Inside this Food Report
As tropical storm Irene barreled up the East Coast over the last weekend in August, the West Coast enjoyed warm sunny days and beautiful blue skies. And to all our friends on the East coast who say it rains ALL the time in Seattle….well not this week!
The warmer sunny weather has been much needed for our Northwest corn crop, however the nights are still a bit cool and the corn harvest is coming along much slower than usual. In states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin which began the corn harvest earlier than expected due to extreme heat, it has turned around quit quickly with cooler temperatures, clouds, and rain and this has slowed harvest down. Cob size is smaller and yields are expected to be down. Please read more in our crop section below.
One of the most nutritious vegetables we can think of is edamame. High in protein with 11 grams per half cup, full of fiber and heart healthy isoflavones and calcium, this delicious vegetable is increasingly gaining popularity with the populace all over America. Many U.S. growers are becoming more committed in producing this crop for the consumer ‘s in the United States and abroad. A few of the Noon sales team visited the Midwest two weeks ago just as the edamame harvest was beginning. We had the opportunity to visit the fields and meet some wonderful and interesting farmers in an attempt to learn more about the agricultural practices of this delicious vegetable. It is always a great pleasure to meet the farmers who are dedicated and committed in bringing us safe and healthy food.
With hurricanes and earthquakes shaking up the Eastern seaboard we learn the lesson once again that there is no taming mother nature. We hope this issue finds everyone in the East safe and Noon International will keep enjoying our sun and blue skies in Seattle while it lasts!
Lily, Betty, and the Noon International Team
United States: The governor of Washington state asked the federal government to assess crop losses in for disaster relief benefits. The cool and wet spring has delayed harvest and reduced projected yields for fruit and vegetable crops in the state.
Most Washington and Oregon corn processors have begun corn harvest although a few had to periodically discontinue harvesting due to immature corn. Weather has now turned warm and sunny and corn quality is reported as very good with average yields.
Wisconsin and Minnesota corn harvest began earlier than usual due to heat but the weather has turned cooler in these states and crop is not maturing fast enough causing the harvest/production to slow down. Yields are expected to be 10 – 15 pct down.
Reduced acres, a 2 to 3 week delay in harvest combined to make lower yields and high demand and will make U.S. corn a tight commodity this season. Prices are high and some processers are already mentioning prorates.
Washington State forecasted potato numbers has increased by 17.4% to 96 million cwt. This significant increase is suspect as this season has been difficult for accurate USDA potato predictions. What is clear is that WA has more potatoes than originally forecasted at the beginning of the season. Fryers are pulling up early potatoes sacrificing yields to keep factories running. The crop seems to be in good condition, though late.
By mid August in Washington state blueberry harvest was in full stride. First pick of Duke and Reka varieties are completed and Hardy Blue variety is now underway. Quality is reported as very good this season although yields are lower than usual due to the cool and wet spring. With the robust fresh market in the United States, combined with high demand and lower yields, prices are off the charts this season for processed blueberries.
Washington state raspberry harvest was wrapping up in mid August. Harvest was extended slightly from previous years due to consistent and appropriate day and night time temperatures. Harvested volume is expected to be down from last year.
Diced carrot harvest in WA is not anticipated to begin until late September or early October in order to give carrots more time to size up before processing. Volumes should be minimally affected by early season conditions.
Whole green bean processing began in early August in Oregon State. Cool weather is anticipated to lower harvest volumes from years previous. Harvest is anticipated to continue through the end of September weather allowing.
California walnuts are tentatively anticipated to have another record setting year in terms of harvested volume. If realized this would be the fourth consecutive year a record is set.
During August there were numerous heat related records set in Texas and in the South East. Texas had many cities break records for consecutive days above 100 degrees F. Other records were set in Georgia and Florida.
Texas and the surrounding area continue to suffer from one of the most severe droughts in the region’s history.
Canada: British Columbia(BC) and Alberta are expected to produce more potatoes than they did in 2010. Barring extended heavy rains BC harvest should be close to the five-year average. The BC crop is two to three weeks behind normal harvest schedule due to weather.
This year Alberta’s potato crop outlook is better than last year due to more acres and better growing conditions. Planting occurred one to two weeks behind normal but conditions have been favorable. There is disagreement about what the size of Alberta’s crop will be and if it will be enough to satisfy processing contract volumes.
