Inside this Food Report


August 1, 2014

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Hello Everyone,

We are in the peak of our harvest time here in the States and what a summer it has been!   Wild weather conditions all across America with rain, flooding, and tornadoes from the Midwest to East to extreme hot and dry weather on the West Coast.   Just last week several people were hurt and one killed when a freak lightning storm hit Venice Beach in Southern California. This along with fires up and down the West coast has made for a difficult summer weather wise.

The extreme dry weather in the Pacific Northwest has caused massive fires in our beautiful state of Washington.   Actually this most recent fire is the worst in Washington State history.   Central Washington’s Methow Valley in Okanogan County lost more than 250,000 acres and 300 homes.   This is a pristine area where many come to hike and fish and was a favorite vacation spot for my family.  It is now very sad to see this land completely destroyed.

Peas will be in short supply and buyers are scrambling to source their requirements.  Midwest peas are down considerably due to wet weather and both freezers and canners will be very short.   This coupled with lower than expected yields in the Pacific Northwest along with Bonduelle’s Ontario, Canada frozen plant damaged in a fire will make for a tight and exciting pea market this year.  It should get interesting around springtime!

The Noon team looks forward to seeing all of our suppliers and customers as we continue to venture over to Eastern Washington and Oregon to visit the factories and fields.   Happy August!

All The Best
Betty and The Noon International Team

P.S.   We also want to wish all our Japanese friends a wonderful and restful Obon Holiday!

CropVeggiesUnited States:   

Oregon/Washington :    Pea harvest is now fully complete.  More pea acres were planted this year in the Pacific Northwest due to low inventories, however some processors experienced lower yields this season as well as having to bypass acreage due to heat.   All in all demand for Northwest peas are high and there are suppliers looking to purchase to fill their contracts as well as cover additional demand from buyers due to the poor harvest conditions in the Midwest.   Market price on peas has continued to rise during the past several weeks.

Corn harvest is now underway and should be in full swing within the next week or two.   Weather in Oregon and Washington continues to be dry and hot, hot, hot.  This has resulted in bringing on the corn crop rather quickly and processors are doing best to keep ahead of the crop.  To date it is reported that yields are slightly below average with exceptional taste and color on the early varieties.  We will keep you posted on ongoing conditions as the crop progresses.

Green Bean harvest is also underway and conditions to date are good.

Ranger Russet variety potato harvest is underway.   Hot and dry weather may hinder potato yields.  

Raspberry season in the Pacific Northwest is just about finished.  For the most part quality was excellent.   Blueberries are just beginning with Duke variety.   Hardy Blue and Reka will commence next week.  To date the weather has been favorable and the crop looks good.

Idaho:   Corn planting in Idaho is completed .  Weather conditions have been favorable and water levels good.   The weather has been hot and this will bring on the corn crop much earlier than usual.   Some reports of conventional corn to begin next week.

Midwest :  Despite the earlier excessively wet field conditions , most of the growing areas in Minnesota could use some moisture to keep the remaining corn crops healthy and growing.    Super sweet corn planting in the Central Sands of Wisconsin is complete and conditions at this point are average.

Pea harvest in the Midwest is complete.   Due to the excessive rain and flooding it is being reported that the pack came in approximately 25% under budget.   

Michigan’s tart cherry crop is expected to come in short due to cooler weather.

Mexico:   Rainy season in Mexico is currently underway.   Broccoli and Cauliflower harvesting has been difficult.  Yields and quality are both low.

Guatemala:   Peak broccoli season now underway.   Yields and quality good.
Edamame processing continues and should wrap up this month.

Costa Rica:   Rainy Season continues with low volumes of pineapple being harvested.   Special cuts require longer lead times.  Some processors are indicating it will be difficult to take on new business for 2014 as demand is strong.  Many buyers will be waiting in anticipation for the rainy season to end in October when volumes should pick up.

Chile:   It is off season /winter in Chile.   The first major crop coming on will be asparagus in late September.   Prices are expected to be announced by middle September after raw material prices are set.   South America will continue to feel the pressure to compete against China since prices ex South America have gone up.

