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California is Experiencing Strong Strawberry Shipments; South African Citrus to Arrive Soon

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DSCN0607The past few weeks have seen California strawberry shipments ramping up for Mother’s Day and good volume will continue beyond…Meanwhile the first shipment of South African citrus will be arriving in the U.S. within a couple of weeks.

For example, California Giant Berry Farms and Well-Pict Inc., both based in Watsonville, have seen volume recently doubling on a weekly basis.

While most of the California strawberry shipment for Mother’s Day is coming out of the Santa Maria district, Salinas volume also is building.

The California Strawberry Commission reports the Salinas/Watsonville district has 13,233 acres of strawberries this season, which will account for 39 percent of the state’s strawberry acreage.

Last year, the district had 13,570 acres and accounted for 37 percent of the state’s strawberry acreage.  The area shipped more than 102 million trays of strawberries in 2017, up from 100,820,365 trays in 2016.

Most shippers are expecting volume in 2018 to be similar to last year’s.

Rain in mid-March really had an adverse affect on strawberry shipments for Easter this year.  In addition to Santa Maria, Salinas and Watsonville, strawberry shipments also have been coming out of Ventura County.

Summer Citrus From South Africa’s Planning Session Leads To Positive 2018 Season

by Summer Citrus from South Africa (SCSA)

CITRUSDAL, South Africa – Easy Peelers, followed by Navels and Star Rubies from South Africa, will start to arrive in containers in the United States towards the end of May, with the first conventional vessel arriving the third week of June at the port of Philadelphia. To support a successful 2018 season, members from across the U.S. and Western & Northern Cape came together in March for the Annual Planning Meeting, hosted by SCSA, to review sales and marketing plans, production volumes, shipping schedules, and category trends.

It is expected be a good season despite the challenges associated with the droughts occurring in the Western Cape.  With international best practices, innovation and the latest technology, growers are able to maximize their resources in these difficult times to produce an increased volume of good looking crop.

 

 

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San Francisco Market Changes Name, Look; Calilfornia Stone Fruit Shipments Start

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A4The San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market has shortened its name to The SF Market.  It also is rebranding with a new look to highlight the market’s role in the Bay Area’s food economy.  The market’s 31 produce vendors include wholesalers, distributors and online grocery delivery companies, according to a news release.

The rebranding effort comes as the market has signed a 60-year lease with the City of San Francisco and recognition as a historic asset by San Francisco’s Legacy Business Registry.  The SF Market name and logo, developed by Trinity Brand Group, will be on the market’s website, on market signage and on merchant trucks, according to the release.

“With its innovative track record of helping food businesses grow at every stage and size, The SF Market has played an instrumental role in how the Bay Area has evolved into a leading food destination,” Matthew Youngblood, co-founder of Trinity Brand Group, said in the release.

“We have been thrilled to have the expertise of Trinity Brand Group behind us as we took this important step to rebrand our organization,” Larry Brucia, president of the board of directors, said in the release. “Through our collaboration with Trinity and the roll-out of our new look, our goal is to increase awareness of the enormous positive impact of The SF Market and to connect with food purveyors and the community in a bigger, better and more meaningful way than ever before.”

The SF Market is currently working on a $96 million reinvestment project to upgrade and expand the facility in Bayview-Hunters Point, including an 80,000-square-foot building, according to the release.

Stone Fruit Shipments

California stone fruit shipments have just got underway, with a later and lighter start.

Giumarra Cos. office in Reedley, CA, started harvesting white and yellow peaches and yellow nectarines this past week.  The company plans to begin its white nectarines and apricots new week, followed by plums a few days later.

Simonian Fruit Co. of Fowler, CA kicks off  its stone fruit season about May 20th, about a week later than normal.

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Fewer Mexican Grape Loadings are Seen; MountainKing Texas Red Potatoes are Underway

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Imported Mexican grapes will still be good, but a little less than an year ago.  Meanwhile Texas red potato shipments have started.

Green seedless grapes in Mexican have taken biggest hit for the new 2018 season, dropping 30 percent from a total of 4.4 million cases in 2017 to 3.1 million cases this year.

