Inside this Food Report

  • Crop News: Drought Still Taking Its Toll on Midwest Corn

  • Food Safety: Salmonella Outbreak in Cantaloupe

  • Eat Healthy: Frozen and Canned Sweet Corn – Powering Your Meals All Year Long!

  • Facts + Figures: Change for India’s Retail Food Sector


September 1, 2012

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Well corn season in the United States is in full swing with about 50% of the harvest now completed.   Midwest processors are still struggling due to drought conditions and hope to continue harvest through September while Northwest processors are achieving good yields and expect to continue harvest through middle October. The corn market is tight worldwide with most suppliers off the market and prices are going up.

While hurricane Isaac rolled through the Gulf Coast last week almost 7 years to the day of Hurricane Katrina , we here on the West Coast are experiencing normal summer weather conditions.   The weather forecasters are reporting that rain from Isaac will make its way over parts of the Midwest so we are hopeful that much needed rain will improve conditions of some of the Midwest crops, however it may be a bit late to see any real improvement.

From the Midwest to the Northwest, Noon team members have been very busy visiting suppliers to watch our contracts being processed.  It always amazes us to see how much work and effort must go into the farming and processing of each product we sell in order to ensure that the food that reaches the consumer is safe and delicious.   The farmers and processors labor exceptionally hard every year in order to make this happen and to them we say Thank You!

Ed, Lily , and Betty travelled to the Oregon Coast a few weekends ago to help celebrate a very special birthday for our dear friend Charlene Vandervelden .  You may know Charlene from her early days at Flavorland Foods an Oregon corn producer or more recently at Stalhbush Island Farms.    We had a wonderful time talking and laughing with many old friends!

Charlene Vandervelden Front and Center

Until next time ,

Betty and the Noon International Team.

CropVeggiesUnited States: The Northwest corn harvest is well underway.   The initial yields were a bit down; however now in peak season we are seeing good yields and excellent quality.  The corn crop will continue through middle October and all expectations point that the crop will be on budget.  

Northwest green bean harvest is also underway.   A cool, wet spring caused some initial quality issue but overall crop is expected to be average.

Potatoes doing well but inventories are expected to begin to tighten up as processors are going through the extra contracted acreage very quickly.   It was reported that heat is reducing solids and could create some quality issues, which will hurt recovery rates.  With other areas such as the mid west and Europe expecting lower than average crops the potato market is expected to remain firm.

Blueberry season is also underway.   Some earlier varieties such as Duke and Reka experienced lower than normal yields and inventories are expected to be tight.   Later varieties such as Hardy Blues are doing well with good yield and quality.
Second and Third picks will be underway and blueberry season in the Northwest is expected to finish by middle September.

Raspberries season finished end of August.  It was a tough season for processors as much of the Willamette variety struggled with mold issues and soft fruit.   Wakefield variety on the other hand performed very well and showed good resistance to mold.

The Midwest drought condition remains severe.   Corn processors are struggling to get their crop in.   Yields are down dramatically due to inconsistent cob size and missing kernels/underdeveloped cobs.  Processing will continue through September and we will not know the extent of the loss until harvest is fully completed.

Mexico: :  The rainy season will continue through most of September, however rainfall has been lower than average in August resulting in fewer problems for broccoli and cauliflower.  Quality for both products is currently good.

Guatemala:  Broccoli is currently in peak season.   Fields are in excellent condition with high yields and superior quality due to favorable weather conditions in August.

Ecuador: Stable weather conditions are being reported resulting in smooth harvest of broccoli and other crops.   Quality and yields have been consistent.

Costa Rica: Currently due to rainy season the yields for tropical fruits are low, however quality is reported as good.

Argentina: Argentina suffered a drought back in December and January, which struck during the most important stage of flowering for soybean and corn crops.   The heavy rains in May then hindered harvesting equipment forcing farmers to leave much of the soy and corn crop in the fields.   We can see the effects of this with many South American countries inquiring for corn recently.

Peru: We are hearing reports of warmer than usual weather in Peru, which is causing the asparagus crop to flower early.   This has the possibility to reduce yields by 20 percent and we are already hearing rumblings of contracts being prorated.
Expected start of harvest is October 1 st depending on weather.

Avocado crop will continue through September.

Europe: Cooler and wet conditions continue across Northwest Europe, although not as extreme as earlier in the summer.   Parts of Germany, France, and England are struggling due to the weather.   England’s pea crop is expected to be down by 40 percent and France’s corn crop is expected to be down in volume compared to last season.  Similarly yields for the Belgian and French potato crops are expected to be down compared to last season.  It was reported by North American Potato Market News that Belgium and France’s potato crop is forecasting a 10.3% or lower production decline.  Meanwhile in parts of Southern Europe such as Spain and Italy, conditions have been much warmer and dryer causing difficulties for their crops as well.   In Italy temperatures were very warm during the corn crops crucial development stage, which will likely result in reduced yields.

Thailand: Rainy season will begin in Thailand and prices for sweet corn are firm. It is reported that some sweet corn growers are switching to more profitable crops such as rice or sugar. 

China: The torrential rains that fell in Beijing and surrounding areas back in July has caused damage to an estimated 8000 hectors of corn and vegetables fields as well as 1.3 million hectors of fruit trees.

Recent heavy rains have hurt the peach crop while demand for canned peach within China’s domestic market remains extremely high.

