Inside this Food Report
Happy Holidays! With the Christmas and New Year holidays fast approaching we are certain everyone is busy rushing around and preparing for visits with family and friends, either dining at home or dining out to celebrate the holidays. In the hustle and bustle we tend to forget about our well being so we thought this a good opportunity to talk about a few foods that can help lower stress levels and keep us a bit healthier. (Please see our Eat Healthy Section below.) Also there are so many delicious and countless types of foods and recipe’s served over the holiday time from so many diverse cultures, we wanted to remind everyone how to best prevent serious illness due to food allergens by taking certain precautions so everyone can enjoy a safe and healthy holiday. (see our Food Safety Section below).
December is a month when most of our land here in North America is fallow and winter sets in. It was a season with many challenges in the United States with the Mid West drought being in the forefront. Reports out now say the drought was not as devastating as initially thought, however the vegetable market remains strong and our food prices are high.
Last month was a hectic one for Noon staff as most of us were out of the office travelling. In November, travel took us to China, Japan, and South America. Our Stella Yeung, an avid “Hello Kitty” fan, experienced her first visit to Japan where she enjoyed seeing Hello Kitty everywhere and did a tremendous job of helping boost up the Japanese economy with her shopping expertise! To all our Japanese friends, please say thank you to Stella!
Until next time we hope everyone has a safe, healthy, and festive holiday season!
Betty and The Noon International Team.
United States: Northwest vegetable and fruit crops are now fully completed. Overall the yields and quality this year were average with no adverse conditions. North American potato harvest is also completed and the crop is now in storage with good quality. The potato crop in North America (including all potato’s/fresh market and processing potato’s) is up 9 % from last season. Exports of frozen potatoes from North America are up 13.4 % from 2011. However in Washington State yields were below average due to summer heat and demand for processing potatoes in this region remain strong. California continues to harvest fresh market persimmon, pomegranate, apples and pears. Also plantings of fresh market broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage continue in California.
Europe: Bulgaria and Hungary experienced a difficult corn crop this season, with yields down 40 – 50 % compared to last season. Extreme heat and lack of moisture was the cause. Hungary in particular much like the United States experienced their worst drought in 20 years. The Ukraine was moderately affected due to scheduled increased acreage, which helped offset drops in yields. Potato harvest in UK, Belgium and France has been a struggle this season. Wet weather slowed down the harvest and yields are below average with some concerns on quality.
Mexico: Although a bit of a slow start to Mexico’s peak season of broccoli and cauliflower, now things are well underway and good volume and yields of both broccoli and cauliflower are being received from the Bajio region. Quality is being reported as good with ideal day time growing temperatures, cooler nights and no frost.
Guatemala: Broccoli harvest continues in Guatemala with good quality and yields.
Peru: The main asparagus season is underway in Peru. It is going to be another tight supply season for asparagus coming out of Peru. Yields are expected to be down by 20 – 30 % compared to last year due to a warmer than usual winter. The warm weather caused some of the crop to flower early, which will result in lower yields. The current weather in Peru is good but yields will still be down due to the earlier in the season weather problems. Asparagus is expected to run through December.
Chile: Asparagus harvest continues. Quality is being reported as very good and yields have been close to normal. Weather this season is much better than last year, with warm days and cool nights, which is the best growing condition for asparagus. Raw material prices are up considerably in Chile for asparagus, which has resulted in overall higher frozen asparagus prices coming out of Chile. To date it seems that processors have been able to receive their budgeted volumes. Estimated harvest end date is currently projected for middle December.
China: Zhejiang Province: Average temperatures in November was around 13 degrees C which is a bit lower than the same period last season. This has resulted in broccoli harvest beginning a bit later than usual. Broccoli and cauliflower harvest will begin approximately middle December. Broccoli pricing is higher than last season as well. Pea Pod and sugar snap pea planting was completed in November and to date conditions are good.
Shandong Province: Good quality taro is being processed; however due to high domestic demand pricing is going up. Carrot harvest began in November and yields and quality are very good which is expected to bring down pricing. Autumn crop spinach is estimated to end in December. Due to heavy rain, which resulted in loss of plants, yields are expected to be down by 15%.
Fujian Province: Autumn crop edamame finished up in November with good yields and quality. Pea pod, sugar snap pea and water chestnut harvest expected to begin middle of this month.
Eating Safe With Food Allergies
The six most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat and fish. Food allergies affect 1 in every 25 people in America today and include over 6 million children. As a result, there are an estimated 30,000 emergency room visits and between 150-200 deaths each year caused by food allergies. If you are one of the 25,000 million people who have an allergic reaction to a particular food there are a few ways to make sure you never come in contact with that food.
You are more likely to accidentally come across an allergen outside of your home – that means at restaurants, bars, bakeries and diners. When ordering at one of these eateries, be sure to let the waiter or manager know that you have an allergy to a particular food and ask if the food can be prepared separately. Remember to state exactly what food you are allergic to in order to avoid any confusion. You’ll likely find that many restaurants already have procedures in place for such an occurrence so your allergy should not cause you or the chef any particular problems. Those individuals with food allergies depend on restaurants to provide accurate information about the ingredients in dishes so they can make an informed decision. If the information isn’t there or appears incorrect, never presume.
