming from that country. Contracts will be filled; however, it is difficult to purchase now on the spot market.

Thailand: Mango season is underway and reports are that yields and quality are good. Sweet corn season has begun and is on target to be average with the anticipation of the rain. A drought last year caused delayed shipments, but this is not expected this season.


Overall temperatures are rising due to the coming of Spring, however a volatile climate has brought plenty of rain which has hindered some crops.

Shandong Province: Green Asparagus will begin harvest this month, however it is expected about 10 days behind schedule due to rain and some lower temperatures. Processors will try to receive higher prices this season for asparagus.
Spinach production has started and it is expected to be a good harvest with stable quality and price.

Zhejiang Province: Sugar snap peas and snow peas will commence at the end of this month. Acreage for sugar snap peas increased this season compared to last. To date growth conditions look good in some areas and not sufficient in others. If the climate keeps stable it is expected to be an overall average crop, however much will depend on the weather conditions in the next 4 to 6 weeks as the rainy season will be upon this area soon.
Rape flower is in peak production. Quality has improved and prices have declined.

Fujian Province: Water Chestnut production is underway and quality is stable. Harvest will finish this month and prices remain high.


China has announced a new five year plan to improve food safety. The plans, which were announced by the State Council in late February, will introduce 300 new national standards over the food and drug manufacturing sector, including all consumer foods, agricultural products, and pesticides. Part of the plan is making sure domestic standards are as high as international ones, and to increase transparency by making all safety standard information public.

As well, the Chinese government will encourage the development of larger scale food manufacturing facilities. Most of the manufacturing in China is conducted in small facilities which can pose safety risks. Of the 118m registered food factories most of them are small with under 15 workers.

Focus will also be put on strengthening legislation and imposing punishments on those who violate food safety laws. To do so, the government will introduce stricter supervision over food production and sale, introduce new guidelines on soil contamination, and rework import-export control. According to a statement by the government, “punishments will be strengthened on overuse of food additives, use of industrial ingredients in food, fake production and expiration dates, and exaggerated ads for healthy food.”

The government is also asking the public to serve as additional eyes and ears, with consumers and employees encouraged to report violations. The media is also encouraged to report on issues surrounding food safety to help inform the public. Whether this will prove a useful tool in the fight against food contamination remains to be seen, but it does mark a shift in policy for the country. According to estimates, the government hopes to have 97% of all agricultural products up to quality standards by 2020.


There is a new super fruit! Well, maybe not a new super fruit if you live in southern Chile. The maqui berry is a sweet, vibrant purple berry. In addition to a great taste, the berry is reported to have health benefits.

Maqui berry is rich in anthocyanins. What are anthocyanins? To keep it simple, they are known to have anti-inflammatory effects that help to reduce the risk of some degenerative diseases and may help to inhibit the growth of some cancer cells. There has been research to show that maqui berries can have powerful anti-inflammatory properties with comparable effectiveness to drugs on the market and without exhibiting negative effects. The antioxidant compounds in the berry are known to help improve cardiovascular health. Interestingly, the berry also has some anti-bacterial properties. One of the most appealing attributes may be the berry’s juice that can contribute to healthy blood glucose levels, which can assist with weight loss.

It currently grows in exceedingly large amounts in the wild in southern Chile. Maqui berries are harvested by the Mapuche Indians. The Mapuches have been drinking the juice and eating maqui berries for centuries. When the berries are ready to be picked, the entire community participates in harvesting tons of the super berry, especially with the growing demand to be sold commercially. While it may be difficult to find this berry sold fresh or frozen in your local supermarket, you can find maqui berry products in health food stores in powder,supplement or juice form.

Japan’s Plunging Population

For almost a decade, Japan has been facing a significant population decrease. In the past 5 to 6 years Japan’s population has decreased by almost 1 million people. It is the first decline since 1920 when the census began. Many factors contribute to the shrinking population.

Anyone familiar with Japan knows that living expenses are high and work hours are long. Many young people struggle to make ends meet which make getting married and starting a family an economic burden. Many women in the work force simply choose not to have children due to the long work hours they are expected to put in. As well many families simply cannot afford to have more children to keep up with the population losses. To prevent a shrinking population, on average each family should have 2.1 children. The number now stands at 1.4.

Factoring in Japan’s aging population and the low immigration numbers, Japan’s population is expected to continue to decline. It is said that by the year 2100 it will fall to 83 million with 35% of Japan to be aged over 65. Currently the population is about 127 million with 1/3 of the population over the age of 60.

Japan has suffered low economic growth since the early 1990’s when the asset bubble burst, however Japan is safe, comfortable, modern and clean and for many there seems to be no crisis or sense of urgency.

Japan’s government and Abenomics is trying to lift the country, however with a population aging who are no longer contributing to the work force along with low immigration and birth rates it is difficult to imagine Japan’s economy growing any time soon.

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