Inside this Food Report


October 1, 2012

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It has been another hectic month for Noon staff members with many of us spending a lot of time in the Midwest overseeing the processing of our clients contracts while others visited to South America.   In South America we attended the Expoalimentaria Peru 2012 in Lima , Peru which is the largest international trade show in the region highlighting food and beverages from the area and abroad.  Exhibitions included organic, natural and fair trade foods.   We learned about such foods as camu camu, yacon, maca, and goldenberries.   Did you know that Peru is the world’s largest producer of organic coffee?    We didn’t. 

Ballestas Island Penguins
Although it was hectic visiting the exhibition and meeting with suppliers one of our team members did have a bit of time for some rest and relaxation over the weekend when he visited the Ballestas Islands, which is a National Reserve System, a protected area by the Peru Ministry of Environment.   About a 30-minute speedboat ride from the town of Paracas the islands are home to the South American sea lion, dolphins, the Humboldt penguin, and the leatherback sea turtle!

Sweet corn harvest in the United States is winding down and by all accounts inventories should be tight with prices rising.   Although the Midwest drought did not effect processing corn as much as initially thought it will still be a strong market.    Please see more in our crop section below.     Asparagus production has begun in South America and all indications point to a difficult market as well.

We seemed to have dodged a bullet in September when the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance came to an agreement to extend their current labor contract for 90 days.   They are currently at odds over negotiation of changes to work rules and staffing practices and the ILA have threatened a Maine to Texas dock strike.    If a stoppage does occur it has been reported by steamship lines that a freight surcharge as high as $800.00 would be placed on 20-foot containers and a surcharge as high as $1000.00 would be placed on 40-foot containers.   Lets hope both sides will reach an agreement.  We will keep you posted on this.

Last but not least we have welcomed a new member to our Noon family.

Arlo Phillip Watson was born on September 11th!   Proud parents Jamie and Chad brought baby Watson to visit Noon’s office.    We don't think little Arlo was too impressed with dad's work place as indicated in the photo below!   We wish Jamie, Chad and Arlo much happiness and congratulations to all three!   

Arlo Phillip Watson

CropVeggiesUnited States: Northwest pea, green bean and sliced carrot harvest now completed with average yields and quality.   Most Northwest processors will complete sweet corn harvest/production by middle October.   Weather has been holding out with warm sunny days, however nighttime temperatures are cooling down and yields have been below average.   Corn market expected to remain firm due to average or below yields in Northwest and shortages in the Midwest due to the summer drought. To date reports we hear from Midwest corn processors is that they will be approximately 15 – 20 % below budget pack.   Diced Carrot harvest began week of 9/25 with no apparent concerns.

Although the 2012 North American potato crop is expected to surpass 2011 production by approximately 42.5 million pounds, potatoes for fry processing are expected to be down from last year due to recovery rates caused by lower solids and quality.

Blueberry season in the Northwest has come to a close.   Overall the North American production was good, however there have been various reports about poor Canadian quality as well as some packers in the Northwest off the market due to lower than usual yields.  Generally  the crop was average and prices have come down compared to last season.

Europe:   Southeastern Europe has experience drought conditions over the summer, which has affected much of their fruit and vegetable production.   Italy will suffer a reduced tomato crop due to extreme heat and drought and then later rains at the end of the season to intensify the poor crop situation.   Raspberry crop suffers in Serbia due to rain and lack of sun.  It is reported by Food News that the Serbian crop is expected to be down by 40% compared to 2011 season.
In Belgium the potato crop is still experiencing poor quality potatoes.

Mexico:   The rainy season is coming to a close.   Although conditions in the central growing regions were not as bad as past rainy season, harvest was coming from the Puebla region, which had lower volumes to offer.   The harvest from Bajio/central region of Mexico is expected to begin next week and increased volumes are anticipated to commence for both broccoli and cauliflower.

Guatemala:  Peak broccoli season continues with good high quality product available to offer.

