Inside this Food Report


February 1, 2015

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Hello Everyone,

Wow, what a super bowl game yesterday between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks! Congratulations to all of the New England Patriot fans out there. Today there is a dark cloud hanging over Seattle…we are all stunned by the final play call that ended the game and handed the victory to the Patriots. Ah, the agony of defeat!

January has come and gone and it certainly was a busy one. Some of us attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where like last years show, Japanese foods manufactured in Japan had a large presence. Others visited South America to meet with clients and processors and some of us stayed in the good old U.S.A. to hold the down the fort! February will bring Noon International to the American Frozen Food Institute Convention being held in Anaheim, CA this year. We look forward to seeing our many suppliers and customers at the end of February.

We are still struggling with the West Coast Port Slowdowns and have included at the bottom of our newsletter the most recent information available to us. It seems like some progress is being made but there is still a long way to go. We want to thank our customers for continuing to bear with us concerning shipment delays and extra charges being incurred due to the ongoing situation. We certainly appreciate your patience and understanding.

And last but certainly not least Happy Chinese New Year! 2015 is the year of the wood sheep and we wish all of friends in China a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

All The Best

Betty and The Noon International Team


United States: Across the Corn Belt mild weather west of the Mississippi river is contrasting with snow and cold farther east. Iowa State University reports that overall the subsoil moisture is actually very good even though winter around much of the Midwest region has been fairly dry.

China has agreed to open up its market to U.S. grown apples of all varieties. The US apple industry reports that shipments to China could reach 5 million bushels annually, worth 100 million US dollars.

Due to the continuing slowdown of the West Coast Longshoremen inventories are still high for frozen vegetables, including potatoes/French frys. Freezers are full.

Mexico: Weather continues to be good with cooler temperatures at night. Both broccoli and cauliflower are at peak season with excellent quality and yields. Excellent quality with low insect count and high yields expected to continue through February.

Guatemala: Harvesting of melon and green beans now underway as well as snow peas and sugar snap peas. Broccoli harvest continues however volumes are decreasing slightly.

Chile: Harvest of first flower raspberries has finished. Temperatures have been warm but much less so than last season where drought like conditions was experienced. Quality and yields have been normal and processors are now moving into the harvest of second flower raspberries. Blueberry harvest has also been adequate. Weather has been favorable and prices are high benefiting the growers. As a result larger volumes are going for the fresh market. Processors are reporting about 75% of their blueberry bookings are contracted with buyers. Organic blueberries have high demand and processors are trying to increase their programs for organic. There is very limited availability currently of organic berries.

Vegetables in the central growing region has benefited from the favorable weather as well. No major issues to report for the pea or corn harvest. Suppliers receiving close to their budgeted volumes. Corn and green bean production is now underway with quality looking very nice and yields being reported as steady.

Peru: Mango season has begun in Peru this month. Crop is expected to be down by approximately 50% compared to last season.

Europe: Due to favorable weather conditions Belgium’s green bean crop has done well. Most product is contracted but there is still some product available for spot sale. Cauliflower and spinach crop is now completed and overall the harvest went well with most processors sold out. Leek harvest and production is now underway and will continue through February. Yields on European carrots were higher this season compared to last due to good weather conditions.

China: Generally this winter has been warmer and dryer compared to last year . Crops are growing well. Quality and yields look promising for broccoli and cauliflower in Zhejiang Province, however prices expected to remain high through the Chinese New Year.

Pea pods and sugar snap peas are planted and to date growth is reported as good.
Water chestnuts being processed in Fujian Province throughout February.

Japanís Food Complaints On The Rise

Recently we have heard a number of incidents regarding customer complaints within the Japanese food market. Japanese consumers are finding insects in their noodles, plastic in their Chicken McNuggets and needles in their bread. We have all heard the news of pesticides being found in various food products and outdated meat being shipped to McDonald’s Japan from China.

It has been reported that the number of complaints regarding food purchased by consumers at retail stores or served at restaurants has risen to 16,094 since 2009. The National Consumer Affairs Center for Japan reported this statistic last week.

The Japanese consumer has always been sensitive to food safety issues but recently, speaking as a supplier of food products to the Japanese market, Noon International has seen Japan’s concern rise to a heighten level in the past month or so.

