Author Archive

California Walnut Loadings are Predicted Up 5% This Season

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California walnut volume is predicted to 790,000 tons, up 5% from 2022, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service .

The forecast is based on 385,000 bearing acres, down 4% from 2022’s estimated bearing acreage of 400,000, according to a news release.

“The California walnut industry has increased its focus on providing handlers and growers the most accurate crop information by accelerating the collection of various data points,” Robert Verloop, CEO and executive director for the California Walnut Commission and Board.

While official final shipment, inventory and closeout figures for the 2022 crop year will be released in couple of weeks, preliminary figures indicate last year’s crop is virtually sold out, the release said.

“Last year, we were facing a completely different scenario with 130,000 tons in inventory brought on by the lingering effects of the COVID-impacted global marketplace and a record heat wave last September that negatively impacted the entire crop, which led to lethargic sales and record-low grower returns,” Verloop said.

“With minimal carryover from the previous crop year and favorable weather throughout the growing season, we’re optimistic about the new crop year,” Tim Sabado, CEO of Prima Noce, based in Linden, CA., said in the release. “The upcoming crop promises a return to the exceptional quality that defines California walnuts globally.”

Harvest begins in September and may extend into November due to the early season cooler temperatures, Sabado said.

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Benefits of Produce Prescriptions are Highlighted in Study

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This is a post from the Alliance for Food and Farming on September 12, 2023:

Just in time for “National Fruits and Veggies Month,” a new study on the health benefits of produce prescriptions was published.

The peer reviewed study found that when doctors and health-care providers “prescribed” fruits and vegetables, patients ate more produce, lost weight and experienced significant reductions in blood pressure.

Researchers studied over 3,800 people from low-income neighborhoods who received food vouchers through nine programs in 12 states. The participants received vouchers or cards worth $15 to $300 per month to buy more fruits and vegetables from farmers markets and grocery stores.

At the end of the study, adults reported eating an average of 0.85 additional cups of fruits and vegetables per day or 30 percent more each day. Children in the study ate 0.26 cups more or about 7 percent more per day. According to the study authors, the effect of more fruits and vegetables on blood pressure in adults was about half that of commonly prescribed medications, which is notable for a change in diet.

This new study complements previous studies examining produce prescriptions.

One study from Tufts University found that “prescriptions” for fruits and veggies would prevent 1.93 million cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks) and 350,000 deaths, as well as cut healthcare costs by $40 billion.

With only one in 10 of Americans eating enough produce each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the health community continues to look for ways to increase consumption of these nutrient-dense foods.

Studies and analyses on produce prescription program results show promise in their ability to improve diets and consumer health.

The study results also underscore the importance of consumers having access to more affordable and available fruits and vegetables, especially during periods of rising costs and inflation.

Consumer choice is a key Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) message. The AFF encourages consumers to choose the fruits and vegetables they enjoy and are affordable and accessible for them but choose to eat more every day for better health and a longer life.

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Exports of Peruvian Grapes to Get Early Start in September

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The first table grapes of the 2023-2024 Peruvian season should start in September, when the campaign normally starts in October, according to Agraria. This will be an earlier started compared to a year ago.

Cyclone Yaku in March resulted a lot of rainfall. which generated the proliferation of fungi in the vine plants on the northern Peruvian coast, which would cause a lower production of fruit in that area of the country.

A different situation can be seen in the Ica region, where the heat caused the bud to improve and advances the vegetative development of the fruit, so earlier grapes and higher production are also expected.

As Ica is the main producing region of table grapes in Peru and a higher production is projected, it is expected that the production (and export) of table grapes by Peru in the 2023-2024 campaign will be higher than the previous campaign.

There will be fewer table grapes in the North.

From January to mid-July of this year, table grape exports from Peru grew in volume 16 percent (close to 45,000 more tons) compared to the same period in 2022.

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The CDC Confirmed Watercress the Healthiest Vegetable in the World

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Step aside, kale—there’s a new superfood on the scene. Agriculture and nutrition experts have recently identified the healthiest vegetable on Earth.

