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Research Indicates Financial Strength Closely Tied to Produce Purchases

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Consumers’ financial strength is closely related to how well U.S. retailers’ fresh produce departments perform, according to an IRI representative.

Jonna Parker, the company’s Team Lead for Fresh, said that IRI primary shopper research found that if Americas were to receive a second stimulus check from the U.S. government, they would be more likely to spend it on meat and produce than other food and beverages.

“In all, 21% of consumers said they would buy more meat, 20% more produce and 7% would purchase restaurant meals more often,” she said in a joint report by 210 Analytics, IRI and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “This shows the fresh produce department performance is closely tied to financial strength.”

Consumers were also asked how the loss of a weekly unemployment benefit of $600 might affect shopping behavior.

“The top answer among current beneficiaries of the benefit was ‘buy less meat’ at 35%, followed by ‘buy fewer fresh fruits and vegetables’ at 29%, ‘buy fewer premium products’ at 24%, ‘switch more purchases to store brands versus national brands’ at 19%, and ‘buy fewer convenient meals to instead cook from scratch’ at 18%,” Parker said.

The joint report noted that fresh produce sales at U.S. retail in the week ended August 9 were up 9.5% year-on-year – putting it below the 12-13% weekly growth seen during July. Year-to-date through August, fresh produce department sales are up 11.1% over the same time period in 2019.

Frozen fruit and vegetables increased the most, up 27.4%. Joe Watson, VP of Membership and Engagement for the PMA, said that economic pressure “tends to have big impacts on grocery shopping”, including channel choice, the type of items and quantity bought, and the importance of price and promotions.

“During the next few weeks and months, it will be important to highlight the great value of fresh produce and home cooking,” he said. “At the same time, consumers appreciate help with recipe ideas and meal planning as that is an increasing area of struggle. We will also keep an eye on back-to-school that will look very different this year, which will once more impact year-over-year trending.”

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Carrier Introduces New Thin-Profile Vector HE 19 Unit for Intermodal

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Athens, GA.– Carrier Transicold’s sleek new high-efficiency Vector HE 19 unit delivers the greatest cooling and freezing capacities of any domestic intermodal container refrigeration system in its thin-profile class. Carrier Transicold is a part of Carrier Global Corporation (NYSE: CARR), a leading global provider of innovative heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, fire, security and building automation technologies.

“The Vector HE 19 unit is trim and high performing, delivering more BTUs of cooling per hour per RPM than any model in the thin-profile class – as much as 36% more efficient than its competition,” said Bill Maddox, senior manager, Product Management, Carrier Transicold. “With its modern new design, the Vector HE 19 unit delivers 16% greater deep-frozen capacity and 20% more refrigeration capacity than its class competitor.”

The Vector HE 19 unit is Carrier Transicold’s first North American transport refrigeration system to use the next-generation refrigerant R-452A exclusively. Developed for lower environmental impact, R-452A has a global warming potential about half that of the refrigerant traditionally used in transport applications.

About 40% thinner than a traditional intermodal refrigeration unit, the Vector HE 19 unit is especially well suited for 53-foot domestic intermodal containers because it optimizes space utilization within, improving shipping efficiency over rail and highway. Up to 7% more cargo can be carried – 15 pallet rows, rather than 14.

As with other models in the Vector platform, the new unit features patented E-Drive™ technology developed by Carrier Transicold. With E-Drive technology, a high-output generator is direct-coupled to a diesel engine to power a uniquely all-electric refrigeration system. Intelligent controls automatically activate individual components, such as the compressor and fans, running only what it needs, precisely when needed, so components run less and last longer than traditional counterparts.

The simplified refrigeration architecture eliminates many routine-maintenance parts used in conventional transport refrigeration units, such as vibrasorbers, clutches, shaft seals, alternators, drive belts and pulleys.

The Vector HE 19 unit has integrated electric standby, enabling the unit to be plugged into a power source when parked, eliminating emissions and noise from the refrigeration unit engine, conserving fuel and reducing operating costs. E-Drive technology delivers the unit’s full rated refrigeration capacity when on standby, unlike add-on standby systems that add weight and complexity without delivering full capacity.

The Vector HE 19 unit can be coupled with Carrier Transicold’s eSolutions™ telematics system for remote monitoring of system operation and container temperatures, and for enhanced capabilities, such as remote software updates, data downloads and system diagnostics.

For additional details on the thin-profile Vector HE 19 domestic intermodal refrigeration system, turn to the experts in Carrier Transicold’s North America dealer network.

