Inside this Food Report


May 1, 2013

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Hello Everyone,

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!  We hope you have a wonderful day with your family and friends.   Springtime is here and weather, at least in the Pacific Northwest, is expected to be warm and sunny which will be good for agriculture in the area.   To date weather conditions have been favorable and we are expecting a good and healthy crop condition this summer.   Our green peas are expected to begin harvest the last week of May with corn to follow at the end of July.

There is continued pressure on raw material prices in both the Northwest and Midwest areas so we are expecting prices to increase this season.   Suppliers are aware of the economic issues in Asia and they will be doing their best to keep your prices as low as possible.  

Noon International is coming off of a very busy month with visits to Japan and Central America.   We were anticipating viewing the beautiful cherry blossom’s in Tokyo, however it was so windy the day of our arrival that all the blossoms blew off the trees!  However we did get to enjoy an adrenaline filled landing at Tokyo’s Narita airport.   On this trip to Tokyo we also had the opportunity to meet with some old friends and have a wonderful dinner together along with a visit to the Karaoke bar of course!

Normally we write each month about healthy fruits and vegetables, however this month we thought it might be interesting to write a little about foods to try best to avoid in order to stay in tip top shape.   Please see our article below  “What Foods Not To Eat To Stay Healthy”.  

We hope you are enjoying your spring and we look forward to seeing our packers and customers during the crop season ahead.

All The Best,

Betty and the Noon International Team

CropVeggiesUnited States:  Pea planting is now completed.   Weather conditions remain favorable and pea harvest is expected to commence last week of May or first week of June depending on weather conditions.   Corn and beans are currently being planted.  Overall Northwest manufacturers will secure a bit more pea acres this season while corn acres secured remain similar to 2012 levels.  Nationally 4% of the corn crop was planted as of April 21st.   Field work in the Midwest region was hampered by rain and cold weather. In the Pacific Northwest raw material prices for potato’s went up about 2% and plantings are underway.

Europe:   England’s pea crop as well as Hungary’s is expected to be late due to delayed plantings caused by cold weather, however warmer weather has finally arrived over most of the continent resuming winter crops and fieldwork for Europe’s summer crops. 

Mexico:   Mexico’s main broccoli and cauliflower season ended in mid April, however both cauliflower and broccoli continue to be harvested in higher elevation areas.  In addition zucchini and yellow squash are being processed.

Guatemala:    Guatemala is winding down from its peak growing season.  Currently melon, papaya and pineapple are being harvested.   Limited amounts of broccoli continue but this should end by middle May.   Peak broccoli season will start up again in July.  Weather has been sunny and warm with occasional rain.

Ecuador:    Good quality raw material broccoli has decreased due to recent heavy rains.

Chile:   Green bean season has finished and yields have been reported to be better than expected.   Kiwi is expected to be harvested through May.

Peru:  Mango season finished the last week of April.   Most suppliers received sufficient supply to cover their programs, however there is limited inventory.   Processing of avocado will begin by second week of May.   Good volume of raw material is expected to cover existing contracts.   There may still be some limited volumes left to contract from this season , depending on the supplier and difficulty of specification.

China:  Zhejiang Province:   Large fluctuations in temperature has not been good for the growth of pea pods and sugar snap peas.   Harvest is delayed compared to last year at this time and market pricing is expected to be higher than last year.    Raw material quality for bamboo shoots has not been good and prices are high.   Shitake mushroom harvest is ending and pricing is high.    Green bean plantings are underway and harvest is expected to begin end June depending on weather.

Fujian Province:  Carrot harvest is coming to an end, however a few factories will continue processing into May.  After price increases in March, prices are now stable and quality is good .   Spring crop of edamame is expected to begin end of May.    Water chestnut harvest is now completed.

Shandong Province:  Asparagus harvest and processing are now in progress.   Field plantings increased significantly which has brought prices down from last year by about 15 – 20 %. Strawberry acreage has decreased compared to last season.   The cold and frost during winter will affect the crop yields.  In addition local domestic demand has increased along with rising labor costs, which will result in higher export prices this season.

China’s Avian Flu – A Crisis for KFC?

As impact from the H7N9 avian flu in China widens, food safety concerns are spreading from across individual household buyers to fast-food consumers in the country.  Microbiologists from the Chinese Academy of Science have identified the H7N9 as a rare strain, originating from a mingling of viruses between migratory birds such as chickens, ducks and pigeons along the Yangtze river delta.

Presently, poultry sales have been severely impacted across China.  Live poultry markets in large cities such as Hangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai have already shut, and farmers supplying chicken meat to bustling cities such as Shanghai have seen their daily sales fall from 10,000 chickens to less than a dozen. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified H7N9 as a new strain of avian flu, and has also added that no evidence of human-to-human transmission has been cited thus far, and that the virus is completely destroyed in well-cooked meat.  However, most restaurants in Shanghai are choosing to play it safe, and imposing outright bans on the sale of poultry dishes. Schools across Shanghai have discontinued serving fried chicken.  Farmers in the country are panicking and culling hundreds of thousands of birds in a desperate attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

With rising income levels over the past decade, meat consumption in China has risen considerably.  Between 2005 and 2011, urban household consumption of chicken meat rose by 18% and fast food chains witnessed booming sales. The current avian flu crisis has many fast food chain operators worried, forcing them to slash prices in a bid to hold on to their customers. McDonald's recently discounted the price of their McNugget meal to nearly half, from 36 Yuan (£3.60) to 20 Yuan (£2).

