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Michigan Produce Shipments are Picking Up; Washington Fuji Apple Shipments

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A40One should know summertime has arrived when Michigan vegetable shipments are moving into good, normal volume…..Some Washington apple shipments grossing a $1000 more than others.

Following a chilly spring, weather has warmed and crops have really been coming on.  Buurma Farms of Gregory, MI started with light volume the last week of May with radishes, which soon were followed by cilantro, parsley, beets and celery.

Van Solkema Produce of Byron Center, MI is just getting underway with squash and cabbage, with initial loadings of celery coming just after the Fourth of July. Soon to follow will be sweet corn and cucumbers.  Next will be brussel sprouts sometime during the last half of August.

Superior Sales of Hudsonville, MI handles grown green cabbage which begins any day now. By the last week of June there will be beets, bok choy, napa cabbage, zucchini and yellow squash.  Sweet corn program shipments should start the third week of July.

Leitz Farms of Sodus, MI  is now starting cucumbers,  with blueberries getting underway next week, while grape tomatoes kick off around July 15 and romas and round tomatoes around July 25.

Naturipe Berry Growers, based in Salinas, CA, should begin shipments of Michigan blueberries before the Fourth of July.

Riveridge Produce Marketing of Sparta, MI launches its sweet cherry  the first week of July, prune plums beginning August 10th, and early varieties apples in August.

Washington Apple Shipments

by Stemilt Growers

WENATCHEE, Wash. – The sweetest apple around is stepping into the spotlight thanks to Stemilt Growers’ new summertime promotion. The company is marketing its  Sweet Summer Fuji Fest now through August with its finest and sweetest Fuji apples of the season.

Apples remain a key category in the produce department during the summer months. A Stemilt Fruit Tracker™ analysis of Nielsen scan data from June through August 2017 found apples to contribute 4.4 percent of total produce sales on average in the U.S. Fuji was the second top selling apple during the summer season in 2017. It accounted for 16.7 percent of apple category volume and 15.8 percent of category sales.


Washington apple, pear and cherry shipments are grossing about $7200 to New York City, with a few loads being reported as much as $1000 more.



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Mucci Opens Phase 1 of Greenhouse Operation in Huron, Ohio

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A33By Mucci Farms

Huron, Ohio — Mucci Farms announces that they are officially harvesting out of Phase 1 of their 60-acre greenhouse facility in Huron, Ohio.  “After years of hard work and strategic planning, we’re excited to hit another milestone in the Mucci Farms story,” said Bert Mucci, CEO of Mucci Farms.

The entire 60-acre facility will be growing primarily Tomatoes On-the-Vine with some snack sized specialty tomatoes.  The company also announced that the entire 60-acres will be equipped with supplemental High Powered Sodium (HPS) lighting in order to grow through the winter months allowing them to harvest Ohio grown tomatoes 365 days per year.  “We chose tomatoes on-the-vine because of its high demand year round, particularly in the winter months,” said Joe Spano, Vice President of Sales & Marketing.  “With grow lights in the entire facility, it was important to have a product that was always in demand.”

Headquartered in Kingsville, Ontario, this is Mucci Farms’ first expansion into the United States, where the majority of their product is distributed.  “Expanding into Ohio allows us to reduce the food miles for our US retailers and gives US consumers their own locally grown vegetables,” explained Danny Mucci, President of Mucci International Marketing.  “With such a high volume of our product already being shipped to the US, expanding into Huron was strategically done to improve efficiencies with logistics and food safety.  Our proximity to market and avoiding a border crossing improves our opportunity to offer consumers with fresh, flavourful products with maximum shelf.” In addition to the remaining 36-acres of greenhouses being built in two remaining phases, Mucci Farms Ohio will include a 272,000 square foot distribution facility that will be operational this summer.  Harvesting from the final two phases will begin in the spring of 2019 and 2020.

Owning and Operating over 200-acres of tomato, pepper, cucumber, lettuce and strawberry greenhouses in Kingsville, Ontario, Mucci Farms also markets on behalf of 700-acres across the continent.