Early green seedless are expected to be down 28 percent to 2.6 million cases.  Early green seedless production in 2017 was 3.6 million cases.  Red seedless varieties this year will be off 23 percent from 10.1 million cases a year ago.  The 2018 estimate is for 7.8 million boxes of red seedless table grapes.

Red seeded, black and other varieties are each expected to be off 15 percent this spring. Red seeded export production this year is estimated to be 584,000 cases.  Black grape volume is anticipated to be 1.1 million boxes. Other varieties should total 713,000 boxes.

Mexican grape shipments a year busted all records hitting 16 million cases.

Peak shipments for green seedless would be the third week of May through June..  Peak shipments for red seedless will be similar.

Some good news for produce truckers hauling grapes out of Nogales is there has been a 50 percent increase in inspectors at the Nogales crossing.  This is expected to reduce delays at the border. 

Mexican vegetables and watermelon crossing at Nogales – grossing about $6800 to New York City.

 Texas Red Potato Shipments

by MountainKing Potatoes

HOUSTON, TX – MountainKing Potatoes, one of the world’s largest growers of potato varieties, has started the harvest of its Texas new crop of red potatoes.

Grown in the Rio Grande Valley, south central Texas and the western section of the state’s panhandle, MountainKing’s Texas Reds are harvested fresh daily, pre-cooled and packed to order in specially-marked 5-pound bags.

“Our Texas Reds have been a consistent seller…,” says John Pope, vice president of sales and marketing for MountainKing Potatoes.  “All signs point to a very solid harvest this year.”

Pope explains the firm and waxy texture of the Texas Reds help them maintain their shape when boiled.  Plus, their high moisture content creates a more flavorful potato salad while their thinner skins make for a brighter, more attractive presentation.  The product also is suitable for grilling and mashing.

Besides their great look and taste, MountainKing’s Texas Red Potatoes are packed with 35 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and 16 percent of dietary fiber, a strong selling point for health-conscious shoppers.

Based in Houston, MountainKing grows, packs, markets and distributes fresh potatoes to grocers across the United States.  Currently, about one million U.S. households enjoy MountainKing products every week.

Mexican produce crossing the border at Pharr, Tx – grossing about $3800 to Chicago.

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Del Monte Optimistic About Blueberry Season; Monsanto is Seeking Sweeter Strawberries

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A12Optimism abounds at Del Monte Fresh Produce as the domestic blueberry shipments progress.  Also, Monsanto is looking to genetically alter strawberry to get a sweet taste and longer shelf life.

Del Monte Fresh

By Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc.

Coral Gables, FL – Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. (Del Monte) is optimistic about the domestic blueberry season that spans between March and September.  It began in the south and eastern states, continued to California in April, and later into British Columbia.

Del Monte’s Chilean import blueberry season finished with increased volumes over the prior years and it continues to expand to meet the growing interest from retailers and food service customers. 

“The demand for fresh blueberries in the United States has grown steadily over the past decade. Per capita consumption more than tripled since 2005, exceeding 1.5 pounds per person,” said Dennis Christou, VP Marketing N.A. “Del Monte has been a key player in growing and shipping premium blueberries in Chile for more than 25 years and we continue to expand our operations to meet this growing demand. A major advantage we have is our Del Monte Fresh Cut business which these products support.”

The Mexico blueberry season will begin in early fall.

About Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc.  Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. is one of North America’s leading marketers and distributors of high-quality fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables.  Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. markets its products in North America under the Del Monte® brand (as well as other brands), a symbol of product innovation, quality, freshness and reliability for more than 125 years.

 Sweeter Strawberries

by Erin Brodwin, Business Insider

In a move aimed at securing a place in the rapidly evolving food technology scene, the agricultural giant Monsanto has invested $125 million in a gene-editing startup called Pairwise.

The alliance could tee up Monsanto, long known for its controversial dealings with farmers and its role in popularizing genetically modified organisms, to introduce some of the first produce made using the blockbuster gene-editing tool Crispr. Sweeter strawberries with a longer shelf life could be among the earliest offerings.

