Archive For The “Health” Category

Numerous Health Benefits Found in Summer-Favorite Watermelon

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No summer barbecue is complete without fresh watermelon. As the nation moves towards the summer grilling season, you may want to consider how watermelon’s fruit chemistry can affect your overall health. Researchers in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) recently identified over 1,500 small molecules of diverse chemical characters in the fruit, known as phytochemicals. They concluded that eating watermelon is an excellent way to increase your intake of antioxidants, non-protein amino acids and lycopene. This means that every time you eat watermelon, you’ll be improving the health of your cells, organs and nervous system.

The research specifically finds that the antioxidants in watermelon can help your body fight free radicals and slow down cell damage. The fruit’s non-protein amino acids will also help to repair your body tissue, break down food from other meals, and even regulate your blood pressure.

“Watermelon could be part of the refreshing and healthy fruit options on your summer picnic table,” said USDA-ARS scientist Larry Parnell. “The fruit has gone through many years of evolution, domestication, and selection for desirable qualities—mainly those associated with flesh color, texture and nutrient and sugar content. But our research continues to find that the fruit contains a wide range of nutrients that improve your overall health.”

Most Americans purchase the sweet dessert watermelon species, Citrullus lanatus, at their local grocery store or farmer’s market.  This species is among the most important vegetable crops grown and consumed throughout the world, with over 100 million tons in annual global production.  The fruit also has more lycopene than a raw tomato, which is linked to healthy eyes, overall heart health and protection against certain cancers. Other nutrients, like carotenoids, flavonoids, carbohydrates and alkaloids, are also found in the flesh, seed, and rind.

“I worked with Dr. Parnell and the team to develop a pioneering concept of using big data and computational biology to identify and catalog all of the phytochemicals that exist in edible fruit,” said ARS researcher Amnon Levi. “The research to identify the metabolic pathways and genome sequence of genes involved in the production of beneficial phytochemicals could be highly useful for plant scientists and breeders aiming to improve nutrient content in fruits and vegetables.”

The watermelon’s phytochemicals are human-cell-protecting compounds found in fruit, vegetables, grains and beans. All of these nutrients can contribute to your overall health in numerous ways.

Watermelon was introduced to Europe via Moorish Spain in the 10th century. Since then, watermelon has been cultivated successfully in warmer Mediterranean regions before being brought to the Americas by European colonists during the 16th century. Today, watermelon is grown in 44 U.S. states, while major production is centered in California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Fruits and vegetables are a part of a healthy, balanced diet, with the recommendation being 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.

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Nature Fresh Farms Introduces New Program for Imperfect Produce

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Leamington, ON – A recent loss conscious program focuses on selling Nature Fresh Farms imperfect produce to reduce food waste.

The Waste Me Nots program was recently created to leverage Nature Fresh Farms Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers that do not meet the criteria of their Quality Control team. As most greenhouses hope to grow flawless quality produce, some product grows to be naturally bent or smaller in size. Although unique in shape and size, these vegetables still have the same nutritional value and flavor as their perfect counterparts. Nature Fresh Farms wants to put these pieces of produce in the spotlight, creating more of an opportunity to fight waste and give shoppers further access to nutritious foods.

‘We believe it’s important to ensure that nutritious and delicious produce does not go to waste,” shared Ray Wowryk, Director of Business Development. “By creating this program, we are helping our retailers with a ready-made waste reduction alternative.”

Since volume of this type of product is not predictable, the program cannot be guaranteed to supply specific quantities and will depend on the product grown. However, Nature Fresh Farm feels that the unpredictability is outweighed by the fact that their quality and freshness is worth rescuing and sharing with consumers, making the most of all their product grown.

“Sustainability is at the center of everything we do at Nature Fresh Farms. Not only does this encompass our packaging and growing processes but also that the food we grow gets utilized completely,” explained the Director of Sales, Matt Quiring. “The Waste Me Nots program helps us to reduce waste while allowing us to better service the price focused shoppers looking for quality tasting products at a discounted price and let our retail partners bring in some incremental sales to the category.”