Sales at KFC and Pizza Hut (both enjoy a significant presence in China) have also been significantly impacted.  In its 8-k filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Yum! Brands, has indicated that the H7N9 avian flu does not bode well for its sales performance and will likely impact profitability.  The company witnessed a 13% decline in sales  (16% at KFC and 4% at Pizza Hut) across its China operations in March. 

China has been a lucrative market for Yum in recent years.  Having opened its first KFC branch in China in 1987, the company now has a wide network of 5,000 restaurants across 800 Chinese cities, and generates 40% of its profits from the country. In its third quarter report, the company cited over 50% of its overall revenue of $3.57 billion was generated from China. China is a market that the company can scarcely afford to lose - and not surprisingly, using several measures to educate customers on how properly cooked chicken meat can be safely consumed.  Overall, for KFC, coping with the avian flu crisis is about more than just food safety, it is also about creating measures to navigate uncertain environments, and deliver on performance.


What Foods NOT To Eat…To Stay Healthy!

As the old saying goes – You are what you eat.  Nutrition is an essential part of our well being, and what we eat impacts our physical metabolism, the functioning of our organs, and the overall state of our health. Food can either offer immense health benefits, or cause great harm, depending on how much of it we consume in our everyday diets.  Here, we list five ubiquitous foods that feature in our every day diets, yet, should be eaten moderately to insure our health and well being.

1. Salt - Salt is essential to any food production process, and can generally never be completely removed from our diets.  Doctors however advise that we consume limited quantities of it as it can greatly impact our bodies’ biochemical pathways. Salt consumption in excess of 2000 milligrams per day can be harmful and inhibit effective absorption of nutrients, causing long-term side effects including hypertension, abnormal heart development, kidney disorders, osteoporosis, dehydration and swelling, electrolyte and hormonal imbalances, and digestive diseases.  Increased salt intake can also greatly heighten risks of strokes, heart attacks, stomach and duodenal cancers, and trigger other health conditions such as circulatory problems and chronic fatigue.

2. Sugar We consume excessive sugar in our diets; with the rise in consumption of pre-processed food and fizzy drinks, we consume the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Excessive sugar consumption can bring on consequences such as exposing us to heightened risks of obesity, cancer and heart disease. Unregulated sugar consumption can be harmful for us in many ways and cause a range of health conditions including diabetes, cancer, depression and mood disorders.  Consuming too much sugar also increases the glycemic index in our bodies, causing acne and skin inflammations. 
 3. Margarine (solidified vegetable oil spread) Butter has long been regarded as a rogue food, but turns out the real culprit is margarine.  Margarine is derived from hydrogenated vegetable oils which are loaded with trans fats, and when excessively consumed can trigger vascular blockages, and coronary and arterial diseases.  In addition the refined vegetable oils used in margarine are often genetically modified, and deficient of the highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Bread – Most of us know that white bread is made with refined grains and does not really contain sufficient nutrients.  Whole grain bread is recommended as a better alternative, as it contains high amounts of fiber.  However, some health professionals now state that even whole grain bread may not be all that beneficial, since the majority of them aren’t really made of “whole” grains. The high carbohydrate content in bread can elevate blood sugar levels, and the gluten in it can cause several digestive problems. 

5. Processed fruit juices - We have always been encouraged to drink fruit juices, as they provide a range of essential vitamins and fiber. Yet, we could be consuming excessive levels of sugar and preservatives if we consumed them from juice cartons. Nutritionists today recommend that fruit juices that are freshly squeezed from a slow cold press juicer, or fresh cut fruits are a much healthier option.

Outlook For America’s 2013 Corn Crop

The historic drought conditions that prevailed last summer saw some of the worst levels of corn production being reported in the United States.  Agriculture production was impacted across several states, and small scale and uninsured producers suffered adverse losses owing to the poor yield. Poor productions levels also triggered higher corn prices impacting feed costs for dairy, poultry and livestock farmers.

With a projected $142 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2013, overall United States agricultural exports will shrink by $3 billion from the November 2012 forecast. It is expected that corn exports will be significantly hit, and shrink by an alarming 38%, down to 24 million tons, when compared with FY 2012 levels. This will be the lowest volume of United States corn exports projected since the early 1970s

Analysts from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have reported a “growing risk” that output may be impacted in 2013 as well, driving prices higher.  Historically, with a rise in corn prices, growers in South America tend to increase their acreage of plantings.  It is expected that lowered corn production could potentially result in America losing its position as the world’s leading corn grower to Brazil this year. 

Corn growers across the country are hoping that more normal spring weather conditions will lead to a better yield in 2013, helping them recover from last year’s devastating losses.  An encouraging improvement in rain and weather conditions has been observed along the eastern Corn Belt, including Indiana and Illinois. In addition, historic evidences suggest crop yield rebounds following drought years, and research indicates that corn production is largely determined by summer weather conditions (especially weather in the month of July), with low pre-season moisture levels having minimal to no impact on production.  As of now, corn growers across the U.S are hoping they will witness these positive developments this summer.

Please click below link to read the full USDA’s outlook report for the 2013 corn season.

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