Inside this Food Report



MAY 1, 2011

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Hello Everyone,

Spring has sprung! The notion of spring conjures up thoughts of warmer days, birds singing and sun shinning. Not so in the Pacific Northwest. While we have had our occasional days of sun, overall the month of April has been cold and wet. Cooler and wetter than last season.  Although green peas are nearly 100% planted the rain and cold put plantings behind schedule and has slowed the growing.  Seeding of corn began first week of April and although too early to tell we will need warmer temperatures to produce a plentiful crop this season. With higher raw material and fuel costs along with a very cold and rainy spring this year will be challenging for our commodity crops. Please read more in our crop section below.

Although our growing season here in the U.S.A. may be difficult it cannot compare to what the people of Japan continue to experience since March 11'th when Japan suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami. In recognition of this Noon International will be donating a portion of the proceeds for each container Noon International ships April through December 2011 to the Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Effort through the American Red Cross.

For more information on the American Red Cross Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Effort please click here.

It has been over a month since the devasting earthquake and tsunami hit Northern Japan on 3/11. The sensational news coverage has stopped, cherry trees have bloomed and Tokyo Disneyland has reopened. Slowly there is some sense of normalcy at least in the regions outside of Tohoku. However we cannot forget that survivors are still living their day-to-day life in shelters and it will be months before they can return to their homes. Only last week nearly 25,000 Self-Defense Force members began a massive search for the still missing souls along with robots who searched underwater off the coasts of three tsunami hit towns. We also feel compelled to mention the heroic group known as the “Fukushima 50” … is actually around 300 firemen, soldiers and technicians working in shifts of 50 to stabilize the nuclear plant. They are willing to die to save others and they are true heroes. So although it might seem as Japan is getting back to “normal” the people of Japan will be continuing to courageously manage and live with the aftermath of this disaster for many months to come. Japan truly needs the world’s support and prayers still.

Lily, Betty, and the Noon International Team


United States: Pea planting is completed although behind schedule compared to last season. Due to consistent cold and wet weather pea harvest is expected to be delayed this season.

Corn planting in Washington State began in April. Corn plantings are delayed due to persistent cold and wet weather during April. The USDA has advised that by April 24 only 9% of the nations projected corn crop was planted. This is 37% behind last year and 14% behind the 5 year average. It is too early to know how corn will be affected by weather.

Seeding has also begun for the green bean crop.

The Midwest is experiencing cold and stormy weather. Mid April saw snow in some parts of the mid west. Green Pea harvest usually commences mid June in Minnesota however harvest is expected to be late this season.

By the end of the third week in April 5% of the US sugar beet crop was planted. Last year at the same time 33% had been planted.

Most of the Western US has received above average precipitation this spring. Snowpack is higher than average this year increasing the likelihood of above normal spring and summer runoff. The only Western United States regions without above average snowpack are Arizona and New Mexico.

Cold weather has affected potato growth in the Columbia Basin. Columbia Basin potatoes began to sprout during April although cool and wet weather has limited potato growth during the month. Reports indicate that Washington potato growers planted more potatoes this year than in 2010, although it is still early in the season for very accurate numbers. Due to tight raw product supply inventories processors want to start digging potatoes by July 5. So far the weather has not cooperated. Without ideal weather an early start to harvest could result in yield reductions due to smaller size potatoes.

California tomato processors are reporting that rain in mid March pushed back tomato plantings. Generally in years with cool and wet planting seasons crop yields tend to be smaller than usual and the possibility of fungus problems also increase.

Canada: Potato stocks in provinces from Ontario eastward report more inventory than last year. Potato stocks in provinces west of Ontario were reported as down by as much as 20% compared to last year. Overall Canadian fry quality potatoes are down from 15% to 40% depending on the province.

Sources indicate that frozen blueberry imports from Canada to the US have decreased in lieu of increased frozen blueberry imports from Argentina and Chile to the US. This year US demand for cultivated frozen blueberries is expected to be high.

British Columbia blueberry growers reported snow and freezing temperatures in mid April. For leaf flushing to occur temperatures will have to warm considerably.

Snow in April for British Columbia Blueberry Growers

Europe: Dry warm weather has been prevalent in Europe during April. While conditions have been favorable for emerging winter crops there is some concern that a dry weather pattern is forming which will affect summer crops.

Mexico: The effects of a freeze in central Mexico reported at the beginning of February were felt all through April and will continue to be felt into May. While farmers were able to salvage mature bell pepper and tomato crops that had been minimally affected by freeze damage, blossoms that would now be producing fruit throughout April were damaged.

