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New Forecast Lowers Volume for Chilean Cherry, Blueberry and Grape Imports

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01152018Volume with imports of Chilean fruit are becoming a little more in focus as forecast evaluations from a big hail storm last November are being summarized.

Export volume of Chilean cherries for the 2018-19 season are projected to be 10.5 percent lower than last season and off 7.1 percent from the initial estimate this year.  Cherry exports are estimated at 33.44 million boxes, down from 37.38 million boxes a year ago.  Peak export shipments of Chile cherries are expected the last week of December and the first week of January, with the season wrapping up by late February.

Most Chilean cherries are exported to China, but the U.S. also receives volume.

Through November 24th, the USDA reported  season-to-date-shipments of Chilean cherries to the U.S. totaled 200,000 pounds, down from 2 million pounds for the same period last year.

Fewer Blueberries

Chilean blueberries apparently had less damage with the hard-hit O’Higgins region representing about 7 percent of the total planted area.  However, hail also was reported in some growing areaser area of blueberries in the Maule Region.  From the metropolitan region of Santiago to the south, over 4,900 acres of blueberries could have some damage from hail storms.

Chilean blueberry exports for 2018-19 are now projected at 100,800 metric tons, 4 percent lower than the 105,000 metric tons initially forecast.  Reduction in volume will be felt in early and mid-season exports.

Through mid-November, about 1,905 metric tons had been exported from Chile, mostly bound for North America.  Peak blueberry shipments are expected from December through February, with shipments continuing into March.

Through November 24th, the USDA reported season-to-date imports of Chilean blueberries totaled 2.4 million pounds, down from 3.7 million pounds the same time last year.

Chilean Grapes

The first Chilean grape imports on the East Coast are expected a few days prior to Christmas.  While some Chilean grape advocates have said North America grape buyers are not interested in older varieties like California’s  flames and red globes, the California grape trade is saying it will be shipping domestic grapes through most of January.

North America is Chile’s biggest grape market, taking 45 percent (39 million boxes) of Chilean grape export volume during the 2017-18 season.

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Shipping Across Borders: International Payments

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A29When shipping any produce across borders whether from the USA to Mexico or Canada or the other way around, it is always good to consider the topic of international payments. While this may appear as a miniscule and rather technical area, it is in fact can get very expensive when paying or being paid through foreign currency.

Why can cross-border payments take a bite into a business’ bottom line? The reason for that is the exchange rate you’re getting for your foreign currency. Let’s take the Canadian Dollar to USA rate as an example. For December 13, 2018, the interbank official exchange rate stands at 0.748. If you are due for a payment of US $10,000, it means you should be charging $13,361.85 Canadian. In practice, U.S banks will never exchange foreign currency for the official exchange rate – they offer a much lesser rate than that. So, if your bank currently offers a rate of 0.723 (which is within range for what most U.S banks offer) you would trade that 13,361.85 Canadian to $9,660 US – netting a loss of $340 US against your original goal of $10,000 just because you were willing to accept foreign currency payments.

There’s a better way to deal with inbound and outbound international money transfers, though. The fact some banks may be overly expensive or demonstrate abusive behavior should not deter you from international business. Of course, it is preferable that whomever you engage in business will pay you in US Dollars but in some cases that may just not be possible. There are third party providers who are able to transfer and receive money from abroad in foreign currency and exchange it to dollar for much better rates.

These companies are named money transfer companies or FX providers. There aren’t particularly known or popular in North America, but as many as 50% of the internationally trading small businesses in the UK and Australia use them. In spite of the fact that these companies have limited success to date in the North American markets in comparison with the rest of the world, they maintain a strong presence. Take OFX for example, one of the top rated for online transfers – they have offices in San Francisco with a large staff, while their headquarters are in Sydney, Australia. The firm employees more than 700 employees worldwide and is traded in the Australian stock exchange so you know that not only you are going to get better rates, your money is safe too.



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Big Boost in Produce Departments is Seen Coming to Aldi

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A14Bringing fresh produce center stage is a goal of discount retailer Aldi, which is in the midst of its $5 billion US expansion program.

The expansion includes building new stores and remodeling existing ones.

The new focus on produce includes a 40 percent expansion in the amount of product lines carried, with the produce department located at the front of the store.  Most supermarket chains are investing more in produce departments, which are considered key components in stores.

