Inside this Food Report


January 1, 2015

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Hello Everyone,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays as much as I did. I spent both Christmas and New Years with my family and some dear friends in Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is simply magical with its orchards, rolling hills of lush greenery and the incredibly beautiful Colombia River. I remember last year reading a report, which mentioned that drinking a glass of champagne could help to improve spatial memory and assist in memory storage so I hope everyone was able to enjoy some champagne this holiday season!

Speaking of champagne we probably all need a lot of it as we suffer through this prolonged dock slowdown on the West Coast. It is now getting to the point of enough is enough and this has gone on way too long. Businesses are truly suffering and loss of revenue is substantial for shippers and customers alike. Noon International is being requested to airfreight shipments as our customers overseas are running out of stocks. I am sure all reading this are having the same struggles. Truck storage is adding up for our company as our containers sit in truck yards because they have been turned away from the receiving docks. Also being incurred is truck-waiting charges due to long wait times and truck turn around charges. This is stemming from vessel schedules changing after empty containers have been picked up for loading. Many of our processors have spoken to the news and written to whoever will listen including our President, Mr. Obama. All in all we need help from our government to intervene! Lets hope this will end soon.

Aerial View Of Long Beach, CA Port Congestion

On a more positive note with the start of a New Year brings anticipation of new expectations and goals. Here at Noon International that means we will continue to improve upon bringing our customers the best value and quality, service, communication, and food product knowledge available. Wishing you all a healthy, prosperous, and joyful New Year!

Betty and the Noon International Team

P.S. Our congratulations go out to our Mr. Chad Watson and his wife Jamie on the arrival of their second child Alice Blanche Watson! Born on December 5th, baby Alice visited the Noon Seattle office just one week after her arrival !


United States: The United States Agricultural Department has predicted that commodity crops such as grain corn and soybeans will see cutbacks of about 5 percent over the next five years due to lower commodity prices. The largest cut back will be in wheat at 8 percent. As a result of the lower commodity prices the value of farmland in some states is declining.

Inventories of frozen vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes) are high due to the continuing slowdown of the West Coast Longshoremen. Fryers in the Colombia Basin have slowed down processing in order to help with the back up of inventories. Freezer space is tight and there is still no end in site.

Recent rains in California have given a bit of drought relief to that state. However California will require several wet winters to refill its reservoir levels. Harvesting of Brussels sprouts is now completed in California and prices were firm during the holiday season. Brussels Sprouts are receiving a lot of attention lately based on its healthy benefits and becoming a staple vegetable in the U.S. market.

Mexico: Brussels Spouts season will commence in Mexico as the California harvest is completed. Broccoli and Cauliflower are now in its peak season in Mexico with excellent quality and volumes at peak levels. The rainy season is officially over and the weather is mild.

Guatemala: Still recovering from the very dry conditions in August and September the broccoli harvest in Guatemala was a bit short in December. Expectations are for a better January harvest. Harvesting of melon and fine cut green beans is now underway. Also freezing of snow peas and sugar snap peas will commence this month. The hail storm which we reported last month was isolated and resulted in minimal damage to the fields.

Ecuador: Supply situation of broccoli is improving and demand for Ecuador broccoli remains strong.

Costa Rica: Raw material pineapple prices have returned to more normal levels and production is commencing this month. Dry season is anticipated to begin in January after the New Year.

Thailand : Pineapple remains short. The summer crop was down due to reduced plantings and although winter crop has begun supplies are tight and canneries receiving half of their normal volumes. Prices remain high.

Chile: Overall weather in Chile has been warm and dry, however a few days of heavy rain in December caused some splitting on cherries. Still too early to advise if this had any effect on the blueberry crop. Pea and corn production underway and to date no adverse conditions have been reported. Asparagus season is now completed and overall quality and volumes were good.

Peru: Due to El Nino the asparagus harvest this year was disappointing for most processors. Yields and sizing was down with very little standard medium spears to offer. The mango season, which will commence this month, is expected to be very short. Some suppliers are reporting a 50% reduction in final volumes in comparison to last season.

Europe: France and Belgium’s leek season is now underway. Yields are expected to be a bit short due to rain and humidity over the summer months. The production of globe artichokes in France has increased this year due to favorable weather conditions compared to last years very cold and wet conditions.

China: Broccoli and Cauliflower harvest in Zhejiang province is approximately 80% completed. Raw material is being reported as very good due to the recent mild weather conditions. Price is still high based on China’s domestic demand.
Pea pod and sugar snap pea harvest will commence in Fujian province in January. To date the growth and quality are good. Water chestnut prices have increased due to increased labor cost and domestic demand. In Shandong province burdock is now being produced through February. Quality is good and prices have declined between 6% - 8% compared to last year at this time.

Japan’s Latest Recall

Waiter , there is a bug in my soup! Another recall hit Japan last month.

This time it is not a high-level pesticide issue but a “pest” issue.

Two Japanese food companies have recalled product from store shelves due to reports of pieces of insect and cockroaches in the product.