Peak broccoli season in Mexico will be coming to an end May/June, however low inventories of both broccoli and cauliflower have continued to recover and current production is on budget.

The US and Mexican governments are on their way to eliminating retaliatory tariffs for some US goods being shipped to Mexico. An announcement published by the Federal Register confirmed that a pilot program is planned which will allow Mexican trucks on American roads. Once the first Mexican carrier is certified under the agreement tariffs will go to zero.

Guatemala: Broccoli production in Guatemala will halt during May and June as planned. Production will resume in July.

Pineapples Lined up for Export in Costa Rica



Costa Rica: Spikes in demand from Europe have resulted in Costa Rica sending more fresh, frozen, and canned pineapple to the region. France in particular which used to source large amounts of pineapple from the currently war torn Ivory Coast have turned to Costa Rica for product. Currently Costa Rica is on track to break previous pineapple export records. This increase in exports will affect pineapple prices worldwide. Colder than usual weather in Costa Rica during the last few months has also reduced brix content in pineapples used for processing.






Chile: Since the beginning of the season in December 2010 the price of IQF raspberries has on average dropped due to low demand. In addition to lower demand, quality issues stemming from drought due to water infrastructure damage from the earthquake last year, and the fact that most raspberries are grown on small plots by farmers who often do not have the resources to properly care for the fruit, have reportedly affected the quality of fruit for IQF processing. Even though demand and quality are lower than usual Chile is still expected to harvest average amounts of fruit.

Average Yield Low Demand for Chile's Raspberries

Thailand: Pineapple raw material prices continue to increase in Thailand. According to The Thai Food Processors Association little rain before March in Thai pineapple producing regions is affecting fruit size in April. While rain in March in southern and western Thailand helped pineapple product size up and mature, Thailand is now entering its hot summer season and supply should level off into May and June. With Thai farmers harvesting as much pineapple as possible, including immature fruit, juice makers have had trouble maintaining brix levels.

Thai pineapple growers have developed a new pineapple variety that can stay fresh for up to 45 days after harvest. Popularity of the variety among processors is expected to grow slowly.

Australia: Pear canners in Victoria have reduced contracts to growers this year 25% to 35% compared to last year.

New Zealand: Government and grower efforts to control the PSA kiwi disease continue. Helicopter sprays have been employed to spot treat affected vines without affecting the entire kiwi crop.

Helicopters Apply PSA Pesticides in New Zealand

Turkey: Turkish vegetable and fruit production is down compared to last year. Root vegetables, tomatoes, green beans, and carrots all experienced drops in production. In addition there was also a significant drop in the production of apricots in the country. Hazelnut production is one of the few agricultural sectors to see growth in 2010. Turkey is a major competitor to the United States for canned tomato products.

China: Multiple sources are indicating that the Chinese apple juice concentrate shortage might be more than originally anticipated. Analysis of estimated current apple juice concentrate stock based on reported inventories vs. how much concentrate has already been shipped indicate that China could head into the 2011/2012 with no carry over inventory. Current stocks have been reported from 60,000 to 80,000 tons, the exact number is unknown.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture the prices of 19 vegetables have fallen an average of 11.4% in China during April. This drop in price has been attributed to agricultural speculators who hoarded vegetables such as cabbage and then dumped them on the market in April. The problem was exacerbated by climatic factors which brought leafy vegetables into the market at around the same time in north and south China.

At the end of April China released data that corn exports had increased by 11% compared to last year. Global corn prices are reported as over 20% more than domestic corn prices in China.

The Chinese government has committed to spending $612 billion over the next 10 years to combat water shortage problems. This decision comes in the wake of severe drought in north China during 2011. Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said in late April that currently he is not optimistic about short term water infrastructure in China.





New and Improved FDA Recall Website

From the new look of the recently revamped Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts website it seems that the FDA is taking the mandates of the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) very seriously. Within 90 days of being signed into law, the FSMA required the FDA to create a more user-friendly product recall webpage. Launched on April 4, 2011 the new website tracks product recalls for food, drugs, animal feed products, biologics, and medical devices in an easy to use chronological format.