The CDC assigns nutrition density scores to produce based on their concentration of essential vitamins and minerals. Usual suspects like spinach, chard, and beet greens all have scores ranging in the 80s. But the only vegetable to earn a perfect score of 100 is watercress.

“What’s watercress?” you may ask. This leafy green is part of the Brassicaceae family and grows in bodies of fresh water, like streams and ponds. It’s closely related to cabbage, kale, radishes, and mustard. Its scientific name, Nasturtium officinale, translates from Latin as “nose twister.” And if you’ve ever taken a bite of the mature leaves, you know why.

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West Coast Kiwi Berry Loadings are Just Getting Started

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Homegrown Organic Farms and HBF International are set to launch a short but sweet season of U.S.-grown kiwi berries, with first shipments anticipated to go out this week, according to a news release.

The upcoming domestic kiwi berry season will include a new West Coast program in 2023, as part of the merger between the San Joaquin Valley, Calif.-based Homegrown Organic Farms and Oregon-based HBF International.

“Kiwi berries are one of the most exciting new fruits to come into the produce market in years,” Homegrown Organic Farms CEO Scott Mabs said in the release. “We are excited to share this unique berry that merges innovation, taste, and nutrition with our valued partners.”

One of the key attributes of kiwi berries is their hassle-free casing, earning with the tagline “no fuzz, no fuss.”About the size of a plump grape with edible skin, kiwi berries pack a punch of flavor and are ripest when the berry is soft to the touch, according to the release.

“The arrival of kiwi berry season is an event that stirs unparalleled excitement among fruit enthusiasts. Its distinctive taste and remarkable versatility make it a must-try for all,” Stephen Paul, HGO’s category director, said in the release.  

Beyond their juicy flavor, kiwi berries offer many health benefits. Packed with nutrients, they are rich in vitamin C, high in fiber, potassium, vitamin E and magnesium.

“The collaboration from our merger has allowed us to bring this exceptional fruit to a wider audience. We are ready to support continued growth in the category with varietal innovations and development as popularity and demand increase,” Doug Perkins, HBF business development manager for berries, said in the release.   

The berries are freshly packed into 4.4-ounce, 6-ounce and 16-ounce clamshell pack-style options that can be loaded from facilities in Sheridan, Ore., or Kingsburg, Calif., the release said.

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Wide World of Watermelons

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By Ben Batton, ALC Des Moines

After a scorching hot summer ravaged much of the country, let’s think about something cool, sweet, and juicy. Watermelon, that iconic summer fruit, holds a special place in our hearts as the ultimate thirst-quencher and sweet treat. In this edition of Keeping It Fresh, we’ll take you on a refreshing journey through the world of watermelons, exploring fascinating facts, their growth areas, consumption, and the logistics that bring these luscious, lycopene-laden fruits to our backyards and tables.

Watermelons have a long history dating back to ancient Egypt, where they were not only consumed, but used as containers for water storage. There are over 1,200 varieties of watermelon, ranging in size, shape, and color. The most common types include the classic red seedless and yellow-fleshed varieties. Watermelons are aptly named, as they are composed of over 90% water. This makes them an excellent hydrating snack, especially during the hot summer months. Plus, they are rich in vitamins A and C, and antioxidants!

ALC Des Moines office has worked with Capital City Fruit since 1969, managing hundreds of watermelon loads every year. Keith Brooks, Capital City’s watermelon buyer, has been in the melon business since 1991 and has built strong relationships with growers nationwide. He works to guarantee the availability of fruit for his customers and sources watermelon all year long, especially during the peak season of April through August. Keith is active with the National Watermelon Association (NWA) and has been on the board for eight years. Allen Lund Company has been a member of the NWA for nearly 15 years.

“Back in the day, we used to load bulk watermelons on the floor of the trailers on top of straw or shredded newspaper,” Keith remembers. “But today, watermelons are shipped in bins triple-stacked on reefers or dry vans with produce vents.” All the growers he buys from are good partners who follow food safety requirements and communicate well. “However, some of the characters out there are lower than a snake belly in a wagon wheel rut, so you have to pick your partners wisely,” reminds Keith.

