Inside this Food Report


May 1, 2015

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Hello Everyone,

Happy May everyone! Hard to believe we are only weeks away from pea harvest here in the Northwest. Weather has been mild and like last season we are expecting good crops with no adverse weather conditions at this moment. Of course that could change in a second depending on Mother Nature! And wow, what an April it was speaking of Mother Nature’s wrath. A huge volcanic eruption in Chile (please see our crop section below) and a devastating earthquake in Nepal. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected.

April brought us to Japan as it usually does where we missed the cherry blossom in Tokyo. So much cold, rain, and wind, blew all the blossoms off the trees before we arrived. In fact the day after our arrival it actually snowed! This is April, not February! We were lucky enough to spend the weekend in Osaka where as luck would have it we were able to stroll around the Osaka Mint Bureau grounds (Osaka Zoheikyoku) where a large festival was taking place and the sakura were in full bloom! There were many people and so many types of different foods. Lanterns lite up the night and we had a wonderful time.

Osaka Zoheiyoku

Osaka Area Tako-Yaki
(Octopus Balls)

A few of the food trends we could see happening in the Tokyo area was all about being healthy and organic. Lots of green smoothies using kale as an ingredient, granola for breakfast was big as well as chia seeds in every retail store we visited. We noticed much more avocado in Japan in both retail and foodservice areas. How do sliced avocados on pancakes sound to you?

The cost of Japan’s fresh vegetables and fruits were higher than usual. The cold and rain has hindered Japan’s fresh market but I was happy to pay US$ 18.00 for a small crate (about 8 – 10 strawberries) of Japanese domestic strawberries. The best tasting in the world as far as I am concerned! The majority of Japan’s strawberries is grown in hot houses and is the perfect combination of sweet and juicy!

We look forward to seeing all of our processors and clients in the coming months. Thank you for your support and here’s to a fantastic crop season ahead!

All The Best,
Betty and The Noon International Team


United States: Green Pea harvest in Eastern Washington will commence middle May. Mild winter weather and warmer than usual temperatures in April will bring on the pea harvest a little earlier than usual. Sweet Corn plantings are underway and 25 % completed. Harvest expected to begin July. Prices expected to remain stable. Colombia Basin fryer potatoes are ahead of schedule. Again the warmer temperatures in April and mild winter has resulted in early crop development and some potatoes are already emerging. The Basin area received twice the average heat units than last season at this time. Processing from new crop could begin as early as July 5th.

Fruit is doing well in the Northwest area this season. British Colombia and Washington State experienced good pollination although a bit sporadic which may result in a more prolonged blueberry harvest. Reka and Duke variety blueberries are at approximately a 70% - 100% bloom and crop is expected to begin in July.
Oregon State blueberries experienced an excellent pollination this year and season should begin in June. Eastern Washington blueberry season should begin in middle to late May.

Favorable weather in April has been positive for most raspberries.

Washington State cherry crop is expected to begin about 10 days earlier than usual. All expectation are for a very good crop to commence end June first part of July.

California State also expecting a good cherry crop (compared to last season when there was a crop failure) and will begin the harvest of fresh cherries this month. Harvest is expected to run through June.

Pea planting is underway in the Midwest.

Grain corn plantings in the Midwest are down compared to last year at this same time. About 19% of the grain corn is planted which is 6% below last season. Due to rain and a late spring the states of Iowa, Indiana and Illinois are behind while the dryer weather in Minnesota has resulted in that states grain plantings ahead of schedule.

Mexico: Higher April temperatures have reduced the yields of both broccoli and cauliflower. More irrigation is required when temperatures are high however this is the time of year when water levels are low and irrigation is more difficult. We expect this situation to continue until rainy season arrives in July. Commencing May raw material cauliflower will come from the Hidalgo area of Mexico.

Guatemala: Broccoli season is now officially over in Guatemala. New crop broccoli will begin end June/first week of July. Guatemala is now processing okra, squash, melon and mango throughout most of May.

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 and firm broccoli market.