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Fewer Florida Avocado Shipments are Coming This Year

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TkOk18bThanks to Hurricane Irma there will be a significant drop in Florida avocado shipments this season.  As much as 60 percent of the volume may have been lost.

Most shipments will be get underway during the first half of June.  Caution is recommended to Florida avocado haulers to be aware of possible wind scarring of the fruit and make sure their receivers are aware of it.  However, most shippers are contending fruit quality overall is good.

Brooks Tropicals of Homestead, FL points out avocado trees have shallow roots and were hit hard by the storm.

J&C Tropicals of Miami, FL expects volume to be slashed by roughly 50 percent because of the September storm that ravaged agriculture across the state.

Unity Groves Corp. of Homestead, FL may have lost 50 to 60 percent of its normal crop, with about 25 percent of its avocado trees were toppled by the winds/  The tree will be out of circulation for 2 to 3 years.  The company started shipping at the beginning of June and has increased its avocado acreage about 15 percent.

New Limeco of Princeton, FL is just starting to ship with the crop about two weeks behind last season.  Apparently demand is so high in South Florida for the first pickings of avocados, that few rarely get out of the county. By mid- to late June there are higher volumes with much wider distribution.

About 10 percent of Florida avocado acreage has been lost to laurel wilt since 2012, with diseased trees being removed and adjacent trees being taken out as well to try and slow the spread of the disease. The vector is the ambrosia beetle.  Hurricane Irma likely exacerbated the effects of laurel wilt.

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate also continues to affect produce companies across the country as some shippers say the requirements have made transportation more complicated and more costly.

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ALC Logistics Announces Alchemy Brand

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ALCtkBy Allen Lund Company

La Cañada Flintridge Calif.: ALC Logistics, the software and LTL division of the Allen Lund Company has announced the consolidation of it’s full TMS offering, under the Alchemy brand.  It is a software and transportation solution for the shipping industry, with a focus on perishable freight.  ALC has been committed to the development of their TMS solution for years.  Under the guidance of CIO, Chetan Tandon, the product offering is especially geared to the produce and perishable industry, however, it also offers options to shippers of all sizes and commodities. “From the time I began my career with Allen Lund Company, I found that they were always forward thinking with regard to technology. We’ve recognized the need for automation in this industry and I’ve had the privilege to develop our software, Alchemy, to support our customers’ specific needs,” stated Chetan.  “We are consistently working on new features to make our customers business run as smoothly as possible.”

Alchemy incorporates shipper and carrier modules, freight audit and spot pricing options, load tendering, yard management, business intelligence reporting, and the most recent addition to Alchemy, dock scheduling. The evolution of the TMS through ALC Logistics now sets the standard for software solutions.

From Kenny Lund, VP ALC Logistics, “I am so pleased that we have a new name for our mature and stable transportation systems offering.  We have earned our reputation with our customers as a premier provider of software and expertise to help them move billions of dollars’ worth of freight supported by systems that give more visibility and cost controls.  We want the Alchemy brand to represent the standard for high quality, adaptable transportation solutions.”

About ALC Logistics:

ALC Logistics has been providing transportation software solutions to shippers since 1994. Operating under the Allen Lund Company, LLC umbrella, ALC Logistics is a separate business entity located in Charlotte, NC.

About Allen Lund Company:

Specializing as a national third-party transportation broker with nationwide offices and over 470 employees, the Allen Lund Company works with shippers and carriers across the nation to arrange dry, refrigerated (specializing in produce), and flatbed freight; additionally, the Allen Lund Company has a logistics and software division, ALC Logistics, and an International Division licensed by the FMC as an OTI-NVOCC #019872NF.  If you are interested in joining the Allen Lund Company team, please click here.