All fresh produce is heavily affected by weather, but watermelons present an added challenge because they are not typically cooled before shipping. Most produce is harvested and transported to a cooling shed where it is brought down to temp before being shipped across the country. Many growers use converted school buses to haul melons from the field to the packing shed, where they are sized and placed in bins. This means there can be a lot of “field heat,” so it’s common for drivers who transport watermelon to open the front and rear vents when first loaded in order to circulate air through the trailer during the first couple hours.

As we savor the sweet, juicy taste of watermelon on hot summer days, it’s worth appreciating the global effort and logistics that go into bringing this delectable fruit to our tables. From the fields where they are grown to the logistics networks that transport them, watermelons truly represent the essence of summer. So, the next time you bite into a slice of watermelon, remember the journey it took to reach your plate. Cheers to the summertime staple that keeps us cool and refreshed!

*****

Ben Batten is General Manager, ALC Des Moines.
Ben graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Transportation and Logistics from Iowa State University and joined DMTB in January 2004. Over the next decade, he worked as a broker, account manager, and sales executive before being promoted to VP of Sales and Operations in 2015. In 2017, he became a partner in the business, and the Allen Lund Company acquired DMTB in February 2020, where he served as the assistant general manager of the ALC Des Moines office before being promoted to general manager in 2022.

ben.batten@allenlund.com

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Significant Plunge in Kiwifruit Exports is Expected from New Zealand

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New Zealand kiwifruit production could crash by 35 million-plus trays in 2023 due to weather factors and poor pollination.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers reports that despite an estimate of 160 million trays, there may well be under 140 million trays. In 2022 the country had 175 million trays.

Besides poor pollination, New Zealand had been hit with wind, flooding, hail, and cyclones.

In 2020, global production of kiwi was 4 million tons, led by China with slightly more than half of the world total. New Zealand, Italy, Greece, Iran and Chile were other significant producers.

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2023-24 Apple Production Will Exceed 10.5 Billion Pounds

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Chicago — Consumers will have a plentiful supply of apples in 2023, as the U.S. apple industry continues to perform well, according to a new report released by the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) today at the organization’s 128th annual Outlook Conference in Chicago.

USApple’s “Industry Outlook 2023” provides the most up-to-date data and analysis on U.S. and global apple production, utilization and trade. Authored by USApple Director of Industry Analytics Chris Gerlach, the report takes an in-depth look at the trends and forces – from political headwinds to weather events – that shape the U.S. apple industry.

Overall Production

According to USApple’s analysis of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, total U.S. apple production for the 2023/24 crop year will be 250 million bushels. This represents a 1.5% increase compared to last year’s production figure.

These figures are more comprehensive than USDA data, which only look at the top seven apple-producing states. USApple analyzes the production from states outside of the top seven and adds that back into USDA’s figure.

“With considerable increases and decreases from top apple producing states, we’re pleased to net out with national apple production that will not only meet last year’s figure but exceed it slightly – there will certainly be plenty of high-quality U.S. apples available to consumers,” said Gerlach.

Varieties 

At the varietal level, Gala is expected to retain the top spot with more than 45 million bushels (m bu) produced, accounting for around 18% of the U.S. apple market. Included in the top five this year are Other Varieties. After Gala, rounding out the top five are Red Delicious (31 m bu), Honeycrisp (28 m bu), Other Varieties (25 m bu) and Fuji (25 m bu). Granny Smith just missed number five with 24.6 m bu.

Seeing “Other Varieties” climb and make their way into the top five produced varieties is an illustration of consumers’ growing appetite for all different types of apples.

“We learned today during an Outlook 2023 presentation that 48% of consumers say they generally buy the same variety of apple every time they shop,” said Gerlach. “That means 52% of shoppers might be willing to make an apple purchase based on different attributes, like flavor, appearance, and store promos. With an almost 50/50 split, there are opportunities for growers to harness consumers’ love of a familiar favorite or to sell them something new.”

