Inside this Food Report


August 1, 2016

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A Fly By Along Mount Rainer
Summer in Seattle… a beautiful time of year in the Northwest. Mount Rainer in full bloom which you can see from every angle of the city. Unfortunately, we do not have much time to enjoy the view. We are packing our bags this month (again) and heading east of the mountains and then to the Midwest to visit the corn growing regions. After that its off to Japan, Europe and South America. We all know the expression “no rest for the weary”!

Weather has been ideal for corn growing and to date we are expecting an excellent crop in the Northwest. Midwest corn should have a very nice season as well. While this time last year we were speaking of Europe and the heat wave across that continent, this year’s story is heavy rain and hail for much of May and June and all crops are suffering there with lower yields and increased prices. (see our crop section below).

Flying Over The Columbia River
On The Way To Pasco,Wa

I returned last week from Eastern Washington and Oregon where I visited many of the processors Noon International purchases vegetables from. I am always reminded during those visits of the dedication, time, energy and knowledge that goes into producing our vegetables. Thank you once again for a job well done and here is to a fantastic corn crop ahead!

All The Best,
Betty and The Noon International Team


United States:    Pea season completed in the Northwest.  Most processors ended up on budget, however there are a few who came in under budget, while some others experience a much higher percentage of lower grade product putting their customer requirements out of balance.  We are hearing the Midwest and Canada struggled with their pea packs and Europe as well.   With that said most suppliers are off market on peas and prices will remain firm.   

Sweet corn harvest has started in the Northwest with both super sweet and conventional varieties being harvested for the last few weeks.  To date all indications are for a normal pack season on sweet corn.

It Is The Beginning Of Corn Season!

The Midwest sweet corn season is also underway about 3 to 4 days earlier than usual.   The overall crop conditions look average, however there are areas that may have been affected by wet field conditions and heavy rain.

Blueberry harvest in the Northwest is winding down.    For the most part the harvest was a good one, however due to the heat there have been reports of some soft fruit.   U.S Blueberry inventory is reported high due to an over production of wild blueberries as well as some higher inventories of cultivated blueberries.   Prices have soften as a result.

The new season potato harvest in the Columbia Basin is underway.   Early variety, Shepody, is completed and Rangers and Russet Burbank will be next.   To date we have heard reports that yields and quality are good.   All processors seem to be gearing up to handle increased capacity.

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:   Peak production of broccoli has begun and to date conditions have been excellent for a top quality pack.

Thailand:   The summer pineapple crop in Thailand has suffered due to high temperatures and not much rainfall.    Supply is tight and prices up.   Shipments are delayed.

Europe:  It is being reported that Europe has faced the worst crop season in about 40 years.   Caused by extreme weather conditions such as heavy rains and hail in May, June and parts of July all vegetable crops have been affected.    Regarding to green peas, yields are down by about 40%, especially in the areas of Northern France and Eastern Belgium.   Carrots have also suffered large losses.    Green bean planting was delayed by about 3 weeks due to flooded fields and volume losses to this crop will be substantial.    Expect prices to be up, especially on peas and green beans by about 10 – 15%.  
Although European potato acreage was increased this season, it is expected that yields and volumes will be down due to the weather conditions across Europe’s potato growing regions.  Currently field prices are higher than they were last year at this time. 


Shandong Province:   Peak Edamame processing is now ongoing in this region.  To date the quality and yields look good and production is expected to go through August.  The later part of the harvest will begin to show some blemish so mukimame will be produced at that time.

Zhejiang Province:   Edamame harvest is now complete.    Quality is good, however yields are down due to heavy rains.   Supplies will be tight and prices have increased compared to last season.   White gourd and eggplant are currently being processed in Zhejiang province.   Yields for both are expected to be disappointing due to weather conditions.

Fujian ProvinceOkra production has begun and should last to the end of September.   The typhoon that ripped through this province in the early part of July destroyed many of the crops there, especially in the North.   Production of Lychee has started and due to rain yields will decline sharply.  Prices are up.


Cameras To Detect E. Coli

A new tool could help combat foodborne toxins. Chemist Reuven Rasooly, at the Agricultural Research Service in California, has developed a small camera that can identify active Shiga toxins in food. His breakthrough could completely change the way foodborne toxins are detected, and at just $300 it could do so with an affordable price tag.

Foodborne toxins lead to about 48 millions cases of illness each year, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Shiga toxin is a product of an E coli strain, and makes around 73,000 people sick each year. Of those, around 60 cases are fatal. But not all Shiga toxin indicates the presence of a threat; only active toxins are a reason to worry, while inactive toxins can be safely consumed.

