Inside this Food Report


June 1, 2013

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Hello Everyone,

As we begin our peak harvest season in America which depends so much on weather conditions it reminds us how severe the wrath of mother nature can be.  Seventy- six tornado’s touched down in ten states between May 18th – 20th.    Moore , Oklahoma experienced the strongest and deadliest.   Twenty four people perished , including seven children.   Our prayers and hearts go out to all who suffered such incredible loss.

Weather in the Northwest has been typical for this time of year with some warm sunny days in May and then turning cold and rainy.    Pea harvest begins this month and some reports say yields will be down due to lost acres caused by frost and then extreme heat which may create bunching later in the season.

This past month has been a busy one as members of Noon International visited the TuttoFood Exhibition in Milan, Italy.   The exhibition was held May 19 – 22th and had a strong national and international representation.    Food companies from all over Italy were represented along with many other countries.   Frozen pizza, panettone, pastas,  polenta, organic fruit juice and frozen mozzarella  were just some of the many delicious foods presented.   We came back from Milan with many delicious and creative food ideas so if you have interest in Italian food please let us know!

Fathers Day this month is on June 16th and we wish all the dads out there a very  Happy Fathers Day!   We could not resist showing the below photo of our newest dad , Chad Watson’s little one.   Baby Arlo really loves Noon International’s “Purely Frozen” Organic Broccoli!

All The Best,

Betty Johnson and the Noon International Team

CropVeggiesUnited States:   Green pea harvest has begun in the Northwest region.   Due to frost in May some farmers /suppliers lost acres.   This was followed by some extreme heat which could cause bunching and reduced yields later in the harvest season.   In the Midwest plantings and consequently harvest will be delayed by about 2 weeks due to rain and cool weather.   All in all pea supply may be tight this season.

 Northwest corn is about 65 % planted, while improved weather in the Midwest corn belt opened up an opportunity for farmers to plant much of the 2013 corn crop.   Farmers in the Midwest are expecting increased moisture, which will favor development of the crop but could slow down further plantings.   Based on the “Farmland Forecast”, as of May 19th , 71% of the United States corn crop has been planted.   This was a jump in acres planted and 8% behind the five year average of 79%.   Corn that has emerged was at 19%, down 27% from the 5 year average.

Potato exports from the United States fell about 10% as of February.   This was mainly due to a decline in shipments to Japan.  In spite of the overall shortfall of European potatoes , exports of potatoes to Japan is not expected to grow this year due primarily to the falling value of the yen.

It looks to be a very good crop of Northwest Blueberries and Raspberries this season due to a mild winter and excellent pollination weather .   Willamette and Meeker raspberries should begin harvest the last week of June with Wakefield variety starting around July 4th.     Blueberries should begin production the last week of July.

Europe:  Planting of crops in Europe have been delayed due to weather conditions such as rain and then heat.   The potato plantings in Europe were going in the ground 2 to 4 weeks later than usual due to rain.   In addition peas, spinach, broccoli and carrots have faced severe delays in planting due to weather, which will result in a shorter season and a smaller overall production.

Mexico:   Still feeling the effects of the March freeze, Mexico’s supply of high quality broccoli is in short supply.   Facing the rainy season  with raw material currently coming from the Hidalgo region, inventories are not expected to be replenished until peak season begins again in September.

Guatemala:   Currently off season for broccoli in Guatemala, suppliers struggled to meet shipments at end April/beginning May.    Peak season is expected to begin in July.

Peru:   Avocado season is underway and to date the season looks favorable.

Australia:   Mango crop is completed.    Australia has been prolonging the harvest by planting new varieties of mango.    This is making it possible for the mango season to stretch into the autumn season.

New Zealand:   PSA bacterial disease is taking a toll on New Zealand’s kiwi industry.   Certain varieties are more affected than others but all in all it could be the smallest harvest in about 5  years.


Fujian Province:    Factories are processing green beans but the raw material is coming from Zhejiang Province because Fujian green beans finished production early due to heavy rain in May.   Quality is okay with lower prices than expected.
Edamame harvest will begin this month and yields are expected to be down by 30%.
Lychee fruit harvest will begin July.   It will be a struggle with Lychee this season as many fields were wiped away by rain.