Costa Rica: A strong earthquake was experienced in Costa Rica in September, however all reports indicate that no damage was done to harvest or processing factories there.

Argentina:   Organic and conventional strawberries are being harvested in the Tucuman region.  No adverse conditions have been reported.   Blueberries are expected to begin this month/October.

Peru:  The main asparagus season is underway in Peru.   It is going to be another tight supply for green asparagus.   Yields are expected to be down 20 – 30% compared to last year due to a warmer than usual winter which processors told us felt more like spring.  The warm weather caused some of the crop to flower early, which will result in lower yields.    Asparagus harvest has begun in small volume and will be in full swing by Middle October.    Quality is looking average.    The fresh market is commanding high prices, which is creating much competition for processors looking to freeze.  The result is higher prices for frozen asparagus this season.

One processor will begin to grow blueberries for the fresh market.   The season will be September and October which is well placed just after U.S and Canadian crop and before Chile and Argentina.

Avocado season has finished and reports are that quality and yields were good.

Chile:  Harvest of green asparagus began the third week of September.  A warm and dry winter and early spring was reported but Chile seems to be less affected than Peru.   Yields are expected to be good.   Small volumes are coming in now with peak production anticipated by middle/late October and will run through December.   Chile is feeling the pressure from the fresh market as well as lower yields in Peru and increased worldwide demand.  Overall this has resulted in higher prices coming out of Chile.

China: Zhejiang Province – Mandarin orange is entering the mature period and growth looks good.   Harvest is expected to begin end of October.    Cauliflower is being transplanted in fields now and planting is going well.  Much of the broccoli harvest was destroyed by typhoon and hail.   It is estimated that yields and quality will be lower than last season.   Komatsuna harvest to date looks good.   Processing of Mukimame started in early September and went though the end of September .   Raw material prices were on average 10 % lower than last season.

Shandong Province – Garlic planting began at end of September and will go through October.   Green Pepper processing is underway and yields and quality are good.  Burdock seeding is underway.

Fujian Province – Okra harvest is underway and quality and prices are normal.   Autumn edamame crop is being processed this month/October.

Do You Know What Country Produces The Safest Food?

We live in the land of plenty – we import food products from the world over and also raise a wide variety of produce to pamper our consumers with abundant choice. Grocery shelves across super markets in the United States are full with food products from across the globe.  Fresh produce sections teem with exotic fruits and vegetables tempting us to sample a new fruit or vegetable to add more variety to our diet or simply experiment with a new recipe.

But are we sure we bring home food that can be safely consumed?  This thought brought us to the question of what countries are considered some of the safest food sources in the world and what we found out surprised us.

Studies indicate that countries such as Australia, Denmark, England and France produce some of the safest food. America certainly has one of the securest food supplies in the world, however according to CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker the “report card is mixed”.   Every year about 25 percent of Americans get sick from what they have eaten. On the other hand, the figure for countries such as England and France are as low as 2 percent and 1 percent respectively.  A key reason is that food is produced on a much lower scale and also grown locally in these countries. Lower scale of production means less reliance on pesticides and chemicals to ward off crop infestations; and local production ensures the practice of time valued traditional growing methods that ensure better crop quality. 

Nordic countries such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden also came out on top for food safety.  The Nordic Council of Ministers is a formal cooperation body of the Nordic countries’ governments and they work together to find solutions in the food safety sector.  As an example animal related salmonella is extremely low in the Nordic countries due to a joint effort between the countries to establish regulations and an extensive system to control salmonella in animals and fodder.  Further, countries such as Denmark follow food safety legislation well beyond the standards set out between the other EU Member States.  The Danish food industry achieves its high standards through extensive research and development effort coupled with joint initiatives between its community of farmers, the government and the food industry.  Initiatives such as the Danish Salmonella Action Plans, which have operated since 1995, enable safety measures across all stages of the production chain.  The country also encourages micro-level programs within the farms to help prevent the spread of animal disease and reduced use of pesticides and veterinary medicines.   In addition restaurants and bars must hang up posters containing information on production conditions, hygiene and food storage keeping their consumers informed and farmers, processors and the entities selling the food accountable.

