Inside this Food Report

 

VOLUME 1
ISSUE 8


AUGUST 1, 2010

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Dear Contact Name

Summer is officially here in Washington!  It might have cooled down in the middle of July, but it was very hot for a few days when the month began!  We had temperatures in the low 90’s and finally a little bit of sun to dry us out in the first week of July.  We hope that this weather continues through August because unlike our California team, Noon Seattle employees could use a little Vitamin D…and more importantly our crops could use a little sun too!

During this time of year more than any other Noon International employees spend a lot of time travelling to fields and factories where our products are harvested and processed.  It struck me the other day as I was driving back to Seattle from Eastern Washington that for someone who grew up in Brooklyn and lived in San Francisco and Seattle for most of her life, I sure spend a lot of time in small towns across America.   From the blueberry fields of the Pacific Northwest to the cornfields in America’s heartland, we have witnessed the broadest representation of American culture.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend so many summers visiting the parts of America that actually do the physical work required to get our products from the fields to the ports in countries around the world.  Not only are these areas of the country truly beautiful I am also fortunate to have met so many wonderful people who make up the heart of the American agricultural industry.  No matter what country you live in the real work happens far from the big city offices by hard working people in rural areas around the globe tending to the crops and processing so that the world can be fed.

At the peak of our harvesting season I would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to all of our suppliers here in America and abroad.   Your work and dedication to supply healthy and safe food is so important and very much appreciated.  I look forward to seeing you this season and many more seasons to come!

Lily and Betty

CropVeggies

United States:  Green pea production in the Pacific Northwest was completed middle July.   Cool weather in the beginning of the season allowed peas to mature well and a high volume of Grade A peas were harvested.  While producers budgeted roughly 10% less acres this year compared to last year, yields were 10% more than last year, making up for acreage cuts. 

Potatoes Alberta
Potato Field Almost Ready for Harvest

 

 

Potato acreage in Washington State was reported as 10,000 acres less than last year, with nearly the entirety of this acreage cut associated with the processing industry.   The processing potato harvest should begin the end of July or the beginning of August.   The crop appears to be in good condition.

 

Corn is developing more slowly this season due to cool weather during planting.  Harvest is expected to be one to two weeks later than usual depending on the supplier. Corn harvest will begin in August.  No effects on quality or yield have been reported.

Oregon potato acreage at 35,000 acres is reported as the lowest planted acres since 1964.

California peaches for processing were delayed by about a week.   Yields are expected to be higher than average creating downward pressure on pricing. 

Blueberry and raspberry production is beginning in the Pacific Northwest with increases in the amount of Spotted Wing Drosophila seen as the temperature increases.  While currently no commercial losses have been reported from the pest, continued monitoring through the rest of the season is being actively pursued by growers.  A cool spring made pollination conditions less than ideal and yields are expected to be lower than normal.  Based on lower yields and high demand in the fresh market prices are expected to increase.

Raspberry harvest has had similar difficulties.   Growers in Washington and Oregon are reporting across the board that raspberry volumes will be lower than usual and prices will be higher than last year.       

Peafieldwa
Blueberries Ripening on the Bush

 

Canada:  Blueberry growers in British Columbia are reporting the same problems as their counterparts in the United States, poor pollination and lower yields.    Machine picking is scheduled to start the last week of July.  British Columbia growers are seeing the same Spotted Wing Drosophila activity as in the United States.  Current levels of the pest are not a problem but warrant continued monitoring.

In eastern Canada in 2010 growers planted 2,000 potato acres less than in 2009.  Due to heavy rains planting occurred 10-14 days behind schedule.  Some sources believe that over 10% of Alberta’s 2010 crop was washed out during unseasonably late rain.  For the crop to improve, growers will need warm sunny weather until harvest in September.     

 

 

 

 

Guatemala:  Broccoli shipments from Guatemala have started again as the rainy season begins to lose its grip.  While there is still the potential for heavy rains during the Gulf of Mexico hurricane season, Guatemalan suppliers have been processing good volumes of broccoli and are in an excellent position to deliver large amounts of high quality frozen broccoli.

Threegorges
Water Overflow in China
China: July has brought heat waves and floods to the North and South of China.  The widely reported flooding of the Yangtze in July has caused an estimated $17.6 billion in damage to agriculture alone.  The rain is predicted throughout the end of July into August increasing concerns of more flood damage.  In particular corn and soybean crops have been affected though the extent of the damage will not be exactly known until flood waters recede. 

In Northern China, Beijing and the surrounding countryside experienced both hot weather and flooding in the beginning and middle of July. While winter grain production in China increased for the seventh year in a row, summer grain output is expected to be negatively affected by both heat and flooding.  The exact extent of the damage will become more obvious as flood waters recede. 

 

 

 

Maintaining the Food Product Cold Chain

Reefer Containers
Refrigerated Containers at Dock
For producers and shippers of fresh and frozen produce the most fundamental rule to ensure good quality product reaches consumers is proper temperature maintenance of the cold chain.  Despite this basic principal, businesses involved in shipping fresh and frozen vegetables around the world regularly find themselves with product that has obviously been subject to some degree of thermal abuse in the cold chain.   Beyond cosmetic defects, studies have shown that exposing food product to inappropriate temperatures can have significant effect on the ability of bacteria to multiply, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.  Where does thermal abuse generally take place, and what techniques can shippers use to reduce temperature fluctuations during the product’s journey from the farm to the fork. 