Due to higher labor cost lotus root prices have increased by about 20 percent.

Cauliflower planting will begin this month.

The first broccoli plantings were destroyed in July from the torrential rains.  Second plantings have begun and so far sprouting is going well.

Green bean planting began in July and was influenced by the typhoon.  It is expected that yields will be down for green beans.

Due to Typhoon Actiniaria about 30 % of the eggplant harvest was lost.  This will result in approximate 50 % decrease in yields.

Seeding of Komatsuna will begin in September.

Salmonella Outbreak in Cantaloupe

map of china

It comes a year after the listeria outbreak in cantaloupe from a farm in Colorado.  This time the farm is in Southwestern Indiana. The outbreak began in early July due to salmonella tainted cantaloupe and to date 2 people have died and at least 150 people have been reported sick across 20 states.

Salmonella is a food borne organism that causes fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Typically it is not deadly but can cause death to individuals with already weakened immune systems such as in the elderly and young children.  Salmonella is contracted through the surface of the cantaloupe.   Cantaloupe is more susceptible to bacteria for two reasons; its rough porous skin hides bacteria and it is grown close to the ground near dirt and germs.  To prevent contamination it is extremely important to wash the surface of the cantoulpe thoroughly before cutting.   If not, once cut, the knife can drag bacteria to the inside of the melon, which is moist, and sweet and a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Indiana is the fifth largest producer of cantaloupe in the United States. At this point the USDA has not named the source of the outbreak as they feel naming the farm will narrow the view of consumers to one location when in fact there could be several sources including growers and distributors.

Frozen and Canned Sweet Corn – Powering Your Meals All Year Long!

What food is more synonymous with summer in the United States than freshly picked corn on the cob?    However even if summer is a distant memory we still can enjoy this delicious vegetable all year long by eating frozen and canned corn.  You usually do no hear about the health benefits of corn very often.  The extraordinary health benefits of vegetables are usually saved for such vegetables as broccoli and spinach.  Corn does not usually come to mind when thinking of a unique and “healthy” vegetable but recent research has proven that corn indeed has many healthy attributes and it is time to take note!

Corn provides a range of essential nutrients such as folate pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamin and vitamin C – each offering a distinctive health benefit such as improved physiological function, cell generation and metabolism of carbohydrates.    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies corn as a highly valuable crop as it packs a range of complex carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins.    Eating a cup of corn will give you 18.4 % of your daily fiber requirement.   Fiber will lower your risk of certain disease such as colon cancer, allow for healthy digestion, and level out your blood sugar.

So it is time to have a new appreciation for frozen and canned corn.    Remember corn is a wonder – food that is great to eat anytime.  Enjoy it with a meal , in a soup , or as a snack on the go!

Change for India’s Retail Food Sector

India’s retail food industry is in the midst of a huge transition. The country’s retail food distribution system had long relied on small, localized retail vendors and small-format neighborhood supermarkets. However, with its burgeoning middle class, rising income levels and desire to experiment with newer foods, the country’s masses have gradually developed an appetite for large-format integrated supermarkets. 

The Indian government currently evaluating opening of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in its retail sector, is moving ahead cautiously due to opposition from varied political groups and small trader councils. The primary concern is that moving India’s food retail system into large-format supermarkets will have an adverse effect on small businesses. Many fear that traditional grocers and small-scale growers will lose their livelihoods by the entry of large-scale players. They risk being left out of the supply network, as they lack the scale and resources to provide to large-scale buyers.  

But there are also arguments to the contrary. Those supporting the idea of foreign entry into India’s food industry argue that India’s current food distribution systems can greatly improve with modern 'cold-chain' transport systems introduced by the foreign players. Also, they can bring in computerized purchasing systems, and help create direct supply arrangements between growers and food retailers, enhancing rural employment and incomes.

Some of the leading large-format supermarkets in the country include Big Bazaar, Spencer’s Daily, Bharti Wal-Mart and Reliance Fresh.  Big Bazaar in particular has driven its growth with big discounts offered on its bulk-sourced commodities, and wide presence, both across the country’s larger cities and small towns. Spencer’s Daily as well enjoys significant presence across the country, thanks to its first-mover advantage.  As for foreign players, Tesco is among the early entrants, however the British supermarket giant is presently being prevented from opening any stores of its own.

Food in India is as diverse and varied as its culture. Tastes and preferences vary across different regions, and people take pride in their distinctive cuisines and culinary offerings. Indians are largely vegetarian, and consume a wide variety of vegetables and lentils, along with rice and flattened wheat breads (Roti).  Potatoes, tomatoes and onions are also commonly included in the Indian diet and the administration takes great effort to regulate their prices. Popular meats include chicken and lamb and seafood such as fish, prawn and crabs are incorporated in coastal diets.  Beef and pork are sparingly consumed, as they are offensive to the dominant faiths (Hinduism and Islam) practiced in the country. Foreign players entering the Indian food market will undoubtedly need to understand these sensitivities and adapt their products to suit the Indian masses’ tastes and preferences. 

The government has assumed a guarded approach for the moment, but when it chooses to allow FDI into its food sector it will pave the way for key benefits into the system − improved supply chain mechanisms, modern cold-storage technology, and sophisticated food distribution systems, which will help improve the overall performance standards of the country’s food sector.

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