Zhejiang Province:   The H7N9 alarm has been lifted in Zhejiang Province as well as in Shanghai.   Consumers can now buy chicken and duck meat in restaurants so KFC and other Chinese local restaurants, which specialize in poultry dishes, are recovering.

The temperature in Zhejiang is rising gradually and crop growth is normal.
Pea Pod and Sugar Snap pea season is underway.   Green Bean harvest has begun and although quality is good the yields are expected to be down.
Edamane is at flowering stage. 

Shandong Province: Strawberry prices in China are up by 30% due to a short harvest season and low yields.   Consumer demand for domestic asparagus has increased in China , however prices still remain low.


China's Food Imports Abundant Opportunities

Foreigners residing in China have long been wary of locally produced food, choosing to buy organic grown or foreign sourced produce for their every day consumption.  Surprisingly, this trend has also caught on among the locals in recent years. In larger cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, locals are increasingly purchasing from food stores that were once patronized exclusively by foreign customers.  Owners of imported food stores, whose clientele comprised 90 percent foreigners until recent years, are now increasingly spotting local customers in their store aisles.

The surge in local customers is largely being attributed to the spike in food scandals that have erupted in China in recent years. As food scandals become a common concern in the country, stories of contamination and mislabeling are not hard to come by. And inhabitants of China worry that the domestic products they consume may not be good enough, and possibly contain several contaminants, which may damage their health in the long run. 

A recent scandal involved millions of pounds of tanning leather byproduct, which severely impacted rice production in the country. The chemical contamination caused rivers and rice paddies to turn bright yellow every time it rained, and ruined rice crop production across large farming stretches. Rice is part of the staple diet in China, and the contamination has naturally worried many of the Chinese that domestically produced food may not be safe.
The rising consumer class in China is particularly worried about ensuring the safety of food given to children.  Many Chinese today are shopping at imported food stores to buy safe baby food products.  Dairy foods such as fresh milk and yoghurt in particular, are flying off the shelves.  Local shoppers at these stores say that they feel confident of the quality of ingredients, and trust the food labeling on the imported food products.   Chinese residents also feel reassured with food safety standards such as the USDA seal of quality control that American food products carry, as it implies rigorous product review. Rising to the trend, several American food companies have increased their exports to China – for instance, companies such as Organic Valley have substantially increased their export of milk to China in the past three years.

Individual customers aside, food establishments in the country as well have been struggling to deliver safe food to their customers. The recent scandal concerning food mislabeling by a wholesale meat supplier, embarrassed fast food giant Yum Brands, as food served at its Little Sheep chain of hot pot restaurants was tested for rat meat.  And while authorities in the country have stepped up investigations into such malpractices, individual customers continue to be wary, and have stayed off Little Sheep, impacting profits for Yum Brands.  The food giant suffered a similar episode last year when reports emerged around chemical contamination in a small portion of its chicken meat products. 

In a press release issued earlier, Yum Brands stated that following the rat meat contamination investigations, it anticipated a 30% decline in same-store sales for the month of April, besides a double-digit decline in the earnings per share it will offer its investors in 2013. 

Food safety scares in China are impacting individual consumers and food establishments alike.  And consumers believe that opting for imported food products may be the only way to stay protected.  While the authorities in China work at improving the safe food production and distribution system within the country, a ready market opportunity awaits the organic food industry. Besides, non-organic food producers from across the world may also have a go at creating and delivering safe products, developed with a closer understanding of local diet habits and affordable pricing strategies, to reach the average Chinese consumer.      

The Power Of The Pineapple!

Pineapples are juicy, delicious and a powerhouse of vitamins and essential nutrients.  The pineapple - a tropical fruit with a thick and spiny outer skin and a firm fleshy pulp - is popularly grown across the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil and Hawaii.   People enjoy eating the fruit either raw or in processed variants such as juices, jellies and desserts.  The fruit is also added to several cooked dishes to create an enhanced sweet and sour flavor.

Pineapples are highly beneficial to anyone keen on maintaining a healthy diet.  The fruit is a rich source of vitamins A and C, and also contains essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Pineapples are rich in fiber and calories, while low in fat and cholesterol, making it an ideal choice for those looking to maintain a light and healthy diet. 

