Inside this Food Report


May 1, 2014

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Hello Everyone,

Happy May!

In Oregon and Washington things are starting to happen!

Peas are now fully planted and first harvest is expected end May /Early June. Weather conditions have been perfect with enough rain and warmth to move the pea growth along nicely and we anticipate a favorable pea season with price levels slightly higher than last year. At this writing about 25% of the sweet corn has been planted and first harvest is expected towards end July/first of August.  Unless there are any unforeseen adverse weather conditions we expect corn prices to remain at the same level as the 2013 crop.

The month of April brought some of the Noon group to Tokyo where we enjoyed cherry blossom time.  It is always a treat to be in Tokyo during sakura time when so many of the food products turn into cherry blossom “taste.” As we all know the Japanese are always creative in their food preparation. We experienced cherry blossom soda, cherry blossom burgers and yes, cherry blossom ice cream. Haagen-Dazs ,for its 30th anniversary, had just introduced to Japan a cherry blossom flavor ice cream which was simply delicious!

Also trending in Japan recently is popcorn!  Yes, specialty shops selling only popcorn are “popping” up all over Tokyo. Innovative flavors such as maple bacon and cinnamon bun are lining up the customers with a wait of nearly two hours! Ingredients are so precise that different types of corn are used to suit the different flavor profiles. One of the shops, KuKuRuZa , actually originated in Seattle.  Leave it to Tokyo to introduce us to something in our own home town!

Spring has sprung and we are getting ready to visit processors in the Northwest to contract for peas, corn, beans, carrots, potato and fruits. Some of our team will also be heading to China and Central America for edamame, mukimame and broccoli contracting. Please remember to contact Noon International for any of your frozen or canned vegetable or fruit requirements!

We look forward to seeing all of our processors, thank you for your support and here’s to a fantastic season ahead!

All The Best,

Betty and The Noon International Team.

CropVeggiesUnited States: Pea planting in the Northwest (Oregon and Washington) is now completed. Harvest is expected to commence end May /early June. Weather conditions have been favorable and everything points to a successful pea crop.  Prices on peas are expected to be slightly up this season.

Corn plantings in Oregon and Washington are now underway with about 20 – 25 % of the crop now planted. All indications to date are for a good corn harvest with stable price.

Potato inventories in Oregon and Washington are down compared to last year at this time. Due to the shortage of early variety potato seeds, the potato crop for processing French fries may not begin until middle July, which could cause a delay in new season potato shipments.

Due to cold spring weather the Midwest is a bit behind in pea planting. Planting is now underway and harvest time in this region is expected to commence end June.

As reported in past issues, Florida’s orange crop is still struggling and groves are producing less fruit due to citrus greening disease.

Spinach crop in Eastern region of U.S in now underway.

Europe: Spain’s broccoli season will finish this month.  Consistent quality is being reported. Remaining volumes are being contracted quickly to cover needs until production picks back up in October/November.

Serbia: An unexpected snowstorm hit Serbia in April and will bring losses to their raspberry crop.

Northwestern Europe will increase its potato acreage by about 3.5 %. Planting in this area is now 60% completed which is ahead of schedule. Growers are signing more contracts verses processors going out to contract on open market.

Mexico: Currently this is Mexico’s low season for broccoli and cauliflower.  The weather has been warm which has affected some of the quality of the raw material. Improvement is expected in July when raw material becomes available from the higher elevations in the North.

Guatemala: Guatemala is winding down it’s broccoli production and will start back up again in July. Currently there is very limited amounts of broccoli available.
Seeding for edamame currently ongoing with harvest expected June/July/August.

Costa Rica: The rainy season has begun. Pineapple still being received as processors try to stockpile before entering low season. Demand is strong.

Ecuador:   Demand for broccoli remains high from Ecuador and currently no additional volumes are available. This along with low season for both Mexico and Guatemala has created an extremely tight situation for broccoli.

