Inside this Food Report



VOLUME 7
ISSUE 7


July 1, 2016

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Hello ~Contact.FirstName~,

Wow, its summer time already! Nothing says summer here in the U.S.A than the 4th of July. I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday. I spent mine with neighbors and family and had the traditional holiday experience with hot dogs, hamburgers, and staying up too late. I am lucky enough to live on a hill that overlooks beautiful Commencement Bay and every year it is a treat to see the fantastic show of fireworks over the water and I don’t even have to leave my street!

Green pea season is winding down and sweet corn should begin for most processors towards end of July. The weather here in the Northwest has settled down and temperatures seem to be back to normal for this time of year, however the previous pockets of severe hot weather have moved the crops along quickly, with the earliest start to blueberry season that we can remember.

Summer time in North America means the Noon Team will be on the road to see first hand that the vegetables and fruits we send to our clients meet their strict standards and are safe as well as delicious. We would like to thank all of our clients for putting their trust in us.

We also want to say a huge thank you to all of our processors for their efforts and dedication to supply Noon International the finest frozen and canned vegetables and fruits in the industry!

Here’s to a successful season ahead.

All The Best,
Betty and The Noon International Team



CropVeggies United States: In the Northwest another few weeks left to green pea harvest depending on the weather. It has been very warm in Eastern Oregon and Washington so if the heat continues green pea harvest will end sooner than later. Sweet corn season is expected to start for most Northwest suppliers by the last week of July. To date all conditions, look good for an average to good season. Green Bean plantings are now completed.

Columbia Basin potato harvest expected to commence the first week of July. Beneficial weather conditions at the start of the potato growing season resulted in early potatoes developing quickly and yields are expected to be good. In the news recently, Con Agra expanding its Richland, WA facility to add a new production line for French fries in order to keep up with global demand. The expansion is expected to cost upwards of 200 million dollars with a completion date set for Fall of 2017.

Pacific Northwest Dark Sweet Cherry harvest began on June 20th. Overall the cherry harvest is expected to be at target volumes.

Peak harvest is now ongoing in Washington and Oregon for Raspberries, Blueberries and Blackberries. It is the earliest start to a berry season in memory. In Oregon’s Willamette Valley blueberries are coming in quickly due to warm weather. Quality has been good to date. Blackberries are completed and many went into drums towards the tail end of harvest due to soft fruit.

In Washington State raspberries are coming in at a rapid pace. Good quality fruit and good weather to finish off the season which should end by mid July. Blueberry harvest should commence this month. There are reports of some hail damage from recent weather conditions, however reports are that an average crop is expected.

Eastern Washington blueberries in peak production now. Warm weather will speed harvest and there could be some heat damage.

British Colombia: A decent raspberry and blueberry season expected. Raspberry quality good, however some reports of mold and soft fruit due to rain and humidity. Blueberries are on target to commence harvest first week of July.

Plantings of Midwest corn is 80% completed. Harvest is expected to commence for first planted corn by the end of July, while peak harvest will take place mid August.

Mexico: The rainy season has commenced in Mexico. Quality of both broccoli and cauliflower has been affected by the rains and yields are below average currently.

Guatemala: The new season broccoli crop will commence in Guatemala the first week of July. The crop looks fantastic and weather conditions are normal for this time of year.

Europe: Adverse weather conditions in Europe has concerned most processors of canned and frozen vegetables. Impacted by heavy rain and flooding in Northern Europe there are reports that the yields of vegetable crops such as peas, corn, spinach and broccoli will be affected dramatically. Belgium has already reported damages of their spring spinach and summer cauliflower crops. Due to the rains, peas are coming in slowly. To date it is too early to realize the full impact of Europe’s summer harvest, however the outlook to date has been dismal.

China:

Zhejiang Province: Production of edamame and mukimame now underway. Temperature are rising in China, and along with the higher temperatures come rain and humidity. Prices of raw material soybeans has gone up by about 13% compared to last season. Yields are 30% less then previous season, however with the increased acreage the overall volumes should be adequate. Reports of brown spots and blemishes due to rain. If weather improves, better quality during the peak weeks of harvest is expected. Pea season is completed and yields were reduced due to rain.