The tool allows scientists to accurately target specific problem areas within the genome of a living thing, opening up the potential to tweak the DNA of everything from row crops like corn and soy to produce like apples and asparagus to make the produce taste sweeter, last longer on the shelf, and even tolerate drought or flooding.

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Salinas Vegetable Shipments are Rebounding from a Late Start

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A21Spring weather conditions have gradually improved California’s Salinas Valley produce shipments, which had been hampered by rain and cold weather.

Still, some shippers such as Tanimura & Antle Inc. of Salinas see volume being lighter than normal on some items in late May and early June because of planting delays.

At the same time growing conditions and ultimately shipments are expected to better than in 2017, which had even worse weather conditions.

Salinas Valley vegetable crop acreage increased slightly from 286,637 acres in 2015 to 290,987 acres in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available from the Monterey County agricultural commissioner’s office.

There has been a significant decline in artichoke acreage in Monterey County, from 7,242 acres in 2006 to 4,050 in 2016.

Weather has been a problem for impacted overall artichoke production for a number of years.  This has resulted in the nation’s largest artichoke grower Ocean Mist Farms of, Castroville, CA

deciding to diversify artichoke growing locations to include areas such as the Coachella Valley, rather than concentrate all of its volume in Monterey County.

D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, based in Salinas, completed its desert lettuce shipments the last week of March after finishing up other vegetable crops in mid-March.  Most Salinas vegetable shipments got underway in early March, but a spring rain descended on the area the last few days of the month, bringing most of the harvests to a halt, and resulting in quality issues. The quality of Salinas vegetables has improved with the weather.

Another Salinas produce company, Coastline Family Farms, started its Salinas vegetable season April 9th following a few days of rains.  Early season leaf lettuce and romaine hearts showed some signs of blister and peel because of an early spring frost, but apparently has experienced a significant improvement in quality since.

Lucky Strike Farms of Burlingame, CA., expects to have a steady vegetable deal this season.

Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $8300 to New York City.

 

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Michigan Asparagus Shipments; Update on Remaining U.S. Potatoes to be Shipped; Plus Vidalia Onions

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A16Asparagus loadings out of Michigan  have started.  Meanwhile, here’s an update on how many potatoes remain to be shipped for the 2017-18 shipping season.

Michigan asparagus shipments are just getting underway and will continue into late June with good volumes coming in time for the Memorial weekend, May 26 – 28.

One of the larger Michigan asparagus companies that grows, packs and ships is Todd Greiner Farms Packing LLC of Hart, MI.  The company recently completed a 20,000-square-foot addition to its packinghouse, which is the second expansion in the last year.  This includes two new controlled atmosphere/cold storage rooms and two new shipping and receiving docks. Greiner Farms also ships other vegetables and watermelons.

Vidalia Onion Shipments

Vidalia certified sweet onions are grown in 20 southeastern Georgia counties by 80 farmers and available in the spring and summer months.  However, the majority of the onions are located in only two counties.  In 2017, Georgia shippers had almost 230 million pounds of Vidalia onions.  Similar volume is seen this season, and shipments got underway April 20th.

U.S. Potato Shipments

U.S. potatoes remaining in storages to be shipped as of April 1st were up 2 percent from year-ago.  The USDA reports the 13 major potato shipping states held 134 million cwt. of potatoes in storage.  Potatoes in storage accounted for 33 percent of the fall storage states’ 2017 production, 1 percent more than last year.

Idaho potatoes remaining to be shipped totaled 50 million cwt.  off 4 pecent from 52 million cwt. from last year.  As a percent of production, Idaho potato stocks represented 38 percent of the state’s 2017 production, up 1 percent from a year ago.

In Washington, the state with the second-highest amount of potatoes remaining in storage, the USDA reported 30 million cwt. of potatoes. That was up 3.4 percent from 29 million cwt. the same time a year ago. Washington’s stocks accounted for 30 percent of 2017 potato shipments, up from 27 percent in 2016.

Idaho potatoes from Twin Falls area to New York City – grossing about $5300.