About Carrier Transicold

Carrier Transicold helps improve transport and shipping of temperature-controlled cargoes with a complete line of equipment and services for refrigerated transport and cold chain visibility. For 50 years, Carrier Transicold has been an industry leader, providing customers around the world with advanced, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable container refrigeration systems and generator sets, direct-drive and diesel truck units, and trailer refrigeration systems. Carrier Transicold is a part of Carrier Global Corporation, a leading global provider of innovative HVAC, refrigeration, fire, security and building automation technologies.

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California Fall Fruit Shipments are Plentiful

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Good volume with California fruit shipments are occurring this fall, led by table grapes, which has a number of new, later varieties. It no longer is simply a “summer” fruit.

The California Fresh Fruit Association of Fresno represents 13 commodities that are in season. Table grapes are the Number one fall fruit, with 60 percnt or more of the crop being shipped after September 1st.

Table grapes kick off their season in the spring in California’s Coachella Valley, and the program moves to the San Joaquin Valley in July.

If the late season grape quality holds and depending upon volume and how early South American grapes start arriving in the U.S., West Coast grapes can be shipped into January, even though the harvest is over.

A number of other commodities still are being shipped as well. Stone Fruit generally winds down in September, but some growers have late-season peachesplums and nectarines that shipped into October. Late plums are the best bet this season.

California pears are shipped during the fall as well.

An estimated that 35 to 40 percent of the state’s fresh fruit is exported.
California exports fruit throughout the world, including, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and additional countries.

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Keeping It Fresh: Beyond COVID-19

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By Nora Trueblood

We have been inundated with information, some mostly correct, some not, specific to COVID-19. I don’t know about you, but I am quite exhausted by it all. Every one of us is on a different journey because of the pandemic, and I personally continue to recognize that a person’s opinion is just that…their opinion. I do think it is safe to say, that we are all trying to manage and figure out our own journey through life as we deal with COVID-19.
Keeping it Fresh is distributed to many of our perishable/produce customers, and I wanted to take the opportunity in this issue to bring to your attention some of the great philanthropy that is taking place during this crazy time. Many of these growers/shippers work with the Allen Lund Company in everyday business, but many also donate food to Navidad en el Barrio, a project that has existed since 1972, and one that ALC has supported since 2004.
So, a hearty thank you from the Allen Lund Company and the recipients of these generous donations to:

We still have quite a road ahead, and we wish all of our industry friends the best as we maneuver through our current challenges.


Nora Trueblood is Director of Marketing and Communications, Allen Lund Company Corporate of La Canada, CA. She began her career with ALC in 2002 as Director of Marketing & Communications. Prior to joining the company, Trueblood worked as the event manager with the Montrose Arts Council and Alpine Dance in Montrose, CO, had her own production and event planning company and spent 7 years with Lorimar Television.

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South Mill Champs Acquires Loveday Mushroom Farms

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South Mill Champs of Kennett Square, PA., has acquired Loveday Mushroom Farms of Winnipeg, Manitoba, allowing it to ship product
to all major population areas in North America within 48 hours.

The company also has launched a number of new products including stuffed mushroom caps — and large crimini mushrooms stuffed with flavored cheese. They come in spinach and artichoke, Mediterranean and pizza flavors.

Minute Mushrooms, part of the growing value-added line of products offered by South Mill Champs, come in three varieties — Sautéed Portabella Mushrooms, Garlic Herb marinated mushrooms and Steak Sizzlers portabella mushrooms and onions — and provide a 60-second solution to mushroom side dishes and add-ons at home.

The company reports despite challenges presented by COVID-19, South Mill Champs will have an additional 15 million pounds of mushrooms in 2021 to support continued growth.

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Florida Avocados are in Peak Loadings

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Southern Florida avocado growers are expected to harvest 900,000 bushels of avocados during the current season, which lasts from March to April of the following year. Peak loadings occur between August and November.

Brooks Tropical of Homestead, FL has the SlimCado, the trademarked name for its hydrocooled green-skin avocados.

Florida avocado shipments are expected to be similar to last season.

The Florida Avocado Administrative Committee of Homestead reports
Some consumers use hass avocados from California or Mexico for guacamole and Florida avocados in their salads.

The committee has states there is room for various versions of the fruit and you don’t just eat one kind of apple. Why eat just one kind of avocado?

Some consumers use hass avocados from California or Mexico for guacamole and Florida avocados in their salads. Florida avocados are larger than the hass variety, and they brown much more slowly, which means dishes can be prepared the night before they’re served.

During the off-peak season in Florida, they’re imported from the Dominican Republic. The East Coast and the South are the biggest U.S. markets for green-skin avocados.

J&C Tropicals in Miami has added a 50-acres to its grove for green-skin avocados. This brings the company’s avocado groves to 200 acres and is planning further expansion.


