Inside this Food Report



JULY 1, 2011

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Hello Everyone,

Happy 4th of July to all of our U.S friends!

It always feels that summer is officially here with the arrival of the 4th of July weekend.  However in the Northwest weather is still cool and all crops are delayed by one to two weeks.   It seems the same cool and rainy weather is also prevalent throughout most of the mid west.  The Northwest pea harvest is now in peak production and most corn is planted and beginning to grow.   Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will warm up, crops will grow at a normal pace and yields will be average or above…  We will keep you posted as things progress.

We are learning of news out of China that the Edamame crop is suffering.  Drought conditions early on and then too much heavy rain has put the current harvest in jeopardy.  Please see more detailed comments in our crop section below.  As we mentioned last month we have included an article in our Eat Healthy Section about the incredible benefits of the Peruvian Yacon.  More to come later on other unusual and healthy foods from Central America.

We wanted to share with you this month a beautiful painting that one of our dear friends in Guatemala recently painted.  The inspiration for this painting was a Christmas card she received from one of Noon’s Japanese customers.  Anabela has never been to Japan or painted before but was inspired by the Christmas card showing Mt. Fuji.  It really is amazing how many good friends we make through our food business and we feel blessed that she has shared this wonderful painting with us!  Anabela you are a true artist!

Anabela's First Painting!

Another wonderful friend, Barb deJong, is retiring this month.  She will remain a lifelong friend to us all.  We will miss you!

As we begin July we hope everyone will find a little peace and some quiet time to enjoy with your friends and family.

Lily, Betty, and the Noon International Team


United States:  Harvest schedules in Washington State are currently predicted to be 10 to 14 days behind for most summer field crops as cooler than usual conditions prevail.         

Temperatures warmed slightly but were still mild in June in Washington State.  Blueberry growers say fruit is beginning to size up.   Overall it looks to be a good crop of blueberries this season in Washington State, however the crop at this time is expected to be about one week late .

Blueberries in Washington, End of June

Raspberry crop in Washington State is expected to be 2 to 3 weeks late due to the cooler weather conditions.

Second plantings of corn will be completed by mid July in Washington State.   

Green pea harvest in Washington State has begun.  Volumes are expected to be lower than usual due to the cool and wet pea growing season.

Green Bean harvest has been delayed significantly from previous years in Washington and Oregon.  Green Bean harvest is not expected to begin until the end of July.

Baby whole carrot harvest expected to begin at the end of July in Washington.    

All potatoes are in the ground in Washington State.  June 1st potato stocks in the state were low, although the USDA might have underestimated storage potato volumes by as much as 6 million cwt.   Even with an additional 6 million cwt of potato stocks, potatos in Washington State and across the United States are tight.

Oregon blueberry growers will be the first state allowed to export blueberries to South Korea.  This is not expected to have immediate impacts on the blueberry industry as details of the deal are still being negotiated.   

California appears to be having a good nut season.  No problems have been reported for pistachios and almonds.  Demand for almonds is expected to be extremely high this year.

A Good Year for California Almonds

Even though they experienced a cool wet start to the season, California tomato growers are saying that the fields are in good condition.  Costs are higher than last year.        

Dry weather and drought conditions persist in the South from Arizona east to Alabama. 

Average Year for BC Cherries


Canada:  Blueberry bloom in the Fraser valley is nearly complete.  It was a difficult season for pollination and this is evident in early fruit size.  Minor pest problems noted for the first time this season.

Widespread rain in the Canadian prairies closed the window for spring planting of grains and oilseeds.

British Columbia cherries are expected to have an average year even though the weather has been generally cool.  Harvest which usually begins in mid July could be pushed back a week to ten days.  Fruit quality is anticipated to be high. 

Europe:  Rain finally returned to Northern Europe at the beginning of June, but an exceptionally long dry spell, combined with a general decrease in planted acreage, have taken a toll on the area’s 2011 crops for frozen processing.  Spinach, peas, beans, cauliflower, carrots, and onions are all expected to have below average packs this season.  



Tomatoes in northern Italy are anticipated to have a good year.  Warm weather has consistently been observed in June allowing Italian farmers the chance to plant normally.


Good Year for Italian Tomatoes

Despite frost pressure Spanish lemon harvest appears to have been average this year. 

Mexico:  Rain has come to southern Mexico, but central Mexico is still experiencing warm and dry conditions.  This is particularly stressful on vegetable crops in the area.  Broccoli and Cauliflower production in the area has slowed/reduced yields due to the dry weather/lack of rain.

Northern Mexico has continued to experience severe drought conditions.  Reservoirs in the area are being utilized to relieve pressure on livestock growers and corn producers.  