In a move a couple of decades ago, there was a trend to make produce front and center and the first department shoppers see when entering a supermarket.  With produce as an anchor in stores, many chains then look to improve their other in-store departments.

Aldi’s motion to move produce to the front and center suggests the retailer wants to be known as well-stocked store with everything the shopper needs. Additionally, once the fresh produce department is a strong anchor, stores have a tendency to follow through with other departments.

It appears that Aldi  with fresh produce, will follow trends of having clean, conventional and organic products that are conveniently packaged.  Aldi will likely add even more organic and clean options, in an effort to attract younger shoppers from 18 to 40 years old, who are after more affordable organic options.  Whether Aldi will stock more value-added products remains to be seen.

Aldi already offers attractions for Gen X and Millennial shoppers and many of their center-store products have specialty claims, be it free of artificial colors or antibiotic-free meat.

Greater emphasis on fresh often come from higher income households.  Will an expanded produce selection beyond basics higher-income shoppers at Aldi? One study shows that 93 percent of Aldi shoppers said pricing/value drove them to the format and 77 percent purchased fresh produce.  One-third of shoppers expect to shift much more of their shopping to Aldi.

On price, Aldi will remain a discount retailer, so if the

If other supermarkets want to compete with Aldi, which will remain a discount retailer, those competitors will have to lower their price or invest in other areas of the store to maintain a ‘premium’ on Aldi as well as other discounters by offering a higher level shopping experience.

Studies have shown that 60 percent to 70 percent of markets experienced price declines  of 1 to 3 percent when an ALDI opened.  Some retailers will also increase service levels, emphasize quality, organic offerings, local items and more choices in general to increase their own competitive advantage.

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Florida Shipping Update: Tomatoes are Increasing; Citrus Shipments are Lowered in Forecast

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A14While excessive heat and untimely rains during the growing season, After a lighter-than-normal start in late October, Florida’s tomato shipments started accelerating in mid-November.

Florida tomato shipments are now shifting from Central to Southern Florida and will continue into the winter.  Peak volume from Sinaloa, Mexico and South Florida is coming as volume ramps up volume in December.

Last year,  there was 25.9 million 25-pound equivalent containers of round tomatoes shipped.

This represents a 21 percent decrease compared to the previous season and the smallest crop on record since 1976-77, when a freeze knocked out Florida’s winter crop.

The significant volume reduction in 2017-18 was mainly due to the result to the fall crop caused by Hurricane Irma.

Citrus Shipments

Florida orange shipments have been downgraded to 77 million boxes, off 3 percent from October in a new estimate.

The USDA adjusted estimate also includes other citrus.  Early, midseason and navel varieties are forecast at 32 million boxes, down 6 percent from last month, according the USDA crop report released November 8th. Valencias are forecast at 45 million boxes, unchanged from last month’s estimate.

The grapefruit crop forecast decreased by 300,000 to 6.4 million.

While some of the projections have been lowered, the numbers still represent a very significant improvement on the 2017-18 season, when the crop was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September.

Other Oranges

California is estimated to ship 49 million boxes of oranges, up from 45.4 million last year. The state is expected to have 40 million boxes of early, midseason and navel varieties, up from 35.9 million last year.

Texas is forecast to ship 1.8 million boxes of early, midseason and navel varieties and 600,000 boxes of valencia oranges.


The USDA projected 3.9 million boxes of grapefruit from California, down slightly from last season. Florida is expected to produce 6.4 million boxes, including 5.3 million of red grapefruit and 1.1 million of white grapefruit. Texas is forecast to have 6.2 million boxes of grapefruit this season, up from 4.8 million in 2017-18.

Other Citrus

California is expected to increase mandarin and tangerine production from 19.2 million boxes to 23 million boxes, and Florida’s volume is forecast to grow from 750,000 boxes to 1.2 million boxes.

Arizona is projected to produce 1.4 million boxes of lemons, up from 1 million last year. California’s production is expected to dip slightly from 21.2 million to 20 million.

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Avocados From Peru Closes Out Record-Breaking 2018 Season

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A13by Peruvian Avocado Commission

Washington, DC. – This season, Peru reached record-breaking sales numbers by exporting over 726 million pounds of avocados worldwide, of which 182 million pounds were shipped to the United States.  Peru is the second largest exporter of avocados in the world, the second largest supplier to the U.S., and the largest supplier to Europe. Avocados from Peru (AFP) supported this significant distribution through various strategic and unique retail, trade and consumer marketing activations that proved to be essential components to this season’s success.