Maruka Foods Corp, in Gunma prefecture has confirmed that cockroach pieces had been found in one of its packages of instant noodles and could have gotten mixed in during the manufacturing process. Maruka has suspended its entire production line and has recalled two types of instant fried noodles. Maruka’s Peyoung instant fried noodle brand was established in the 1970’s and has a strong fan following leaving many fans worried about the long term effect of this most recent incident.

Japan’s Nissin Frozen Foods recalled its tomoto cream – flavored frozen pasta manufactured on October 21st at its factory in Shizuoka prefecture after three consumers called to complain about foreign objects in a meal. Nissin has since stated there is a high possibility the cockroach was mixed in the vegetables used in the pasta dishes. The company has recalled 746,620 packages manufactured all in the same factory and sold only in Japan.

Japanese consumers are use to very high food standards and Japanese food companies’ pay a high price for recalls as it can take years for consumers to trust in these companies and their brand again.

2015 Food Trends

With a new year comes a new batch of exciting, tasty and sometimes crazy food trends. Although 2015 may be young, there are a few foods that experts think will hit it big in the coming months, most of them are healthy and all food critics seem to agree in one larger trend of fermented food that we will explore in more detail in our February newsletter. So what’s on the tongues of the culinary tastemakers in 2015? Here are a few to keep an eye out for.

Amaranth - Ancient grains, including amaranth, have been creeping into the mainstream for the past few years. This year may see amaranth overtake quinoa!

Sprouted Grains - Ezekial bread has already made sprouted grains a staple of health food stores, but expect to see these nutritious grains on supermarket shelves.

Cabbage - This nutrient and vitamin dense leafy green, is a household name already and could replace kale as the hip green.

Savory Flavors - Sweets have their place, but richer savory flavors are expected to have a big year in 2015, branching into anything from waffles to ice cream. We’ve already seen savory yogurt hit markets, and the trend will continue.

The Next Coconut Water - The hunt for the next coconut water is also underway, with watermelon and maple both standing to challenge the super-hydrating coconut drink.

Yacon Syrup - This sweet syrup could become the next agave, so look for the sweetener on shelves!

Activated Charcoal - A favorite for skincare, charcoal could have a big year in juices.

Insects - Buggie cuisine have also been getting a lot of buzz as U.S. manufacturers start playing with putting crunchy creatures in protein bars and chocolate treats.

Fermented Foods -These super healthy foods are already a staple in Asian cuisine, but the tangy preserved foods have been catching on for years in the United States. Fermented foods, including household favorites like pickles, can help everything from skin health to brain power, making their super-food status well earned!

McDonalds Not “Lovin It”

The seven month labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Long shore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) continues to wreck havoc on importers, exporters and dock workers alike.

The situation has prompted many West Coast companies who primarily use West Coast ports to transport their cargos, to ask for Federal assistance to resolve the dispute as soon as possible. In the past week alone the ports of Seattle and Tacoma ,WA have written to President Obama urging him to intervene.

The PMA is also asking for Federal assistance, stating that it is clear that the parties need outside help to bridge the gap between the PMA and ILWU.

The food industry especially is feeling the pinch as their cold storages are getting full due to delayed shipments and customers are struggling to keep stock of the food products they purchase. Customers now are asking for airfreight shipments in order to fill the gap between container arrivals.

Japan is the largest Asian market for U.S. made French fries, importing $336 million in frozen potato products last year alone. McDonalds Japan has had to resort to rationing their French fries, selling only small size, despite having air shipped in more than 1,000 tons of product and shipping containers out of East coast ports. McDonalds is offering a discount coupon for ¥50 (about 40 cents) for compensation as well as cutting their price of meals that would normally come with a medium or large fry by ¥50 .

What does all this mean? The slowdowns have resulted and will continue to result in lost revenue for all exporters and importers. It means lost profits for McDonalds Japan and lost sales opportunities for U.S. French fry suppliers as well as all other food companies who supply their products to Asia and elsewhere. Most importers in Japan are looking for alternate supply sources for products in order to keep their inventories in tact and as anyone in the food industry knows once you have lost your customer it is extremely difficult to get them back. Will this end anytime soon? That is anybody’s guess. If and when an agreement is struck predictions are it will take 4 to 6 weeks of normal operation to work through the backlog of shipments.

More News On The West Coast Port Slowdowns

  • Negotiation between the PMA and ILWU broke off Dec. 24 (Wed) for the holiday. The expectation is that there will be no further bargaining sessions before January 6 (Tue).
  • The PMA’s request to the ILWU earlier this week, for involving a mediator was not outright rejected by the ILWU however the ILWU responded that they are studying this option.
  • The ILWU has organized major slowdowns in Pacific Northwest area which appear to be directly related to negotiations.
  • While negotiations continue between the ILWU and the PMA, the ports continue to experience extremely slow operations. Due to above, the PMA advised on Dec. 19 (Fri) that there will no longer be a night shift of vessel labor in Tacoma and Seattle effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.
  • All cargos at the PNW ports will experience further severe delays due to poor labor slowdowns, no night shift and terminal congestion.
  • Terminals in Long Beach/Los Angeles area continue to struggle with various issues such as terminal congestion, chassis shortage and backlog residues.
    Also Inland facilities in Midwest areas are experiencing delays at the rail terminals and truck shortages due to volume increase and expected to be severe during/after holiday season.

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