Nature Fresh Farms wants to bring more cost-effective options to its consumers and bring the focus back to the taste and freshness of the produce, not solely the look of it. They hope to break the cycle of imperfect food waste by offering discounted misshapen vegetables that there would normally not be a market for and expand the consumers knowledge of the type of produce they purchase.

About Nature Fresh Farms

Nature Fresh Farms has become one of the largest independent, vertically integrated greenhouse vegetable farms in North America. It is a year-round grower with farms in Leamington, ON, Delta, OH, and Mexico.

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Organic Fresh Produce Sales Up 9% in Q1 2021; Top $2 Billion for the Quarter

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Monterey, CA— Total organic fresh produce sales for the first quarter of 2021 saw a continuation of last year’s growth, increasing by 9.3 percent from the same period in 2020 and topping $2.2 billion for the quarter, according to the Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report released exclusively by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners. 

Organic fresh produce sales and volume in the first quarter of 2021 maintained a trend established in March of last year, with elevated sales across the entire supermarket, as consumers continued at-home eating in light of restaurant closures. However, moving into the second quarter of 2021, it is apparent that the pandemic closures are beginning to ease, and the question has now become if—and how fast—consumers will return to their pre-COVID food purchasing behaviors.

The 9.3-percent year-over-year sales growth of organic fresh produce for the first quarter of 2021 outpaced conventional produce sales, which grew by only 2.9 percent. Organic fresh produce volume grew by 5.7 percent, while conventional volume saw a decline of 0.6 percent. 

The top 10 organic produce categories continued to perform very well, with 8 of the top 10 categories generating increases in both dollars and volume. Of these top 10 categories, only organic carrots and apples failed to generate year-over-year dollar and volume gains during the first quarter.

The top 10 organic categories drove 72 percent of total organic volume and 70 percent of total organic sales. In conventional produce, these same categories drive only 64 percent of total sales and 67 percent of volume.

“Once again, sales of organic fresh produce continue to be a major growth opportunity for retailers across the country. At the same time, as the country enters a post-COVID environment, with restaurants reopening and other foodservice options available, it appears the double-digit growth rate will be slowing,” said Matt Seeley, CEO of Organic Produce Network.

Packaged salads remain the single largest driver of organic dollars, accounting for 17 percent of all organic sales. During the first quarter of 2021, packaged salad dollars saw a year-over-year increase of 9.5 percent. Organic berries have become a key winter category, driving over 15 percent of total organic produce dollars during the first quarter. The first quarter of 2021 was a strong quarter for berries, generating a year-over-year sales increase of 8.8 percent.

“Within the top 10 categories, fresh herbs (+28.2 percent), lettuce (+34.7 percent), and tomatoes (+14.7 percent) generated the largest percentage gains in dollars,” said Steve Lutz, senior vice president for insights and innovation at Category Partners. “In terms of Q1 volume, bananas, carrots, and apples rank as the top drivers of organic volume at retail, generating a remarkable 37 percent of total organic volume. Bananas alone drive 17 percent of all organic volume.”

Year-over-year organic sales and volume increases during the first quarter of 2021 were strong in every region of the US. The West and Northeast are historically the strongest regions for organic produce sales and the two regions generated the highest increases in dollar growth.

The Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report utilized Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the US over the months of January, February, and March. The full Q1 2021 Organic Produce Performance Reportis available on the Organic Produce Network website at

OPN is a marketing organization serving as the go-to resource for the organic fresh produce industry. The company’s mission is to inform and educate through a strong digital presence with an emphasis on original content and complimented by engaging live events which bring together various components of the organic food community. The OPN audience includes organic producers, handlers, distributors, processors, wholesalers, foodservice operators, and retailers.

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Prepackaged Fresh Produce Sales Soar Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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CLEVELAND — A new Freedonia Group analysis projects US sales of fresh produce packaging to grow 3.7% per year to nearly $7 billion in 2024, as demand continues to rise among both consumers and foodservice establishments for produce sold in some form of packaging – including pouches, bags, and rigid plastic containers.

