Inside this Food Report



VOLUME 5
ISSUE 12


December 1, 2014

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Hello Everyone,

Whew….we did it! Finally we are moved and somewhat settled into our new office space. Well not totally settled. We do have more organizing to do and boxes to unpack but for the most part we are moved! I learned that no matter how diligent you are and how many lists you make to ensure your move goes smoothly there are always hiccups and things can get a bit stressful to say the least. Thank goodness this chapter is finally over! Remember our new address is:

Noon International
5506 6th Avenue South
Suite 101
Seattle, WA 98108

Our phone, fax and email addresses remain the same.

Weather since we have moved has been COLD! The Pacific Northwest has been a bit cooler than usual for this time of year and our mountain passes received snow this past weekend but it cannot compare to the chilling temperatures and snow already beginning in the Midwest states and along the eastern seaboard. Buffalo, New York is dealing with 7 feet of snow and now flood warnings are in place for all that snow which is melting. And then there is poor California still in desperate need of rain. Central and South America is also experiencing some unusual weather with hail and cool temperatures in some parts of Guatemala and Argentina.

We are facing challenges with the strength of our dollar and doing what we can to help our buyers in Japan with price assistance. The slowdown of west coast dockworkers is making life difficult for our customers as well with container shortages causing shipment delays resulting in out of stock inventories. Please see our article below titled “Dock Drama”.

With Thanksgiving behind us (we hope you had a great one by the way!) and Christmas just ahead we wish you a happy, healthy, and joyful holiday season.



“Moving Day” Selfie

Betty and The Noon International Team



CropVeggies

United States:

Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho) sweet corn crop is now completed. For the most part yields were high and packers exceeded their budgets. Slightly warmer summer temperatures this season resulted in higher-grade profiles as well as excellent taste especially for super sweet varieties.

Diced carrot production in the Northwest is now completed.

High summer temperatures resulted in lower yields, lower solids and increased defects for the Columbia Basin potato crop this season. Growers in the North of the Basin experienced more damage than in the South Basin. The lower quality is causing poor recovery rates for the fry plants and many are looking to purchase potato’s outside the area, including Idaho, to keep the factories operating.
There has been a drop in exports of French fries to Japan due to more favorable prices ex Europe.

Idaho saw an unusually rainy August with more rain towards end of October. It has been reported there are concerns regarding storability of potatoes. Fry factories are being selective about which crops are stored and which are run directly from the field to plant in order to prevent a chance of potatoes softening in storage due to moisture.

Overall the blueberry season turned out well in the United States and Canada and inventories in cold storage are high.

Midwest corn for the most part came in on budget. Rain and cooler weather experienced at the tail end of the harvest resulted in some areas experiencing lower yields of about 15%. Overall quality is very good and contracts are being fulfilled.

California is reporting the smallest crop of peaches in 50 years - a 12% decrease from last season.

Mexico: Rainy season in Mexico is coming to a close. Quality and yields for both broccoli and cauliflower is improving daily. The Bajio Valley harvest is scheduled to begin this month.

Guatemala: Cooler than average temperatures for the month of November and a recent sudden hail storm will affect broccoli yields. Snow peas and sugar snap pea production is also affected.

Ecuador: Broccoli supply conditions in Ecuador are slowly improving as suppliers are catching back up with back logged orders. Demand is anticipated to remain strong.

Costa Rica: Raw material pineapple prices have returned to more normal levels, as suppliers have begun releasing new crop pricing. Production is beginning to gear up for the peak season starting in January. Weather should be suitable this month, but suppliers tend to really begin production at or near full capacity starting after the new year when dry season is in full affect.

Thailand: Pineapple is short in Thailand. The summer crop was down due to reduced plantings and although winter crop will begin it is not expected to alleviate the shortage as most suppliers have back orders to fill.

India: Lack of rain in India is hurting many crops there.
Guava fruit especially is experiencing small fruit and low yields.