Rasooly’s camera can tell the active toxins from inactive toxins, making it easier to identify actual threats to consumers. While Rasooly’s system doesn’t identify all foodborne toxins, it does identify one of the most common (Escherichia coli 0157:H7) and has been altered to identify others. Using light and a camera, the system can show levels of toxins in a sample of food.

Rasooly isn’t the first person to develop a system to identify foodborne toxins, but his system does have a few key benefits. The camera is a much cheaper alternative to the more commonly used fluorometer, which costs around $35,000. In comparison studies both devices achieved the same results. Cost is one of the main deterrents to fighting foodborne illness around the world, particularly in countries with poor sanitation where such methods of detection are most needed.

The camera is currently being tested by the US Department of Agriculture.

Be Good To Your Brain

As we age, many of us begin to feel as though our memories aren’t quite what they used to be. But if you’ve been feeling a bit foggy lately, there are tricks that can help boost your brainpower. From games to foods, a few small changes can make a big difference in how your memory shapes up! Here are just a few ways to improve your memory and eating colorful fruits and vegetables is at the top of the list!

Load Your Plate With Vegetables

Eating right can help your memory.  Cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, kale, or cabbage have been shown to improve memory function. Look for colorful veggies with antioxidants, which help protect your brain cells.

Get Sweet On Berries

If you have a sweet tooth, opt for berries. Blueberries, blackberries and cherries can cure your sweet craving.  They are rich in anthocyanins, which are great for memory function. If you don’t have fresh around, remember frozen works just as well if not better!

Stay active

Your brain isn’t the only thing that needs to work out. Exercising regularly can also help boost your memory, due to increased blood flow and benefits in motor skills. It also helps you wake up, which can get you past the afternoon slump and keep you thinking on your toes longer!


Swap out meat for fish

A few omega-3s go a long way, so opt for some fatty fish during your next dinner. Look for tuna, halibut, sardines, or salmon. But if fish isn’t your fancy, you can get the same benefits from  squash, pinto beans, spinach, or soybeans.  And yes, they all come in frozen form which makes it so easy!

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is crucial to maintaining brain health -- when we sleep, our brains consolidate memories, which makes it easier for us to remember them later.  Get enough sleep, avoid screens before bed, and drink less caffeine in the afternoon if it makes it hard to fall asleep later. Your brain will thank you!

Learn Something New
Whether it’s a language, doing a crossword, or taking a dance class, making sure you exercise your brain is one of the best ways to keep it in shape.  Stimulation is key to brain health and development so break out of routine.   Try something new – maybe even a cooking class using all the fantastic frozen fruits and vegetables that are good for your brain!

The Blueberry Boom!

If you’ve noticed a lot more blueberries at the farmer’s market or some great deals on them at the grocery store, there is a simple explanation. Blueberry production is seeing a huge increase over recent years, and that boom is expected to continue in the years to come. There are few concerns about oversupply -- demand has grown right along with production, seeing increases in profit and consumption in the past year.

Projections are showing a 25% increase in blueberry production in North America over the next four years, growing from just over 750 million pounds in 2015 to 940 million pounds in 2019. Estimates for this year’s cultivated blueberry production has put North American blueberry harvest at over 750 million pounds, and factoring in production from around the globe that number jumps to 1.4 billion pounds for global production.

Part of what’s driving the growth is an ever-increasing demand. Blueberries have been growing in popularity in the past years, with a nearly fifty percent increase in consumption between 2010 and 2015. In the United States, people are twice as likely to buy blueberries now than they were one decade ago, due in part to better understanding of the health benefits the small berries pack and the popularity of fruit smoothies.

This increase in sales has created a huge economic opportunity for growing states, including California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon and Washington.  In Washington, where blueberries have always been grown in the western part of the state, growing has spread to the east, where production has been steadily on the rise in the past five years. Washington state is now the largest grower of cultivated blueberries in the U.S. 

Sales of fresh blueberries topped $1.5 billion in 2015, a seven percent increase that made them the second most popular fresh berry on the market. Frozen blueberries sales have reached $189.6 million, putting them in the number 2 spot for frozen fruit dollar sales.

With the increase in production and growing popularity, the US Highbush Blueberry Council, which monitors the blueberry industry, hopes to grow the export market for US blueberries.  Currently ten percent of US crops are being sold overseas, a number that has grown over the past decade. Now the group has their eye on markets that currently don’t buy US fresh blueberries, including Vietnam, China, Australia and South Africa.


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