Inside this Food Report


January 1, 2017

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Hello Everyone,

Happy 2017! Hard to believe another year has come and gone.

This holiday season I spent Christmas and New Years in Rhode Island with family and was hoping for a “white” Christmas but all we received was rain! I hope you enjoyed your holiday and were able to relax with family and friends. There is really nothing better in my opinion.

Vegetables are still short coming out of Europe. I remember writing this time last year the same, however this season the situation is due to wet and cool spring weather not from heat as in season 2015. We still have some volumes available of corn, peas, carrots and potatoes, ex the U.S pack so give us a call if you are interested. China is coming into their peak pack for water chestnuts and we do have limited volumes available to offer. Edamame and mukimame both conventional and organic also available ex China now.

Here at Noon International we are expecting a very hectic New Year with many changes and new opportunities on the horizon. We promise to keep you posted on all of them.

In the meantime, our wish for all is joy, health, prosperity and most of all peace.

Betty Johnson and the Noon International Team.

United States: The Northwest experienced a very favorable Sweet Corn season with high yields and excellent quality. Midwest processors struggled at the tail end of the season with rain so yields are down a bit in this area. However, overall it has been a satisfactory season for U.S sweet corn.

Green Bean harvest did extremely well this year with high yields and excellent quality.

Diced carrot production now completed and reports indicate it was a good season.

Potato harvest completed. Reports in regarding Colombia Basin area are that the early variety potato yields were good, however some later varieties had smaller yields. In general, overall yields ended more favorable than anticipated and in some spots the season ended a few days early. The success of the season was due in large part to early spring weather which was conducive to bringing on the potatoes early and summer was cool enough that it continued with favorable conditions for the plants. In fact there are some reports that processors will have enough storage potatoes to see them through the early processing time period for 2017 crop.

It was announced recently that Cavendish Farms will be building a new factory in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada which should double its capacity in that province.

In addition, it was announced that McCain Foods will also increase its North American French fry capacity with more details to come later.

Berry season in the U.S. completed. It was a very satisfactory year for blueberries with record crops in Oregon and Washington. In the state of Maine, despite the drought conditions this season the wild blueberry crop produced its highest yields ever – 93 million pounds. The Washington Red Raspberry commission reported that this seasons raspberry crop was 48% higher than the 2015 season.

A reported harvest of nearly 78 million pounds was completed. Increased acreage and very favorable weather conditions contributed to the record high harvest.

The cherry season in Michigan was also very good, with higher than expected yields and good quality fruit.

Oregon’s blackberry harvest came in at approximately 45 million lbs. which is higher than the 2015 season.

Mexico: Rainy season lasted longer this year and the ramifications of the longer rainy season has been affecting yields and quality of both broccoli and cauliflower. However, we can finally say that the broccoli and cauliflower harvest is now coming in at a good pace with much improved quality and yields.

Guatemala: Broccoli season is doing very well with good yields and quality, however it is now the time of the year when peak production will wind down and limited volumes become available. Snow peas and sugar snap pea harvest will commence this month.

Peru: Mango season in Peru is expected to be better than last year due to the cooler weather. Flowering went well and the harvest has commenced.

Peru’s Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation announced in October that Peru will become the largest exporter of fresh blueberries within the next few years due to the country’s increased production of this crop.

Chile: Asparagus season completed. Blueberry and Strawberry production for both fresh and frozen now underway and expected to continue through middle of this month. Rain in November may have affected some of the blueberry fruit going to fresh market which resulted in bringing more to the freezer. The heat in Chile accelerated the ripening of the berries. Blueberry prices are stable or even a bit lower than last season.

Sweet corn and green pea season will commence this month.

Argentina: Hail storms in the Mendoza province may affect the peach and cherry crops there.

Europe: Most vegetables are in tight supply and offers limited due to a poor growing season caused by cooler weather and rain. Green Bean and Brussel sprout harvest were delayed in some areas due to the plants not developing enough. Some Belgium suppliers are estimating a loss of the Brussel sprout crop of nearly 35% to 40% overall. Inventories of Brussel sprout are limited or non existent.

Potato reports coming out of Europe mention raw material will be tight and processors may not be able to meet their expected sales expansion goals. Although growers planned for major expansion in Belgium The North-western European Potato Growers suffered a cold and wet spring which delayed plantings. Summer season brought very hot dry weather and many growers were holding off on digging due to the harden soil.