Established in 1976, the Allen Lund Company was selected as the 2017 Supply & Demand Chain Executive, 2017 Food Logistics 100+ Top Software and Tech Provider, a 2016 Top IT Provider by Inbound Logistics, 2015 Coca-Cola Challenger Carrier of the Year, 2015 Top Private Company in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal, 2015 Top 100+ Software and Technology Providers, 2015 Top 100 Logistics IT Provider by Inbound Logistics, a 2014 Great Supply Chain Partner, and was placed in Transport Topics’ “2014 Top 25 Freight Brokerage Firms.”  The company manages over 365,000 loads annually in 2015, and received the 2013 “Best in Cargo Security Award.”  In 2011 the company received the TIA 3PL Samaritan Award, and the NASTC (National Association of Small Trucking Companies) named Allen Lund Company the 2010 Best Broker of the Year. More information is available at

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Christopher Ranch Garlic Shipments to Have Most Volume in Decades

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A20During the past 10 years there has been a resurgence of California garlic shipments. This means production levels not seen in decades.

Christopher Ranch of Gilroy, CA expects to ship about 100 million pounds of garlic this year, the most in years.  Harvest got underway in early June.

The company was started in 1956 by Don Christopher with 10 acres of garlic.

Christopher Ranch harvested 5 million pounds of organic garlic in 2017 and expects to harvest 10 million pounds of organic garlic this year, easily the biggest organic crop for the grower/shipper.

For the first time, the company expects to ship 100 percent California organic garlic in 2018-19.  It was forced to import some Argentina organic garlic the previous season.

A decline in California garlic started in the late 1990s, when the Chinese started dumping big supplies of garlic in the U.S. market.  This forced Christopher Ranch to cut back from 100 to 90 to 80 million pounds and in 2008 volume had plummeted to about 45 million pounds of garlic, a historical low over the last two decades.

Fresh whole garlic represents about 45 percent of the company’s sales, with peeled garlic accounting for 45 percent and roasted garlic in jars accounting for the remainder.

Early garlic shipments start in June and continues for a couple of weeks and these inventories will last for about five months.

Late garlic will begin harvest in July and represents about 80 percent of total garlic volume.

While most of the company’s garlic used to be grown in the Gilroy area, a disease called white rot hit area fields in the 1990s and made it impossible to grow in those fields.  Although the company still has about 500 acres in the greater Gilroy area, most of the company’s 5,500 acres are in the Central San Joaquin Valley of near Fresno and Firebaugh, with fields also near Salinas and the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley.

Although new crop harvest started a couple of weeks ago, the firm was still packing 2017 garlic from controlled atmosphere storage until new crop volume begins.

The 40th anniversary Gilroy Garlic Festival will be held July 27-29.

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Ontario Vegetable Shipments are Now Underway

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DSCN4299+1While most reports on Ontario vegetable shipments seem to focus on greenhouse-grown products, Canadian government statistics show the province has plenty of field-grown produce.

There were double digit increases in 2017 over 2016 with Ontario-grown beets, Brussels sprouts, green onions, radishes, parsnips and celery.

Additionally, Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food Rural Affairs reported double digit acreage declines for carrots, cauliflower, sweet corn, field-grown tomatoes, squash and zucchini, field-grown cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, bell peppers, and lettuce.

The Holland Marsh muck region, located about 30 miles north of Toronto, grows about 75 percent of vegetables produced in Ontario and 65 percent of vegetables grown in Canada.

The region produces nearly four pounds of carrots for every Canadian per year.

Shipments begin in May with lettuce, and carrots follow in June and while vegetables will continue through November.  Root vegetables from the region are marketed year-round.

Located on about 7,000 acres, the muck soil of the region grows 66 commodities and is the second largest carrot producing region in North America region. Onions, celery, herbs, lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage also are among the top crops. In addition to the muck soil, there are about 6,000 vegetable acres in the surrounding highlands.

The region has about 126 growers and 10 packing facilities.

The region was settled by the Dutch and still includes many family businesses and small companies. Asian vegetables have found traction in recent years.

