Inside this Food Report

  • Crop News: USA Sweet Corn Season In Full Swing!

  • Food Safety: Japan’s Quest to Ensure Food Safety at the 2020 Olympics

  • Eat Healthy: Cranberries: Tart, Tangy, And Full of Antioxidants!

  • Facts + Figures: Why Is China Gobbling Up Australia’s Farmland?


VOLUME 8
ISSUE 9


September 1, 2017

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Hello Everyone,

Happy Labor Day! Hope you enjoy your long weekend. For most of us in the agriculture industry there really is no rest over Labor Day. Unfortunately, crops do not really care about the Labor Day holiday which means many of us here at Noon will be travelling over the long weekend to continue to work with customers to satisfy booking requirements and we look forward to seeing everyone!

Hard to believe that September is already here and with that the Fall/Winter holidays are only around the corner. Reflecting on these celebrations brought to mind customary food and of course we thought about cranberries. This tiny little berry is so understated but so so healthy that we thought it deserved a write up below (please see our Eat Healthy section below).


Noon’s Chiaki Tanaka Checking On Blueberry Quality Last Month
Speaking of berries, we were recently out to see our blueberries being harvested. We were a little worried about the season due to the severe heat in the Pacific Northwest but as it turns out blueberries fared well with excellent quality and taste.

Corn season is in full swing from the Northwest to the Midwest. Midwest has been struggling with rain and cool weather which has slowed the crop growth down while the Pacific Northwest is having a pretty normal season with warm, sunny, weather moving the crop along nicely. (see our Crop Section below).

Last year at this time we were talking about the flooding in Japan’s Hokkaido area and this year we cannot help but mention the terrible flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible strike from Mother Nature.

Best Regards,
Betty Johnson And The Noon International Team


CropVeggies United States

Sweet corn harvest is underway in the Pacific Northwest. To date approximately 40% of the crop is harvested. Weather has been mild and sunny and most processors are reporting a very good season with better than average yields.

The Midwest region’s sweet corn season is also underway, however struggling with weather issues. Rain and cool tempertures throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota have stunted the corn growth and much of the crop is not maturing enough to be harvested. Processors have been halting production and waiting. There is still time to get the crop in the barn, however there is now concern that the season may end under budget.

Potato harvest in the Columbia Basin is in peak production. Early variety Shepody is completed and reports indicate yields down by about 30% compared to last season on this variety. Russets are now being harvested with better yields than the earlier varieties.

Raspberry season in the Pacific Northwest is now fully completed. The overall crop is down by approximately 20 – 25%. High temperatures caused fruit to soften and shrivel and some yields were lost.

Blueberry season will be wrapping up in the Pacific Northwest any day now. Some of the early varieties were affected by heat, however later varieties are being reported as good quality and yields. Good brix levels this season due to the warmer weather.


Hardy Blue Variety Almost Ready For Harvest

Wild blueberry harvest in Maine will be considerably lower this season due to poor pollination and disease (mummy -berry), as well as less farming. There may be a 30% drop in production. Very high inventories have brought prices down over the past few years, however that may change soon.

Mexico: The Northern Highlands area has commenced cauliflower and broccoli harvest, including organics. To date conditions look favorable with high quality and good yields. It is currently rainy season in Mexico’s Bajio region and harvesting in this area should commence back up again in October.

Guatemala: Broccoli in peak production. Quality and yields are very good this season due to favorable weather conditions.

Europe: It seems Europe will have another difficult vegetable season. Overall Europe’s main vegetable producing regions are concerned regarding a very warm and dry spring and start to summer. Lack of rain and the heat has affected the growth of all crops there, including green peas. Belguim has reported a projected pea crop loss of possibly 25% suffering the driest spring in more than 50 years.

Most recent reports on Europe’s potato crops show the situation improving in August and expected yields this season to be more than last year.

Severe drought in Italy over this summer has affected all crops in that area.

China:

Temperatures are rising in most areas of China as Zhejiang and Fujian provinces are now in their rainy season, however rainfall has not been as heavy as previous years. Weather conditions in Shandong provice have been favorable for good crop growth.

Shandong Province: Green Asparagus season is now completed. The season began 10 days later than usual, however volumes are plentiful. Prices have increased by 10% – 15% due to the demand in China’s domestic market.

Edamame harvest is ongoing and will last through mid September. To date the quality is good as there has been no heavy rainfall.

Zhejiang Province: Edamame harvest is completed. Yields and quality turned out well with stable prices. Yields increased this season , however price remains stable.
Processing of sweet corn has begun with average quality.

Broccoli and Cauliflower are now in the seeding stage.

Fujian Province: Okra season is currently underway and will go through middle September. Prices are stable and usually the best quality is harvested in August.

Autumn’s edamame crop will start this month and run through early October. To date conditions of the crop look favorable.


Japan’s Quest to Ensure Food Safety at the 2020 Olympics

As Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Japanese officials are crunching the numbers on just how much food they will need. The agriculture ministry estimates that over 15 million meals will be served over the course of sixteen days of athletic events, based on the London Olympics in 2012.

