Inside this Food Report


September 1, 2014

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Hello Everyone,

Peak harvest time in the United States is now well under way.  Green peas are in the barn and sweet corn is being harvested from the Northwest to the Midwest.   The warm weather in the Pacific Northwest is bringing on the sweet corn rather quickly and to date over 50% of the corn has been harvested.    Last year the extreme heat and lack of rain in the Midwest region resulted in lower yields, however this season we are hearing reports of a good harvest with lower insect counts.

One of Noon’s members just returned from a quick visit down to Guatemala to inspect the tail end of the edamame harvest.    We found the quality to be excellent so if any of you discerning buyers out there have interest in edamame please give us a call…we are ready to ship!

The Sial Food Exhibition is almost upon us.   This year it will take place in Paris, France October 19th through October 23rd.   Our Mr. Chad Watson and Mr. Stephen Dole are planning to attend and will be contacting you soon for appointments.   This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with all of our suppliers and customers on a global scale in the most beautiful city in the world…(well that is my opinion!)

And while Chad and Steve will be enjoying escargot and wine in Paris in October, others of us at Noon will be in other beautiful cities such as Pasco, Washington and Blue Earth Minnesota eating burgers and fries and making sure that our sweet corn contracts are being processed to our customer’s specifications. 

An unbelievable amount of work and effort goes into every last pound of vegetables and fruits that Noon International ships so we want to thank all of our processors for their dedication and for a job well done each and every year!  


United States:

Oregon and Washington:  Pea season is completed and while some pea processors experienced between 10 – 15% lower yields, there were some suppliers whose yields were on budget or slightly above budget.   However with current demand from Midwest suppliers who experience almost a 40% yield reduction on peas the market is firm.   Some suppliers in the U.S are sold out and looking to buy peas to cover contracts.  

Sweet corn harvest has begun and the weather has been very warm.   This has brought on the corn sooner than later so most suppliers began the harvest one to two weeks earlier than usual.   Harvest is now halfway completed and to date it is reported that yields are normal compared to the 10 year average and quality is good with no adverse affects from the hot and dry weather.

It has been reported that early crop potatoes in the Columbia Basin have done well and yields are good.   Extreme heat in the Pasco and Moses Lake area of Washington State may impact potato yields and quality for the later Russet Burbank variety.

Rapsberry harvest completed in the Northwest.   Blueberry harvest is moving at a very fast pace and first pick was completed by middle August.    Overall quality has been good although some rain in mid August resulted in some split fruit.   Harvest is expected to be fully completed by first week September.

Harvesting of early variety apples has begun in Washington State.   It is expected to be a bumper apple crop with a 8.5% increase in production over last season.

Hawaii:   Tropical Storm Iselle wrecked havoc on Hawaii’s papaya crop.    Damage reports are still forthcoming.

California:   Strawberry harvest is now completed.   Good production and quality in May lead to a decent crop.  However the heat in July triggered plants to stop producing.

Bell Pepper season now underway in California with quality and yields reported as good.

Midwest Area:   More recent reports on Pea yields now have the numbers down to a reduced harvest by 40 – 50% in this area.   Processors there are scrambling to buy peas.  

Corn production has begun and although some fields were lost in June due to heavy rain the cooler conditions and more mild weather in July and August has resulted in a good crop with yields above average and excellent quality.   To date the recent rains in the Midwest area have been very beneficial for the corn.

Mexico:   Rainy season continues in Mexico.  In fact this season there has been more rain than in the previous two years.   The rain and high humidity has resulted in some poor quality broccoli and low yields.   Most factories are not running at capacity.   Raw material is now coming from the Northern part of Guanajuato and Puebla area.  

Guatemala:   Lack of rain back in July has resulted in reduced broccoli yields in August .   Yields are reported down by almost 60% during the first part of August.
Lack of rain will also affect volume during October harvest because growers could not transplant during the first part of August due to lack of rain so there will be less broccoli plants.  We urge our customers to send their orders in for broccoli well in advance so we can be sure to prepare for your shipments.   Quality, even with reduced yields, is reported as good.   Due to the lack of rain temperatures in Guatemala have been warmer than usual.

Edamame yields are slightly off due to lack of rain in the Monjas area, while our fields on the West Coast are doing very well and yields are high.   Edamame production will continue through September.

Okra is also being harvested and produced in Guatemala now.   Yields and quality are good.

Peru:   Asparagus harvest is expected to begin late September.   Due to El Nino, it is anticipated that raw material yields will be down drastically.   Some suppliers are reporting up to a 65% drop in yields with most raw materials coming in small.   This will result in more availability of small spears compared to medium spears.   Contracts are being finalized now.

Chile:  Asparagus harvest will begin late September, with pricing being announced early/mid September.  El Nino seems to be having less of an impact on Chilean asparagus but continued high raw material prices have been keeping finished product prices high.


Fujian Province:    Rains have seriously affected the edamame crop in this region.   Many blemishes and yellow pods caused by rain led to a sharp decline of yields . Factories in this area stopped processing the crop and it is reported that yields are down more than 30%.   Prices have gone up.

Broccoli and Cauliflower planting will begin this month.

Zhejiang Province:  Edamame crop in this region is stable and harvest and processing is completed.    Prices are higher compared to last season due to the poor performance of the harvest in Fujian Province.

Broccoli and Cauliflower being planted for fall harvest.   To date weather conditions are okay and seedling quality is good.

Shangdong Province:   Processing of edamame still underway and will go through the end of September.   Quality and yields are reported as good in this region. 
Acreage of Green Asparagus has increased by approximately 20% compared to last season, however yields are down by about 15% due to lack of rain.  It is being reported that the asparagus has a light flavor and more fiber, which is being rejected by most customers.