Chile: Fall weather in Chile has been a bit cool and in some spots freezing temperatures occurred for a short time. Blueberries, kiwi and apples may be affected however nothing as severe as the freeze damages which occurred last season. Blueberry picking is now peaking in regions North while Central Chile should begin picking later this month.

Due to high grower prices for raspberries farmers are investing in more raspberry acres, which may increase yields going forward. Early indications point to higher raspberry prices this season coming out of Chile.

Asparagus harvest should be wrapping up in the next few weeks. Suppliers have reported a quality season with no major issues and steady yields.

Green peas will begin this month while processors hope to repeat last years quality green pea production numbers.

Chile among other Latin American countries anticipate continued increased exports to Russia, as trade restrictions between Russia and many European countries continue to be a factor..

Peru: The agricultural industry continues to see the ramifications from El Nino. Asparagus harvest was pushed back further to early/mid November with most spears coming in with smaller specifications. Yields are much lower than expected and the overall season has been shortened. Combined with El Nino and the natural low point in the mango cycle, this year’s mango harvest is anticipated to be very short. Some suppliers are reporting more than a 50% reduction in final volumes in comparison to last year. As a result inventories will be tight with prices on the high end. Pepper harvest continues in the north region of Piura through the end of the year when it will move further south.

Europe:

September and much of October enjoyed good weather with little rain across much of Europe including the potato rich Benelux region. Belgium, Netherlands and Germany experienced a good potato crop with abundant yields and good quality. Spot grower prices are low and it has been reported that some farmers will not be able to recover their costs. There is now anticipation that acreage will be reduced next season and prices will go back up . Spot pricing went down from May reaching a historical low. With the abundant crop in Europe and the value of the Euro dropping against our U.S. dollar some U.S. buyers of French fries are looking to Europe to fill their requirements. Potato prices coming out of Europe are extremely low but most feel that these low prices will not be sustainable.

Leaf vegetable processing wrapped up in Belgium mid October moving to the second cauliflower crop , carrots and other early fall crops. Similar to the US , Europe had a strong green bean harvest with high yields. Suppliers are siting on large inventories and have product to move with competitive prices. Cauliflower crop was reported with slightly above average yields while carrots are expected to produce lower yields this season. Heavy rain at the end of October washed the top soil from carrots which resulted in exposure and black spots. Leeks and Brussel Sprouts are now being harvested/processed. Growing conditions to date have been favorable.

Greece: Peach yields will be down this season by approximately 2 million cases. Hailstorms and heavy rain during the crop season resulted in peaches falling off the trees.

Italy: Heavy rains in Northern Italy will hurt the grape harvest. Apples and pears will also be affected.

China: Increased plantings on broccoli and cauliflower were schedule for the Zhejiang province area this season , however rains in September/October affected the transplanting’s so total yields are expected to be same as last years and yields will not increase. In Shandong province broccoli quantity is limited and most of it is going to the domestic fresh market.
In Shandong province Taro production has begun. Planting area increased although due to the dry weather conditions yields are not expected to be good and prices have increased by approximately 10 – 15% compared with last year.


Another Blow For GMO Labeling

Last November Washington voters voted down a bill to pass mandatory GMO labeling.

Mandatory GMO labeling was on the docket again during the recent midterm elections this past November in the states of Oregon and Colorado. Much to the surprise and chagrin of anti-GMO advocates, the public in Oregon and Colorado struck down the measures. As the dust settles and the debate over GMOs continues, many opposed to GMOs are wondering what went wrong in Oregon and Colorado.

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have come under fire in the U.S. due to the fear of long-term health concerns caused by exposure to engineered plants and animals. Proponents of GMO mandatory labeling point to the increase in chronic illness. They also cite damage to the environment. But the scientific community remains ambiguous about GMOs and possible health effects from a GMO diet, which has made it difficult for anti-GMO legislation to be passed.