Rain in October accelerated the harvest in Belgium as soil softened however yields did drop approximately 63 cwt per acre which will result in difficulty for Europe to meet growth levels for global demand. Some fry processing factories may take in raw potatoes from Poland to keep up with demand.

New Zealand: Weather in New Zealand has been wet which has delayed the plantings of various vegetables. Corn plantings are about 10 days behind schedule compared to last season. Green Pea crop commenced middle of December and is expected to finish up soon. The quality and yields of the pea crop this season is reported to be very good.

Australia: A wet year in Australia with flooding in the East and frost in the West will hurt Australia’s grain market. As well some fruit crops have been affected by hail and rain.

Japan: Japan still feeling the effects of the typhoons that ripped through Japan’s Hokkaido area in September. All vegetables grown in this region, including corn, potatoes, carrots and onions will be in tight supply. Reports from the USDA FAS in Japan estimates a 20% - 25% yield loss. About 10% of the seed potato was lost to the typhoons as well. Farmers have plowed under potato fields due to flooding and some processing factories have been closed due to damage. It is uncertain whether or not they will reopen.

Thailand: The main Pineapple season has commenced. Some report the crop is expected to be satisfactory while others seem to believe there will be lower volumes due to lack of rain during the growing period.

Taiwan: Lychee fruit is in tight supply. Poor weather last winter, including cold and heavy rain caused low pollination and a poor crop resulting in only 20 % of the fruit being harvested. New season will commence this month and a better crop is anticipated.

South Africa: South Africa is expecting a favorable cling peach season. Even with drought conditions outlook is okay with trees full, however fruit smaller. The season will begin this month and go through the month of February.


Shandong Province: Edamame harvest is now completed. Quality and yields are reported as good with stable price. Broccoli season suffered cold temperatures and adverse weather conditions which resulted in low yields and quality.

Taro processing underway. Quality is average but yields are down by about 40%. Due to low prices last season most farmers reduced their acreage which has now brought prices up by 8% – 10% on taro.

Zhejiang Province: Raw material quality for broccoli looks favorable. Broccoli in this region is in demand and prices are high due to the poor conditions in Shandong and Jiangsu province as well as the domestic demand generated by the incoming Spring Festival season.

Cauliflower plantings were reduced by 50% this season and prices are expected to be high. Production commences this month.

Lotus Root currently being harvested. Quality has declined due to the lower temperatures.

Mandarin orange harvest underway. Due to high temperatures yields have declined by about 30%. Prices have increase by 20% – 30%

Fujian Province: Unfortunately in this area the past typhoons caused major damage to many factories. Some were forced to close temporarily to repair damages. The autumn crop of edamame was seriously damaged and yields will be limited. As well, okra yields will decline sharply due to the recent typhoons.

Water Chestnut production has started and quality is stable, however prices have increase slightly compared to last season. January and February will be the peak producing months with the highest quality.

New Guidelines For Allergens Expected Soon

2017 is set to bring some significant changes to how food is manufactured. One of those changes is how allergens are handled, an important component of ensuring food safety. But with final guidelines still to come from the Food and Drug Administration, some businesses are holding their breath to see what the latest changes mean for them.

The current guidelines for allergen control were set out in 2004 under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. Designed to help consumers identify potential allergy-triggering ingredients in their food or possible contamination, the FALCPA outlines the “Big Eight” allergens. These are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. These items are common in foods and are common allergens, many creating possibly fatal reactions. These 8 allergens are accounted for on the labels of all foods, including notations when food products are made in facilities that process or use these 8 allergen ingredients.

Under the FSMA, these major allergens will be joined by “undeclared allergens” as a focus of food safety plans. Undeclared allergens are not intentionally included in foods. Allergens can enter a product in many ways, however most enter via cross contamination and these instances are the largest source of recalls. The FSMA will include regulations designed to help limit such accidental contamination and ensure that consumers with allergies are not falling victim to allergens that shouldn’t be there in the first place. New regulations for cleaning food lines, handling food, sanitation, storing foods, are some of the areas that will come in play.

