Inside this Food Report


February 1, 2016

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Hello Everyone,

January has come and gone and it was a busy one for sure. Some of us attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, CA while others headed overseas. This year’s Fancy Food Exhibition showcased the usual wine, cheese and meats. Japanese foods, including sushi still had a very strong presence. Natural foods seemed to be trending, outpacing organics. One thing we noticed is that macaroons were everywhere. This little cookie seemed to be the star of the Fancy Food Show!

We have been writing recently on food fraud and a few weeks ago I watched a “60 Minutes” broadcast on fraud in the Italian olive oil industry. Olive Oil fraud has been going on for some time but it was still a jolt to watch this broadcast. Now I am wondering if that olive oil in my cabinet is the real thing or not! Please see our Facts and Figures section below.

With the New Year many of us make resolutions to eat healthier and we thought the Blue Zone concept was very interesting. One point we pulled out from researching this topic is that beans are consumed in all blue zones. Canned beans have always been available but more and more we are seeing frozen beans on the supermarket shelves. Whether blended with other ingredients or alone, beans are a great source of protein without the animal fat.

This month we head to the American Frozen Food Convention in beautiful San Diego, California and we look forward to seeing you all there

Last but not least a very Happy Chinese New Year/Year of the Monkey!

All The Best,

Betty And The Noon International Team


United States: Raw material stocks of potatoes are reported as low in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho state. USDA has reported that freezer stocks of potatoes, including French frys are almost 50 million pounds less then a year ago at this time. Given the shortfall in Europe this past season and lower yields in the Pacific Northwest due to extreme heat processors are concerned if they will be able to keep up with demand. Current contracts are being met to date however there is some concern that inventories could run out before the next crop comes on in July.

December and January has brought some extreme winter weather for farmers all across the U.S.A. Storm Goliath rolled across the Southwest killing over 50,000 heads of beef and dairy cattle. In January Strom Jona hit the East Coast burying Washington D.C and New York City but also ascended upon farms across the Appalachia and the Mid Atlantic. More storms are predicted this month bringing wind, rain and snow all across the mid west corn belt.

Mexico: Cold weather in Central Mexico has slowed down both cauliflower crops and broccoli crops. While there has been no extreme frost damage and crops are in good condition the cold weather has slowed down the harvest by approximately 3 weeks. This means farms which were scheduled to be harvested in January will be harvested in February resulting in raw material to be flowing into the processing plants behind their usual pace. The cooler than usual weather had no adverse affect on the quality of both broccoli and cauliflower. Although volumes are limited the quality is excellent.

Southern Mexico experienced a more severe drop in temperatures and strawberries in particular were damaged and yields are lower than normal. Fresh market onions, pumpkin and corn were also affected and prices have gone up.

Guatemala: Cantaloupe and Honeydew melons will run through middle May. Brussel sprouts will be completed this month. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are in sort supply due to previous wet weather back in September/October. Broccoli continues to be processed however volumes are limited and season will close at end March.

Chile: Chile’s El Nino affect has caused issues for many crops there. Cooler temperatures and rain resulted in a late start to the raspberry crop and has also taken its toll on Chile’s blueberry crop as well. All crops (blueberries, raspberries and cherries) experienced a delayed pollination and cooler than usual weather is hindering fruit development.

Argentina: El Nino also is affecting crops in Argentina. Berries and peaches have had a shorter than usual season this year and volumes are lower than normal and prices are high.
Raspberry season is now over and product is in short supply.

Peru: Shipments of canned asparagus declined by 11% January through October 2015. Raw material asparagus prices are up and volumes have been affected by El Nino. The main consumers of Peru’s asparagus are the U.S., Germany and Spain.

Europe: The wet weather September through April has hindered England’s kale crop impacting the quality and volumes. Spain is forecasting an increase of 10% in peach production due to additional acreage.

Asia: More than 65 people have died in eastern Asia as a severe cold snap in late January swept through the region, including Taiwan, Mainland China, South Korea and Japan.

South Africa: Drought and excessive heat prevented farms from planting much of the corn crop which normally pollinates in February and March. The region had the lowest rainfall since records began and the corn crop is expected to be down by 25%.

China: January brought extreme cold temperatures and snow to China.

Zhejiang Province: Processing for broccoli and cauliflower is almost completed. The cold has resulted in poorer quality and lower yields for both broccoli and cauliflower.
Pea pods and snap peas are still in the growing stage but will certainly be affected by the recent weather conditions The yield out look for this crop is pessimistic.

Fujian Province: Water chestnuts still being processed and to date the quality of the crop is good and has not been affected by the recent cold weather.

Shandong Province: Due to the cold weather all crops are now completed.

Is Your Olive Oil a Fruad?

For many of us olive oil is a pantry staple. But given such widespread use and popularity, it may come as a surprise that in recent years olive oil has been at the center of food fraud scandals. Some of the largest olive oil companies in the world have been under the microscope as reports surfaced that they could be passing off non-olive oils, leading to global questions about what’s to be done to guarantee quality.