Supplies Of Broccoli Tight

Peru: Mango season is now completed. Weather was favorable resulting in good quality and yields.   Freezing of avocado will begin this month.  Most contracts are settled, although there is some volume still available on specific cuts.  There will be a lot of pressure for Peru and Mexico to supply avocado due to the shortage in California caused by drought.  Prices ex Peru and Mexico and expected to be high.  Global demand for Peruvian avocado has been so strong that many processors are looking to neighboring countries to help supply raw material.

Chile: Corn and green bean processing now completed in Chile.  Yields were down on green beans due to dry weather.


Zhejiang Province:  Fluctuations in temperature and rain have been a disadvantage to the blossom of pea pods and sugar snap peas. The weather has also caused a slow down in growth of edamame and green beans. Pea pod prices are high Shitake mushroom harvest is over. Low quality and high price resulted to an early finish of this crop.

Fujian Province: Yields are down and prices are up for water chestnuts.   Most factories have finished processing. Green Bean harvesting/processing now underway. Quality is average with a slight price increase this year.

Shandong Province:  Asparagus harvest and processing is now in progress.  Processing is expected to go through early June. Quality is good and prices are anticipated to be competitive.

Green Pea information for China: An Hui province has begun green pea processing. Hebei province and Shandong province will follow at the end of May .  Late May is considered peak harvest time for green peas in China and all processing areas should be completed by end June. Yields are expected to be down by approximately 15% this season due to cold spring weather.

Tech Help for Spoiled Food Detection!

What do you do when you suspect that you are holding spoiled food and the expiration date is unclear? The age-old smell test, right?  And if that one does not come through with a clear answer there is the daunting but foolproof taste test. We’ve all done it at some point or another and you will agree it takes a little time to recover from a bad taste test!  Help is here and bad taste tests will soon be history. We now have technology to the rescue. This new technology will tell you whether food inside a container is safe to consume or not.  No smell or taste test required, in fact you do not even need to open the container!

Chinese researchers have worked with nanorod technology to come up with a method of recognizing spoiled food while it is still in its container. The lead researcher on the project is Dr. Chao Zhang, Peking University, Beijing, China. The product comprises of tiny smart tags that can be attached to food packaging.  The tags are tiny and unobtrusive. They tell you, with a change of color, whether perishable items are safe to eat. These gel-like tags start out as red, indicating that the food is fresh. As the freshness of the food starts changing, the tag’s color changes to orange, yellow, blue, violet and finally turns the color of mold – green – indicating that the food is no longer safe to eat.

The tags contain metallic nanorods and are non-toxic. The metallic nanorods change color as they interact with chemicals in the air.  Scientists time or program the nanorods by matching them to the expiration dates of the products they are used on. The nanorods are naturally red in color, hence the start with the color red.

Initial testing of these nanorods was done to detect e-coli bacteria present in milk. Dr. Zhang and his team synchronized the milk’s bacteria growth process to the chemical evolution of the tags. This was done at several temperatures and the test was a great success.

The tags can be programmed to suit almost all deterioration processes in foods.

The new technology was presented at an American Chemical Society meeting.  Researchers say that the tags will be relatively inexpensive at a cost of less than one cent per tag. The tags have been patented in China and the technology is still in its early stages. Dr. Zhang is meeting with different food manufacturers to understand the varied needs in the food industry and further develop the technology.


Steaks With A Difference Ė Cauliflower Steaks!

A new avatar of cauliflower is hitting the trendy restaurant scene lately, Cauliflower steaks, had them yet?  If you have, you probably want to have them again, and again.  It is a delectable way to prepare cauliflower.

In our February issue we mentioned that Cauliflower was the “it” vegetable of the year and the trend just keeps on growing!