Peru: Mango season has finished. It has been a difficult year with reduced volumes caused by the higher El Nino temperatures. Avocado harvest and processing is now underway. Available volume this season will be down significantly, especially on the Hass variety. Limited availability remains.

Chile: IQF seedless grapes are being processed now and will finish up in the next week. Programs are being finalized for kiwi, which will begin production this month and run into June.

Sweet Corn harvest ended in April with overall consistent quality and average yields being reported. There were no major adverse weather conditions affecting the vegetable crops in Chile this season.

April’s spectacular twin eruptions of Chile’s Calbuco Volcano will cost Chile’s southern region of Los Lagos up to $600 million. The area is now cleaning up 210 million cubic meters of ash, which has contaminated rivers, lakes and prairie. Los Lagos has more than 1 million head of cattle that supply half of the country’s milk. The region is also the largest concentration of Chile’s salmon farms and the ash has contaminated many of their water supplies. Chile has the second largest salmon industry in the world.

Europe: Hungarian corn crops may be delayed this season. The heavy rain and water-saturated farmland may delay corn planting. Peas have already been sown.

Spain’s broccoli production should be winding down by the end of this month.

Japan: Lack of sunshine, rain and cold in April has hindered Japan’s vegetable and fruit crops. Consumers are feeling the hit with prices soaring for fresh produce in some cases as much as 20% – 50% above last season at this same time.

Nepal: The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is trying to raise US$8 million to help Nepal farmers whose livestock, food supply and farming equipment were destroyed in the recent earthquake. Two thirds of Nepalese earn their living from agricultural and rice is a food staple. The FAO has advised that crop damage and farmers inability to harvest in the earthquake-affected areas will greatly reduce the forecasted rice harvest of 1.8 million tons.


Zhejiang Province: Edamame planting continues and first harvest will commence towards end June. Unstable temperatures in April affected the blossom of pea pods and sugar snap peas. Raw material prices for pea pods and sugar snaps are high this year. Acreage has been reduced on both about 30%-40%.

Fujian Province: Green Bean processing now underway.

Shandong Province: Harvest time postponed for green asparagus approximately 20 days due to colder weather. Yields expected to decline slightly however prices are reported to remain stable.

Rainfall in Southern China gave the early rice crop a good start. Total production could be 207 million tons compared to 206.4 million tons in 2014.
Based on high demand for feed corn, China’s plantings are expected to be 2% more than last year.

Food Labeling, Aussie Style

In mid-February an outbreak of hepatitis A in Australia was linked to contaminated frozen berries. The berries came from China and Chile and the product was packaged in China and imported by Patties Foods, Australia. The discovery led to a widespread recall of their Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries. Although five people had been diagnosed before the contamination could be traced and confirmed cases have since climbed to nineteen.

Now Australia is considering measures to give consumers a clearer picture of where their food comes from, with new labeling standards that would include information on what countries ingredients are sourced from. While the packaging on the mixed berry product stated that they came from China, officials are working on a label that would delineate what percentage of any given product comes from Australia, what other countries are represented, and would incorporate a symbol or graphic that can be easily read. Discussions are also underway about ways technology can play a part. As an example including apps that consumers can download to find out more about where their food comes from.

"It may say packaged in Australia from 50 per cent Australian produce or fully imported produce," Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane told journalists in February. "It can't hedge its bets by saying imported and / or Australian produce. It actually will have to delineate in percentage terms between what they are. That's part of what we're trying to do with the symbol."

In March, MacFarlane put forward his team’s initial idea for a symbol that would show what percentage of a product was made in Australia. A green triangle with a yellow kangaroo, which is trademarked by the government and cannot be used by other organizations, would be placed on anything that has been processed in Australia. Below the triangle, a green bar would indicate the percentage of ingredients from in-country, giving an at-a-glance picture of where the ingredients come from. The team is still working out how to label foods that are entirely imported.