Late last year, an investigation by Italy’s State Forestry Corp found that products labelled 100% Italian olive oil wasn’t actually from Italy, with oils coming from countries like Turkey and Syria. Investigative journalist Tom Mueller found that much of the oil being labelled “extra-virgin olive oil” doesn’t meet the standards for such a label, and an investigation was launched into seven large global companies, including Italian food giant Bertolli. It was found that 75% - 80% of extra virgin olive oil sold in the U.S. is a fake. 50% of the olive oil sold in Italy is a fraud.

Food fraud is big business…a 16 billion dollar annual business for fake olive oil alone. The difference between making a gallon of real extra-virgin Italian olive oil and a subsitute is about $43, offering a significant profit in the multi-billion dollar industry. And in Italy organized crime could have a hand in the fraudulent oil. A report by “60 Minutes” found that the Mafia (coined Agromafia) is active in pedalling faux-fine products like wine, cheese, and oil, capitalizing on the draw of products “Made in Italy.”

“You in many cases are getting lower grade olive oil that has been blended with some good extra virgin olive oil…you’re sometimes getting deodorized oil,” Mueller told the program. “They blend it with some oil that has some character to give it a little color, a little flavor…and they sell that as extra virgin. It’s illegal – it happens all the time.”

Italian authorities are taking the allegations seriously, with the Minister of Agriculture saying, “Who harms the strategic sector of olive oil must be condemned with the utmost strictness. It is important to protect consumers and the thousands of honest companies that contribute to the success of ‘Made in Italy’ in the world.”

But politics are proving messy when it comes to the lucrative business of faux-food in Italy. As news broke of the investigations and allegations being made about the Mafia’s involvement, the government began debating the decriminalization of using the “Made in Italy” label on foods not actually made in Italy, a move that would make food fraud that much easier. With such high profits and high profile involvement, the future of Italian olive oil remains unclear.

The Fountain Of Youth!

For most of human history, we’ve been interested in the proverbial fountain of youth. What can help us live healthily and happily forever? Well, although immortality is still not an option, one author thinks he may have found the key to living a long, healthy life, and as it turns out much of it comes down to what you eat.

We all know that what you put in your body can make a big difference in your overall health, but what do the places where people live the longest have that the rest of the world doesn’t? In 2000, author and explorer Dan Buettner set out to answer that question. He traveled the “Blue Zones”, or the five regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the U.S. with the most residents who live to 100, to find out what they do differently. The book he wrote about his journey, The Blue Zone, was a bestseller. Now, he’s back with a new book, The Blue Zone Solution, that lays out how to make Blue Zone habits part of your routine.

According to Buettner, there are a few things the Blue Zones regions have in common. Whether in Okinawa,Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Nicoya,Costa Rica;Ikaria,Greece or Loma Linda, California, residents who live to and past 100 exercise regularly by walking or remaining otherwise active and have strong social networks in their community. But their diets are where the differences between the Blue Zones and the rest of the world stand out most.

In the Blue Zones, residents eat less, particularly later in the day, when they have their smallest meal during dinner. They also eat more plants, fish, and nuts. No or limited processed foods and the foods they eat are fresh from their regions. The diets in all the blue zones vary somewhat as some will eat more cheese, meat and bread then others. However the commen thread in all regions was that a large part of their diet consisted of beans. All types of beans such as garbanzo beans, lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans to name a few. Beans are a great source of protein and a replacement for meat without the fat. Drinking is moderate, but regular. Buettner also lays out the fifty superfoods used among residents, including lemons, shiitake mushrooms, and fennel.

Including recipes, tips, and other thoughts on what the healthiest people in the world can teach us, Dan Buettner and The Blue Zone Solution may not help us live forever, but it might just give us a longer, healthier life.

USDA Pesticide Report

Although 2014 may seem like a distant memory, the USDA has just wrapped up that year’s annual review of pesticide usage in foods, releasing a report that found 99% of foods tested were compliant with Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Conducted by the Pesticide Data Program, the annual review tests foods from across the agricultural industry to ensure safety standards for consumers.

“Each year, the Pesticide Data Program uses rigorous sampling and the most current laboratory methods to test a wide variety of domestic and imported foods. Again, the resulting data in this year’s report gives consumers confidence that the products they buy for their families are safe and wholesome,” said Dr. Ruihong Guo, Deputy Administrator of the AMS Science and Technology Program, said in a statement regarding the report.

The PDP works closely with the US Food and Drug Administration and the EPA, as well as state agencies and other federal groups, to test the pesticide residue left on food when it reaches consumers. They oversee the sampling, testing, and analysis of a rotating selection of produce, meats, and other agricultural products each year. According to the USDA website, this year’s tests included “a total of 10,619 samples. The products tested were fresh and processed fruit and vegetables (8,582 samples), oats (314 samples), rice (314 samples), infant formula (1,055 samples), and salmon (354 samples).”

The 2014 report finds widespread compliance and cooperation with EPA tolerance guidelines, which establish the level of pesticide residue that can be present on a food product without resulting in harm when consumed. The level differs across foods, requiring careful evaluation and sampling. In the 2014 samples, 99% were found to be in compliance with guidelines, with only .36% in violation. Those found in violation will be subjected to further investigation and possible enforcement action by the USDA and EPA.

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