Restaurant owners should also put in place certain procedures and regulations so that employees are fully aware of proper protocol when their patrons have particular food allergies. Education, Communication and Teamwork are all necessities in your workplace to safely serve a guest with food allergies. It is vital to understand where cross-contact between foods can occur to avoid any potential problems. Some restaurants will provide diners with an individual list of ingredients in each dish and wait staff should always communicate with the chefs and alert them that they are preparing a food for a guest with allergies which will ensure extra time, care and effort is used in its preparation. Should any mistakes occur, the dish must be discarded, and a new one started from scratch.
Those who suffer from food allergies should also always remember to read the label on the food products they buy carefully. Foods made with a variety of ingredients will often contain allergens – for example mayonnaise contains eggs. Also many brands that have ‘non-dairy’ written on them may indeed still contain milk. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) an FDA law implemented in 2006 requires allergens to be listed on labels in easily understood language which means it should be easy to identify any problems – but you can never be too sure. For instance did you know that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies and/or sardines making it dangerous to those who have fish allergies. Sweet and sour sauce often contains wheat and soy. Additionally various brands of canned tuna contain casein – which is a milk or soy protein used as natural flavoring. Since companies and brands are continually updating ingredients it is always wise to continue to read the ingredient label on the package foods you purchase, even on the products and brands which you eat regularly and trust .
Stress Free December
One of the most overlooked ways of reducing stress levels is a simple change in your diet. In order to reduce stress you can avoid certain foods and choose to eat others. Substances to avoid are stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. It also helps to avoid sugary carbohydrates, as these will cause spikes in your blood sugar level that are followed with bouts of low energy and mood. Some excellent stress busting foods that you should eat more of and more often are listed below:
Almonds – Are you a stress eater? Do you eat when you’re stressed out? If so, almonds are a great choice to get into the habit of eating. Almonds are high in unsaturated fat so they’ll curb your hunger pangs quickly. They’re also a great source of Vitamin B2, E, magnesium and zinc. Additionally they are crammed with antioxidants like Vitamin C and E which have time and time again demonstrated their efficacy at combatting the free-radicals associated with stress. One serving (1/3 of a cup) is sufficient and provides around 300 calories.
Asparagus – Asparagus is very high in folic acid, which is good for many reasons. The primary is that folic acid has shown its ability to alter your mood, as it is needed in the production of serotonin – our feel good hormone. Ensuring you get enough of your greens will only help your body to produce serotonin more efficiently and easily. Asparagus is also high in Vitamin B6, which is integral to a healthy nervous system.
Tuna – Tuna is not only a very healthy food source it’s also contains large amounts of vitamins B6 and B12 which are known to fight stress. Tuna is also low in fat and high in protein so you really can’t go wrong with this food. Additionally tuna is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids that curb soaring adrenaline levels, keeping you calm and collected whatever the situation.
Blueberries – Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, which work in synergy against stress. They’re also very low in calories meaning you can have plenty without over indulging yourself. Blueberries are also an excellent source of fiber that will help in digestion and calm your stomach.
Broccoli – Broccoli is another on our stress busting food list as it is crammed with B vitamins. Additionally broccoli also contains a high level of folic acid, which is known to help relieve stress, panic and mild depression. You can eat it boiled, steamed or fried and still obtain the benefits of this vegetable.
Why not try a few of our recommended stress buster foods and have a calm and stress free December!
Fast Food Chains – Fueling the Chinese Appetite?
Fast food chains in China are fast transforming traditional food habits in the country. Due in part to the country’s burgeoning middle class and coupled with increased spending power, foreign fast food chains in China have had a good run thus far and are set to cross the 50,000 mark. Market research outfit Mintel estimates that fast food chain outlets in China will grow by an additional 39 percent from 2012 to 2017, taking the total number of outlets in the country to a whopping 71,964 within the next five years. Presently, popular American fast food chains in China include McDonald's, Burger King and Yum! Brands (KFC and Pizza Hut). With 4,790 outlets spread over 800 cities, Yum! Brands leads the sector thanks to the bullish growth strategy that it adopted while entering the Chinese market.
Chinese consumers have long stuck to their traditional diets, and continue to have a strong preference for domestic fast food brands specializing in local foods such as rice and noodles – so what is driving the popularity of the foreign food chains, and how are American fast food chains wooing the population (especially the youth) into adopting Western food preferences? Most foreign fast food chains are winning over the Chinese palate using a two-pronged approach – one, offering items on the menu that incorporate local flavors and next, appealing to the consumer by playing the meal on the go, and convenience trump card. For instance, market leader KFC won over Chinese consumers, by incorporating local flavors into their offerings − including the staple breakfast chicken/pork congee, the Dragon Twister - Peking Duck presented in a wrap sandwich, or the exceedingly popular 1,000-year old eggs which typically sell out before 8am.
However, the lure of exciting flavors and convenient meals notwithstanding, the Chinese continue to have a strong preference for traditional foods, and are inherently very health conscious. Many locals today fear the impact that Western diet influences can have on their body and health. Foods such as hamburgers and pizza are still considered decadent and unhealthy by a large percentage of the population, and everyday consumption of fast foods is actively discouraged. Further, many also attribute the rising numbers of lifestyle related health conditions such as obesity and sleep apnea (excessive snoring when sleeping) to the junk food invasion into the country. Paul French, author of the book "Fat China", and a long term expatriate living in the country observes that the Chinese have moved from “famine to gluttony” within a matter of two generations, and attributes the trend to the increased availability of fast food options in the country.
Understandably, every major global fast food chain is vying for a share of the Chinese appetite − what needs to be seen though is whether this will help create an opportunity for them to develop nutritive and healthier meal options that can be replicated in other markets.
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