Among the key drivers of growth will be increasing sales of ready-to-eat (RTE) salads, as well as pre-cut produce such as apple slices, melon spears, and carrot sticks – which are typically sold in clamshells, cups, and other plastic containers. Sales of these and other prepackaged fresh produce have soared during the pandemic due to:

  • surging grocery sales – including more packaging-intensive online grocery orders – as consumers began eating out far less and cooking in way more
  • increased concerns about the safety of loose bulk-bin items that have been handled by others in stores
  • rising demand for convenience foods, including RTE produce, which require minimal or no prep before consumption, unlike their unpackaged counterparts, which often need to be washed, peeled, and/or chopped

Sales of plastic containers increased 5% in 2020, the biggest gain of the main produce packaging types – boosted by their intensive use with RTE produce. The sharp increase recorded in organic produce sales further bolstered plastic container demand, as these premium brands tend to employ value-added rigid packaging for product differentiation purposes, whereas non-organic brands tend to employ bags or pillow pouches due to their lower cost.

Through 2024, sales of plastic containers are expected to outpace those for all other major packaging categories, as clamshells and other plastic containers continue to supplant commodity bags and pillow pouches due to their good protective and display properties.

About the Freedonia Group – The Freedonia Group, a division of, is the premier international industrial research company, providing our clients with product analyses, market forecasts, industry trends, and market share information. From one-person consulting firms to global conglomerates, our analysts provide companies with unbiased, reliable industry market research and analysis to help them make important business decisions. With over 100 studies published annually, we support over 90% of the industrial Fortune 500 companies. 

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Ingrilli Citrus, Launches Organic Ginger Squeeze Blend

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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — Ingrilli Citrus, Inc., a family-owned business based out of Capo d’Orlando, Sicily, announced the launch of its Ingrilli™ Organic Ginger Squeeze Blend in the United States. Made with fresh organic Peruvian ginger and organic Sicilian lemon juice, the new ginger blend is the company’s first product with a non-citrus main ingredient. With the launch, Ingrilli expands its product line, offering a broader suite of orchard-to-table products directly from Sicily to the world market.

Of the launch, Ingrilli’s™ Business Development Manager Giuseppe Ingrilli said, “Ginger is a flavorful root with many health benefits, and a natural companion to lemon and lime that our customers were eager to see on the shelves. That’s why we were excited to partner directly with farmers in Peru and create a new product that has all the flavor, quality, and uncompromising standards that our customers have come to know and love – with a spicy ginger kick.”

The Ingrilli™ Organic Ginger Squeeze blend is certified USDA organic, non-GMO Project verified, OU kosher, vegan, never from concentrate, gluten & BPA-free, and completely free of artificial flavors, colors or chemical preservatives. It joins the rest of the Ingrilli product line, which includes The Ingrilli™ Organic Lemon Squeeze, the Ingrilli™ Organic Lime SqueezeIngrilli™ 100% Lemon Juice and Ingrilli™ 100% Lime Juice. All Ingrilli™ juices can be used for cooking, baking, salads and drink mixers.

Ingrilli™ Organic Ginger Squeeze Blend is available now in stores and online in the United States.

About Ingrilli Citrus, Inc.

Ingrilli Citrus, Inc. is a family-owned business with five generations of farming and producing citrus juices directly from their family orchard in Capo d’Orlando, Sicily. All Ingrilli™ juices and condiments are batch-produced directly in their facilities in Sicily. The company follows the strictest food safety standards, and they do not outsource any of their production. This allows them to squeeze the freshest lemons, maintain the highest quality, and produce the best-tasting juices on the market today. Learn more at

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Side Delights Shares Trend Data on Changing Consumer Eating, Shopping Habits

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San Francisco, CA– Side Delights revealed recently released trend data on the growing focus on the health benefits of foods and the impact it has on consumer behavior. Since the inception of the pandemic, healthy-eating and immunity has continued to gain importance with consumers, and it shows in their shopping habits. The International Food Information Council issued a report, “COVID-19 Pandemic Transforms the Way We Shop, Eat and Think About Food,” based on the recent IFIC’s 2020 Food & Health Survey.