A Belgian study from 2009 followed Belgian fresh-cut endives from harvest to the supermarket monitoring temperature at every step in the food chain and its impact on food microbiology.  One of the most interesting results of the study was that no endive samples tested positive for E. coli at harvest, indicating that there was no microbial contamination at the farm.  By the time the product reached restaurants one third of 96 samples tested positive for E. coli, although bacteria counts were still within acceptable European Union limits.  The study identified three critical points in the cold chain that were particularly susceptible to temperature abuse.  The three risk points are:

  • During transport from the farm to the processor and from the processor to the distributor
  • During transportation to retail markets or restaurants
  • Storage in restaurants or at retail markets. 

These risk points also hold true in the transportation of frozen product.  Storage and transportation by their very nature allow situations in which product temperature maintenance depends on complex machinery functioning correctly.  To reduce instances of thermal abuse two tactics can be employed to verify temperature maintenance and reduce steps in which product could warm.  The most important step is reducing the amount of parties handling the product to the absolute minimum whenever possible thus reducing steps in the chain in which temperature maintenance protocol could lapse.  The other is employing live recorders that continuously monitor temperatures and can be monitored in real time by personal computer.  Employing these two techniques, along with ensuring proper and continuous training for employees, will certainly help to avoid pathogen contamination and cosmetic damage concerns associated with thermal abuse in temperature sensitive products. 

 

  

Canned Corn Rich in Nutrients!

In the 2003 World Health Report the World Health Organization cited low fruit and vegetable intake as the sixth most common contributing factor to mortality worldwide.  Most people, including those in advanced industrialized nations, do not have access to some types of fresh produce year round and must supplement their vegetable and fruit intake with vegetables and fruits which are processed in either a canned or frozen state.  In the United States in particular corn is one of the most common vegetables consumed whether fresh, frozen, or canned.  While there has been debate concerning the nutritive depletion of corn during processing, especially concerning canned corn, the most recent research suggests that in reality canned corn maintains nutritive qualities comparable to fresh corn.

Can Corn
Delicious and Nutritious Canned Corn
In particular carotenoid compounds see no significant depletion in corn after undergoing canned processing.  Carotenoids are compounds responsible for the yellow, orange, and red pigments found in fruits and vegetables.  Health benefits of carotenoids have been thoroughly studied with carotenoids such as lycopene in tomatoes making headlines as nutrients which can prevent chronic disease.  In corn carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin are present in canned product and have been associated with protective benefits for eyes.  A study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis in 2005 concluded that, “The findings suggest that canned and frozen corn may be an equivalent or superior dietary source of carotenoids compared to fresh corn.”  Further research reviews have found other nutrients, in addition to carotenoids, which survive the canning process in levels comparable to fresh corn. 

A two part review published in 2007 in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture attempted to review all applicable scientific literature having to do with nutritive comparisons between a wide variety of fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables.  The review mentioned that in many instances by the time the consumer buys fresh produce at the store it may be nutritionally similar to frozen or canned equivalents due to the degradation of nutrients during handling and storage.  It was pointed out that, “Although processing can often lower the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, the extent of the nutrient degradation is highly variable and may be insignificant when compared with losses during storage and cooking of fresh produce.”  In particular for corn, “Canned corn contained slightly higher levels of potassium than fresh or frozen corn.”

 While there is room for further research on the matter, initial research and review supports eating canned corn as an effective way to gain recommended vegetable intake.  The rise of diet related conditions such as heart disease in developed nations has made the consumption of fruits and vegetable more important than ever before.  Canned corn should not be overlooked as an effective way to get nutrients associated with vegetable consumption.                          

 

 

Cargo Theft in the United States

The Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) puts the cost of cargo theft in the United States between $15 and $30 billion a year, but acknowledges the figure may be higher because many companies are unwilling to report cargo theft for fear of hurting their reputations or increasing insurance premiums.  This is especially concerning for shippers of food products because according to FreightWatch International and the Supply Chain – Information Sharing and Analysis(ISAC) group, food items and electronics were the top stolen cargo items in the United States.  How has cargo theft in the US been trending in 2010, when is cargo most vulnerable, and what can be done to prevent theft?

According to the ISAC 2nd Quarter 2010 Supply Chain ISAC Report of Cargo Theft Activity the first quarter of 2010 saw 212 cargo theft incidents, 49 of which had to do with food products.  In the second quarter of 2010 the ISAC saw 198 incidents of cargo theft, 43 of which had to do with food related products.  This is the fourth consecutive quarter that the ISAC has seen food as the most stolen item in the United States, even over electronics.  The top three states for cargo theft in the second quarter of 2010 were California with 61 instances of cargo theft, Texas with 29 instances and New Jersey with 17 instances.

Container Lock
Locked Container Door

The vast majority of the time cargo theft in the United States is a non violent affair.  As criminals have realized increased violence leads to increased police response which means thieves are taking a more opportunistic approach, waiting for cargo to be unattended before attempting to steal it.  Out of 198 cargo theft instances in the second quarter of 2010, 137 occurred at locations such as carrier facilities, truck stops, parking lots, and warehouses, where cargo is left unattended.  Half of the 198 instances also happened on the weekend. 

While thieves are getting more sophisticated in their robbery techniques, security techniques are also improving at a very quick rate.  Carriers have a variety of options including GPS tracking devices in both the tractor and trailer, additional locks, video cameras, and a stepped up security presence in places where cargo is stored.  Most important is getting information concerning cargo theft as quickly as possible to people who are involved in the supply chain.  Keeping track of theft trends and sharing theft reports in a timely manner within the supply chain is the most effective way of making sure that shippers are responding to the most recent instances of theft as effectively as possible.

Did you Know...?

According to the North American Potato Market News, at 1.387 million acres, 2010 planted potato acreage in North America is at a record low since data was first compiled at the end of the United States Civil War in 1865! While acreage may be at a record low, potato yields have increased significantly from less than 100 bushels per acre in 1900, to 500 bushels per acre in the modern day.

 

 

 


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