Peru:   El Nino is having less affect on fruit and vegetable crops than first anticipated.  Experts have officially called off the possibility for a “Super” El Nino season.   Early indications were for more severe weather patterns likely having major affects on crops.   Asparagus growers have reported above normal temperatures, which may have some negative affect on this coming Fall’s harvest.

Europe:  Pea crop completed and conditions/quality and yields are normal.   The U.S may be looking to Europe for peas this season.   Corn harvest is now underway with no adverse conditions reported to date.


Zhejiang Province:   High temperatures are now hindering plant growth in this region.  Edamame planted acres are same as last season, but the heavy rains at the beginning of the season which delayed harvest and now the warm weather has hurt the edamame crop.   There are reports of blemish and yellow pods with reduced yields.   Prices have increased by 30% compared to last season.

Fujian Province:  Okra is now being harvested and will continue through September.   Quality is reported as good.

Shandong Province:  Warm and dry weather in this region is hurting the summer asparagus crop.  It is expected that asparagus yields will be down and product short.

Edamame harvest is underway and to date conditions are average. .

Food Safety Linked to Farm Workers’ Living Conditions

When buying fresh produce at the grocery store, most consumers don’t consider the many people responsible for getting those strawberries or tomatoes onto our tables.  The majority of us, especially those not in the food industry, may never think about the farmworkers who harvested the crops, and even fewer may be aware of the low standard of living suffered by so many of those tasked with picking fruits and vegetables.

Buying farm-fresh produce means getting fruits and vegetables that are healthy and grown close to home. But recent studies have shown a deep connection between the living conditions of migrant farm workers and the quality of the food that they help harvest, meaning a healthy looking tomato could carry bacteria.  With more and more cases of unclean living conditions coming to light, these findings could affect a huge percentage of produce sold in the U.S. This issue rests at the intersection of human rights and food safety, and it’s important for consumers to be aware of and take action against continued substandard living conditions for migrant farmworkers.

Farmworkers are often migrant, moving from farm-to-farm with no permanent housing. Despite laws in place to ensure adequate housing for these workers, many farmers do not comply, leaving workers in ramshackle and overcrowded temporary accommodations. Basic sanitation facilities are far from guaranteed in this kind of situation, leaving many unable to maintain their hygiene. Without access to clean and hot water, workers are unable to shower, clean their hands or laundered their cloths, which can create extremely unsafe conditions.

When living quarters are overcrowded, disease can spread fast and wide through many individuals. With low wages and no job security, farmworkers are often forced to work while sick. This puts the consumer at risk of exposure to illness, as well as further endangering the worker’s health. Migrant workers don’t have sick time or health insurance, leaving them extremely vulnerable to preventable disease.

It’s critical that consumers are aware of these conditions and ask for more from their farmers and the community.   Farmworkers are one of the most important links in our food system and often times the last hands that touch the produce you eat are the farmworkers hands.
Organizations such as the National Center for Farmworker Health, the Washington Farm Labor Association, and Self Help Enterprises are raising awareness about the issue and trying to involve the public in providing basic needs and living conditions for migrant farm workers. If you want to get involved, reach out to these organizations to find out more about ongoing advocacy efforts and donation guidelines. Farmworker rights is both a public health and a human rights concern; an important issue for all Americans.

Another Fantastic Reason To Eat Broccoli!

China as well as other parts of the world has been plagued by serious air pollution for quite some time and authorities are trying hard to find solutions. A group of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland have now come up with a simple but effective way to remove impurities from the body.  A newly formulated drink, made from broccoli sprouts has been found to increase the body’s ability to excrete certain air pollutants such as benzene and acrolein. 

Smokers and those around smokers, take note, you are breathing in acrolein.  We also breathe in a bit of benzene when we are pumping our gas!

Now cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli have been known to have cancer-preventive properties. Broccoli is rich in a substance called glucoraphanin, which is converted to sulforaphane in the body and sulforaphane enhances the body’s capacity and efficiency to excrete toxins effectively.