Making a cauliflower ‘steak’ is a simple way of cooking cauliflower, turning it into something wonderfully delicious and special!  Once you've tasted roasted cauliflower steaks, chances are you’ll never boil whole cauliflower florets again. The ‘steak’ version is an elegant way of serving the humble cauliflower.  It goes well as an interesting first course, a novel side dish, or as a main course for vegetarians. Never roasted cauliflower? Try it now!

Remove the leaves and trim your cauliflower. Take care to leave the core intact. Core side down, slice your cauliflower into ½ inch ‘steaks’.  (We are guessing the restaurants use the word “steak” because the cauliflower when cut this way is flat on both sides and has a meaty texture when roasted.)  Because the cauliflower is now flat on both sides the seasonings will soak into the cauliflower giving the cauliflower an extra punch of flavor!

Once cauliflower is sliced and flat on both sides cook them in any of the ways outlined below. Experts recommend pan roasting first and then perfecting the roast in an oven.

Whip up a dressing with ingredients of your choice – olives, parsley, lemon juice, tomatoes, salt and pepper .   Or, make a relish with the leftover florets, some garlic and tomatoes. Roast the cauliflower and serve with the relish. For an Indian flavor use turmeric, ginger and cumin. Some other variations that enhance the nutty and creamy florets are the following:

  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of minced garlic over the cauliflower before roasting.
  • Instead of salt, use ¼ cup of soy sauce before roasting.
  • Balsamic vinegar is a great option with finely shredded Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this on the cauliflower steak; put it back in the oven and roast it till the cheese melts.
  • For an extra-tasty punch, serve the steak with vinaigrette.
  • Steam the steaks, dip them in a batter of egg and flour and pan-fry on a skillet, with a little oil.

Noon International is looking towards making it easy for you to cook up tasty cauliflower steaks in a jiffy. Nicely cut, frozen cauliflower steaks’ from Noon International may be coming soon! So go ahead and have some fun and try these absolutely guilt-free, meat free and healthy steaks of cauliflower! 

Itís A Bird, It's a Plane, No Itís A Drone!

Whenever we hear the word drone, we immediately think of the military.  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) popularly referred to as drones are used extensively by the military. However soon they will be used in civilian applications, especially in agriculture.  In fact drones are already used in Japan to observe the rice fields and also in Italy to monitor tomato fields.   Drones offer cost savings and enhanced capabilities to farmers.

Les Dorr, with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) in Washington D.C., says, "Farmers may operate an unmanned aircraft over their own property for personal use and Guidelines for the operation of model aircraft, such as those published by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, may be used by farmers as reference for safe model UAS operations.”

Priority guidelines issued by the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) state that drones should "Not fly higher than approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator."

Drones used for agriculture have powerful cameras and can cover large areas providing detailed views of farmland in a fast amount of time.  They also provide accurate data that can help farmers cut labor and other input costs, and improve decision-making.  Drones also help in monitoring cattle, checking property, crop scouting, pathogen detection, 3-D mapping and spot spraying. 

In order to feed an expanding world population close monitoring by drones will increase the productivity of crops by helping to avoid excessive use of chemicals on standing crops because it can monitor the crops more precisely. Drones are able to identify pest-infested areas of farmland, which can then be treated immediately by spot spraying which limits chemical use.  Irrigation conditions can be checked saving water usage.   All these advantages will lead to higher yields, healthier crops and cost savings for the farmers.

In 2015 the FAA is expected to announce a plan for integrating UAVs into airspace and once there is legal framework to regulate the operation of drones here in the U.S it is expected that 90% of the civilian use of drones will be for agriculture and security purposes.  Another noteworthy expectation is civilian use of drones in the U.S is expected to generate in the first decade alone approximately $80 - $90 billion dollars of revenue.

Retired Major General of the US Army and member of the Oklahoma Unmanned Aircraft Council, Toney Stricklin , states “ The use of drones in farming is just the beginning.”  He says, “I like to say the genie is out of the bottle. This technology will continue to grow in public safety and agriculture."


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