Inside this Food Report

  • Crop News: Typhoons Damage Japanís Hokkaido Corn Crop

  • Food Safety: Changing The Culture Of Food Safety

  • Eat Healthy: Sweet Corn, Powering Your Meals All Year Long!

  • Facts + Figures: What Really Is The Shelf Life For Frozen Fruits and Vegetables?


VOLUME 7
ISSUE 9


September 1, 2016

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I hope all our U.S. friends enjoyed their labor day weekend and had some time for rest and relaxation!  I spent mine attending my 45th high school reunion in Rhode Island which was a blast!

Last week I traveled through America’s corn belt where the weather and the corn crop could not have been more perfect.   The quality of the corn was excellent and the season is moving along rapidly with the end in sight around September 15th.   (See more in our crop section below.)

Anyone who knows me well will know that I have an affinity for old barns and the peacefulness of the country side.   Maybe that is why I love the food business as it brings me to so many beautiful areas of the U.S.A.  On this particular visit last week, I went “barn crazy” – here are some of the beautiful barns I drove past each day.



Being in America’s heartland always reminds me of how beautiful our country is and how hard our farmers and processing factories work to bring the food we eat to our tables.   Its no easy task and I count myself lucky to play a very small role in it.

All The Best,
Betty and The Noon International Team


CropVeggies

United States:    Pea season completed in the Northwest.  Most processors ended up on budget, however there are a few who came in under budget, while some others experience a much higher percentage of lower grade product putting their customer requirements out of balance.  We are hearing the Midwest and Canada struggled with their pea packs and Europe as well.   With that said most suppliers are off market on peas and prices will remain firm.   

Sweet corn harvest is in full swing. The season has been very good in both the Northwest and Midwest.   An earlier start in both regions due to warm weather has resulted in an excellent harvest condition this year.   Yields are higher than average and quality is very satisfactory.  Northwest is expected to be winding down in another month or so and the Midwest should be completed within the next few weeks.  Some reports coming out of the Midwest mention some bunching ocuring at the tail end of the crop and some acreas may have to be bypassed , however overall budgets have been meet.

Blueberry harvest in the Northwest is completed. For the most part the harvest was a good one, however due to the heat there have been reports of some soft fruit.   U.S Blueberry inventory is reported high due to an over production of wild blueberries as well as some higher inventories of cultivated blueberries.   Prices have soften as a result.

The new season potato harvest in the Columbia Basin is underway.   Early variety, Shepody, is completed and Russet Burbanks are now being processed.   To date we have heard reports that yields and quality are good.   All processors seem to be gearing up to handle increased capacity.

Mexico:   Rainy season in Mexico is well underway and aquifers are being filled.  Currently broccoli and cauliflower yields will be a bit low until Mexico is out of it’s rainy season which should be in the next month.

Guatemala:   Peak production of broccoli has begun and to date conditions have been excellent for a top quality pack.

Thailand:   The summer pineapple crop in Thailand has suffered due to high temperatures and not much rainfall.    Supply is tight and prices up.   Shipments are delayed.

Peru:  Mango season in Peru is expected to be better than last year due to the cooler weather.   The flowering is going well and the harvest is epected to begin in November.   Aspargus season will begin this month.

Chile:   Asparagus season will begin at the end of the month with prices being announced within a few weeks.

Europe:  It is being reported that Europe has faced the worst crop season in about 40 years.   Caused by extreme weather conditions such as heavy rains and hail in May, June and parts of July all vegetable crops have been affected.    Regarding to green peas, yields are down by about 40%, especially in the areas of Northern France and Eastern Belgium.   Carrots have also suffered large losses.    Green bean planting was delayed by about 3 weeks due to flooded fields and volume losses to this crop will be substantial.    Expect prices to be up, especially on peas and green beans by about 10 – 15%.  
Although European potato acreage was increased this season, it is expected that yields and volumes will be down due to the weather conditions across Europe’s potato growing regions.  Currently field prices are higher than they were last year at this time. 


Severe Flooding On the
Northern Island of Hokkaido Japan
Japan:  Japan has suffered a string of typhoons over the past few weeks which is normal for this time of year.  However the intensity has been very severe, especially in the north of Japan in the Hokkaido area which is the corn growing area.   Flooding and deaths have occurred as well as damage to some of the processing factories there.   We have heard reports that 40 % of Hokkaido’s corn crop has been desimated.   Other crops which suffered and will be in very tight supply are potatos, carrots and kobocha. 

China:  

Shandong Province:   Edamame processing will end this month.  Due to rain the quality declined during the last month of production resulting in brown spots.   However the overall crop result was average this season.  Green asparagus is finished and with a drought in July and heavy rain in August many vegetables suffered a 20% to 30% drop in yields.

