Inside this Food Report


August 1, 2015

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Hello Everyone,

Wow, August has arrived and it has been a sizzling summer in the Pacific Northwest. It seems Oregon, Washington and Idaho has received no relief from the severe high temperatures. Our green pea harvest ended early with reduced yields and a shortage of A grade peas. Lots of lower grade peas around though! The heat also brought on the sweet corn season much earlier than usual, in fact many say this is the earliest start to corn in recent memory.

Not sure yet if the heat will affect sweet corn yields or quality and really it is too early to tell. We will certainly keep everyone posted. Potatoes on the other hand will suffer in both yield and quality due to the heat.

A busy few months as we have been back and forth over the mountains to visit processors. Everyone seems in good spirits despite their concerns about the weather and possible challenges they may face if this high heat continues.

We look forward to visiting with our processors and customer this upcoming month and for those visiting from overseas make sure you bring cool cloths – no jackets required!

All The Best,
Betty And The Noon International Team


United States: Extreme temperatures over 105 degrees °F in the Pacific Northwest ended the pea season earlier than usual. Pea yields are reported to be down by 15% - 20% overall, with a shortage of AAA grade peas. This shortage along with already low inventories has resulted in a very firm pea market. There are low grade peas available. The warm weather has brought on the sweet corn crop earlier than usual and to date yields and quality are normal. Weather has continued to be very warm so crop conditions could change.

Due to the severe heat in the Colombia Basin this season growers and processors are concerned about potato quality and yields. Potatoes like cooler growing conditions and with this years heat yields and quality will most likely be affected.

Northwest raspberry crop is now completed. The harvest began 10 – 14 days earlier than usual due to the hot weather. Because of the heat the overall size of the raspberries are smaller this year and yields are down approximately 25% – 45% depending on the grower. The blueberry harvest is underway and started earlier, again due to the heat. We are already seeing smaller size and softer berries; however, overall quality is good.

Mexico: Rainy season in Mexico is well underway and aquifers are being filled. Currently broccoli yields will be a bit low until Mexico is out of it’s rainy season in September /October.

Guatemala: This season commencing July Guatemala is receiving more rain than last year which has been very good for Guatemala’s peak season broccoli crop. The rainy weather is needed for growth of the crops and to date quality has been excellent. Peak season will continue through November.

Costa Rica: Rainy season will continue for the next couple of months, which is the normal low season for pineapple. Areas in the North and Caribbean side were affected by severe flooding which has resulted in even lower availability than usual. Pineapple pricing will remain high during the low season and likely into the peak season until suppliers can catch up on inventories.

Europe: In general Europe has suffered from a cold spring and low rainfall in the central production area of Europe. An extreme heat wave in July then overtook Europe. Spain, Germany, France, Poland and The Netherlands experienced temperatures over 105 degrees F. It is expected that peas, carrots, cauliflower, beans and spinach will all be short ex Europe this season.

Reports out of Serbia are that the heat wave will dramatically affect the raspberry and blackberry harvest, which was already seeing high demand within Europe. Other Serbian crops like apples and plums may also be affected if the hot weather continues.

China: Typhoon Chan-hom hit the Ningbo area right at a major harvest time leading to an estimated 3.62 billion yuan (583 million USD) economic loss in the agriculture sector. Even before the typhoon, crop yields were not high due to above average rainfall throughout the year.

Zhejiang Province: Edamame planting fields increased comparing with last year, but overall yields declined. Quality was good and price kept stable in the earlier stage. However, after the typhoon, the edamame after has more blemishes. Decline of quality caused the increase of raw material price. Harvest in Shandong province has started in July and will last through September. Quality looks good and size of pods are bigger than past years. Price is estimated to keep stable. Since the quality of edamame is good this year, fewer factories will choose to produce mukimame. The price of mukimame is estimated to decline. Corn yields were influenced by rain while quality is normal.

Fujian Province: Okra has started production and will last to the end of September. Quality looks good. Lychee processing will finish in the end of the month. This year lychee has a bumper harvest in Fujian, but price did not decline due to the domestic market demand.

Shandong Province: Green Asparagus yields declined approximately 30% due to dry summer weather. With the hotter temperatures, the harvest will end by early August, which is much earlier than previous years. The warmer weather has caused onion and potato yields to decline as well. Pricing of onion has increased due to some domestic speculators holding inventory to ramp up pricing. Burdock yields and quality are normal for this crop harvest.

Wait Before You Harvest

Among the many concerns posed by climate change, the impact of extreme weather is one of the most significant. Storms, heat waves, droughts and deep-freeze winters continue. The effect these weather patterns could be having is still being studied and there is much controversy that surrounds them. However early last month researchers from the University of Maryland found a correlation between extreme weather and bacterial infection, including salmonella. Another study by Cornell University found a correlation between wet fields and listeria monocytogenes and E. coli.