One concern among officials, though, is the cost a new policy could mean for consumers. Although the cost of updating packaging to match new regulations would be left to manufacturers, those costs could be passed down to consumers. Questions still remain about implementation and cost, however Australia is poised to take action and hopefully bolster consumer confidence once again.

Please click here to see Australia’s current food labeling laws:

Eat Like A Celebrity!

Health food trends seem to come and go but one has been gaining traction for some time, and although it sounds like another short-lived fad, it’s actually a shockingly simple and straightforward way to think about what you eat. It’s called clean eating, and it’s a favorite of celebrities like Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow. So what does it mean to eat clean? Here’s the need-to-know on this dietary trend.

Clean eating may sound like a complicated process, but it’s actually easy to wrap your mind around. It simply means eating ‘whole’ foods, or unprocessed or minimally handled foods. There’s no calorie counting or cutting out carbs. To eat clean, you should opt for foods close to their natural form, with as little tampering as possible.

That doesn’t mean foregoing the canned and frozen sections of supermarkets. Although some foods are difficult to find “clean” in forms other than their original (such as apples, which can have a lot of added sugar in processed form), others are barely touched when packaged. Corn, carrots, broccoli and blueberries to name a few do not have any added ingredients when canned or frozen!

While clean eating doesn’t adhere to exact rules to follow, cutting out processed foods can easily lead to a healthier diet all around. Most recipes that fall under the ‘clean eating’ umbrella are heavy on veggies and fruit with less reliance on meat, which helps keep saturated fats under control. Less refined foods also means less sugar and salt, and cutting down on non-whole grains will increase your intake of nutrient rich options, like farro or brown rice.

Clean eating isn’t without controversy though; as many worry that the high cost of whole foods makes it easier said than done for most families. In food deserts or parts of the country where access to fresh produce is restricted, the cost of clean eating is significantly higher than eating processed foods. As advocacy groups for clean eating become more active these discrepancies will hopefully reduce over time.

Taking time to think about where food comes from is a great way to be more mindful of your diet. Small changes go a long way to increasing nutrient intake, and even swapping out a few processed foods for fresh alternatives can make a big difference. If finding ways to slowly change your diet for the good is something you’ve been considering for a while, clean eating will be an option worth exploring!

Another Reason To Love Coconut Oil!

Coconut oil is everywhere these days. The versatile oil, which is more solid than liquid, can be used in cooking, skincare and hair care, causing it to fly off store shelves. But a recent study found that coconut oil can do another amazing thing; Cut the calories in rice. That’s right -- this wonder food can even make white rice healthier.

Rice is a staple food around the world. It’s cheap, versatile and easy to cook -- perfect for nearly any meal, in fact 90% of all rice consumed is in Asia. But rice, particularly white rice, is rich in starch, which turns into sugar and we all know what that means…body fat and added calories, almost 200 calories per cup! Studies have linked high consumption of white rice with an increased risk of diabetes, and as obesity rates rise in countries with high rice intake, finding healthier alternatives is crucial.

A student at Sri Lanka’s College of Chemical Sciences has found a way to cook rice that could potentially cut rice’s calories in half. Sudhair James, who is still an undergraduate has been working with a mentor on this project and presented his findings at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society last month. The process he outlined was simple but packed a big punch.

The rice is cooked normally, aside from two key changes. When the water starts to boil, add coconut oil (about three percent of the weight of the rice) before adding the rice itself. Then, after cooking has completed, cool the rice in the refrigerator for twelve hours.

So how does that cut the calories in rice? Well, it all comes down to a little food chemistry. James found that by adding a lipid, like coconut oil, to the rice cooking process it changes the starch and makes it more resistant to digestion. When reducing the amount of starch your body digests, you reduce the calorie intake. By chilling the rice, the changes started by the oil are strengthened, which holds even after being reheated.

At this moment they have been able to cut the calorie intake in a one-cup serving of rice by 10 to 12%, however with the right combination of coconut oil and type of rice, James believes calorie intake can be cut by 50 – 60%!

It is amazing how one easy cooking step can bring such a huge change for the better. Just another reason to love coconut oil!

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