Inside this Food Report


July 1, 2013

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Hello Everyone,

Happy 4th of July to all you patriots out there!

Hard to believe we are in July already and things are heating up quickly here in the Northwest!   Temperatures are forecasted to be 90 to 110 degrees F in Eastern Washington and Oregon for the next week.   This means we expect a sizeable amount of AAC grade peas and processors are struggling to get all the fields processed.   We are already hearing about a tight pea market so please read more in our crop section.   

We also reported below we are expecting a good blueberry crop this season and most processors are still optimistic as there is still a month to go before blueberry processing,  however with the predicted  high temperatures for the next week in Western Washington and Oregon this could change the situation rather quickly.   We have already heard that the unusual humidity in Oregon has hurt the strawberry crop and raspberries which started this week are getting off to a rough start as rain and extreme heat have caused mold issues.

Last season we were in the middle of severe drought in the Midwest corn belt region and this season our concerns are rain and flooding in that region.  Heavy rain and cool weather has delayed plantings.  What a difference a year can make.

Summer time for most of us in the food industry means making sure our contracts are being met with the quality and price our customers require and our work schedules can become very hectic.   The Noon team is already on the road making sure our customers receive the safest and highest quality product available.   We look forward to seeing all of our processors soon and once again thank them all for an incredible job of keeping Noon supplied with the most delicious and nutritious vegetables and fruits!

CropVeggiesUnited States:    The Northwest pea harvest is underway.   A spring frost caused some growers to lose acres.   Rainy weather in June delayed harvesting as pea combines could not get into the wet and muddy fields.   Temperatures for the first week of July are expected to be over the 100 degreee F mark.  Pea yields are expected to be down as processors are struggling to get the peas harvested and processed as quickly as possible due to bunching.   The pea market will remain firm.   We are anticipating the Northwest pea harvest to conclude mid to end July.  

Corn season is approaching in the Northwest and all indications to date is that crop conditions are good.   Most Northwest processors will begin corn production end July/first week August.  However with the expected high temperatures for the first part of July this could speed things up.   

Minnesota experienced wet field conditions which slowed down corn plantings.  Planting will likely continue into the second week of July.  Temperatures in the Minnesota area are expected to be in the mid 80 to low 90 degree F range.

In general the Midwest corn belt region of the United States experienced heavy rain this spring which flooded fields and caused planting delays.  As of June 23, 2013 based on the Farmland Forecast 96% of the U.S. corn crop (sweet and grain corn) has emerged which is down 3% from the five year average.   It has also been reported that the heavy rains and flooding in some Midwest corn growing areas has caused increased soil erosion which could affect grain corn.

Potato crop in Washington, Oregon and Idaho are reported as good .   Harvest in the Columbia Basin is expected to begin July.   High temperature are being reported for the first part of July in the Columbia Basin , however most growers advise that the high temperatures should not affect the crop.   Inventory of French fries are currently at their highest levels since 2009.

The blueberry crop in Oregon and Washington are looking ideal this season.  Favorable weather conditions for blueberries will yield high quality fruit.  Oregon is expected to produce approximately 70 million pounds of blueberries.    Washington State and British Colombia both expect bumper crops as well.  British Columbia expects a 5 to 10 percent increase in yields due to favorable weather conditions.   Oregon, Washington and British Colombia region anticipate blueberry harvest to begin end July first week August.  With anticipated good yields and high inventory in the freezer expect blueberry prices to be lower than last season. 

On the other hand raspberries have gotten off to a rocky start.   Harvesting has just begun and due to earlier rain and now extreme heat and humidity processors are having to deal with mold and rot issues.   Some fields are going directly into juice.  There is still time left to recover but if temperatures continue to be high the raspberry crop could be in trouble.

Washington State cherry crop experienced poor pollination and rain which has resulted in lower cherry yields for the month of June.   Growers are hoping for better volumes in July.   Prices remain strong.