“This was a season of firsts for us,” said Xavier Equihua, President & CEO of the Peruvian Avocado Commission. “We conducted over 10,000 demos nationwide in Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club in 60 days, launched the first partnership between two superfoods (Peruvian Avocados and California Walnuts), aired the first ever avocado TV spots during the World Cup and Major League Baseball All-Star Games, launched the first “Peru at the Zoo” activation at the Maryland Zoo and introduced Cuzco, Avocados from Peru’s new mascot.”

This season’s robust marketing campaigns spanned across all channels including social, digital, radio, broadcast, mobile, print, retail initiatives and consumer activations –all pointing to the quality, taste, nutritional benefits, and versatility of Peruvian avocados.

Avocados from Peru Completes 10,000 Demos in 60 Days & Participates in Walmart’s Wellness Week

Avocados from Peru completed 10,000 demos in 60 days at Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club’s nationwide –a record-breaking number for the category. AFP also participated in this year’s Walmart Wellness Week, the largest health event in the world. Peruvian avocados are the only produce items to ever be included in this prestigious event and contributed demos at 997 locations throughout the week and served a consumer favorite recipe –Avocado, Walnut and Peach Salad.

Avocados from Peru and California Walnuts

This season, consumers had the opportunity to taste and see the versatility of both Peruvian Avocados and California Walnuts in a first ever superfood demo collaboration at Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart. The activations were supported by both demo partners through social, digital, PR, geo-targeting and website landing pages.

First Ever Avocado Sponsorship at World Cup and MLB All Star Games

This year AFP became the first in its category to sponsor two of the world’s most prominent athletic events –The World Cup and the MLB All Star Games. AFP ran TV spots celebrating World Avocado Month during the games as well as on morning and evening news programs. This initiative was also supported through digital and social promotions in partnership with Fox 5.

First Ever Produce Item to Partner with CBS and New York Yankees Baseball

AFP partnered with CBS to bring the ‘Avo-Dog’ promotion to one of the nation’s most iconic baseball parks over Labor Day weekend, offering baseball fans a free topping of Peruvian avocado with the purchase of any food item during the New York Yankees vs. Oakland Athletics games at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York.


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Florida Strawberry Shipments are Increasing; California Grapes May Last into January

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A18Initial Florida strawberry shipments got underway with the arrival of December and a good, quality crop is being reported.

Well-Pict Inc. of Watsonville, CA, also grows strawberries in Wimauma, south of Tampa, and will continue to ship strawberries from there until mid- to late March.

The Florida Strawberry Growers Association Inc. in Dover, FL predicts the state will have about 10,000 acres of strawberries this season.

Astin Strawberry Exchange of Plant City, FL has increased its organic berries this season, and similar to conventional berries, should have good volume the first half of December, peak shipments taking place from late January until mid-March.  Heaviest volume for the company occurs during February. Astin’s organic production is up 40 percent, while conventional volume has increased by 10 percent.  The company expects to ship 6 million flats this season.

Grape Shipments

California grape shipments and how long they will last has importers in a quandry.

Vanguard International USA, Inc. of  Issaquah, WA reports if the quality of California table grapes hold up, the harvest could last until the end of the year, with shipments lasting into January.  At the same time Vanguard points out Peru’s global grape shipments were up 40 percent year-on-year to 3.4 million boxes as of October 31st.  But U.S. buyers will stick with California grapes as long as the quality is there.

Meanwhile, the California industry set a new 5-year record shipping 23 million boxes worldwide between September 8th and October 12th.

Pandol Bros. Inc. of Delano, CA believes the total California crop might even be 10 million more boxes than 2017. Pandol noted in 2017, late season grape shipments were disappointing because there were so many cold storages full of aging grapes.  There are some concerns this year over a repeat of last season.

Pandol reports most retailers are planning to transition to Peruvian grapes later this season, which would be in January, instead of the second half of December.  The company also observed retailers know the ports can be problematic around the Christmas and New Year holidays and the logistics of trucking from California are more reliable.

Chile’s table grapes have been hit by a recent hail storm, but the extent of damage is yet to be assessed.  It is expected that the bad weather has slashed the walnut crop in half, while the cherry crop could have up to $100 million in losses.