Zhejiang Province:   Edamame harvest is now complete.    Quality is good, however yields are down due to heavy rains. In addition we have just heard reports that due to recent high heat throughout August much of the crop declined in quality.   Supplies will be tight and prices have increased compared to last season.   White gourd and eggplant are currently being processed in Zhejiang province, however due to heat in August those crops have suffered as well.

Fujian ProvinceOkra production has begun and should last to the end of September.   The typhoon that ripped through this province in the early part of July destroyed many of the crops there, especially in the North.   Production of Lychee has started and due to rain yields will decline sharply.  Prices are up.

 

Changing The Culture Of Food Safety

With all the news recently concerning recalls and food-borne illnesses it makes sense that many consumers are worried that the food they are eating could be unsafe. After all, beloved brands such as General Mills, Betty Crocker and Bluebell Creamery have fallen victim to recalls in recent years.  And resturant chains as recently as Chipotle and as far back as the Jack In The Box scandal have put consumers at risk. But while the public is arguably more aware of foodborne pathogens than ever before, that’s not because the risk of getting sick has increased. It just means the systems used for catching pathogens is improving.

“I think that consumers are seeing these massive amounts of recalls all over the TV and people are starting to go, ‘Well..., the wheels of the bus have come off, ” prominent food attorney Bill Marler told Quartz in a recent interview. But what he’s seeing doesn’t back up the fear. “I may never quite be put out of business before I just decide to retire, but the volume of work that I have in my office is less than it was a decade ago.”

Although the prominence of recalls may set off alarm bells, it’s actually a good thing. It’s letting us know that the methods used to test for and identify foodborne toxins are catching threats, sometimes ahead of any reported infections. The truth is that there are fewer cases of food-related illness today than there were ten years ago, with the number of illnesses falling more than half from 27,156 in 1998 to 13,287 in 2014.

Nestle has been one of the most aggressive companies in setting up their own food safety labs and putting in place policies that encourage staff to report possible mishandling of food or possible problems. They also place high standards on their suppliers, trying to ensure that third parties don’t bypass their stringent system.   Many other companies are doing the same.

With the implementation of the Food Safety Modernazation Act along with better dectection of food pathogens the landscape of our food safety culture will forever be changed.


Sweet Corn, Powering Your Meals All Year Long!

What food is more synonymous with summer in the United States than freshly picked corn on the cob?    However even if summer is a distant memory we still can enjoy this delicious vegetable all year long by eating frozen and canned corn.  You usually do no hear about the health benefits of corn very often.  The extraordinary health benefits of vegetables are usually saved for such vegetables as broccoli and spinach.  Corn does not usually come to mind when thinking of a unique and “healthy” vegetable but recent research has proven that corn indeed has many healthy attributes and it is time to take note!

Corn provides a range of essential nutrients such as folate pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamin and vitamin C – each offering a distinctive health benefit such as improved physiological function, cell generation and metabolism of carbohydrates.    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies corn as a highly valuable crop as it packs a range of complex carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins.    Eating a cup of corn will give you 18.4 % of your daily fiber requirement.   Fiber will lower your risk of certain disease such as colon cancer, allow for healthy digestion, and level out your blood sugar.

So it is time to have a new appreciation for frozen and canned corn.    Remember corn is a wonder – food that is great to eat anytime.  Enjoy it with a meal , in a soup , or as a snack on the go!



What Really Is The Shelf Life For Frozen Fruits and Vegetables?

One of the most common questions we are asked by our international customers is at what temperature and for how long we can store our frozen fruits and vegetable products.  Any food continuously stored at a temperature at or below 0 °F (or 18 °C) is considered to be frozen and will remain safe indefinitely. According to the USDA the freezing process works by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. The process does not affect the nutrient quality, fruits and vegetables will retain the vitamin content, color, flavor and texture at the time of freezing. In 1998 the FDA confirmed that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh.  In many cases frozen fruits and vegetables will actually retain more nutrients then fellow fresh fruits and vegetables. This is due in part to studies that have shown that heat and light will destroy nutrients in foods while fruits and veggies that are flash frozen at the time of harvest remain unaffected.

Freezing will maintain the current state of the product at the point in which it was frozen. It is important to understand that once fruits and vegetables are frozen they will not become unfit to eat after any period of time; however the quality of the product will begin to decrease after a certain point. When commercially frozen and left in the original packaging vegetables will maintain their highest quality for 12 to 18 months, while fruits will maintain their highest quality for 8 to 12 months. 

It is important that the frozen fruits and vegetables do maintain a constant state of 0 °F and below as any fluxuation above that temperature can cause an increase in deteriorative reaction and may shorten the shelf life. Freezing is a form of food preservation and when properly done and stored will preserve the greatest quality of nutrients, appearance and taste in the product.

For more background on freezing and food safety refer to the report below distributed by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Freezing_and_Food_Safety.pdf


Thanks Sam for the traditional yearly barbecue of sweet corn....It was delicious!


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