The government reported the top acreage crop for Ontario vegetables in 2017 was sweet corn, with 19,003 acres reported. That was down 15 percent from 2016 acreage and off 18 percent from 2015, according to government statistics.

Ranking second among commercial vegetables for Ontario in 2017 was green peas, with 14,450 acres harvested, 7 percent lower than last year and 13 percent less than 2015.

Ranking first in sales among field-grown crops, field-grown tomatoes were No. 3 in acreage among Ontario vegetable crops in 2017.

Tomato acreage last year was 13,408 acres, down 13 percent from 2016 and off 2 percent from 2015.



Examples:  Desert vegetables to Baltimore – $9700 – $10,000; Kern District and Ventura County vegetables to Boston – $9400 – $10000; Salinas Valley vegetables to Boston – $9700 to $10200; and Santa Maria vegetables to Philadelphia – $9200 to $10000.

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Truck Shortage Results in Lost Business for Red Potato Shippers

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DSCN0802By Ted Kreis – NPPGA Communications

Truck shortage cause shippers lost sales.

Marketers in the Red River Valley held the base price for #1 size A reds at or above $15 per hundredweight (cwt.) from September through February but a chain of events this spring sent the market on a big decline with some loads being sold as low as $8.00 per cwt. in mid-April.  That is a 14-year low.

  1. 1. Big Crop – The Red River Valley had a big red potato crop, perhaps the largest since the 1970’s. Shippers knew it would be a challenge, but there was hope it may turn out okay like another big crop year, 2015-16.  But one key event happened that year that baled the Red River Valley out; a crop disaster in Florida.  That didn’t happen this year.  With both regions having a large red crop, the late winter market became very competitive.

2. Transportation Shortage –  There is a well-documented shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. for various reason. Areas outside busy shipping lanes, like us here in the Red River Valley, have been hit particulary hard.  Finding trucks to move loads out of the valley has been exasperated by this year’s big crop.

3. Lost Business – Because of the inability to get trucks earlier in the season, ads with large retailers had to be turned down because shippers could not promise on-time deliveries.  Multi-load sales opportunities for Thanksgiving and Christmas ads were lost.   This likely led to the loss of return business for the remainder of the season.   Retailers began running fewer red potato ads; statistics from AMS’s National Retail Report confirm this.   A year ago, grocery retailers ran 96,201 red potato ads nationwide from October through February.  This year they ran only 68,019, a 29 percent decline, or the loss of over 28,000 promotions!

The Northern Plains of North Dakota and Minnesota is the 3rd largest potato growing region in the country. Over 250 growers produce over 40 million hundredweight of potatoes a year. The region is the home of famous Red River Valley Red Potatoes, three french fry plants, two potato chip plants, several refrigerated product producers, and over 60 certified seed growers.

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Black Gold Farms’ Fresh Red Potato Program Moves on to Missouri

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DSCN4387By Black Gold Farms

Grand Forks, ND – Black Gold Farms will be harvesting fresh red potatoes in the boot heel of Missouri starting the middle of June. With ideal planting and growing conditions and plenty of moisture, this year’s crop looks to be one of the best yet.

Black Gold Farms will be harvesting, packing and shipping their own red potatoes out of Arbyrd, MO farm and packing facility until the middle of July. Yellow potatoes are also available to ensure a full product offering.

“We’ve been growing red potatoes nestled in the bootheel of Missouri in the Mississippi River Delta for over 10 years, and every year we see the quality get better. This year is no different.” commented John Halverson, COO of Black Gold Farms. “We’ve been able to learn a lot about growing potatoes in the summertime heat from over 30 years of chip potato experience in warmer climates. We’ve been able to transfer those leanings to the fresh market. While there are many differences, the principles are the same: use the right variety, get the timing correct, push them through the wash line and into the cooler as quickly as possible, and then, ship to our customers while they are still at their freshest” Halverson concluded.