Fujian Province: Edamame and Mukimame production now completed in this region. Overall quality was affected by rain. Sugar Snap Peas and Snow Peas in short supply. Cold weather and rain resulted in reduced yields. Reliable suppliers are sold out.

Shandong Province: Edamame growth conditions at this point are good and harvest is expected to begin this month. Production of spring asparagus is completed. Overall sales of asparagus to overseas customers declined. The summer crop will begin this month. Onion production has started and prices have risen by 5 – 6 %.


The Listeria Hysteria

A rise in the number of listeria monocytogenes (LM) cases detected by the US Food and Drug Administration has lead to widespread debate about the best way to combat the food-borne illness. Already strict US regulations, including a “zero” tolerance policy on colony forming units per gram (CFU/gram) of listeria in food, are now being looked at even more closely, and U.S. manufacturers are wondering how trade could be impacted by further guidelines.

In light of the recent frozen vegetable recalls, Japan has already announced new guidelines issued by their Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare stating that all Ready To Eat (RTE) vegetables and fruits will be subject to checks for LM at customs, before they enter the country, effective May 30, 2016. If tests results show above 100 CFU/gram, the container will be rejected and shipped back to its origin country. To see a copy of the notice to the Japanese Quarantine Stations from Japan’s Office of Import Safety, please click here.

But while the seemingly large number of listeria cases discovered in recent years, including in fresh and frozen foods, suggests that listeria is more common than ever, it’s actually better detection that has lead to the increase in recalls.

Technolgy for detecting outbreaks has improved. Whole Genome sequencing to identify listeria is much more sensitive. This means listeria is not more common, but that we are more proficient in detecting it to prevent further contamination. In fact the number of listeriosis cases has reduced from 2,500 cases per year in the 1990’s to 1,500 cases today.

U.S data estimates show that less than 0.2% of cases of LM per year are caused by foods contaminated with 100 CFU/gram or less per serving. On the other hand more than 80% of these cases are caused by food contaminated with more than one million CFU/gram. These higher levels of LM represent the main risk for consumers.

However the recent recalls has lead to greater scrunity. Frozen foods have been at the center of the ongoing listeria conversation, with a number of high profile manufacturers and retailers recalling frozen products over possible contamination. The Food Advisory Committee (FAC) voted back in December on whether frozen vegetables which have cook instructions on their packages should still be considered RTE and carry the “zero” tolerance requirement for listeria (usually cooking/heating vegetables will kill listeria). The vote was split and the conversation continues.

Other countries, such as Canada, Japan, and Europe allow 100 CFU/gram of listeria bacteria in food. Prior to the recent rash in recalls, the US had already been debating with frozen food processors and the American Frozen Food Institue (AFFI) on changing regulations from a “zero” tolerance policy. However the debate is still ongoing and in the interin the U.S. frozen food industry is moving forward implementing robust survelliance and sanitation programs to mitigate the risk of further recalls.


Fab Five Summer Foods!

Summer is here!  For foodies, this is also a great time to feast on fresh produce that is light and healthy. Berries of all hues and shapes, melons, grapes, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, and fresh beans, …oh my, these are only some of the fruit and vegetables that come to mind when one thinks of summer. We want to bring you the best of taste and nutrition this summer and so have brought you our super-five and the health benefits of each one.   And no worries, if you don't see them in your fresh produce department they are always available frozen and remember you cannot get fresher than frozen!  Let’s take a look at five wonderful fruit and vegetables that you just have to have this summer!  And it’s okay, skip the fresh produce aisle and go straight to the freezer case for these 5 great summer foods!