Although exact guidelines for allergens are still forthcoming, the FSMA will include allergen protections in the required Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls plans all food manufacturers are required to complete. These will be more in-depth and comprehensive than the current Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plans, and be more focused on prevention.

Manufacturers can do several things to ensure that undeclared allergens do not find their way into products. Research and Development can help them understand what foods are dangerous, and designing equipment in a way that keeps potential allergens apart from other foods can help ensure accidental contamination doesn’t take place. Innovations to receiving, storage, and separation can also go a long way in keeping all products safe, and ensuring that they are as labeled. Specific FSMA guidelines are expected to be announced soon.

Hospital Pilots Farm Fresh Foods

Hospitals aren’t necessarily the first place one would go if they were looking for farm fresh food. With high volume needs and a demand for healthy foods that fit specific dietary guidelines, hospitals often rely on institutional bulk food purchases rather than local sustainable fresh farm foods. But at one hospital in Aitkin County, Minnesota, that’s changing thanks to an innovative new program that connects local Riverwood Healthcare Center to the area’s numerous farms.

Farm2Riverwood made its debut in September, 2016, and is meant to help improve health and nutrition in the foods offered by the hospital cafeteria. The program provides farm-fresh ingredients for a series of monthly meals that are enjoyed by patients, visitors, and staff. According to the local newspaper Aitkin Age, ingredients in the second monthly meal included fresh turkeys from a local farm, potatoes, carrots, and apples from local growers, and rolls from a nearby producer.

“This is a great opportunity for Riverwood to tap local food for delicious, nutritious meals with all fresh ingredients to support the health and wellness of our patients and staff,” Lou Ann Carlson, Riverwood Food Services manager, told Aitkin Age.

But given the high volume of food needed by the hospital cafeteria, cooking with fresh ingredients isn’t easy. For the October meal, work started three days before the meal took place, with four 19-pound turkeys being roasted, sixty pounds of potatoes and fifty pounds of carrots being peeled and chopped, and other tasks that required some serious time and effort. But the hospital banded together to make it happen, with teams from across the staff coming in to help.

Clearly the effort is worth it. Riverwood is continuing the program, and local schools are getting involved as well to help make sure that everyone has access to fresh, local foods.

2017 Food Trends

A new year always brings new, exciting innovations to the food industry. From new methods of farming to making fresh food available to more people, the way we buy food could look very different in the coming months. And what we’re buying, either at the supermarket or at restaurants, could also include some new foods that experts believe we will soon be swooning over. These are a few of the trends set to take off this year!

Vertical Farming

Gardening has long been a favorite pastime for many, and a great way to get sustainable produce. But in 2017, farming will be growing up -- literally. Vertical farming, or growing produce indoors in wall-like planters, is catching on in a big way for both at-home gardeners and retailers. This year Target will begin testing a collaborative effort they call “Food + Future CoLab”, which will introduce vertical farms into their stores. This will allow customers to harvest their own food or watch as it is harvested by Target staff.

Target’s goal is to eventually stock their shelves with produce which they have grown using vertical farming on site at or near their store locations.

Meat Alternatives

There may be nothing like a juicy burger, but 2017 could be the year that meat alternatives start taking more of the spotlight. Shops that specialize in veggie-versions of meat are becoming more popular, including vegetable “butchers” that make all the meaty favorites such as hamburgers, sausages and meatballs. Upscale veggie-centric restaurants, including fast-casual Beefsteak and classy Ladybird, are also changing the way people think about eating produce with innovative, meat-free dishes.

“Use-It-All” Cooking

Waste not, want not could be the cooking motto of 2017. Chefs and culinary experts are spreading the word about the power of greens that are leftover from vegetables like beets and carrots, and experts think they could be the next kale. Elsewhere, new products made from what’s left over -- like grains from beer or the liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas -- could change the way we think about waste.

Standbys With a Twist

Expect to see some familiar faces at the supermarket, but with some tweaks that set them apart. Coconut has already become a popular food, so look for it to start popping up in unexpected places, like in tortillas or chips. As for veggies, 2017 is set to be a purple year with purple foods becoming more mainstream. Purple carrots, asparagus, corn, and sweet potatoes will be among some of the items expected to be hits with consumers. At the condiment bar, keep your eyes peeled for things like black sesame, tahini and ghee next to the ketchup and mustard!

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