Western Food Chains At Risk In China

The latest food safety scandal to hit China involves some of the top fast food brands from the US, which has caused consumers to lose confidence in Western chains. News broke last month that Shanghai Husi Food Co, part of the Illinois-based OSI Group, was supplying clients with expired meat. Chains believed to have received expired meat include McDonalds, KFC, and Starbucks, in addition to six others.

China has struggled with maintaining food safety standards in the recent past, including a scandal that involved the sale of expired baby formula by Hero Nutradefense and New Zealand-based Fonterra accused of providing clients with whey product containing bacteria that could cause botulism. Wal-Mart has had multiple safety concerns raised over the sale of unsafe bamboo fungus and donkey jerky that allegedly contained fox meat. The country passed the Food Safety Law in 2009, which is up for the first round of revision this year. The 2009 law placed responsibility for ensuring food safety on businesses, not on the government, which may be changed following this most recent scandal.

Although Chinese consumers had once thought Western chains would provide higher quality than Chinese counterparts, a recent study by 51 Report showed that 60 percent of respondents now favor Chinese chains, believing the food served to be safer and healthier than Western options. It’s easy to see why consumers feel that way. In order to meet the high demand of China’s population, Western chains have opted for corner-cutting techniques, like quick-growth chickens and past instances of serving expired or old food.

Some of the biggest names in fast food are involved in the Husi Food Co scandal. Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Starbucks, Papa Johns, and KFC are just a few of the nine companies struggling to regain consumer confidence. For many, this isn’t the first time in the spotlight due to food safety concerns. Pizza Hut was accused of selling hours-old food to customers, while last year Starbucks was accused of using toilet water to brew coffee after pictures of a “Starbucks Only” labeled faucet in a bathroom wall went viral. McDonalds, which received multiple kinds of meat from Husi Food Co, and KFC have both been accused of using quick-growth chickens in the past. These chickens are fed on chemicals and antibiotics, which cause rapid and unnatural growth. Last year, KFC’s ice chips were found to contain 12 times the amount of bacteria as toilet water and 19 times the amount of bacteria allowed for drinking water.

This latest scandal is another in a long line of food safety concerns to hit China’s fast food market. Whether or not Western brands will be able to regain consumer confidence remains to be seen, but making investments in food production and hygiene are a place to start.

Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

Over the past few years, organic foods have gone from a health food store novelty to a grocery store staple. Produce aisles are dotted with organic options, most of which cost significantly more than conventionally grown counterparts. For families trying to decide if the cost increase is worth every penny the most important question is whether organic foods can deliver on the promise of being healthier than other options. Are organic foods more nutritious? Well, it’s complicated.

Studies have found that organic produce has greater nutritional value. A 2007 Newcastle University study showed that organic produce could have up to 40 percent more nutrients than conventional options, and a 2003 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found up to 57 percent more antioxidants and 52 percent more vitamin C. A 2014 study by Newcastle University placed the nutrient difference between conventional and organic at between 19 percent and 69 percent. These numbers are significant, and seem to support the claim that organic foods are more nutritious.

But most of the nutritional value in organic food comes from the soil used, meaning the organic produce at the supermarket may not have the maximum increase in nutritional value. Soil used in growing organic fruits and vegetables has greater amounts of nitrogen, as well as other nutrients and helpful bacteria. This means that more ideal soil will yield crops with more nutrients, but differences in soil quality makes it difficult to make a blanket statement regarding the added benefits of organic produce. On a case by case basis there’s no way to know if the nutrient content in organic options is at the higher end of the range between organic and conventional produce.

But there are other factors that play a role in organic food, including pesticides and additives. Strict government regulation on what can legally be deemed organic -- and thus receive USDA Organic labeling -- results in fewer trace pesticides on produce. Organic foods must also be free of additives, including artificial sweeteners, coloring, and preservatives. Although conventional foods are required to meet government standards for food safety, many families choose organic to be sure they are getting food with as few chemicals as possible.

So what’s the bottom line? Organic food is not guaranteed to be significantly more nutritious than conventionally grown options, and eating more fruits and vegetables is a healthy choice regardless of whether produce comes with a “Certified Organic” label. But depending on other factors, including lower pesticide usage, the increased cost may be worth it for those interested in investing in organic farming. 

Cook With Frozen And Canned Foods To Cut Back On Food Waste

Last month we discussed food waste and what governments are doing to help combat this growing problem, which results in tons of food being thrown away each year. This month we’re bringing the fight against food waste to your kitchen with an easy and cost-effective way to cut back on waste at home. What’s the trick? Next time you’re in the grocery store, opt for canned or frozen foods.

A new study conducted by Dr Wayne Martindale and WRAP in the UK found that frozen foods can reduce the average family’s food waste by 47%, while also saving about £250 per year. When combined with smart meal planning, the impact of switching to frozen foods is even greater. The study found that greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by about 2.4 million tons if households made the change, making frozen foods a great way to save money and save the environment.

The reason frozen and canned foods are a great way to combat food waste is pretty simple. These preserved options have a much longer shelf life, and portion sizes are much easier to control, so families can stretch a bag of frozen veggies much farther than fresh counterparts. Canned and frozen produce is harvested and preserved at peak freshness, making both options rich in nutrients and taste. The quick preservation of foods also cuts back on the amount of waste generated during production.

So next time you’re at the grocery store, stock up on frozen and canned foods. It’s a small change that can have a huge impact on the environment and the amount of food waste generated at all points in the food production process.

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