Guatemala:  Broccoli production should resume in July.  Guatemala has received rain in June and all indications are that crops are growing well and harvest/production is still on schedule to commence July.

Chile/Peru:    Asparagus expected to be tight in both Chile and Peru.  2010 crop suffered lower volume due to dry weather and cooler soil temperatures.   Product is in short supply coming into 2011 season and prices are expected to increase based on a large demand for asparagus worldwide.  Harvest is currently underway in Peru with Chile harvest to begin end September.

Australia:  Western Australia experienced sporadic rains while southeast Australia remained dry.  Northeast Australia saw moderate amounts or rain which affected wheat harvest.  As wheat harvest is nearing completion in this area effects appear to be minimal. 

Australian raisins are in for a difficult year.  Rain, fungal disease, and pests all combined to cut Australian raisin output almost in half.

New Zealand:  Total apple acreage in New Zealand is expected to decrease during the 2011/2012 apple season compared to a year before.  Processors have been paying high prices to apple growers and many orchards committed total production to processors.  

New Zealand Apple Acreage Decreasing

Kiwi growers enjoyed a successful year made possible by the large growth in the Asian markets.  Nevertheless there are worries that the PSA disease discovered for the first time in New Zealand last year could affect future kiwi production.  The next 1 to 3 years could be challenging for New Zealand kiwi growers as they learn how to manage PSA disease.

Frozen pea exports from New Zealand were up in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter.  Much of the growth was driven by increased Australian demand.   

Thailand:  Strong demand from processors will continue to keep pineapple supplies tight going into the second half of 2011.  Weather for pineapples has been favorable in the past two months easing forecasts that an already tight supply could worsen.  Thailand has observed increased competition for canned pineapples from Indonesia and the Phillipines.

Weather has been favorable for corn in Thailand.  Warm and wet weather have satisfied soil moisture and temperature requirements.      

Thailand is positioning itself to have a record year for sugar exports.  Europe is expected to take much of the product. 

China:  In the Yangtze valley and south China, after a particularly long dry season, the rainy season has arrived.  Some flooding was observed.

Central Coast and further North in China the Edamame crop is suffering.   Drought conditions and then heavy rain for an extended period of time has hurt the Edamame crop.  Chinese authorities have advised it has been the heaviest rain to hit the area since 1958.  Due to the drought conditions during the early stage there are not many pods on the plants.   Usually at harvest time the ground/soil is not visible.  You can see from the photo below how much ground is visible at harvest. The heavy rain caused many blemishes on the pods and yields are expected to be drastically reduced. You can expect a higher price for this crop as the growers are increasing their prices to processors due to the reduced yields.   It has been reported that only 15% of the raw material coming into the factories can be used.

Chinese Edamame Field Right Before Harvest

Chinese exports of frozen beans, frozen sweet corn, and frozen potatoes to Japan all appear to have increased in the first four months of 2011 as compared to the previous year.  A large part of this increase is attributed to the Tsunami.     





Technology Helps to Avoid US Foodborne Illness Scares

The beginning of June found the media buzzing about an outbreak of a particularly nasty strain of E. coli in Europe health experts called the largest food borne illness outbreak in history.  Thought to be linked to cucumbers, tomatoes, and leafy greens, the outbreak was almost completely confined to people who lived in or had recently been to Germany.  The specific strain of E. coli responsible for the unprecedented outbreak in Europe was a non O157 strain.  O157 is considered one of the most virulent strains of E. coli and is the most rigorously tested from a food safety perspective.  According to the CDC, while instances of non O157 E. coli detection have increased in the United States during the past decade, instances of E. coli food poisoning in general have decreased significantly during the same time period.

According to a recent Center for Disease Control report, compared to 1996-1998, 2010 saw a significant decrease in reported cases of most types of food related illness.  E coli O157 saw a particularly significant decrease of reported illness at 44% less than a little over a decade ago.  Much of the decrease in illness is attributed to investment in information technology monitoring techniques by the CDC, USDA, and FDA.  The Food borne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) was first brought online in 1996 and monitors reported cases of food borne illness in ten states.  It reportedly monitors 15% of the US population for doctor reported food borne illnesses at any given time.  This technology makes possible rapid identification and response to food borne illnesses, allowing government agencies and private business the opportunity to quickly respond to potential issues before they have time to become large scale. 