Europe: In late August thunderstorms and showers kept up the precipitation levels over central and northern Europe. Dry conditions continued in south Europe allowing harvest activities to continue
English raspberry and strawberry producers are having a good year. Helped by a warm spring and an early start to raspberry and strawberry harvest the UK this year is expected to have bumper berry harvests.
Serbian frozen raspberry production experienced a hiccup on August 6 and 7 when there was a 7 hour standoff between raspberry growers and frozen processors over a minimum set price for the 2011 raspberry crop. Both sides agreed to USD1.37/kg as the minimum price for raspberries sold to frozen processors.
The Netherlands have reported a smaller strawberry harvest compared to years previous.
Main Spanish peach production areas of Catalonia and Andalusia are expected to have a very good year. Good weather in July and August is making it a very good year for Spanish stone fruit and peaches in particular.
European apple juice concentrate production should increase 5% - 7% in 2011 compared to last year’s crop.
Mexico: Seasonal showers continue in Central and Southern Mexico as does broccoli and cauliflower harvest in central Mexico. Quality is good with only minor quality concerns observed typically associated with wet weather.
Strawberry production in Irapuato, Mexico has been on the decline during the last decade. Mexican strawberry associations have recently been working to reverse this trend.
Guatemala: Sun in the morning and clouds/rain in the afternoon. Normal for this part of the year. Broccoli volumes are normal and quality is good.
Costa Rica: In the last four years pineapple acreage is reported to have doubled.
Peru: One report indicates Peruvian pomegranate exports have grown by as much as 46% a year for the past three years.
Weather the third week of August in Peru was dry across the country.
Chile: Asparagus volumes are extremely tight. Currently packers do not have surplus inventory and are struggling to meet the demand.
Ecuador: Weather has been rainy in the east and dry in the west.
Thailand: A diminishing Tropical Cyclone Nock-Ten caused heavy rainfall and flooding in North Thailand on the border with Laos. Dams have been releasing water into rivers due to continuous rain in Northern Thailand since April and riverbanks are overflowing. Many Sweet corn fields were reported as flooded and fields with young plants were not able to survive. October /November/December are considered low season in Thailand for sweet corn so current flooding and loss of some fields may put pressure on supplies of sweet corn for the remainder of the year.
Rice harvest in southern Thailand is reported as slightly delayed at the end of August due to light seasonable rain.
New Zealand: New Zealand kiwi growers anxiously await the start of spring to learn the extent of the PSA disease as kiwi vine growth begins.
China: During the end of August northern China was largely covered in showers. Rain was largely beneficial to crops with the exception of a small strip of land between Sichuan and Shandong which experienced flooding.
Northeastern China was affected by Typhoon Muifa in August. China received rain from the tail end of the storm.
Drier conditions prevailed in Guandong at the end of August.
The Yangtze valley received seasonably appropriate rainfall.
While northern China received rain, Southwest China has been experiencing drought conditions. A total of 394,000 hectares of crops and 450,000 people have been affected by the drought in Hunan alone. The forecast is for more heat particularly in Yunnan, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. Local authorities in China are arranging to bring water to the people who need it most.
All in all volatile weather this past year in China has caused crops to suffer and all vegetables in China are in low supply and prices are rising.
According to the USDA the price gap between US and Chinese strawberries is narrowing. An unfavorable season in China has made it seem likely 10% less fresh strawberries will be produced this year compared to last. This will affect the international strawberry industry. As fresh strawberry supplies become scarce internationally, US frozen strawberries are anticipated to become increasingly competitive. Chinese frozen strawberry production is anticipated to decrease by 20% this year compared to last.
What Really is the Shelf Life for Frozen Fruits and Vegetables?
One of the most common questions we are asked by our international customers is at what temperature and for how long we can store our frozen fruits and vegetable products. Any food continuously stored at a temperature at or below 0 °F (or 18 °C) is considered to be frozen and will remain safe indefinitely. According to the USDA the freezing process works by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. The process does not affect the nutrient quality, fruits and vegetables will retain the vitamin content, color, flavor and texture at the time of freezing. In 1998 the FDA confirmed that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. In many cases frozen fruits and vegetables will actually retain more nutrients then fellow fresh fruits and vegetables. This is due in part to studies that have shown that heat and light will destroy nutrients in foods while fruits and veggies that are flash frozen at the time of harvest remain unaffected.