All states saw costly campaigns from both pro- and anti-GMO groups, but the pro-GMO organizations with larger funds raised by big corporations like DuPont and Monsanto won out in the end. Over 16 million dollars was raised for the Colorado campaign while GMO opponents were only able to raise a fraction of that amount.

In addition to advertising, the message sent by GMO advocates may have had a hand in the rejection of labeling. Anti-labeling groups described the initiatives as costly for consumers, indicating the possibility of an increase in already high grocery bills. The continued scientific debate surrounding GMOs has also favored anti-labeling arguments, with popular figures like Neil Degrasse Tyson speaking out against the rejection of GMOs.

Those who support labeling argue that the public has the right to know if the food they consume is a genetically modified food. But with little scientific evidence backing up claims that GMOs can be harmful to health, voters were uninterested in a possibly expensive change in state policy.




Sorry Sugar

The holidays are upon us, and with these festive times come treats and snacks galore. Many of us will be filling up on cookies, cakes and other sweet goodies, in addition to the sugary staples of the dinner table. But while you get ready to give in to the temptation of all your favorite holiday foods, it’s important to remember that sugar can have serious health side effects, including an increased risk of death by heart disease. Sorry to put a damper on your holidays!

It’s no secret that sugar isn’t exactly great for you, but a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that high sugar consumption can cause heart disease. The study is the largest of its size, and research shows that the risks of sugar are higher than ever. Today, the average adult gets 15% of their daily calories from added sugar, which is well above the suggested daily intake of less than 100 sugar calories.

There was already plenty to fear when it comes to high sugar intake. From cavities to weight gain to diabetes, sugar can wreak havoc on our health when it goes unchecked. But keeping it in check is a struggle for many, as most food products on the shelf have some amount of added sugar. Soda is a clear culprit, but soups and salad dressings can also have added sugar as well as processed foods.

What makes sugar such a concern? Well, there are a few reasons. Sugar is calorie-dense, but it gives no nutritional value. As a result, filling up on sugar displaces other, healthier food from your diet. In addition, the brain has a hard time processing consumption of sugar, causing overeating because you don’t feel full. Fructose and high fructose corn syrup are processed by the liver, and a high-sugar diet can overload your liver, causing a myriad of health problems.

Of course, enjoying some sugar won’t cause considerable health issues (unless a medical professional encourages you to cut the sugar completely). But moderation is the key. So don't be too hard on yourself this holiday season. Relax and enjoy your favorite treats but do so in moderation!




Dock Drama

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is still slowing down cargo handling operations all along the West coast gateways while negotiation for a new contract continue. The previous Union contract expired on July 1st and the slowdowns began towards the end of October.

For anyone in the import/export business we know what an absolute headache this is causing. Import containers are being held up with as many as 6 ships at a time anchored off the shores of any given West Coast port waiting to berth.

While congestion has been worsening at Southern California ports for a few months, problems have now spread to Seattle and Tacoma ports, which account for 16 percent of the containerized cargo on the West Coast.

Perishable product such as potatoes and apples are being held up and for many growers/exporters it is too late to ship their products due to spoilage and huge financial loses are now occurring. Christmas trees will miss the Christmas season in Asia altogether.

Steamship lines have advised they will implement a port congestion surcharge. For import cargo the charge is $800.00 per 20 foot container and $1,000.00 per 40 foot container. Charges are higher for high cube containers. Surcharges are also scheduled for export shipments - $240.00 per 20 foot containers and $300.00 per 40 foot container. These surcharges were schedule to commence on November 17th , however the surcharges were postponed. We learned today (11/24) that APL and Cosco Line have now implemented that import surcharge which will commence with all shipments received at the ports on or after November 26th. To date no surcharges have been implemented for outgoing U.S. cargo.

We will continue to keep our customers advised of this ongoing and fluid situation. Please bear with us as we all struggle through this most recent dock slowdown.






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