Raspberries

These luscious berries are as healthful as they are pretty. Their sweet-sour, refreshing taste, combined with a robust helping of fiber make them a good choice to help with weight loss. Add them to your yogurt or cereal for a fresh burst of flavor!
Green Beans

Tender green beans are an amazing source of fiber, protein and vitamin K. Fiber helps keep your heart healthy and your weight in control, and vitamin K strengthens your bones. Try these low-cal veggies for your next stir-fry or salad.
Corn

Sunny, golden corn is a feast for the eyes – in more than one way. It contains zeaxanthin and lutein, two antioxidants with eye-protecting benefits. Eating corn now may well prevent age-related macular degeneration later in life. Corn is also rich in fiber. Bite into crunchy roasted corn-on-the-cob or have it boiled with a dab of butter.
Blueberries

They are fantastic stores of antioxidants that clean up damaging free radicals from the body. Wipe out fatigue and let your skin glow this summer with farm-frozen blueberries. Frozen blueberries are healthy in so many ways. Maximize their benefits by putting them in smoothies.
Cherries

These tangy and sweet berries are rich in anthocyanins that fight against cancer, heart disease and age-related cognitive decline, and in quercetin, which absorbs damaging free radicals and has anti-inflammatory properties. Tart cherry juice helps prevent post-workout muscle stress and can help to give you a peaceful nights sleep!





U.S. Senate Agrees On A GMO Labeling Bill

Last month, the US Senate came to an agreement in the contentious debate regarding GMO labeling. The bi-partisan bill, which must pass both houses of Congress and be approved by the president before becoming law, is seen as a middle ground between pro-GMO labeling advocates and the food manufacturing industry. But it’s not without controversy; some advocates feel the bill is not transparent enough, and if passed it will override state laws mandating GMO labeling.

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have been at the center of a heated debate for the past few years. Although there’s no evidence that GMOs are unsafe to consume, the rising interest in healthier, more natural foods have caused a demand for non-GMO consumables. With it has come a demand for labeling that clearly states whether or not foods are made with GMOs, or foods that have been genetically engineered.

This bill, which comes on the heels of a successful labeling bill that passed in the House of Representatives, would do just that. Manufacturers would have the choice of three ways to label foods -- using words to disclose GMO ingredients on packaging, doing so with a USDA symbol, or using an electronic link, such as QR code, to share GMO information. Companies would have two years to comply, and states would not be able to implement legislation requiring additional labeling. Meat, poultry, and egg products would not be required to comply.

Advocates for GMO-labeling aren’t thrilled, despite the possible nationwide GMO-labeling requirement. They fear that the requirements aren’t transparent enough to be useful to consumers. The bill was also introduced just one week ahead of Vermont becoming the first state in the country to require GMO-labeling; the Senate agreement however would require that Vermont follow the Nationwide regulation.

A final vote could be as early as the first week of July. If approved, it would then pass to the House of Representatives for a vote.



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Intelligent Food Report


Inside this Food Report



VOLUME 7
ISSUE 5


May 1, 2016

Published Monthly. This is being sent to you because you signed up to receive it. To change your subscription, see the link at the end of the email.

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Hello Everyone,

May has arrived! Only weeks away from the pea harvest beginning in Oregon and Washington. We had a week of very hot weather in middle April which accelerated the growth of the pea and berry crops. Weather then cooled back to normal for this season, however as I write we are in for another week of warmer then normal temperatures over the Pacific Northwest. My guess is that the pea crop will begin sooner than later. We are anticipating an average pea harvest but will keep you posted if anything changes. Other crops are going into the ground as we speak such as green beans and corn.

We are back from our April visit to Japan and still suffering with a bit of jet lag. While we were there, Kumamoto Prefecture, in Southern Japan suffered a strong earthquake and only days later Ecuador was rattled by a 7.8 earthquake. Our prayers go out to all those affected by these tragedies.

We did miss the cherry blossom season, however we had the opportunity to head down to Miyajima Island, south of Tokyo, and visit the Itsukushima Shrine which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrines history dates back to 1168! Here is my attempt at photography!

Thank you to all of our Japanese clients for your kind hospitality during our stay in Japan and we will look forward to seeing you again during pack season. And to our processors…. we look forward to seeing everyone in the months ahead and here’s to a fantastic crop season this summer!