Strict protection standards in food production are important to ensure consumer safety.   One of the best ways to ensure safe food globally is to share and exchange information with all countries, both the solutions and the mistakes made.

Asparagus, Spearing the Competition

A nutritious vegetable that has seen significant production growth worldwide in the last 20 years,  and especially recently, asparagus is recognized as a vegetable with many health benefits.   Asparagus has been shown to be high in folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and even protein.   One cup of asparagus containers about 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.   It is said that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients in asparagus help reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The folic acid content in asparagus has been associated with lower rates of certain birth defects in infants.   Neural tube defect (NTD) is one of the most common birth defects affecting 1 in 1000 births in the United States alone.   NTD occurs during the first month following conception, a time in which many women don't yet know they are expecting.   In 2010 a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology agreed with past folic acid and NTD studies pointing out “We estimate conservatively that folic acid fortification has the potential to prevent 46% of NTD incidence and mortality…”

There is also evidence to suggest that asparagus can help prevent cancer.   One beneficial compound in particular found in asparagus is glutathione.   Glutathione is the most prominent non-protein molecule in cells and aids in cellular detoxification.   Asparagus has the highest glutathione concentration of any fruit or vegetable!   Gordon Wardlaw, a dietetics professor at The Ohio State University, outlined the following health benefits of glutathione on the California Asparagus Commission website:

-It participates in a process which cells use to break down highly toxic peroxide and other high-energy, oxygen-rich compounds in turn preventing them from destroying cell membranes, genetic materials (eg. DNA), and other cell constitutes.   Glutathione also participates in repair of the damaged DNA.
-It can bind carcinogens in the body, aiding in their removal via waste.
-It participates in immune function.
-It can recycle vitamins C and E back to their active forms and in this way may help reduce cataract development in the eye.

There are many ways to prepare asparagus besides the traditional way of a side dish or in a stir fry.    So why not enjoy this delicious and healthy vegetable and try mixing asparagus in your favorite pasta dish, or perhaps cook in an omelet or toss cold in a salad!   Bon Apetite!

Soda Ban, Don't Worry Big Gulps Not Affected!

A “Soda Ban” in New York City, really?  Well not exactly but there will be a change in how New Yorkers can purchase and order their favorite sugary beverage.   In May New York City Major Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to ban the sale of all sugar-sweetened beverages greater than 16 ounces.  On September 13th the New York City Board of Health approved the proposed plan in a vote of 8 to 1.   This comes five years after New York City barred all restaurants from the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and spreads.

The so-called soda ban will limit the sale of beverages to 16 ounces or less if that beverage contains 25 or more calories per 8 ounces. However this does not include beer or beverages containing 70% or more fruit juice.  The ban will take effect at all city restaurants, food carts, sports arenas, movie theaters, and fast food establishments.  Grocery and convenience stores will not be included in this ban so worry not “Big Gulps” for the time being have escaped this sanction.

The ban comes at a time when 60% of the city’s adults and 40% of its children are overweight. Mayor Bloomberg stated, "Six months from today, our city will be an even healthier place. NYC's new sugary drink policy is the single biggest step any government has taken to curb obesity.  It will help save lives."  This new policy doesn’t come without critics, in a recent poll conducted by the New York Times only 36% of those polled thought it to be a good idea with close to 60% opposing the policy.

In reality people will consume what they want and there are loopholes in this policy.  If an individual wants to consume 32 ounces of soda then he or she will be able to purchase two 16-ounce portions.  All affected will have 6 months from September to comply with the regulation and 9 months until fines will start being issued by any entity defying it.   It has been reported that New York City spends 4 billion dollars per year on medical care for overweight residents but the new ban on soda truly begs the question…. How much control should government have on consumer choice?


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