The city will need to provide meals for athletes and staff who will travel from over 200 countries to participate in the international event, along with staff who will manage the facilities, attendees, and members of the media who will broadcast stories of Japan back home.

To ensure high quality, safe food for all participants, Olympics organizers have determined that all agricultural producers supplying food for the games must have a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. GAP-certified agricultural producers meet safety standards and must be approved by a global committee based in Germany (GGAP) or a domestic committee based in Japan (JGAP).

The GAP requirements set standards for everything from pesticide use on crops to irrigation, as well as standards for workers including first aid, safety, and hygiene requirements. There are currently approximately 4,500 GAP-certified producers in Japan.

But even as Japan’s agricultural ministry sets ambitious goals, hoping to triple the number of GAP-certified agricultural producers by 2020, estimates predict that the amount of available food will almost certainly fall short, requiring Japan to acquire food from GAP-certified suppliers abroad.

The 2020 Olympic games represent an important opportunity to show that food produced in the Fukushima region is now safe to consume. In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami rocked Fukushima, resulting in a nuclear power plant meltdown that required years of cleanup efforts.

High costs represent one challenging factor for agricultural producers seeking certification; JGAP certification fees can cost up to ¥100,000.

To help, the agriculture ministry plans to allocate subsidies to producers seeking GAP-certification. The ministry is also actively holding seminars to help producers understand the requirements for certification.

Whether Olympics attendees end up enjoying food sourced in Japan or abroad, government officials are committed to ensuring safety.



Cranberries: Tart, Tangy, And Full of Antioxidants!

Most people encounter cranberries as a tart juice or a sauce at the Thanksgiving table. But cranberries’ versatility, history, and health benefits go far beyond the grocery aisle.

Cranberries pack a bigger punch of antioxidants than any other popular fruit or vegetable. Antioxidants benefit the body by counteracting free radicals, which are introduced by both outside pollutants and normal digestive processes. Cranberries’ antioxidant properties help the body ward off cancer and inflammation. They also promote cardiovascular, immune, and digestive health.

To incorporate more cranberries into your diet, try keeping a bag of frozen cranberries on hand. You can toss cranberries into your favorite muffin batter for an added nutritional boost. Instead of applesauce, try pairing cranberries with pears and letting them melt together in a slow cooker for a delicious after-dinner snack or oatmeal topping. Cranberries can also add a bright pop of flavor to an orange and banana smoothie for breakfast on the go.

You might be surprised to learn that long before European settlers arrived on North American shores, Native Americans used cranberries in a wide variety of applications. The tiny berries could help preserve meat, used as a medicine, and even as a dye for woven fabric. But even though cranberries had proven their worth, their small size and delicate skin meant that cranberries needed to be harvested manually, a process that was too time consuming and expensive for most farmers.

The 1960s brought a key turning point in cranberry history when farmers discovered that cranberries can float. Soon, they were flooding their fields and using machinery to swiftly harvest thousands of berries in no time.

Cranberries’ ability to float also explains why they are so tart. Unlike their cousin, the sweet and juicy blueberry, cranberries didn’t need to attract birds to help scatter their seeds. Instead, cranberries could grow alongside bodies of water and drift along the surface to spread to new land.

Today, cranberry bogs occupy approximately 40,000 acres across the United States. Approximately 95% of berries are processed into juice, with the remaining 5% heading into stores as fresh or frozen. Wisconsin leads USA production with approximately 60% of all cranberries grown with other states including Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon also contributing significant crops.

Through it all, cranberries’ ability to deliver healthy nutrients hasn’t changed.


Why Is China Gobbling Up Australia’s Farmland?

China’s appetites are changing. Although the country’s population has historically enjoyed a diet based in grains such as rice and wheat, China’s citizens today crave animal proteins, a wider variety of vegetables, and foods that are overall higher in fat and protein.

This Western-style diet demands more acres for produce and livestock than China currently has to offer, creating a shortage of land. China currently has approximately 0.2 acres to feed each of its 9 billion citizens, while diets in the West require approximately one acre per person.

China’s vast population has allowed the nation to set records around the world. For example, China currently consumes 50% of the world’s pork. China also imports more Australian wine than any other country.

Instead of simply importing food products to solve this shortage, China has started to lease and purchase farmland all over the world, including North and South America, and Africa. As the global population outside of China continues to soar, increased demand in these continents will add to the strain on the global food supply.

In Australia, China’s investment in agriculture has increased from $300 million to $1 billion over the past year, with additional investments in housing and ports. In 2015, a private Chinese agricultural company called Dakang purchased one third of Australia’s largest cattle ranch, which accounts for 2 percent of all Australian farmland. China is now the second largest foreign owner of agricultural land in Australia (pushing the U.S. out of the number 2 spot, while the U.K remains in the number 1 position).

As people around the world increasingly adopt a Western diet, the most promising solution doesn’t involve learning how to produce more food. Instead, researchers believe that the key to feeding the world must involve slowing the world’s appetite for animal protein. A single pound of beef demands seven pounds of grain, which is much more than even poultry or pork requires.

Until researchers or policymakers discover a way to persuade tastes to change, China and the world will continue seeking out new farmland to answer its citizens’ cravings.


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