All The Best,

Betty And The Noon International Team



CropVeggies

United States: A week of unseasonably warm weather in mid April over the Pacific Northwest has given a boost to the pea harvest, however weather has cooled back to normal. Pea harvest is expected to commence middle to late May.

Sweet Corn plantings in Oregon and Washington are 25% completed. The overall U.S. corn crop, which includes field corn is 13% completed as of the end of April. This is ahead of the five-year average.
Potatoes for processing in July and August are all planted and to date the conditions look average.

Plantings of green beans have now started.

As stated above a week of unseasonably warm weather has boosted the berry harvest in the West. Good bloom and size in all regions including Oregon and Washington. In Washington, Reka variety is at 80% bloom.
However early indication is that raspberries could be a light crop this season. Warm weather has accelerated growth but weather is now cooler and some areas are concerned there could still be a freeze.

Washington States cherry season is expected to begin early as the warm spring weather has brought on an early bloom.

The California cherry season has already begun 10 days earlier than usual due to warm weather there. California fresh avocados got off to a rocky start due to lack of rain which delayed the harvest and the U.S has been flooded with Mexican product. However, improvement is expected in the fresh California avocado market as the season progresses.

Mexico: Bajio area broccoli and cauliflower harvest will end middle May. The quality and yields of the remainder of the season there look good. The Northern Highlands will begin their harvest of broccoli and cauliflower within the next 10 or so days. The yields and quality look promising.

Guatemala: New season broccoli is expected to begin late June/Early July. To date growing conditions look good. Currently okra and melon are being processed through the middle of this month. The mango crop in Guatemala was late this season and harvest/processing has been extended through the first week of June.

Ecuador: A magnitude 7.8 earthquake rattled Ecuador in the coastal region of Manaki Province. The highlands where most crops are grown escaped damages. Frozen facilities, fields and roads are all okay. The shipping port in Guayaquil had some minor problems but the port is now operating at 100%.

Europe: Wet spring weather slowed corn plantings over western Europe, including France.

Chile: Hot and dry weather is expected to reduce Chile’s corn harvest. The season is now completed. Chile’s apricot harvest turned out low this year due to spring rains while peach and pear crops were reported as good.

India: Recent reports coming out of India say that the overall mango crop appears to be normal.

Thailand: Extreme heat, the worst in 65 years continues in Thailand. With temperatures as high as 111.7 degrees Fahrenheit it is being reported that Thailand’s pineapple crops will surely be affected. Extreme heat and lack of moisture is also known to affect corn yields.
Temperatures are expected to decline when the monsoon season begins sometime this month.

Malaysia: Prices for fresh market vegetables soared as high as 50% due to the current heat wave. Quality of the vegetables and the fruit have also been affected by the severe heat.

China: In most coastal areas including Zhejiang, Fujian and some areas of Shandong Province the fluctuating temperatures in April has had an affect on the bloom of peapod and sugar snap pea. In addition, rain and less sun will affect the yields and quality of green peas and also soy bean crops.

Fujian province: Lower yields are estimated for the soy bean crop due to rain.

Zhejiang province: Harvest of edamame will commence towards end June. Rain and fluctuating temperatures will affect the pea pods and sugar snap peas. It is reported that the volume of over mature, color variants and blemishes are higher than last season. Due to low yields and high demand the market price has increased by approximately 40% compared with last year.

Shandong Province: This season is a bumper season for green asparagus. Yields are expected to be up by 10 – 15% and prices are lower than usual.


Something Else To Worry About?

If you prefer your toast a little on the burnt side, the Food and Drug Administration has some bad news. In March, the agency finalized their guidelines for acrylamide, a potential carcinogen that forms in some foods when they are cooked at high temperatures. The FDA originally announced proposed guidelines in 2013, with the current final guidelines showing few changes.

Acrylamide does not form in all foods, but is prevalent in plant-based foods that are cooked at high temperatures. French fries, coffee,(no not my coffee!) breads, and other fried or baked foods have shown high levels, while meat, dairy, and fish have not shown levels that raise any concern. Potato products, including chips, have a particularly high level of the chemical. In a study conducted by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 40 percent of consumed calories in the average American diet have some level of acrylamide.

