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Canadian Research on Blueberry Health Benefits is reviewed

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The health benefits of blueberries is backed by a substantial amount of evidence. A recent paper outlines what is known so far.

The paper, called Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanisns was published in Advances in Nutrition.

“This review of research findings will help consumers, healthcare providers and the food and health industry understand the current state of knowledge on blueberries and health,” Wilhelmina Kalt, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kentville Research and Development Centre, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada, the paper’s lead editor, said in a news release. “The paper also discusses gaps where more research is needed to better understand how blueberries affect health.” 

The authors review the scientific literature on blueberries’ potential health benefits, according to the news release, and also looks at the research on anthocyanins (163.3 mg/100 g of blueberries) – the polyphenol (plant compound), that give blueberries their vibrant blue color.

“It can be safely stated that daily moderate intake (50 mg anthocyanins, one-third cup of blueberries) can mitigate the risk of diseases and conditions of major socioeconomic importance in the Western world,” the paper said in its conclusion.

The review paper was funded by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, but the council had no role in the design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the paper, according to the release.

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Florida Fresh Produce Shipments Looking Favorable for 2020

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Florida fresh produce shipments will include over 300 different items and total in excess of 100,000 truckloads by June when summer heat tends to end any significant volume. Heaviest volume will come during April and May.

Last August there were 336 40,000-pound truckloads shipped, which was the highest in the past four years.

Between November and early June Florida typically ships the bulk of U.S. domestic fresh commodities. Most other U.S. states are dormant or have either just ended production or just started.

The USDA reports the top five produce items shipped from Florida in 2018 include tomatoes at 791.9 million pounds, sweet corn at 497 million pounds, strawberries at 229.6 million pounds, bell peppers at 206.5 million pounds and cabbage at 193.4 million pounds.

More than 791.9 million pounds of tomatoes were shipped out of Florida in 2018, increasing from 780.2 million in 2017.

Sweet corn shipments also grew from 479.3 million pounds in 2017 to 497 million pounds.


Orange shipments experienced growth, reaching 186.1 million pounds in 2018, an increase from 153.1 million pounds in 2017. Growth in orange shipments, however, did not exceed shipment numbers from 2015 or 2016. 

Here are 2018 fresh produce shipments, with percent comparisons to 2017:

  • Avocados: 25.2 million pounds, -29%;
  • Beans: 126.7 million pounds, -17%;
  • Blueberries: 19.7 million pounds, 3.1%;
  • Cabbage: 193.4 million pounds, -14%;
  • Celery: 62.9 million pounds, -16%;
  • Sweet corn: 497 million pounds, 3.6%;
  • Cucumbers: 99.9 million pounds, -15%;
  • Grapefruit: 65.3 million pounds, -23%;
  • Oranges: 186.1 million pounds: 22%;
  • Bell peppers: 206.5 million, -6%;
  • Strawberries: 229.6 million pounds, -9%; and
  • Tomatoes: 791.9 million pounds, 1%.

While Florida fresh organic shipments are increasing, it still is miniscule. Organic accounts for less than 1 percent of total Florida fresh produce volume. By 2022 some observers believe it may account for 1,000 truck loads a year.




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Organic Fresh Produce Demand is Expected to Increase in Canada, Report Says

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A new report from the USDA says organic fresh fruits and vegetables will find growing demand in the Canadian market.

In the 2019 retail sector review of Canada, published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the agency observes the Canadian retail market is characterized by a “dichotomy” of demand. A substantial sector of the market is looking for low-priced foods, while the other segment hungers for premium and specialty food items.

“The demand for organic, healthy, and natural products market in Canada is growing,” the report said. “There are excellent prospects for products with organic or natural ingredients, consumer-ready processed foods and beverages, and organic fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Breaking into the Canadian market may require success with independent retailers before business is won with a large chain, according to the report.

“U.S. companies selling natural, organic, or specialty foods will create demand and sales among the independents before tackling the larger accounts,” the report said. “Proven sales in Canada is important to help persuade category buyers of the majors to list an unknown product in their stores.”

Large players dominate 

The USDA said the population of Canada is about 37 million, and 90 percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

Canada’s retail market is mature and largely consolidated; five major stores (Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Costco, and Walmart) represent 62 percent of the market, according to the report. Nearly 7,000 independents and convenience stores that represent the remaining 38 percent of the market.

Taking $20.8 billion in U.S. agricultural exports in 2018, Canada was the number one export destination for U.S. farmers.

Canada’s food and alcoholic beverage retail sales in 2018 reached $96 billion, representing an increase of 3% from 2017.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia represent 74 percent of Canada’s retail market and are the provinces in which most of the convenience, drug, grocery and mass merchandise stores are located, according to the report.

Canada supermarkets rely on imported foods to fill their shelves, and the report said many U.S. produce brands are available throughout the year.

