Inside this Food Report



January 1, 2012

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Happy New Year!

Norlina Hui First Place Winner
Noon International hopes that you enjoyed the holidays and had time to celebrate with your family and friends. December was certainly a whirlwind of a month with all of the holiday festivities.

The Noon International weekend Christmas extravaganza in Monterrey/Carmel California was a huge success. Friday night we enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner in Carmel and sang karaoke. We could tell that everyone put a lot of practice into their karaoke performances this year, however Norlina Hui from our Danville team won best overall karaoke performer. No one can beat her still! Our company president Lily Noon performed a fabulous rendition of Bruno Mar’s “Grenade” and Stella Yeung and Steve Dole came away with second and third place prizes. Saturday night was a real treat as we dined at the Chateau Julien Winery in Carmel and celebrated the retirement of Mrs. Louise Waram. It was an exhausting weekend to say the least!

The Lunar New Year will arrive on January 23rd and we would like to say Happy New Year to all of our friends around the world. 2012 is the year of the Water Dragon and it is predicted to be a year of transformation with many changes that will influence the world!

The New Year always brings a sense of a fresh start and we hope everyone has a year filled with prosperity, health and few troubles. Thank you to all of our suppliers and customers for your support and entrusting Noon International with your business. We look forward with anticipation to the year ahead!


United States: Production of Northwest region raspberries increased by approximately 20 pct this season (2011 season). It is estimated that the crop totaled almost 100 million pounds compared to 83 million in 2010. Washington State accounted for the majority of the production. The production of cultivated blueberries in the United States also experienced an increased harvest. Estimated numbers on cultivated blueberries are a production of 514 million lbs. for 2011. Last season production was estimated at 487 million lbs. These numbers include berries for both the fresh market as well as product that was delivered to freezers.

Europe: Food News reports that an Italian frozen food company has launched a range of frozen leafy vegetables in cubes including spinach and a type of Swiss chard.
Poland experienced a smaller crop of strawberries this past season.

Mexico: It has been reported by the Mexican Association of Frozen Vegetable Processors that in the last days of November a cold front with low humidity and very low temperatures moved into the Bajio Valley in Central Mexico causing widespread damage to broccoli and cauliflower crops under cultivation. The extent of the damage will not be known until the harvest commences in January/February, however it is likely that damage will be in the 30 pct range. Production should return to normal levels in March/April.

Snow Peas
Guatemala: Broccoli continues to be harvested although in lower volumes as peak season has come to an end. Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas will commence production in January.

Chile: Asparagus season in Chile has ended. It has been a struggle all season for Chilean producers to keep up with the large demand due to cooler weather, which slowed down asparagus growth and delayed the start of the crop. In the last few weeks of harvest the weather turned warm which caused the asparagus to begin to flower and quality decreased. Due to the later start to the season processors were never really able to catch up on production and contracts have been prorated. The berry season has begun and to date quality and yields are good.

Peru: Freezing of Asparagus should end approximately the second week of January although fresh and canned asparagus will continue. Mango season will begin middle January. The mango harvest is expected to be average.

Ecuador: Quality and yields have been stable in Ecuador for the most part however heavy rains in December affected the quality of the broccoli and reduced yields a bit.

Thailand: Canned Sweet Corn prices are continuing to go up due to the recent flooding in Thailand. It is reported that Thailand will experience a minimum wage increase in April which will also pressure processors to increase prices. Thailand’s January harvest of sweet corn is expected to be small due to the previous flooding issues and processors are expecting to pay higher prices to growers for the product.

China: The early part of the Fall broccoli and cauliflower season in Jiangsu and Zheijiang province produced inferior quality broccoli with prices 50 – 70 pct lower than normal. The weather is improving and the later harvest is producing better quality. The New Year holiday will create a large demand for both fresh and frozen broccoli and prices are beginning to climb although they are not expected to be as high as last season . Growers planted more broccoli this season so there should be enough to meet demand and keep prices somewhat stable. Sugar Snap Pea inventories are low in China due to quality issues. New crop sugar snap peas, pea pods and broad beans have been sown and harvest is expected to begin in late April/early May.
Shitake mushroom pricing is not as high as last season and quality is good.

