Inside this Food Report

  • Crop News: Mexico Still Struggles With Broccoli Supply

  • Food Safety: How Changing Food Safety Regulations Are Challenging Small Companies

  • Eat Healthy: Eat Frozen For More Nutrients and Less Food Waste!

  • Facts + Figures: Washington State Leads Cultivated Blueberry Production


December 1, 2017

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Hello Everyone,

Wow, Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas and New Year holiday is fast approaching! Time certainly does fly by and hope you are able to enjoy some “down” time during this holiday season.

I can remember writing last year at this same time about how the younger generations are eating more fruits and vegetables and that the outlook for our industry was looking good. This year we struggle with low inventories of many of the most popular vegetables, including corn, broccoli and cauliflower. By all accounts it will be a short corn market. In Mexico cold weather and some frost has resulted in a delayed and lower yield harvest for the most recent broccoli and cauliflower crops there. (see our crop section below) We hope to see an upturn after January and that inventories can be built up, however it has been a struggle the entire year for Mexican suppliers and their buyers and for the time being it continues. The power of Mother Nature is undeniable showing that the best made plans can turn around on a dime.

This month will be another busy one for Noon International, with holiday lunches our Noon annual Christmas party and travel schedules, however we want to make sure to wish all of our clients and suppliers the very best holiday season ever! We appreciate each and every one of you and thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

Betty and The Noon International Team!

CropVeggies United States

Sweet corn harvest completed in both the Northwest and Midwest. It was a struggle for both regions this season due to climatic conditions and reports now coming in are that it will be a tight corn market. While some suppliers came in on budget, others did not. Most likely if you do not have your bookings already confirmed, it will be very difficult this year to purchase on the spot market.

Potato yields in the Colombia basin have been reported as improved from last season, however variable. Potatoes now going into storage and the processing crop for the most part is completed. Solids are reported as above average which has helped with recovery rates. Contract negotiations are already underway for Colombia Basin potatoes for season 2018. Based on additional capacity here in the Northwest we are expecting contract volumes may be increased and prices to the grower a bit higher than this past season.
Harvesting is now underway for autumn table potato’s and it is being reported that volumes will be down compared to last season. Weather conditions in the spring delayed plantings and Idaho, Washington and Oregon will all suffer losses this season.

Maine’s wild blueberry harvest fell this season to below 100 million pounds for the first time in 4 years. Initial figures show the crop at 65 million pounds.

Mexico: The summer season broccoli output in Mexico has been disappointing. Fresh market diversions have hurt the industry for several months. California’s unseasonal hot weather sent suppliers to Mexico for fresh broccoli and as a result there was less product for the freezers. In addition the summer in Mexico has been unusually hot and humid and has resulted in problems with low quality material hindering supply further. Processors in Mexico are offering up higher prices for raw material by approx.. 30% in order to support their programs. Broccoli and cauliflower transplantations were ramped up in an effort to be in peak production during this very busy holiday season, however recent cold fronts during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend has slowed growth and the harvest down considerably. With no inventory built up this has caused many shipment delays for all buyers. Mexico has again planted heavy in an effort to rebuild depleted inventories going forward.

Guatemala: Heavy rain in September/October has diminished the broccoli harvest and yields have been decreased. Currently, Broccoli volumes in Guatemala are very low. The current weather has been colder than usual and in fact in some areas processors suffered frost. However fields that will be ready to harvest in January are looking very healthy and we expect the situation to improve commencing middle January with improved broccoli volumes.

Europe: Northern Poland has advised about a 30% to 40% drop in their corn yields this season. Due to cool weather and rain the season has not been a good one. As well Poland’s raspberry crop suffered losses due to the heavy summer rain and cooler weather. Much of Poland’s raspberries have gone to crumbles.

Hot weather and lack of rain have taken a negative toll on Hungary’s potato crop . As well Hungary’s corn crop is projected to be 10% below normal due to extreme heat and bunching during the summer months.

Spain’s broccoli crop has commenced, however their summer crop did not come in on budget due to the high heat and this coupled with increased domestic demand for broccoli will make for a tight market in this region, although the winter broccoli season looks more promising than last year.

Italy’s Kiwi production overall will be 40% down this season due to frost in the spring and drought in the summer.

Chile: A disappointing asparagus season in Chile due to cooler weather which resulted in a delayed start to the season and lower yields of asparagus. Blueberry season is ongoing in Chile’s northern region.

Peru: Mango season has begun in Northern Peru. The season began a bit late due to cooler temperatures during spring

New Zealand: Pea season is underway in New Zealand. Temperatures have been warmer than usual and the season a bit inconsistent. The season should go through end of December.


Shandong Province: Taro season is underway. Reports are for a bumper crop with good yields and quality and stable prices.
Broccoli harvest is underway. Good yields and quality are expected. Now is a favorable time to make your broccoli bookings.

Zhejiang Province: To date growth conditions look good for both broccoli and cauliflower in this region. Harvest will commence this month.

Lotus root harvest now underway. Planting areas have increased and due to favorable weather conditions the yields and quality are good and prices are stable.

Shiitake mushroom yields declined sharply due to the decrease in plantings. Yields of this crop are about 1/3 of past yields. Prices are higher than last season.

Very tight inventories of both sugar snap peas and pea pods.