First discovered in food in 2002, acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in animals when eaten in high doses. But in humans, scientists have not found reason to fear your fries. It is caused by sugars and a particular amino acid that’s found naturally in food, suggesting that acrylamide has been in food since humans learned how to cook. Studies have found some possible correlation between ovarian and endometrial cancer and high ingestion of acrylamide, but not enough studies have been conducted to say for sure how the chemical impacts risk. As a result, the National Toxicology Program lists it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The FDA guidelines, which are voluntary and have not been codified into regulations, boil down to common sense. Don’t overcook things, pay attention to suggested cook times and the color of your food, and limit the amount of surface area on foods that are being fried or baked. Plus, in a healthy diet, fried and baked foods make up a small proportion of consumed calories. So rather than skip those french fries next time you go to the diner, maybe just skip the extra well done ones!




The Growing Demand For Organic Food

One look around your local supermarket is all it takes to prove that organics, once a niche market, have hit the mainstream. Demand for organically grown produce and products manufactured with them has seen unprecedented growth in the past twenty years, with no signs of slowing down. But while consumers want organics, the industry is struggling to keep up, particularly with nationwide retailers, like Costco, taking a leading role in selling them.

In a recent post on Medium, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared that the USDA has seen a significant increase in demand for local and organic foods. Perceived as healthier and often more sustainable, organics have become more accessible in recent years. Calling organics “one of the fasting growing segments of American agriculture,” Vilsack highlighted the way organics are changing retail. In just two years, value of the organic industry has increased by $4 billion, from $35 billion to $39 billion. Since 2002, the number of organic growers in the US has risen by 300 percent, while the percentage of organic food in relation to total food sales has risen from 1 percent in 1997 to 5 percent in 2014.

But the organics industry is heavily regulated, and often farmers have to meet demanding criteria with significant start-up costs to be certified. High demand for healthier foods has caused shortages for retail chains. Similarly, organic growers are under pressure to keep their industry afloat, even as demand continues to grow and massive retailers stake a more significant claim.

To see the changing nature of organics, look no further than the latest analysis on the largest retail stores. Whole Foods is no longer king; big-box store Costco has outranked it, with sales of organics exceeding $4 billion. To help keep up with the demand, the wholesale store is investing in producers as part of a new pilot program. The company provides funds to farmers for the purchase of land and equipment, and in exchange has priority in buying the produce that’s grown. But whether it will be enough to ensure supply meets demand is anybody’s guess.




Can Cuba Help America’s Growing Appetite for Organics?

With relations improving between the United States and Cuba, there is plenty for both countries to look forward to. But for the farming industry in the United States, one question is looming large: What can we learn from the organic market in Cuba?

The small island country might not be the first place you’d imagine organics dominating the produce market, but Cuba had to develop a sustainable growing method due to the decades long embargo that kept their country largely isolated from international trade. The country was not able to get chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and as a result transitioned to organic farming. An estimated 80% of Cuban produce is grown using organic methods.

With demand for organics growing at a steady clip in the United States, companies like Honest Tea and and Stonyfield Farm are sizing up Cuba’s supply potential. As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said recently, “Cubans have this incredible opportunity … There is no doubt that if they grow it, there would be a market.”

In fact, given the high demand for products grown organically in Cuba, including mangoes and bananas, trade could be very mutually beneficial. It’s estimated that between mangoes, bananas, and coffee, Cuba could tap into a $600 million import market for just those three products in the United States. It could also help the United States import from closer to home, rather than more distant South American countries or Europe.

But it’s not as simple as Cuban farmers signing on the dotted line with US companies. The intricate regulations in place due to the embargo, which is still in place and will have to be lifted by Congress, make importing Cuban produce a struggle. A research trip to Cuba this month will include representatives from top organic companies, as well as Maine’s Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, with hopes of “getting a foot in the door” according to Pingree.




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