Technology Helping Decrease Foodborne Illness

One of the discoveries FoodNet made was that while most food borne illnesses have decreased in the last decade, Vibrio and Salmonella have increased in reported frequency from 1996.  Vibrio in particular has seen large increases in reported cases as shellfish and other seafood have become increasingly popular globally.  The rise of these two illnesses has underscored another important tool in combating food borne illness:  the proper handling and preparation of food.  Information technology is, and can be further used, to spread knowledge about ways of preparing and handling food, which will minimize the risk of food borne illness.  More effective dissemination of information via new technologies both to the US population and US government has been one of the first steps in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act recently made into law in the US.  As information becomes better organized and more quickly available situations such as the recent E. Coli outbreak in Europe can be better understood and avoided more effectively in the future.          

Please click here to go directly to the FoodNet database!


The Miraculous Peruvian Yacon!

Getting tired of eating French fries?  Maybe you switched over to sweet potato fries and even they are beginning to become a little monotonous.  So you ask yourself, what root am I going to try next, are there any that I haven’t tried?  Well let your search go no further.  From the high Andes Mountains of Peru comes a healthy, tasty, and extremely unique root vegetable, which has been gaining increasing international popularity.  Known as the yacón, and also as the Peruvian ground apple, this tuber has exciting health benefits which can help diabetics and those trying to lose weight.

Yummy Yacon Chips



More closely related to the sunflower than the potato, the yacón has been cultivated in Peru for thousands of years.  Unlike many of the plants grown in the Andes the yacón is not sensitive to seasonal changes in sunlight and can be grown anywhere in the world where conditions are right.  Producing a plant that can grow to be over 2 meters tall, the yacón root is sweet tasting and often described as having floral aromas and flavors.  Like the potato the yacón can be eaten boiled or fried and can be dehydrated.  It can also be made into juice or syrup, however one of the best ways to eat this vegetable is raw.  Its flavor is sweet and light.  Yacon contains a rare sugar know as fructooligosaccharide which tastes very sweet, however it is not absorbed in the body like other sugars making it perfect for diabetics and dieters alike.   It acts as a prebiotic, helps with cholesterol management and vitamin absorption and regulates blood sugar.



With so many benefits where do you find this seemingly miraculous root vegetable?  While there is some commercial production in Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and recently found in markets in the Philippines, most yacón sales in the United States are currently restricted to farmer’s markets and natural food stores.  More commonly available in the United States is yacón tea made from the leaves of the yacón plant, which are rich in antioxidants.

So why not track down a famers market or health food store in your area to enjoy the health benefits of this unique super food!




SIAL China Food Show and Shifts in the Food Industry

This May representatives from Noon International visited Shanghai, China and went to the SIAL Food Show.  The event attracts many different parts of the food industry from around the world and is designed to showcase food industry trends both in China and internationally.  This year two main topics seemed to dominate many of the exhibits at the food show:  the effect of increased access to information and the effect of the global recession on the food buying decisions of the global consumer.  Some of these trends seem against intuition, but the fact remains that food trends in the world are changing quickly as information on the origin and treatment of food becomes increasingly available and people must choose what to spend their recession limited incomes on.  While it remains to be seen if all the predictions made at the SIAL China show prove important to the future of the international food industry, many of them already have.   

One of the more interesting and not necessarily intuitive trends outlined at the SIAL China Food Show was the rise of “Ultra” products.  “Ultra” meaning very low cost or very high cost product that is enhanced in some way.  In the past, when the global economy was strong, medium priced middle of the road food products saw strong sales.  Now luxury products and discount products are often placed side by side underscoring consumer sentiment to weigh food products by their expected and perceived value rather than price alone.  Part of consumer expected and perceived value is built on increasing consumer access to information about food which has inspired a growing interest in where food comes from, the best way to prepare the food at home, and fusions of new flavors and ingredients with old staples.  Extensive media coverage of food scares around the world has led consumers to increasingly question where their food comes from and how it is prepared.  This access to information about the food supply and food preparation has led to a rise in consumers preparing many of their own meals.

Many of the products that consumers are interested in buying and not preparing themselves incorporate new flavors with old staple food products.  Examples of this cited at the SIAL China show were ginger dairy products, wasabi flavored salty snacks, and new innovative flavors of the old potato chip.  Information gained at the SIAL China food show implies that it is time for food business around the world to abandon the old staples of a decade ago and replace them with new and exciting foods that consumers can explore and connect with on a more personal level than ever before.  Beyond simply providing consumers with new and exciting products, using the internet and information technology to increase the perceived legitimacy of food products, whether ultra high end or ultra budget, will inevitably drive the food industry of the future.    

Please click here to read the entire 15 point Sial presentation.

Did You Know...?

Have you seen the new ultra sustainable meat product currently being developed in Japan?  Click here to see a video about it!  Would you eat it?   


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