The Johns Hopkins researchers, along with their colleagues from various institutes in China and the US, created a beverage made by mixing together freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder, water, pineapple juice and lime juice.   The potent was tested on almost 300 people living in Jiangsu Province, a highly polluted region in China. Every day over a period of 12 weeks, test subjects in the study drank the broccoli sprouts beverage while a control group drank the same beverage but without the broccoli powder. When their urine and blood samples were tested, it was found that the broccoli sprout powder drink consumers excreted benzene at a 61% higher rate and acrolein at a 23% higher rate than the control group. Benzene is a highly carcinogenic (cancer-inducing) chemical while acrolein is a lung irritant. Both are found in air that is polluted by emissions from vehicles, refineries, hazardous waste sites, and cigarettes to name a few.  

While this “therapy” needs more detailed study with a wider range of subjects an
d we cannot say for certain that consuming broccoli will prevent cancer, it is undeniable that eating broccoli is beneficial for combating chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer by helping to eliminate certain toxins in the body.

 As governments and industries try to find ways and means to tackle the pollution problem it certainly will not hurt for all of us to eat a little more broccoli!

Food Waste, What Can We Do?

Recent studies have shown that an estimated 30-50% of the world’s total food produced is wasted or lost due to various reasons – from improper storage to irresponsible consumer behavior. In developing countries, about 40 % of the total food waste is due to lack of adequate infrastructure for harvesting, storage and distribution. In industrialized countries, most waste occurs at the consumer level, meaning people in the U.S. and other countries are throwing away tons of food each year. With 860 million people struggling with malnutrition, it’s critical that governments and private sector organizations find ways to solve this crisis.

Many countries are working to combat growing waste. In USA, where 133 billion pounds of food was wasted last year, the US Department of Agriculture has organized a US Food Waste Challenge. Organizations that take concrete steps towards reduction of food waste via various means – biogas production, food bank donations, vermicomposting, and so on – will be publicized by the USDA for their contributions.

The European Union is fighting its own battle with food waste, with approximately 220 billion pounds of food being thrown away yearly. A group of European states have come together and put forward a research paper that shows that, often, edible food is thrown away because of confusion caused by labeling.  Educating the public on proper ways to determine when food has spoiled have been undertaken, and projects such as FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimizing Waste Prevention Strategies) are coming up with other solutions to fight food waste.

French supermarket Intermarche took the fight a bit farther by promoting the sale of imperfect produce, including misshapen fruits and vegetables. The 2014 "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables" campaign offered a discount on produce that would otherwise have been thrown away, and the store offered pre-made soups and other foods made with the produce to show it could still be used. The result was a huge success, with public calls to make the campaign a staple at all markets. Please click the following link for a short video:

Japan also struggles with large amounts of still-good food being thrown away. In response, the government has enacted reforms and regulations designed to find ways to keep the waste out of landfills. The Food Waste Recycling Law, which encourages businesses to cut down on waste with processes like dehydration and eco-friendly production, led to the recycling of 82 percent of Japan's food waste in 2010.  However Japan’s obsession with expiration dates leads to enormous amounts of food being thrown away each year.   Japan burns or buries 3.3 million metric tons of commercial food waste every year.   Some companies are now extending the expiration date on their labels by another 1 to 2 months to try to help with the huge amount of waste.

While the financial impact of food waste is well documented as costing billions of dollars per year, it is important to remember that food waste also takes a heavy toll on the environment. While growing and transporting food across large distances causes huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, rotting food releases methane, another very potent greenhouse gas in large quantities.
What can consumers do? There are practical steps that can be taken to make a personal impact on the food waste issue. One of these is buying food for a few days at a time, rather than making large trips to the grocery store. This will make it easier to use all the food purchased before it goes bad. Another trick is to preserve produce by canning or freezing if it’s not going to be eaten quickly. Consumers should also be aware that “Use By” or “Sell By” dates on packaging may not reflect the point at which food can no longer be eaten safely, and as a result tossing products when passed the printed date means throwing out perfectly good food. Trusting your eyes, nose, and sense of taste will help you determine whether food is still safe to eat.

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