Last year Michigan State suffered a disastrous year on fruit.    A spring freeze in 2012 resulted in a pack 12.5 million lbs. of tart cherries.  This season due to ideal weather conditions, Michigan is expecting a 208 million lb. pack .    Michigan will also produce approximately 104 million lbs of cultivated blueberries.

Mexico:  The rainy season is beginning in Mexico.   As rainy season progresses volumes of broccoli and cauliflower to the processor will decline.

Guatemala:   Broccoli season will commence this month as middle to end July marks the beginning of peak season for broccoli in Guatemala.   Conditions are good and yields and quality are anticipated to be excellent this season.

Chile:   It is off season in Chile and most processing plants are closed for routine maintenance and factory update.

Europe:   Hungary’s pea crop is expected to be 2 weeks late due to spring rain which hindered plantings.  Weather has now turned warm which may cause bunching.  Most of Europe experienced a cold and wet spring which will result in most crops such as potatos, corn , and peas being delayed.  Increases in raw material cost have resulted in higher prices this season out of Europe.    Floods in Italy’s Umbria region affected wheat production while Ireland’s weather had an impact on fodder production for livestock.     Poland is anticipating a good and plentiful strawberry crop and prices are low.

New Zealand:   The predicted overall avocado harvest in New Zealand is expected to be good, except for the Whangarei region which may have no fruit caused by a colder than normal spring.   The season will commence in September and currently avocados are in short supply in New Zealand.

Grape season in New Zealand was good.    Production was up 28 pct compared to last year.   In the North Island a long hot summer provided perfect conditions.    In the South Island May rains caused swelling and splitting making many of the grapes not suitable for harvest.


Zhejiang Province:  High temperatures with plenty of rain has been a disadvantage to the growth of crops as well as causing pest issues.   Green bean processing got off to a good start , however the heavy rain has caused yields to decrease and prices to rise.   Edamame harvest will begin the end of July, however prices are expected to be higher than last season as we were advised that approximately 40 pct of the farming land was given to industrial zoning.   Also due to the poor conditions in Fujian province , processors are looking to Zhejiang Province to supply raw material edamame. 

Fujian Province:  Due to continued rain the edamame quality has been suffering and many brown spots have been reported.    Sweet corn has also been affected by the rains and processing was delayed one week.   Yields are down.

Shandong Province:  Summer crop of asparagus is underway.   Compared to the spring crop we are being advised that flavor is light but no fiber.
Onion harvest is also underway and will last through December.

Heavy rain in Shandong Province has hurt the strawberry crop.   Rain split the fruit and further damage was caused when weather turned too hot.   Reports indicate that China’s strawberry crop will be reduced by 50 pct.

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Berry Blend

At least 120 people are sick with hepatitis A in an outbreak tied to a frozen berry mix sold at Costco.   The outbreak covers eight states and based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 51 people have been hospitalized.

The processor who packed this berry mix is cooperating with the CDC and has now linked the cause of the outbreak to pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey,  perhaps caused by an infected field worker or food handler at the farm/factory in Turkey.

Symptoms of the illness will manifest in victims between 15 to 50 days after exposure and include nausea, fatigue, vomiting, abdominal pain and discomfort, especially around the liver area, coupled with loss of appetite, a low-grade fever and yellowing of the eyes and skin.

Costco is providing vaccinations for people who ate the berries within the last two weeks and will also reimburse others who have gotten the vaccine outside of the store.  To date the illness has only been linked to the berry blend sold at Costco.

Questions now arise once again on how safe is our food supply. The berry mix was organic and for the most part consumers feel “organic” is healthier and safer. This certainly was not the case in this instance.

The berry mix included pomegranate seeds and fruit not only from the U.S. but from Chile,  Argentina and Turkey.  The product was certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture as well as the producer’s third party certifier Oregon Tilth.   But organic aside, it begs the question when importing products or ingredients from other countries does the United States have the proper mechanisms in place to assure our imported food is safe?