While none of these recent incidents occurred in any products coming from the United States, the culmination of foreign material being found in food products in Japan has caused a flurry of concern from our Japanese clients.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has sent to all Japanese food companies a formal letter instructing each company what questions to ask their food suppliers. As an example here are a few,

  • Hygiene control of equipment and utensils
  • Measures against rodents and insects
  • Hygiene control of food handlers
  • Appropriate control of Chemicals
  • Strengthen control points where tampering and contamination by harmful substances could take place.
The above as well as questions regarding food safety audits and field procedures are only a few of the points required to be answered on the daily questionnaires we are receiving from our clients in Japan.

While none of these recent food safety incidents are related with any United States or Central/South American food producer we ask all of our suppliers to bear with us as we once again try to mitigate through this most recent food safety concern with Japan.

Fermented Foods Winning Fans!

Fermented foods have been growing in popularity across the U.S. for years, and it has been said by many food critics that 2015 is slated to be a big year for the tangy foods. But what are fermented foods, and what makes them so healthy? Before fermented foods hit the shelves and menus near you, here’s what you need to know about the soon-to-be trend!

Fermentation is a preserving process that has been used by various cultures for centuries. The first known instances of fermentation date back to 6000 BC, and the method can be found in cooking across Asia and Africa. Fermented super foods are extremely healthy, so it’s no surprise that cultures have used them for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

Here in the U.S., foods like pickles and sauerkraut are already staples, both of which are made using fermentation. To ferment foods, sliced or shredded ingredients are allowed to sit in a brine that locks in complex flavor and nutrients. Adding cultures and bacteria, then allowing it to sit in a warm place can also ferment beverages and dairy products. Yogurt and kefir are two such fermented items that are refrigerator staples, while kombucha has a dedicated following.

But what benefits do fermented foods have? As it turns out, quite a few! The bacteria and probiotics in fermented foods are great for your gut, promoting healthy digestion. And because 70% to 80% of your immune system is in your gut fermented foods are a huge benefit to boost your immune system. In addition, fermented foods are heavy in nutrients like vitamin K2 and multiple B vitamins.

Fermented foods are very versatile, great as a base for sauces or on sandwiches. Kombucha can be mixed with pomegranate juice for a delicious and sweet treat, while yogurt and kefir are both great on their own! A little bit of fermented foods goes a long way, so finding ways to add these super-foods to your diet is easy! Get into the swing of fermented foods now and get a jump-start on one of 2015’s most anticipated trend!

Food Product Dating

The United States has no federal law or uniform system requiring dating on food products with the one exception being baby formula. It is up to each manufacturer to decide how to date their products. For consumers, this means figuring out what the dates on their food means and it can be tricky. The variety of use-by or sell-by dates can lead to food being thrown away well before it goes bad, and understanding the difference between an expiration date and use-by date is a crucial part of making informed food decisions.

Most products have open dating. Open dating is defined as use of a calendar date as opposed to a manufacturers code on food products.

There are 4 kinds of open dating found on packaging and they all mean something different.

  1. Sell-By” dates tells stores how long to display food to ensure best quality, but in many cases does not signify expired food. It’s a message to the store, but doesn’t mean anything for consumers.

  2. Best If Used By” dates only speaks to the quality of the item, rather than safety or expiration. This date indicates when the product’s taste could be less than perfect, although the average consumer will probably not notice any significant difference.

  3. Use-By” dates indicates the last day that could be considered “high quality” according to the manufacturer. This is similar to the “Best If Used By” date, and does not mean that food is expired.

  4. “Expiration Date” dates are usually on fresh foods like meats and some dairy products. The product should be consumed by this date.

So how can consumers use these dates? While it’s important to be careful when cooking with or consuming foods that may be past their prime, understanding that the dates stamped on labels have more to do with highest possible quality than safety and can help consumers to make informed food choices. With proper storage and handling, including refrigeration when called for, food is still usable and delicious well past the dates on packaging.

If food has gone bad, relying on our senses is a great way to double check. Strange coloring, bad smells and odd textures are all things to watch out for when checking food quality. Our senses are finely tuned to pick up on changes that could signify expired food, regardless of the date on the packaging!

Latest News On The West Coast Port Slowdown!

Negotiators for the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has reached a tentative agreement on the chassis maintenance and repair issue that has been the major roadblock to reaching a new waterfront contract at West Coast ports.

The PMA announced that a tentative agreement has been reached but no further details are available at this time.  Negotiations were reported as positive and both parties appear to want this saga of mutual recrimination and horrendous delays to end as soon as possible.

The major remaining issues in the negotiations are wages, pensions and the length of the contract.

Details of the chassis agreement have not been released but it is believed that the ILWU mechanics have the jurisdiction to inspect every chassis before it leaves the terminal.  

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