Pineapples also contain bromelain – an enzyme that aids improved digestion, and quickens recovery from common ailments. Bromelain is known to have a neutralizing action on acidic food, has protein-digesting properties, and helps regulate secretions from the pancreas, and plays an important role in maintaining a healthy digestive tract.  The high vitamin C content in the fruit also help fight off cough and colds, and bromelain helps with loosening mucus, enabling speedy recovery from such ailments.   

Rich in manganese which help power your bones and connective tissue a cup of pineapple provides 73 percent of our body’s requirement for manganese, and comes highly recommended for those looking to maintain their bone health.  

Pineapples are also proven to be highly beneficial in maintaining gum health.  Regular consumption of pineapples greatly helps improve the quality of our gums, ensuring stronger teeth and overall dental health.  

Besides being useful in maintaining overall health, stronger teeth and bones, and improved support with digestion, pineapples have also been found to be beneficial in protecting us from complex ailments such as macular degeneration and arthritis conditions. 

Pineapples are being increasingly recommended to fight off vision conditions such as macular degeneration – a complex ailment that causes vision loss in adults, due to damage caused to the retina. When it strikes, macular degeneration can greatly impair normal life – making it difficult to read, and even recognise faces. Pineapples contain beta-carotene, which is greatly useful in protecting our sense of sight, and regular consumption of the fruit, is now known to reduce the risk of developing conditions such as macular degeneration by 36 percent. 

It is easy to see that pineapples provide a range of health benefits including improved immunity, digestion, vision health, stronger bones and teeth, and is ideally suited to meet health and dietary requirements for all members of the family.  With its sweet and juicy flavor, and fleshy delicious textures, it offers an inviting treat for children, and provides all the key nutrients for adults.

Simple to serve up as a dessert, or an interesting addition to your meals - bring home a pineapple for a healthy dinner tonight!

Declining Bee Population A Cause For Concern

The recent decline in bee population has been a cause for concern for farmers across America.  It has been observed that approximately a third of the bee colonies in the country have disappeared since last winter, and for no apparent reason. And worryingly, when bee colonies perish through a “colony-collapse disorder”, it impacts not just the production of honey, but also the entire agriculture industry. 

Bees have long been useful in aiding crop production - they play an important role in facilitating pollination, a key step in the production of fruits and vegetables. Bees facilitate pollination across a wide variety of everyday fruits and vegetables, staple to the standard American diet, such as apples, cherries and watermelons. When the pollination process fails to occur, production of these crops will suffer, and drive food prices significantly higher.  This will mean an increased burden on farmers, who are still recovering from last year’s aggressive drought conditions, and a bigger dent in the average American household budget.

Food production aside, the Agriculture Department estimates that the loss of bee colonies will bring about an immense financial toll on the entire agriculture industry.  Figures shared by the Department indicate that crop production through pollination by bees can be estimated at a value of $20 billion. Further, the indirect contribution they make to the dairy and meat industry, through production of fodder crop that are fed to the cows, is estimated at nearly $40 billion. Industry observers also fear deep losses for almond growers – almond is nearly entirely reliant on bee pollination, and growers in California are already worried over massive crop failures in the next harvest season, and gearing up for huge production losses.    

Mass disappearances of bee colonies are not entirely a recent phenomenon – the first significant occurrence was reported in 2006, with a significant spike in disappearances over the past few years.  For the moment, scientists are unable to establish why bees are perishing so rapidly, however, a range of possible factors such as malnutrition, parasites and diseases are being explored.  Some believe that existing drought conditions in the country may also have a catalyzing role in their disappearance.

Recent reports also link the use of chemicals and pesticides to disappearance of bee colonies.  Some have highlighted a possible link between oxytetracycline, a chemical used in farming, and the weakening of the bees' immune systems.  The impact of pesticides such as neonicotinoids is also being discussed, along with a possible ban on its use as in many European countries, however U.S. regulators are yet to consider such a move, as they lack adequate evidence linking the pesticide to the disappearance of bee colonies. 

Bees are an essential part of the agriculture industry, and play a huge role in delivering the crop production process. The direct and indirect contribution made through the pollination process, benefits not just the agriculture industry, but also the economy at large. It is apparent that with so much at stake – from crop production to farmers’ livelihoods to food prices and family nutrition, finding an effective solution for the protection of bee colonies is a hugely important priority for the worlds food supply.

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