Though Red Delicious remains the second most-produced apple, its production has declined steeply over five years. Red Delicious decreased by 42% or 23 million bushels compared to 2018/19 production volumes. Conversely, Honeycrisp production has increased by 46% or almost 9 million bushels during the same period. 

Trade

Fresh apple exports totaled 36.2 million bushels in 2022 – a 7% decline over 2021 levels. At the same time, fresh apple imports also decreased by nearly 13% to 5.3 million bushels.

While the U.S. still maintains a healthy net positive balance of trade, there is much work needed to get back to the high-water mark set in 2018. In that year, total exports were 48.5 million bushels and the trade balance was 41.6 million bushels.

“With the recent news that India has lifted its 20% retaliatory tariff on U.S. apples, we’re hoping to see that export number start to increase as we build back that critical market,” said Gerlach.

State Production

At the state level, Washington will remain the nation’s top producer with an estimated crop of 160 million bushels valued at more than $2 billion. This production level represents a 9% increase from the 2022/23 crop year. Following their largest ever recorded crop last year, Michigan is projected to decrease production by more than 15% to 27.4 million bushels. It is expected, however, that they will hold on to the number two spot ahead of New York as that state was hit with a late-spring frost causing production to fall by almost 19% to 26.2 million bushels.

Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, and Oregon round out the top producing apple states respectively.

The U.S. Apple Association (USApple) is a member-driven association that represents all segments of the apple industry, including growers, packers, shippers, marketers, processors, suppliers, state/regional associations, and other businesses engaged in the industry. We are the national voice and resource center serving the American apple industry which supports 150,000 jobs, generating more than $8 billion in total wages, and is responsible for almost $23 billion in economic output.

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Peruvian Blueberry Exports Fall 25% Thus Far This Seasons

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Peruvian blueberry exports for 2023-24 have been disappointing thus far this season.

Peru has exported 10,000 tons of blueberries through July, which represents a 25 percent decrease compared to the same period in the previous campaign, according to infoMercado, using figures from Proarandanos.

Proarandanos reported this drop was due to a lower production of blueberries because of the El Niño phenomenon, which causes high temperatures.

It had been projected that during the 2023-2024 campaign, which began in May and ends in April 2024, the amount of exports would show a drop, especially in its key period.


Proarandanos noted in early August it projected volume could fall in this season between 10 percent and 15 percent. But this figure needs to be updated.

In addition, one of the most affected varieties is Ventura, which is planted on 14, 826 acres. This represents about 35 percent of blueberry exports in Peru. The Ventura and the Biloxi variety have 60 percent of the planted area in the country.

Ventura is the most planted variety in Peru. So by coming late in its production, an impact on the export volume is evident.

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Thank You! National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

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Sunday, September 10th through Saturday, September 16th is designated as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week for 2023.

This is a time when America honors all the professional men and women truck drivers who are so vital to our way of life. They are the link in the supply chain that delivers the everyday needs of food items, manufactured goods, and just about every item in your home, office, or factory. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small town in central Kansas or New York City they have you covered.

America has the most sophisticated supply network in the world, but it would grind to a halt without the truck driver. This week was created to remind all Americans these hard-working men and women deserve our respect and appreciation for all 52 weeks of the year. This year, let’s make the extra effort to extend driver courtesy when you see these big rigs making their way across the highways!

We see truck drivers everywhere we go. Who are these road warriors that move over 10 billion tons of freight or about 70% of all the freight in the US?
Here are some interesting facts about truck drivers.

**94% are men, 6% are women, the average age is 49.

**On average, they drive over 100,000 miles per year.

**Celebrity truck drivers include Sean Connery, Elvis Presley, Rock Hudson, and Chevy Chase.

**Truck drivers are the heroes who deliver the goods during pandemics, fires, floods, and national disasters that put themselves in harm’s way because that is what they are made of.

Whenever you get an opportunity, take a moment to thank that hard-working professional driver for delivering the goods that help keep America the greatest nation in the world.
Thank you, Drivers
Bill Bess, Director, Carrier Development
Allen Lund Company

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