Washington potatoes from the Columbia Basin – grossing about $4500 to Chicago.

 

 

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Green Giant Fresh Launches New Fresh Vegetable Meal Bowls Line

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A2By Green Giant

Salinas, CA – Green Giant™ Fresh has launched a new line of fresh vegetable Meal Bowls with six distinct world flavors. All bowls are microwave-safe and ready in just minutes making them a convenient meal option for time-starved consumers and people who are on the go but don’t want to forego nutrition or flavor for fast foods or quick meals. Just heat, stir in included sauce/seasoning packet and enjoy!

Plans for expanding this line are already in the works, while the original Meal Bowl flavors include:

  • Burrito Bowl
  • Fried Rice Bowl
  • Pad Thai Bowl
  • Rancheros Bowl
  • Buddha Bowl
  • Ramen Bowl

The bowls are comprised of different Green Giant Fresh value-added vegetable mixes and blends including items from their Cauliflower Crumbles® line—the original chopped cauliflower product that kicked off the riced/chopped veggie craze in 2016—and items from their 2017 Vegetable Noodles line.

Each vegan-friendly meal bowl comes with a sauce/seasoning packet that’s full of flavors ranging from sweet and tangy to zesty and savory. Other bowl additives include roasted chickpeas (Buddha Bowl) and dry roasted edamame (Ramen Bowl).  Other protein preferences (e.g. chicken, shrimp, beef, tofu, egg) can also be easily added to any of the bowls, delivering the versatility to customize bowls to any palate, or to create a complete rounded meal.

“We know consumers are on the go and looking for healthy and nutritious foods, swaps and meal alternatives,” said Jamie Strachan, chief executive officer, Green Giant Fresh. Continuing, “Our meal bowls line was developed in response to this demand, then refined and perfected with our premium vegetable products, along with desirable flavors that give each bowl its distinctive personality.”

About Green Giant™ Fresh

Green Giant™ Fresh is an industry-leading fresh vegetable brand in the U.S. with a full line of commodity vegetables, as well as many first-to-market products. Their comprehensive line of fresh vegetables – covering every major commodity and vegetable category – is complemented by their extensive line of unique and innovative value-added items.

As the only fresh produce brand featuring Box Tops for Education™ clips, Green Giant Fresh has contributed over $2 million to this worthy cause, which benefits America’s K-8 schools nationwide. Box Tops clips can be found on over 100 of their products. Related website:  GreenGiantFresh.com

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Chilean Citrus is Coming; Ecuadorian Gooseberries a New U.S. Import

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A49Here is a look at imports involving Mexican limes, Chilean citrus and Gooseberries from Ecuador.

Lime Shipments

By last March Mexico has provided 97 percent of the U.S. total lime shipments, with only light volume reported from Colombia.  Lime supplies are finally improving after being in short supply due to weather factors. Pro*Act LLC of Monterey CA imports Mexican limes and sees retail prices dropping as supplies improve. 

Chilean Citrus

Nearly 48 tons of Chilean clementines from Valparaiso departed for the West Coast of the U.S. April 2nd kicking off the new season.

The season was launched a week earlier than the season of 2017.  Observers expect volume to increase quickly as more orchards begin harvesting, according to a news release from the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association in San Carols, CA.

The Chilean Citrus Committee expects a strong season with increased clementine volume, according to the release.

“We’re expecting consistently high-quality fruit this year. We had very favorable temperatures this autumn, with warm days and cooler nights, and last year’s strong rainfall has also provided plenty of water for irrigation,” Juan Enrique Ortuzar, committee president, said in the release.

Ecuadorian Gooseberries

The USDA has approved fresh Ecuadorian cape gooseberries being imported by U.S. under a new proposal from the ag department.

Comments on the proposal will be accepted until June 18, according to the USDA.

Imports of the fruit — also called ground cherries, goldenberry and physalis — will be allowed from Ecuador under what the USDA calls a systems approach.

U.S. import levels for fresh cape gooseberry fruit are not known, according to the USDA, because the fruit is combined in U.S. trade statistics with black, white, and red currants.