Freezing will maintain the current state of the product at the point in which it was frozen. It is important to understand that once fruits and vegetables are frozen they will not become unfit to eat after any period of time; however the quality of the product will begin to decrease after a certain point. When commercially frozen and left in the original packaging vegetables will maintain their highest quality for 12 to 18 months, while fruits will maintain their highest quality for 8 to 12 months. Below is a list of other products with their associated frozen shelf lives for highest quality.
It is important that the frozen fruits and vegetables do maintain a constant state of 0 °F and below as any fluxuation above that temperature can cause an increase in deteriorative reaction and may shorten the shelf life. Freezing is a form of food preservation and when properly done and stored will preserve the greatest quality of nutrients, appearance and taste in the product.
For more background on freezing and food safety refer to the report below distributed by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:
Camu Packed with Vitamin C
It’s not all about the orange juice these days when looking for vitamin-C. A new super food, or in this case a super fruit, has hit the nutrition scene in a big way. Scientifically known as Myrciaria Dubia the camu berry or also known as camu-camu is packed with the highest Vitamin C content among all known fruits, 50 times more than an orange when compared ounce to ounce. Derived from the Amazon rain forest in Peru and Brazil the camu berry is a wild berry which looks much like a cranberry with a red purplish exterior and grows in mainly swampy or flooded areas on low growing bushes.
Natural (non synthetic) vitamin-C is known to be an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to the DNA of the cells throughout your body; in turn it helps in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. The camu berry also contains concentrations of amino acids, terpines, fiber, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and other beneficial substances. The berry is a huge immune system booster and an all-around power packed vitamin in its natural form. Commonly used as an antioxidant it can be effective for use in the prevention of the common cold or flu. A study done by Dr. James Duke former chief botanist for the USDA found the camu berry to be the #1 herb in effectiveness for, asthma, atherosclerosis, cataracts, colds, gingivitis, glaucoma, hepatitis, infertility, migraines, osteoarthritis, pain, and Parkinson’s.
The Camu Berry has only recently come into large-scale cultivation and sale to the world with Japan being a major buyer. Currently not yet widely available in the U.S. markets in whole form it can be purchased at many health food stores in the form of a juice or powder. The camu berry has a bitter or tart taste so is not usually consumed in whole berry form but can be used to make ice cream, drinks, or even candies. Pick up some camu berry powder at your local health food store and try out this smoothie recipe:
C-Bomb Smoothie (Makes 2 servings)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Combine the orange juice, water, and Camu Camu powder in a blender. Add the mango, strawberries, and banana. Blend until smooth and enjoy!
America's Food Deserts
Diet-related diseases including obesity and diabetes are an ongoing epidemic in the United States further complicated by regions unsupportive of health due to barriers which restrict access to healthier more nutritious foods. These areas are often referred to as Food Deserts, an area in the industrialized world where healthy affordable food is difficult to obtain. In 2008 Congress passed the Food, Conservation and Energy Act directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a 1-year study to assess the extent of areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. The results were more extreme than anticipated.
In the U.S. Food Deserts tend to be located in urban and rural low-income neighborhoods; residents in these areas are less likely to have access to supermarkets or grocery stores that provide healthy food choices. Due to the low economic return on investments many supermarket chains are not willing to open up shop in low-income neighborhoods; in turn residents are forced to rely on small stores with limited selection of foods at substantially higher prices. Many of these stores stock lower priced processed foods or foods that tend to be high in fats and sugars.
Results by the USDA show that 11.5 million people, or 4.1% of the total U.S. population live in low-income areas more than 1 mile from a supermarket. Of those 11.5 million 2.3 million do not have access to a car compounding the situation. Residents of food deserts have no other means then to use private transportation, public transit, or travel several miles on foot to gain access to healthy food sources. The problem only increases in rural areas where travel to nutritional food sources on foot may be impossible.
This issue is only further complicated by the current state of the economy, these areas of low-income food deserts are only increasing in poverty as time goes on.
To find out what’s being done to turn the table on food deserts visit the link below to view the U.S. Department of Agricultural June 2009 report to congress on Food Deserts.
Want to know if you live in a food desert; visit the link below for an interactive map of Food Desert locations throughout the U.S.
Food for Thought...
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