Keith Groven, Fresh Sales Manager of Black Gold Farms states, “Our customers really find value pulling fresh reds out of Arbyrd, MO as the quality is consistent and we are geographically central to many of the major cities which provides locally grown opportunities that only we can offer. Customers recognize that Black Gold Farms is the red potato expert, especially this time of year, in this particular geography.”

Black Gold Farms’ Indiana red potato crop will be ready at the end of July for a smooth transition and keeping customers supplied with the freshest red potatoes available. This allows for Black Gold Farms-grown product to be supplied to customers year-round. “Each of our farms has their own unique characteristics, but what’s really valuable is that our customers know that the red potatoes they’re getting and the service they’ve come to expect is all Black Gold Farms” remarked Groven.

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Washington Apricot Shipments are Starting 3rd Week of June

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DSCN0800By Stemilt Growers

Stemilt’s apricot shipments will start around June 20th and run through the month of July, with the best volume occurring from June 25 and running through July 15.

“Sizing has done a complete reversal from last year,” states Brianna Shales, Stemilt communications director. “While last year brought smaller sizes and increased bag promotions, this year bulk is in. Sizing is going to be large with apricots in panta packs.”

Approximately 60 percent of Stemilt’s apricot crop is grown and certified organic. Stemilt’s Artisan Organics™ volume is heavy to the beginning of the season with the Robada variety.

After July 4th, focus shifts to the Rivals and Perfections apricot varieties.

According to the Organic Trade Association, organic produce has been holding its position as the largest organic food category, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all organic food sales in 2016.

“Organic share will continue to rise,” states Shales. “Apricots offers a great summertime organic offering to support organic category growth.”

Stemilt’s Artisan Organics™ stone fruits, which also include peaches and nectarines, come from the Douglas family orchards in the southeastern region of Washington State. The Douglases transitioned to organic more than a decade ago, citing the arid climate with cool nights as the main reason why they can grow dessert-flavored fruit organically.

“Summer is fast approaching and we are optimistic that the sizing, dessert flavors, and high percentage of organic apricots coming from the ideal Washington locale will make for a great season,” Shales says

About Stemilt

Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of organic tree fruits. Stemilt has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility since 1989, when founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program.

Yakima Valley apples – grossing bout $7000 to New York City.

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US Apples Hit with 20% Retaliatory Tariff In Mexico Trade Spat

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A37By the Washington Apple Commission

Wenatchee, Washington State, USA – In response to the Trump Administration’s tariffs on aluminum and steel, Mexico has announced effective immediately imports of apples from the U.S. would be subject to a retaliatory tariff of 20 percent.  Under WTO rules, countries hit with unilateral tariffs are allowed to levy tariffs equivalent to the amount of injury.  Apples are just one item on the list of U.S. products that Mexico is targeting.

Washington State, home to over 1,300 apple growers, is the source of almost all apple exports to Mexico.  The state produces approximately 65 percent of all apples grown in the US and over 90 percent of U.S. fresh apple exports.  Mexico is the top export market for Washington apples, and during the 2016-17 season Washington growers shipped 13.7 million 40 lb. bushel cartons valued at more than $215 million to the market.  During the current season, shipments have been ahead of last season by 13 percent and were on track to exceed 15 million bushels, worth an estimated $241.8 million.  This new tariff now puts that goal in doubt.

“Any tariff is clearly going to have economic impact to our industry – especially when you consider its cumulative effect along with the tariffs imposed by China and expected within the next few weeks from India, also major Washington apple export markets, in retaliation to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs” stated Todd Fryhover, the President of the Washington Apple Commission.  “The economic impact to individual growers will vary depending on the strategic importance of Mexico to their sales, but collectively Washington apple growers will see a decrease in what they are paid for their crop due to the 20 percent duty.”

The Washington Apple Commission is the international marketing arm of the Washington apple industry and conducts promotions in foreign markets to drive consumer demand for apples from Washington State, USA.  Washington Apple Commission provides promotional support to international retailers, wholesalers and importers with innovative marketing programs and activities to grow consumer awareness and brand loyalty.

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