The report said Canada’s key market trends are:

  • Price-conscious consumers create strong demand for private label and promoted priced products;
  • Increasing demand for healthy, nutritious and ‘clean’ products is boosting demand for organic and fresh products;
  • Some retailers have expanded their private label lines to include a line focused on the higher-end of the market and another focusing on value, according to the report; and 
  • Expanding ethnic diversity is supporting the expansion of ethnic stores

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California Desert Lettuce Shipments are Looking Strong

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California winter desert lettuce shipments are looking good this season due to good growing conditions, although the nearby Yuma lettuce season may be a little behind schedule because of rain.

Coastline Family Farms of Salinas, CA transitioned its lettuce shipments from the Salinas Valley to Yuma, AZ the second week of November and to Brawley, CA this week, where it has a branch operation.

The company reports the Yuma area was hit by a significant storm system that included heavy rain and hail, which causes significant damage to some early planted lettuce fields.

While lettuce shipments were lighter than normal for Thanksgiving, volume is now improving.

Coastline began around Thanksgiving from Brawley with Imperial Valley vegetable shipments including about two dozen items such as romaine, romaine hearts, cauliflower, green leaf and red leaf lettuce. These loadings should continue until early April

While romaine grown in Salinas has been cited for food borne illness, it thus far has not affected growing areas in the California and Arizona deserts. One possible point of confusion from a consumer perspective may be, for example, was observed recently in a Wal-Mart supermarket. A well known shipper stated on the romaine in the display case was distributed by the company “from Salinas, CA.” However, a Wal-Mart sign stated no lettuce was Salinas was being distributed by the store. That may be factually correct, but how many consumers hestitate to by the romaine because they do not know where it was grown.

Who really cares where the company who distributed it is from. It is more important to known where the produce was grown. One can debate\ the costs of labeling, but that is a whole different issue.

Boskovich Fresh Food Group of Oxnard, CA grows and ships most of it vegetables from Ventura County, although it complements its program of celery, cabbages, romaine, red- and green-leaf lettuce and other items with a limited amount of lettuce and some red and green leaf from Yuma.

Meanwhile, Peter Rabbit Farms of , Coachella, CA launched its red and green leaf season the second week of November, followed by romain loadings a week later. The company was experiencing truck load volume by Thanksgiving, with the season continuing through March.

Ocean Mist Farms of Castroville, CA grows and ships winter vegetables from the Coachella Valley including artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cardone, cauliflower, celery, fennel/sweet anise, a full line of leafy greens, green cabbage, iceberg lettuce, rapini/broccoli rabe and spinach.

Shipments of iceberg and leaf items started the third week of November, while broccoli and cauliflower got underway a few days before Thanksgiving. The company has increased its Brussels sprouts and iceberg lettuce volume this year.

Baloian Farms of Fresno CA started shipping from the Coachella Valley the first half of November with items ranging from romaine, to romaine hearts, red leaf, green leaf, jumbo butter leaf and cauliflower following its seasonal transition from the Fresno. The company expects similar volume again this season with romaine and green leaf , while more volume will be coming from other vegetables such as romaine hearts, green onions, cauliflower and celery.

Such a storm can damage or even destroy planted fields, he said.












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WP Produce Tropical Avocados Set for Growth, Strong 2020 Season

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By WP Produce
Miami, FL — WP Produce, a family-owned, grower-packer-shipper of Desbry® tropical produce has announced a strong start to their high season for tropical avocados from the Dominican Republic. Available year-round, the fruit’s high season runs from mid-October through mid-May, with additional supply from Florida available from June through December. The company anticipates increased volumes overall, with exceptionally promotable quantities available from November through January.

“This growth is exciting and we expect it to continue. Retailers and foodservice providers have been seeing increased popularity for tropical avocados over the past few years,” said Chris Gonzalez, VP of Sales for WP Produce.

A new avocado cleaning and sorting machinery have been added in WP Produce’s Dominican Republic facilities, allowing for increased volume and capacity, while supporting the company’s mission to provide sustainable job opportunities for the region. As part of these efforts, WP Produce has also created a worker welfare program for their Dominican employees.

WP Produce offers a year-round supply of tropical avocados grown in four regions of the island plus Florida.

About WP Produce:
Founded in 1984, WP Produce is a family-owned, multi-regional grower, packer and shipper of tropical, exotic produce. WP Produce has been a pioneer in the tropical avocado market since 1992 and are now the largest importer and distributor of Dominican tropical avocados worldwide. With farms and partnerships with growers in Florida and the Dominican Republic, WP Produce offers a wide variety of tropical produce and root vegetables under the Desbry® brand.


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Mission Produce is Diversifying Avocado Sources to Avoid Supply Disruptions

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Mission Produce of Oxnard, CA is diversifying where it sources avocados to ensure more consistent avocado supplies, spurred in big part by a Mexican labor strike earlier this year.

While the company wants to have a year-round supply, but also is taking steps to have multiple sources for avocados to ensure more consistent of supply.

This was a big issue in the avocado category for imported product by the U.S. coming from Mexico. Labor strikes last season caused significant disruptions. To help avoid such issues in the future, Mission has been increasing its plantings in other countries.