In 2015, the U.S. imported approximately 78.7 metric tons of gooseberries and currants valued at about $476,000.

The U.S. does not produce fresh cape gooseberry fruit commercially, according to the USDA

 

 

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Study Shows Fewer, but Larger Produce Farming Operations

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applepixA new study shows the size of fruit and vegetable farming operations is steadily increasing.

While the report does not address it, does this mean more loading opportunities for produce haulers at fewer locations?

“Three decades of consolidation in U.S. agriculture,” a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service report said that the midpoint acreage (half of farms are below the midpoint acreage and half the farms are above it) for fruit, nut and berry operations increased in 19 of 20 crops between 1987 and 2012, with the average increase pegged at 110 percent. Except for lemon farms, which declined in size 16 percent from 1987 to 2012, all other fruit operations grew in size, the report reads.

The report was written by James MacDonald, Robert Hoppe and Doris Newton.

There has been evidence that average farm size has been slowing in the last decade, MacDonald said, but he added the long-term trend has been large and persistent across all crops.

For vegetable and melon crops, there has been a “clear slowing” of consolidation from 2007 to 2012 for vegetable and melon crops.  Midpoint acreage declined in six of 20 crops, and the average increase was 10 percent over that five-year period, compared with previous five-year gains averaging 20 percent.

Technology has been a driver in larger farm sizes, MacDonald said.

For fruit and vegetable crops, Florida has faced urbanization pressures that have held down average farm sizes. Over the past 30 years, California has seen growers move out of field crops such as grains and into almonds, fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops.

Across all crops, the USDA reported 51 percent of the value of U.S. farm production came from farms with at least $1 million in sales, up from 31 percent in 1991.

Land consolidation in fruits and vegetables and nuts, 1987-2012

Midpoint for harvested acreage (half of operations larger, half of operations smaller)

1987             2012         Change

Almonds       203                547           169 percent

Apples            83                179           116 percent

Asparagus    160                200            44 percent

Avocados        40                  50            25 percent

Blueberries      50                100           100 percent

Cantaloupe    400                350            -12 percent

Grapes           205                420            105 percent

Grapefruit       320                573               79 percent

Lettuce           949              1,275              34 percent

Pistachios      465                  926              99 percent

Potatoes        350                1,054             21 percent

Strawberries    24                   180             650 percent

Tangerines       55                    336           511 percent

Tomatoes        400                   930           133 percent

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Argentina Lemons will be Available for First Time in Years

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A24Patience is a virtue if you are wanting to get through the bureaucratic red tape and import South American lemons, at least those from Argentina.  But the long wait is over as shipments are arriving at U.S. ports to be trucked across North America.

The first U.S. bound lemons in 17 years from Argentina’s Tucumán citrus growing region arrive this week after departing that South American country April 18th.

Argentina had been seeking to have exports of lemons to the U.S. allowed since 2001, when a U.S. District Court in California overturned a USDA rule from a year earlier allowing lemon imports from Argentina.

Argentina’s provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy will export between 15,000 and 20,000 metric tons of lemons to the U.S. during the 2018 season.  Most of Argentina’s lemon shipments are expected in June and July.

Argentina’s lemon exports in 2017 totaled 241,000 metric tons, with the top destinations listed as Spain, Russia, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece and Canada.

Argentina Lemons

Argentia’s lemons will be arriving in the U.S. through Citromax, Carlstadt, N.J.

The company has over 13,000 acres of lemons in Tucuman, Argentina. .

“We are very proud to say that Citromax is the only American-owned lemon producer that is packing and selling lemons into the United States retail market,” Vivian Glueck, president of the Citromax Group, said in a news release. “We are thrilled that the recent lifting of trade restrictions has opened up the U.S. market, and we are moving ahead with bringing the highest-quality lemon fruit to American consumers.”

A February court decision in favor of the USDA’s approval of the import of Argentine lemons allows the fruit into the U.S. for the first time in 17 years.

The lemons will carry Citromax brands, and are being imported by Seald Sweet, The Oppenheimer Group and Vision Import Group; those companies will also market the lemons.

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