Inside this Food Report


May 1, 2017

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Hello Everyone,

It’s May Day as it pours rain in the Pacific Northwest! I don’t remember a spring with so much rain. The state of Washington has certainly earned its nickname, “The Evergreen State” this season as everywhere you turn you see the vibrant green colors of the trees and grass. The rain has turned our city of Seattle into the “Emerald City” for sure! On the down side the rain and cool weather will delay the pea season and possibly affect yields as well as delay corn plantings.

We recently returned from Japan where we are always reminded of how Japan loves their functional food, drinks and supplements as everywhere you turn there are remedies for anything that ails you. We thought it would be an interesting topic to explore in our “Eat Healthy” section below. Another topic we discussed in our “Crop Section” is Japan’s potato shortage. We could see this first hand as store after store the potato chip shelves were empty!

Sugar snap and snow pea season is upon us in China and we have premium quality and excellent prices this season coming out of a very tight inventory situation over the past year. Please contact Noon International if you have any requirements for these items!

Until next time here is hoping that our rain stops and the sun starts shinning so we can finish putting our crops in the ground and move ahead with our harvest season in the Pacific Northwest!

Best Regards,

Betty Johnson And The Noon International Team.

CropVeggies United States: Drought conditions in the United States are much improved, especially with rains in California, that state is now out of its 5-year drought. However, the rains have been wreaking havoc on fresh produce prices. California’s “salad bowl” has turned into a wet mess with prices soaring for lettuce. The effects are being felt across the country, however relief should come in the next few months

Pea plantings in the Northwest were delayed by about a week due to continued cold weather. At this moment, most of the crop is in the ground, however due to the continued rain there is the possibility that some will not get all their pea acres planted. Corn plantings have begun but are also delayed due to the cool and wet weather. At this moment about 20% of corn is in the ground.
Potato plants in the Columbia Basin are beginning to emerge. However cool and wet weather has kept the soil temperatures low which is delaying growth of the crop. First harvest is expected around July 20th which is approximately 2 weeks later than last season’s potato crop.

Excessive rainfall across the Midwest in early April has delayed field corn planting with a pace behind last year.

Mexico: Bajio area broccoli and cauliflower winding down. The Northern Highlands will begin their harvest towards the end of this month and to date harvest conditions and quality look very promising. Mexico’s mango season has begun this month.

Guatemala: Broccoli production will start up again towards end June/Beginning July. To date the harvest conditions are good and we expect a good season.

Peru: Mango season is completed with inventories low, especially on organic.

Europe: North Western European Potato Growers are planning to increase their potato acreage 3.6% compared to last season with the largest increase in Belgium. This comes because of high demand worldwide. At least 50% of the crop has been planted. Cold and frost in Serbia and Poland is expected to affect the raspberry and strawberry crops.

Japan: Still suffering from the typhoons that hit Japan’s Hokkadio region in August 2016 and decimated Japan’s potato harvest, potatoes are a hot commodity in Japan. Japan’s beloved potato chips are in short supply. Many snack food companies cannot secure the raw material to produce their items which has resulted in suspension of certain products. Calbee, Japan’s largest snack food manufacturer has been forced to halt the sale of at least 15 types of chips. In fact, this “chip crisis” has led to auctions and a black market where bags of chips are being sold for US$ 12.00 to $15.00 per bag! To exasperate the situation, Japan has very strict regulatory hurdles to overcome which makes importing potato’s difficult.


Shandong Province: Green Asparagus harvest was delayed by about 10 days due to cool weather. Harvest commenced during the last week of April. Raw material is reported as good although yields will be reduced due to the shorten harvest time. Prices are still at the high level and processing will finish the end of this month. Sugar snap pea harvest commenced the last week April and harvest conditions and quality are good this season, however the season may end sooner than usual due to lack of rain.

Zhejiang Province: Sugar snap peas and snow peas harvest is now underway. Acreage was increased by 10 – 20%. Quality is good with prices lower than last season. Lack of rain is expected to shorten the season.

Fujian Province: Water Chestnut production is now completed. Sugar snap peas are being harvested. Soy bean growth looks good to date.

Jiangsu and Anhui Province: Harvest of snow peas has just begun and in Jiangsu area the acreage was increased by approximately 30%. The season will go through the early part of June.

Foreign Suppliers Need to Verify Their FDA Status

A change at the Food and Drug Administration could have an impact on foreign suppliers trying to import to the United States. In late 2016, the FDA had a period during which food facilities were asked to re-register with the agency. The new regulation states during the registration process that foreign suppliers must designate, in writing, a U.S. agent to act on their behalf for all FDA communications. Any foreign supplier who did not do so has been taken off of the FDA approved roll of foregin suppliers. Manufacturing, processing, packing or storing food for U.S. consumption without a valid FDA registration is prohibited

If a foreign supplier is unsure about their registration status, they can check with the FDA and the registrar will verify their status without charge. If any foreign entity requires a U.S. agent to act on their behalf the FDA will serve as their agent.

There has been a steep drop in the number of registered facilities and this may have been caused by foreign suppliers who did not register properly and were taken off the list. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) now requires both domestic and foregin suppliers to renew their FDA registration every two years.

Japan’s Functional Food Trends

For anyone doing business in Japan we know that Japan is the birthplace of the functional food market. Go into any drug store or convenience store and shelves are filled with options for just about any health problem or health improvement you might be pondering. However, it is not always easy for outsiders to break into the health ingredient market in Japan.

At the 2016 Health Ingredient Show in Tokyo, market drivers were given to help understand the health and functional food sector in Japan. Some of these drivers are,
  1. Japan is an aging society and the country’s aging members will support the demand for more healthy foods and functional products.

  2. There is an increase in single person households and elderly households so there is a greater need to personalized and individualize products.

  3. There is growing need for convenience, especially as people get older and more women are entering the workforce.

  4. Food safety and food security are areas of concern for all people.

  5. People are more willing to try new things especially if products have a functional purpose.

  6. The country’s consumption tax hike in 2014 went from 5% to 8%, which calls for products to be price competitive.

  7. The reliance of mass retail stores means that the private label sector must have clear functional benefits or their products will struggle.

  8. Japan’s economic environment pushes for lower ingredient and processing costs.

  9. The less strict “Food with Functions Claim” regulations which went through changes recently has increased potential and made it easier to market foods with health benefits.

  10. Many companies are working on new product development, but very few of these products ever go to market.
All above factors should be taken into consideration for any entity who is trying to enter the health /functional food market in Japan.

Continued Growth In Organic Market

New data has been released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrating continued growth in the U.S. organic market. Currently the numbers indicate that there are 24,650 certified organic operators in the U.S with 37,032 operators around the world.

The 2016 numbers indicate a 13% increase compared to 2015 which continues the trend of double digit growth. The count began in 2002 and this past year showed the highest growth since 2008.

A complete list of certified organic farms and business is available through a database maintained by the USDA. Since 2015 the database provides information about operations which are certified to use the USDA organic seal. The data base, “Organic Integrity Database”, also enables you to connect with buyers and sellers of organic goods.

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