Mandarin orange yields are normal however in other areas such as Hunan and Hubei province yields have declined by about 40%. Factory demand is high and this has led to an increase in raw material prices. Expect prices to be up for Mandarin orange this season.

Fujian Province: Autumn edamame season is underway and based on high demand prices have gone up.

Water chestnut season has begun. There have been some raw material quality challenges in the early stage of the harvest. This should improve as harvest continues. Due to the enormous demand from domestic and foreign markets the raw material prices rose sharply this season by over 15%. Along with freight, labor and packaging increases expect to pay more for your water chestnuts this season.

How Changing Food Safety Regulations Are Challenging Small Companies

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January 2011. Now, nearly seven years later, small businesses still face challenges in becoming compliant with FSMA regulations.

In essence, FSMA regulates the food supply chain to ensure that food is safe for consumers. Although this may seem like a simple goal, large companies have found it necessary to form internal FSMA teams, hire additional staff, invest heavily in changing aspects of their production lines, and attend education classes to implement the changes necessary for FSMA compliance.

For smaller companies, hiring additional staff or assigning additional responsibilities to employees is sometimes not financially possible. In many cases, the labor-intensive nature of the food industry means that small business owners have little time for delving into the complexities of FSMA regulations, let alone planning and executing extensive staff trainings. Small business owners may also find themselves in the strange position of completing FSMA training but being unable to complete unbiased internal auditing of their own work.

Small businesses may also struggle to gain access to accurate information about FSMA regulations. In many cases, state or federal inspectors are the only credible resources for small business owners. In some instances FSMA consultants may provide incomplete or inaccurate information, leaving well-intentioned small businesses without appropriate compliance. For importers of food product, compliance extends to making sure that food that originates overseas also meets FSMA safety criteria. The Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) provides requirements, however interpertation of the laws are challenging and require quidence, especially for smaller businesses.

Technology will be key in implementing FSMA regulations so that companies can navigate workflow, document control, foregin supplier control, and the many other regulations required by FSMA, however technology programs are expensive and many small companies simply cannot financially carry this burden.

All of these challenges have led some states to offer FSMA training at an affordable price point. As well, in August 2017, the FDA released a software program called the Food Safety Plan Builder (FSPB). This software is equipped with all current FSMA regulations, helping to guide small businesses through the process of making a plan for FSMA compliance.

Overall, conforming to FSMA presents significant demands for all food businessses but expecially to small business and it will be a challenge for the foreseeable future. A gradual shift toward affordable training and software may ensure easier compliance for all.

Eat Frozen For More Nutrients and Less Food Waste!

Piled on frosty shelves in grocery stores around the world, bags of frozen fruits and vegetables promise fresh, nutritious additions to our diets. But are frozen foods as healthy as fresh foods?

In some cases, researchers have discovered that frozen foods might actually offer more nutrients than fresh foods. When crops are destined for the freezer case, they are harvested at the peak of freshness and quickly flash frozen. This process preserves food, halting most processes that cause nutrients to degrade.

In one study, scientists found that frozen foods consistently contained higher concentrations of nutrients than fresh food that had been refrigerated for three days. This was true for everything from frozen blueberries to frozen broccoli, both of which provided more antioxidants than their fresh counterparts.

Similarly, when scientists compared the Vitamin C content in fresh and frozen broccoli, they found that only 50% of Vitamin C was preserved in fresh broccoli over the course of one week in the refrigerator, while broccoli that had been frozen for a year lost only 10% of its Vitamin C content. The findings have been replicated by numerous other researchers.

In addition to preserving nutrients, freezing produce can significantly reduce food waste. Researchers have estimated that as much as 40% of all food winds up in the garbage, often because perishables spoil before they are used. Fresh produce and seafood are especially likely to end up in the trash.

By contrast, frozen foods remain safe and nutritious for months or, in some cases, years. This long shelf life means that forgetfulness or a change in schedule won’t result in wasted food.

Next time someone questions whether frozen or fresh foods are best, remind them that frozen foods can help consumers and resturants reduce food waste and save money, while delivering more nutrients than many fresh items.

Washington State Leads Cultivated Blueberry Production

IBlueberries have become many consumers’ favorite fruit, thanks to their ability to deliver vital nutrients and antioxidants while remaining low in calories. But before they’re packed fresh into plastic cartons or frozen in bags to display at the supermarkets, where do blueberries come from?

The United States is the world’s highest producer of blueberries, with Washington farmers growing more blueberries than any other state. In 2016 alone, Washington farmers harvested 120 million pounds of cultivated blueberries. That number is expected to grow by approximately 20% by 2018.

Washington’s 18,000 acres of blueberry fields are spread across the state. Although the western, coastal half of Washington offers the ideal natural climate for cultivating blueberries, a growing number of blueberry farms are popping up on the Eastern side of Washington, where the drier climate makes the crops less susceptible to destructive insects.

Harvest occurs over the course of five months each year, with picking completed four times throughout the season as the bushes continue to produce fruit.

Once the blueberries have been harvested, roughly half are sent directly to grocery stores, where they are sold fresh. The other half of the blueberry harvest is processed into other forms. Some blueberries are dried for granola and snacks, while others are canned for pie filling, or frozen for various applications such as smoothies or ice cream.

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