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U.S. Apple Loadings for New Season May Be down Slightly

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By U.S. Apple Association

USApple calculates the USDA’s August estimate of 253.6 million bushels (down 3 percent from the 2019 crop) would be the 9th largest crop since the government department began reporting apple production in the 1940s.

The 2019 apple crop was the 6th largest crop in history, said the U.S. Apple Association recently at the organization’s 125th Annual Crop and Outlook Marketing Conference. Apple exports also rebounded during the past year, with a 15 percent increase in volume.

At 262 million (42lb units) bushels, the 2019 apple crop was up 8 percent in volume from 2018.

The industry continued the trend to adapt to consumer preferences by increasing production of Honeycrisp, which is expected to rise by 12 percent, moving it ahead of Granny Smith and Fuji into third place in national production.

“With the 2018 crop, Red Delicious lost the position it had held for decades as the largest volume variety to Gala,” said USApple Director of Regulatory and Industry Affairs Mark Seetin. “Projections for the current crop are that Gala will continue to expand its edge over Red Delicious and will remain the largest volume variety produced.” 

The 2020 top five produced apple varieties are: 1) Gala 2) Red Delicious 3) Honeycrisp 4) Granny Smith and 5) Fuji.

The top 3 varieties (Gala, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp) comprise 48 percent of all production. The top five varieties (adding Granny Smith and Fuji) comprise 67 percent. 

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California Lettuce Crop Virus Outbreak Could Lead to Quality Claims

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Caution is urged loading Salinas Valley lettuce, which could cost you money due to rejected loads, claims or deductions from your freight rate.

Below is an update from Markon Cooperative Inc. of Salinas, CA regarding the explosion of plant virus and disease issues heavily impacting lettuce crops over the last couple of weeks in California’s Salinas Valley. 

  • Green leaf has been the least affected, but yields are down 20 to 50 percent in some iceberg and romaine lettuce crops
  • Sclerotinia is not uncommon in late summer/early fall crops, but the Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus is typically not as widespread as it is currently being reported
  • Harvesting crews are heavily trimming heads to detect and cull defects, but may not be able to eliminate these issues 100%
  • Production crews are harvesting fields at a faster pace due to the increase in culled product; upcoming fields will have less time to fully mature
  • Expect light weights, intermittent quality and shelf-life issues, and elevated markets for lettuce items for the duration of the Salinas season

Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $8700 to New York City.

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California Kiwi, Persimmon Shipments Expected to be Down

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Both California kiwi and persimmon shipments are expected to be down this season.

Trinity Fruit Sales of Fresno, CA handles sales for Venida Packing Co. of Exeter, CA. Venida reports the 2020-21 California kiwifruit crop should be about 9 million tray pack equivalents compared to 10.5 million last year.

Kiwifruit is a storage crop, similar to apples, with packing being completed by the end of November, with shipments continuing out of storage until May. The company has seen a tremendous increase in loadings to retailers, but a huge drop in foodservice as more consumers are staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for persimmons, fewer shipments are predicted this season.
Persimmons are an alternate-bearing crop, with a heavy-volume year usually followed by a lighter one.

There are two main kinds of California persimmons. The fuyu variety is squattier, and it is eaten when it’s hard, like an apple.

The hachiya variety is more the traditional cooking variety, or it can be eaten fresh once it’s soft.

Persimmons are shipped to major retail chains and club stores from October until mid-December.


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Naturipe Announces Major Plans for Columbian Avocado Production

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An expansion of of avocados in the global market has taken place at Naturipe with its first season distributing Colombia avocados in the U.S.

The company, a year-round grower-supplier of berries and avocados, says Colombia will contribute to the supply growth of avocados worldwide. Naturipe is also increasing the Colombian industry with “significant growing operations. In Colombia, we are executing a plan to have more than 2,500 acres of avocados farms in the next three years, mainly in the area of Caldas, Quindio and Antioquia to secure nearly year-round production of avocados from Colombia,” said Andres Carvallo, Board Chairman for Naturipe Avocado Farms.

“We have already planted 500 acres and have a global export business from Colombia of more than 6 million pounds. We expect our Colombian export business to grow to 45 million pounds annually in five years.”

Andrew Bruno, president of Naturipe Avocado Farms, says the company’s farms are located at various altitudes, ranging from 5,500 to 8,200 feet above sea level.

“This will give us a wider production window from October to March for our main harvest and from May to August for our secondary harvest,” he said.

“This allows us to provide our clients with quality, fresh fruit for 10 months of the year from Colombia.” Colombia gained access to the U.S. avocado market in August 2017. While volumes from the country in the U.S. market have been limited since then, it is expected to grow substantially as a supply origin over the coming years.

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