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U.S. Potato Shipments are Looking Good Well into 2019

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A21aPotato shipments should be strong during the holidays and well into 2019, despite bad weather in some growing regions and an overall reduction in production.

Potatoes USA of Denver is the marketing organization for the 2,500 commercial potato growers operating in the United States.   It reports overall shipments may be slightly below last year, which was the period July 2017 to July 2018.

It believes shipments to foodservice and retail chains will continue to grow this year.

Potandon Produce of Idaho Falls, Idaho reports excessive rain hit many potato growers, particularly in Wisconsin, and Michigan, while there has been an early snow season in North Dakota.  Meanwhile, Colorado, Texas, Idaho and Washington were experiencing good-sized crops.

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association of Antigo reports the state’s potato shipments may be down 10 to 15 percent, which would mean a total production of just over 2.3 billion pounds — down from about 2.6 billion last year.

In Grand Forks, N.D., Black Gold Farms reduced its acreage slightly this year because the company had too many potatoes last year.

Black Gold Farms grows and ships norland and dark norland potatoes for the early season, red potatoes for mid-season and the sangre variety for late season.

The company is now shipping a few more yellow potatoes.

Mountain King Potato of Monte Vista, CO.,  is reporting excellent quality and average yields.

Mack Farms of Lake Wales, FL has planted mostly red potatoes and some gold and white varieties.  It will begin harvesting in early February, and is the first Florida operation to ship new potatoes to market. The company does not ship potatoes out of storage.

Most South Florida potato growers are expected to have about the same acreage as last year.

Russet potatoes continue to be the variety most widely shipped, but they continue to decline each year with the increasing popularity of red and gold potatoes.

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Two New Television Commercials Feature the Big Idaho Potato Truck

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A12by The Idaho Potato Commission

Eagle, Idaho  – The Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) kicked off another year of marketing activations by launching one of its two new television commercials during ESPN’s live broadcast of the Boise State University (BSU) versus Oklahoma State University (OSU) football game on Saturday, September 15th. The IPC is a longtime sponsor of BSU and has made it a tradition to debut its new commercial during a nationally televised game.

This year marks the first time the IPC has created two commercials in one year for the Big Idaho® Potato Truck series. The spots feature Farmer Mark, the Big Idaho® Potato Truck along with two other fan favorites…the “Spud Hound” and the 1955 Studebaker. The commercials will air concurrently beginning October 22nd through the beginning of April 2019 on national networks including CNN, Fox News, CNN Headline News and the Food Network. Like last year, they will stream on HULU – reaching folks who prefer to watch TV shows and movies online. The commercials will also air for the first time ever on Access Hollywood, Live with Kelly, The Price is Right and CBS All Access.

“Every year we evaluate the effectiveness of our “Missing” advertising campaign, and it’s evident that the popularity of the commercials and the Big Idaho® Potato Truck is still growing exponentially,” said Frank Muir, President and CEO, IPC. “This is an especially unique year for us. We’re launching two new commercials and airing them on programs we’ve never advertised on before allowing us to reach millions of new consumers.”

While both commercials continue to center on the farmer’s ongoing search for the Big Idaho® Potato Truck, they have very different storylines. “First Bite” insightfully recognizes that whenever a meal is served with Idaho® potatoes, the first bite is always the potato. In “Secret Weapon” the farmer uses a Wile E. Coyote-like tactic to try to catch the Big Idaho® Potato Truck.

About The Idaho Potato Commission 

Established in 1937, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) is a state agency responsible for promoting and protecting the famous “Grown in Idaho” seal, a federally registered certification mark that assures consumers they are purchasing genuine, top-quality Idaho® potatoes. Idaho’s growing season of warm days and cool nights, ample mountain-fed irrigation and rich volcanic soil, give Idaho® potatoes their unique texture, taste and dependable performance, that differentiates Idaho® potatoes from potatoes grown in other states.

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Devastating Hail Storm Hits Key Chilean Fruit Production Region

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01152018A devastating  storm described as the worst in 15 years has hit a number of growing areas in Chile.  The severe hailstorm is expected to affect at least $200 million in crops.

The Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta) reports Chilean fruit production has been hit across Chile’s central and southern regions, with cherries among the most affected.  The large sized hail lasted an amazing 20 to 30 minutes.  The worst affected areas in the central O’Higgins region represents 26.5 percent of the Chile’s fruit production. Crops hit hardest include cherries, table and wine grapes, kiwifruit, nectarines, almonds, walnuts, among many others.

The area accounts for 40 percent of the region’s fruit-producing land, or 74, 100 acres, and almost 10 percent of the national total.  Cherries and table grapes have received the most damage, followed by stone fruit.

Further south in the country, in the Maule Norte and Ñuble region, which has about 24,700 acres of blueberries, there appears to be significant damage not only from hail, but from heavy rainfall.

Prior to the adverse weather Oppenheimer Group of Vancouver, Canada was expecting normal imports with Chilean peaches, plums and nectarines.

While shipments were going to be limited in December, volume was to ramp up in January and continue in volume into March.

 Jac Vandenberg Inc. of Yonkers, NY was giving a similar report.

In calendar year 2017, the USDA reported Chile shipped 66.2 million pounds of peaches, 96.5 million pounds of plums and 97.7 million pounds of nectarines to the U.S.

Those numbers were off compared with calendar year 2016, when Chile sent 80.9 million pounds of peaches, 124.3 million pounds of plums and 119.1 million pounds of nectarines to the U.S.

Acreage of stone fruit has declined in Chile in recent years, with peach and nectarine acreage falling from about 47,400 acres in 2013 to 41,600 acres in 2016.

Peach and nectarine production in Chile declined from 369,000 metric tons in 2014 to 337,000 metric tons in 2016, according to the United National Food and Agriculture Organization.

Plum acreage has dropped from 46,000 acres in 2013, to about 43,000 acres in 2016, according to the FAO. Plum production dipped from 312,000 metric tons in 2013 to 295,000 metric tons in 2016.

Apple outlook

No reports have been issued on how Chile’s apple and pear shipments to the U.S. may be affected, perhaps because its season is later, mainly arriving in the U.S. from March through July.

Prior to the weather event, The USDA projected that Chile will export about 720,000 metric tons of apples in 2018-19 season, down 4 percent from 750,000 metric tons exported in 2017-18.

The U.S. is the top market for Chilean apples.

Chile’s total apple planted area decreased from 92,775 acres in 2013 to about 85,000 acres in 2017.  The decline is because apple exports have not been as profitable as other crops such as cherries, walnuts and hazelnuts.

Chilean pear production in 2018-19 totaled 250,000 metric tons after a 3.8 percent decrease in planted area. Chile’s pear exports in 2018-19 were projected to decrease to 127,000 metric tons, a 2.3 percent decrease due to lower than expected production.


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Organic Grower Summit announces CannaBus Tour

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 A29It may not be a Magic Bus tour, but how about a CannaBus Tour!

Would you believe a produce industry convention is offering a tour of marijuana growing operations as one its programs.

At the Organic Grower Summit 2018 in Monterey, CA the organization has announced the 2018 CannaBusTour, created in collaboration with the Monterey County Cannabis Industry Association.  It will take place on Wednesday, December 12th.

The 2018 OGSCannaBusTour is an opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the Monterey County cannabis industry. This limited tour includes visits to a state-of-the-art, indoor cannabis growing operation and Indus, a vertically integrated cannabis extraction and manufacturing facility. With the growing, production and consumption of cannabis now legal in California, Monterey County is poised to be a leader in the growing and manufacturing of cannabis and cannabis related products. And as California moves to regulated organic growing of cannabis by 2021, OGS wants to be at the forefront of providing attendees with information and education overview of this burgeoning industry.

The 2018 OGSCannaBusTour is described as an opportunity to connect organic growers and allied service providers with all aspects of the cannabis industry. This is a unique opportunity to give OGS attendees a platform to learn about the future of the cannabis industry, according to the Monterey County Cannabis Industry Association.

The 2018 CannaBusTour is $99 per ticket and attendees must be registered for the Organic Grower Summit.  Registration is available on a first-come, first serve opportunity for OGS attendees and there are no refunds.  OGS will be held Dec. 12-13 at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, CA . Attendee registration is $499, with discounts available for CCOF members and government and educational members. Attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase a ticket to the CCOF Foundation Dinner on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Registration to OGS includes admittance to the opening reception, educational sessions, keynote presentations, breakfast, lunch and trade show floor. Over 40 sponsors have confirmed their support of OGS.

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