Food News reported that Chinese exports of frozen strawberries show steady growth. The Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Russia are the top importers of Chinese frozen strawberries.

X-Ray Irradiation for Fresh Asparagus

Fresh Asparagus
New research conducted by the University of Wisconsin – Stout has shown that low dose x-ray irradiation on vacuum packed fresh asparagus can increase the shelf life as well as the microbiological safety of the product. The research shows that the irradiation treatment reduces the aerobic bacteria and maintained up to 20% more initial sugar content then non treated asparagus. Asparagus is very popular among consumers due to its high nutritional value but unfortunately maintains a very short shelf life due to its high respiration rate, rapid moisture loss and microbial susceptibility.

X-Ray Irradiation is the newest form in a line of ionizing irradiation technologies that have been commercially used for foods. The process does not involve any radioactive substances and is free from harmful radioactive waste or disposal issues.

The Study was The Effect of Low-dose x-ray irradiation on the quality of Fresh cut Asparagus in Microwavable Vacuum Skin Packs. The study did show both improvements to shelf life and a reduction in microbial population. However there has been some outside concern with the effects of the nutrient value of the asparagus once the irradiation takes place. The team said that further research needs to be done to determine how the x-ray treatment affects sensory and nutritional values.

Blackberries And We Don't’ Mean Smart Phones!

Blackberry and Raspberry mix

Did you know that during the Civil War blackberries were said to be a cure for dysentery. Even more interesting is that during such outbreaks of dysentery temporary truces were declared between the Union and Confederate soldiers to go foraging for the little berries known as “black caps” to help ward off the illness. The blackberry requires an early summer season and typically begins to ripen from mid-summer to early fall. It goes through a stage of green to red and then black when finally ripe. The berry can be found just about anywhere in the United States and is also grown in South America.

Berries in general have been shown to be one of the healthiest foods on earth containing some of the highest antioxidant levels than any other food. Although the blackberry is more than just an antioxidant, it contains high levels of cancer fighting compounds including vitamins C, E, and ellagic acid. The blackberry also contains pectin a soluble fiber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol levels. Extremely low in calories, carbohydrates, and containing no fat making them a popular choice for low calorie diets. The blackberry maintains an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value slightly higher than blueberries.

However, don’t only resort to blackberries as your berry of choice. It is recommended that you eat blackberries with other berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries. Each of these tasty berries contains different levels of antioxidants and free radical cancer fighting compounds and it is best to introduce the full spectrum into your diet for maximum nutritional value. So the next time you eat that whole berry pie you can make yourself feel a little less guilty by reminding yourself about the fabulous nutritional value of those delicious little berries!!

The Bright Side of Smut

Canned Smut
Smut is a naturally occurring fungus on corn crops that can become prevalent during years that are cooler and wetter than average. Traditionally among corn canners and freezers smut on corn is considered a defect and large amounts of it can downgrade the quality of the corn. So it might come as a shock to know that in many cultures throughout Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America, smut is considered a delicacy and served in some of the hippest and finest restaurants.

Called huitlcoche (pronounced weet-laKOH-chay) in the native Nahuatly tongue, corn smut has seen a recent resurgence in Mexico as city dwellers gain increasing interest in traditional foods. The demand for smut has become so high that Mexican farmers are beginning to produce the fungus commercially by injecting spores into stalks. According to an article written in The Seattle Times corn smut production in Mexico has increased fourfold in just over five years. In Mexico corn smut has been eaten since the Aztec times and it is called by some “food of the gods” and “Mexican Truffle”.

Not only does corn smut taste good, but it also has many nutrient qualities beneficial to people. Corn smut is rich in lysine and tryptophan, two very important amino acids which corn does not produce by itself. Production of the fungus has grown so much in recent years that exports have also been on the rise. Agro – economists have found it can sell for more than the corn itself. Currently canned corn smut is available in specialty food stores throughout the United States. It is only a matter of time before fresh shipments start and the product can be tasted fresh as is best for the full effect of the flavor. As The Seattle Times article pointed out, many people outside of Mexico have an “ick” factor and only the genuine foodies have given it a try. Perhaps a name change would be beneficial to bring in new consumers?

Did You Know

Did you know that the Chinese calendar dates back to 2600 BC and it is the oldest known calendar.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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