Soybean Superstar!

Edamame, what we commonly know as soybeans, have been part of a traditional diet in Asia for centuries.   They are native to East Asia and are now cultivated throughout the world.   The Chinese have used soybeans both as a food and in medicine for more than 5000 years.   Because they are high in protein , soybeans became popular in Europe and the United States during World War II.   China, India , the United States, Argentina and Brazil are currently the worlds largest soybean producers.

What makes edamame particularly special is its composition of nutrients and essential vitamins.  Edamame is rich in protein, fiber and essential vitamins, and low in fat and calories, making it an ideal choice for weight watchers.  A cup of edamame is packed with power boosters such as protein, fiber, iron and essential nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, folate, thiamin and vitamin K, and offers nearly every nutrient recommended in our daily diet, except vitamin D.

Edamame are extremely rich in folate, providing 120 percent of the recommended daily intake, and are highly beneficial for women who are planning a pregnancy. Folate aids the growth and creation of new cells and helps prevent birth defects. In addition, folate also helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

Soybean can also greatly help in reducing cholesterol levels in our bodies. A cup of edamame offers only 8 grams of total fat, including 3 grams of polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are known to have a beneficial effect on reducing cholesterol levels, and particularly the heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats found in soybean oil contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Edamame can be consumed in several delicious ways.  Keep them fresh in the
refrigerator, and quickly serve them up as a snack after boiling them for five minutes.  You can also cook the beans to add them to soups or salads, or mash them and substitute for green peas in any of your favorite recipes. Pureed edamame beans can also bring an interesting twist to hummus and dips. To serve as a side dish, bake the soybeans in a casserole dish, with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, and treat your family to a healthy meal at dinner tonight.  

China’s Roaring Retail Market

China’s food and grocery market has grown at a tremendous pace in the past few years,  and is currently valued at over US$1 trillion.  Research firm IGD forecasts that the Chinese  grocery market will continue its global domination over the next few years, steadily rising  to a valuation of US$1.5 trillion in 2016. Further, research predicts that the emergent market block of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations will be among the top five grocery markets by 2016, with a combined valuation of just over over US$3 trillion.   

Food growers and marketers everywhere are keenly observing dietary preferences across Asia-Pacific and Latin American grocery markets and creating products that appeal to local tastes. As highlighted by IGD, CEO Joanne Denney-Finch stated “these markets offer long-term growth opportunities, and businesses that have entered them are already making significant profits”  For most of the businesses, profits generated in these markets are also helping to offset weakening demand in their home markets.

Particularly,  the Chinese food and grocery market is being favored by many businesses.  Today, the Chinese constitute a fifth (20 percent) of the world population, and the burgeoning middle class in the country are fuelling unprecedented demand for food products. The number of high-income earners in the country has also swelled, creating a  soaring demand for  localized food and concepts.
Wide-ranging choice and localized food products aside, the entry of well-established international players into China’s food and grocery market has also ushered in a range of diversified shopping formats for consumers. Chinese shoppers are now able to shop for their weekly supplies across exclusive boutique-style grocery retail outlets to “all in one store” hypermarkets. Hypermarket operators in the country in particular, are witnessing significant growth – recently China’s leading hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group, posted a record growth in first-quarter earnings following its foray into lower tier cities. 

The growth in China’s food and grocery market is also driving immense opportunities for improved supply chain and logistic formats for the manufacturers.  As international grocery retail businesses respond to the needs of Chinese shoppers with a wealth of choice, they are using innovative formats to widen their food sourcing channels and delivery patterns.  And given the emphasis on freshness in Chinese cooking, they are forging large partnerships with domestic vendors as well to ensure a steady supply of fresh produce.

China’s food and grocery market will continue to grow and be driven by increased consumer demand for wider choice and safer food products.  This portends a brighter future for not only food producers in the country but also for food producers around the world.

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