The company has planted 1,500 hectares (about 3,700 acres) in Colombia and has also increased its acreage in Peru from 2,600 hectares to more than 3,000 hectares (about 7,400 acres).

Mexico easily remains the dominant avocado supplier for the U.S., having exported nearly 2 billion pounds of the fruit to the U.S. in 2018, according to the USDA. Peru, the most significant source of avocados aside from Mexico, exported roughly 180 million pounds of fruit to the U.S. last year.

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Thanksgiving Forecast: Have a Blessed Holiday

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South American Imports are Earlier with Concerns over California Quality

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California table grape shipments for the remainder of the season will definitely be lighter and some observers are expressing concerns about late season quality. The California season in winding down, while South America is ramping up.

The California Table Grape Commission claims there should be good volume through early January.

While fewer grapes remain in storage compared to a year ago, plenty of fruit remains to be shipped. Typically around 46 percent of California grapes are shipped after October 1st.

The USDA reports through early November truck shipments of central California grapes totaled 55.2 million 19-pound cartons, up slightly from 54.6 million cartons the same time a year ago.

The government report indicates 13.2 million cartons of grapes remained in cold storage through October, down 28 percent from 18.1 million cartons in storage at the same time a year ago, but similar to 13.56 million two years ago. 

While some later varieties of grapes were still being picked, the harvest is expected to be over in early December.

At 115.6 million 19-pound cartons, the 2018 California grape crop was the second largest on record. The 2019 grape crop, estimated at 109 million cartons, is in line with the four years before the 2018 crop.

The commission says about 2 million cartons of California grapes are expected to be shipped in January.

Very light volumes of imported Peruvian grapes were reported in the U.S. in early November and those arrivals will increase toward the year’s end.

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Capespan North America of Gloucester N.J. reports U.S. imports of South American grapes is on an earlier track this season due to a small crop in California. The company already is receiving Peruvian grapes at American ports.

Peruvian white seedless grapes are particularly in big demand because of concerns over California white seedless quality. Peruvian red seedless grapes will be arriving within days, as Capesapan feels California red will be finished by mid-December.

Pandol Bros. of Delano, CA has finished its California grape harvest and recalls last season when a lot of fruit was picked. However, much of it then was either not sold in the normal time and beyond or was outright dumped.

While Pando is predicting a 15 percent increase in total Peruvian grape exports this season, the company is less certain about Chilean grape volume. Some forecasts are above last season’s 83 million cartons, while others are below it.

Chile is also focusing increasingly on the mid- to late-section of the import season, with Peru focusing the earlier stages.

Vanguard Direct of Bakersfield, CA also was expecting an earlier than normal end to the California season.

Vanguard Direct will begin its Peruvian import season with arrivals the last week of December or early January.

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Florida Grapefruit Companies Announce Major Tree Plantings

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Peace River Citrus Products and Scott Family Cos. and its partners plan to invest more than $25 million in planting a quarter million grapefruit trees in Florida, where citrus greening disease has caused production to plummet in recent years.

The trees will be planted on 1,500 acres in St. Lucie and River Counties, according to a news release.

This will be the first major planting of grapefruit since citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), has decreased acreage in Florida, according to the release.

The two companies are looking to raise the Florida grapefruit crop by 15% once the groves mature, Andy Taylor, senior vice president and CFO of Peace River Citrus Products, said in the release.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joined representatives of Peace River and Scott Family Cos. and it partners in celebrating the return of grapefruit groves.

“Since January, we’ve been dedicating resources and improving policies to make sure Florida’s citrus industry gets back on its feet, and today, we’ve surpassed the 50% milestone for this important funding,” DeSantis said in the release.

Through a partnership with Peace River, The Coca-Cola Co. is participating in the effort with an agreement to purchase processed grapefruit juice from fruit in the orchard, according to the release.

Japan-based Takasago International Corp. is also investing $1.5 million toward new tree plantings to ensure a sustainable grapefruit industry in Florida, according to the release.

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New York, Pennsylvania Apple Shipments are Looking Good

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New York and Pennsylvania are among the top 5 apple shipping states in the country. New York ranks second and Pennsylvania is number 4. However, Washington state easily leads the nation with nearly 65 percent of the country’s apple shipments. Michigan is the number 3 apple shipping in the U.S.

New York Apple Sales Inc. of Glenmont distributes apples from each of the state’s major growing regions and points out what a good shipping season lies ahead. The firm points out apple volume will be up from western New York, and down some in the Eastern part of the state.

Rice Fruit Co. of Gardners, PA. is one of the largest fruit shippers on the East Coast. The company notes a year ago weather was disastrous for the crop, but this year is experiencing a complete turn around.

The most popular varieties are Gala, Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Snapdragon, Fuji and newcomer Koru, which is a Fuji-Braeburn cross from New Zealand.

The Rice family grows 900 acres of apples, plus the firm packs apples for 35 other growers.

Lake Ontario Fruit Inc., a packing house in Albion, N.Y., expresses optimism for this season describing it as one of the cleanest, high quality crops in a long time.


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