A study was published in Environmental International, and looks at 24 Maryland counties over the course of 12 years. Starting in 2002, researchers look at heat and precipitation events, finding that there was a significant increase in the risk of Salmonella infection. During extreme heat, there is a 4.1 percent increase, while during extreme precipitation, such as flooding from hurricanes or tropical storms, the risk grew by 5.6 percent. The risk was higher in coastal regions than inland.

The reason? Heat and moisture make the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, so extreme weather can exacerbate conditions already favorable to growth. The long life of Salmonella, which can live for 405 days in soil, can also make it easier to spread during rainfall. Contamination, whether it be through runoff or increased colonization, becomes far more likely.

In addition the study by Cornell University found that listeria was 25 times greater immediately after rain or irrigation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reportedly suggested that growers implement wait periods after irrigation or rainfall before they harvest fresh produce.

So it would seem that wet weather, either by extreme weather events, normal rainfall or even irrigation could be the culprit for bacteria. A simple change in field management practices such as waiting 24 hours to harvest after wet weather or irrigation might help improve the safety of our food.

Sweet Corn. How Sweet It Is!

American is the world’s foremost producer of corn, producing about 40% of the total corn grown in the world. Corn is used to make corn meal, corn flour, popcorn, livestock feed, oil, syrup, alcohol, starch and much more. While the grains of corn used for the above purposes are from field corn, which is the mature form of corn, when corn is harvested earlier, the kernels are sweeter and softer; this form is called sweet corn, which can be consumed as a vegetable rather than as a grain.

Sweet corn can be eaten off the cob or on the cob, as a side dish, added to soups and salads and baked into delicacies. Corn is one of the most versatile vegetables there are and a staple of many diets around the world. In the summer time most people will eat this vegetable fresh but it can be enjoyed all year long in it’s frozen or canned state. It is a delicious vegetable bursting with fiber, minerals and vitamins!

Sweet corn is low in calories but high in carbohydrates. It is also high in fiber content (soluble and insoluble.) As a result, consumption of corn imparts a feeling of satiety and curbs hunger. The fiber in it also helps regulate the digestive system, control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and even diminish chances of colon cancer.

Vitamins form a good part of the nutrient make-up of corn. Vitamins B1 and B5, also know as thiamin and pantothenic acid respectively, improve carbohydrate metabolism, red blood cell production and production of some hormones. Corn also containers vitamin C, which helps in increasing immunity and the health of skin and connective tissue. Vitamin A, so critical for eye health, is found in good amounts.

To all expecting or soon to be expecting Mom’s please take note – corn also contains folate, a very important component for neural tube development in fetuses; hence, corn is good for pregnant women (and those who are planning a pregnancy).

Micronutrients such as zinc, copper, manganese, iron and magnesium are present in moderate amounts in corn. Potassium, a vital electrolyte, is also found in corn.

We continually hear about all the fantastic benefits of “green vegetables”, however corn is a superstar as well and can be enjoyed all year long. And the other good news is that frozen corn and canned corn will give you all the healthy benefits mentioned above!

Japanís Love Affair with Expensive Fruit

How much would you pay for a bunch of grapes? Perhaps a few dollars per pound but if you are searching for the most sort after grapes on the market, you might be surprised by the sale price. In Japan, the Ruby Roman grape sold early last month for a staggering ¥1 million, or just over $8,000 US. This is not for several crates of grapes but for one single bunch!

Let’s crunch some numbers. The bunch in question was sold at a wholesale auction in Ishikawa Prefecture. It weighed in at about 1.5 pounds, or 700 grams, and the bunch contained about 26 grapes. At $8,200 for the bunch, that’s US$315 per single grape, and $5,466.67 per pound. The grapes themselves are fairly large -- about the size of a ping pong ball according to reports. But even though the grapes are bigger than your average supermarket variety, that’s some serious green to drop for produce!

So what makes these grapes so special? They were bred over the course of 14 years, only going on sale for the first time in 2008. Every year since they have broken records with their sale price. Last year, a bunch sold for just half the price they sold for this year! The grapes are bred for low acidity and increased sweetness, as well as size.

Although Chef Masayuki Hirai of Hotel Nikko Kanazawa was the lucky auction winner (or spender) this year, the public will soon have their chance to buy these luxurious grapes. They have already been shipped to stores in Kanazawa. Prices are expected to be around ¥25,000, or just over $200. Quite a deal for these high-end grapes!

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