Previously the FDA recall site had been set up much like a search engine. You could type in a search query and get back search results, which often times were not ordered chronologically. The new FDA recall website organizes products chronologically in a table and provides information from news releases by product brand, product description, recall reason and the recalling company. The website also provides links to news releases related to the recall. It has a built in RSS feed so users can receive updates on their phone, email, or social networking profile as soon as the website is updated. No more waiting for the nightly news or sifting through a pile of search results to find out about the latest food safety concerns, now recall information can be delivered directly to the consumer instantly.

A minority of bloggers and journalists have raised the concern that this type of information outlet will play into mass hysteria and heighten perceptions that the food supply is more dangerous than it really is, however the new recall website was in response to consumer and industry feedback which had for years been very critical of the way recalls were published on the FDA website. While there are many valid concerns in the food industry about the implementation of the FSMA the new FDA recall website should not be one of them. It is clearly a well-intentioned effort to listen and respond to the frustrations of consumers and the food industry about the lack of transparency and clear information associated with FDA regulated product recalls of the past.

To see the new and improved FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts website, click the below image of the US Government Human and Health Services logo, the agency which controls the FDA:



Ringing the Bell Pepper’s Virtues!

There are not many vegetables as healthy, flavorful, and versatile as the bell pepper. How many vegetables can you think of that can bring extra life from everything ranging from Greek hummus plates to Italian pizza to Hungarian goulash? Bell peppers come in a bright display of vivid red, orange, yellow, green, and even black colors. They can be sliced and diced but are often cooked just cut in half and stuffed with cheeses, meats, grains or whatever tasty combination you can conjure up. Not only do bell peppers add a dash of daring to most any meal, they also pack quite a lot of very important nutrients to help keep us at our best!

Bell Peppers Come in a Variety of Vivid Colors

One cup of diced bell pepper alone contains over 100% of our daily vitamin A needs, and a whopping 290% of our daily vitamin C needs. As impressive as that is the nutritious properties of the bell pepper do not stop there. Bell peppers contain vitamin B6 and folic acid, two compounds which have been noted for their ability to reduce levels of homocysteine, high levels of which is associated with heart attack and stroke. Red peppers, along with tomatoes, are also one of the few foods that contain lycopene, consumption of which has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits.

One Bell Pepper has the Vitamin C of Two Oranges!

Bell peppers, also sometimes called sweet peppers, have been cultivated in south Mexico, Central America, and South America for thousands of years. They were not introduced into Europe until 1493 when Columbus came back from his first trip to the region. To this day Mexico is still one of the top bell pepper producing countries in the world. Maybe bell peppers aren’t the most familiar vegetable at the supermarket, but trying different recipes with bell peppers is a healthy way to add a little flavor to your meals and your life. To get you started exploring the delicious and healthy options bell pepper recipes can provide click here for a bell pepper recipe


Sales for US Frozen Blueberries Not Cooling Down

At the end of March 2011 the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA published their Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook, a report which is available five times a year. There was some very heartening news for blueberry growers and processors contained within the report! According to the ERS both frozen and fresh blueberry consumption has been on the rise in the United States for the past three decades and shows little likelihood of slowing down. Both the USDA and the United States Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) agree that most of the growth in consumption of blueberries in the United States is directly linked to consumers’ increasing awareness of the health benefits associated with eating blueberries.

According to the ERS report between 1990 and 2001 United States frozen blueberry consumption exceeded fresh consumption. Beginning in 2002 and continuing through 2010 the ERS estimated that fresh consumption exceeded frozen consumption as illustrated in the graph below:

According to the USDA US Frozen Blueberry Consumption is Increasing

While frozen blueberry consumption has not seen the meteoric rise that fresh blueberry consumption has seen frozen blueberry consumption has maintained steady growth nearly tripling since 1980. As blueberry acreage both domestically and internationally continues to expand the per capita consumption will most likely rise as well.

According to market research done by the USHBC in 2004, “Households more likely to contain blueberry purchasers are located in High Income Suburbs, Upscale Urban, Upscale Towns near Urban Areas, and Affluent/Mid Scale Suburbs.” Also interesting to note was, “Those with higher education (graduate degree) are much more likely to purchase fresh than frozen. Those with some high school or less are more likely to purchase frozen than fresh.” Frozen blueberry purchases of over a million pounds by the USDA for low income child nutrition and other food assistance programs are just the beginning in introducing this tasty and healthy fruit to a whole new generation of consumers.

Did You Know...?

This spring has been one of the coldest in Western Washington State in the last fifty years. Measurements taken at SeaTac airport indicate that there were only 2 days above 55 degrees F between February 1st and mid April. Last year there were 26 days above 55 degrees F in the same period of time.


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