According to the survey, 85% of Americans made at least some change in the food they eat or how they prepare it due to the coronavirus pandemic. 40% of respondents who said they were seeking food or diets for their health benefits were explicitly focused on their immune function and that plant-based items have continued to be a trend into 2021. The connection between healthy eating and reducing disease risk is outlined in the USDA’s newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. The guidelines recommend nutrient-rich plant-based foods like potatoes for all stages of life – starting as young as six months old.  

In addition to what is in their food and its health benefits, consumers are paying more attention to where it is grown. As stated in the Forbes article Food Trends Forecast 2021: Being Healthy In A Post Covid-19 World, “Shoppers have changed how they are choosing their foods with a new yearning for reading labels, understanding what ingredients are in their foods, where their foods come from and which foods they should avoid.” Side Delights potatoes are literally “Grown Where It Matters” to be fresh, high-quality potatoes – grown in the best potato growing areas, stored in high-tech storage facilities, and packed and delivered close to customers/final mile experts so that the healthfulness of the fresh product stays intact for consumption by shoppers. Once the product is in the store, Side Delights offers award-winning, eye-catching packaging and a complete category assortment to address all types of shoppers (value, convenience-oriented, gourmet, and organic).

“In a time where immunity, health benefits, and food sourcing are critical aspects of food quality, Side Delights potatoes are a nutrient-rich choice for any meal at any age, grown in this country’s best-growing regions,” noted Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. “Retailers benefit when they leverage this information and feature potatoes in stores and online to remind shoppers to add potatoes to their shopping lists and carts.”

About Fresh Solutions Network, LLC:  Fresh Solutions Network (FSN) is the exclusive supplier of Side Delights® potatoes and onions.  FSN is a group of family-owned potato and onion growers and shippers who help fresh potato and onion buyers grow their categories, maximize category investment, and increase sales. FSN delivers category insights, collaborative innovation, and customized assortment. Fresh Solutions Network, LLC partners include: Sterman Masser, Inc. (Masser Potato Farms and Keystone Potato Products in Sacramento and Hegins, PA), Michael Family Farms, Inc.  (Urbana, OH), Basin Gold Cooperative, Inc. (Pasco, WA), NoKota Packers, Inc. (Buxton, ND), Sun-Glo of Idaho, Inc. (Sugar City, ID) and Mack Farms (Lake Wales, FL).

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Del Monte Fresh Announces Ties with Apeel to Bring Longer Lasting Avocados

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By Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc.

Coral Gables, FL – Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., marketers and distributors of high-quality fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, has announced through a partnership with Apeel, a company fighting the global food waste crisis with its sustainable approach to keeping produce fresh longer, it will now be able to offer its customers longer lasting avocados.

When paired with Fresh Del Monte’s high-quality avocados, Apeel’s innovation will allow them to stay fresher two times longer, helping to reduce food waste. With an infrastructure already in place to help support growth in the category, Fresh Del Monte’s new and existing customers will now be able to partner with the brand on their Apeel application.

Derived from plants, Apeel’s edible coating doubles the shelf life of fresh produce by slowing the rate of water loss and oxidation – the main factors that lead to spoilage. Made of materials found in the peels, seeds, and pulp of fruits and vegetables, Apeel’s coating helps maintain just-harvested quality, flavor and freshness longer than produce without Apeel.

As the only plant-based, end-to-end solution allowing a 2X longer shelf life for avocados, Apeel will help bring a new wave of benefits to Fresh Del Monte’s growers, packers, distributors and retailers and will offer shoppers and their families premium quality avocados that retain their flavor and ripeness for longer.

“As one of the top three suppliers of avocados in the U.S., we are excited to offer our customers the option to work with Apeel,” said Kirk Marquardt, Vice President, Avocado Sales. “At Fresh Del Monte, sustainability is a top priority and we know that Apeel’s sustainable approach to reducing food waste will help to build a more resilient food system for the future. We are confident that our strong avocado program will continue to grow from this exciting partnership.”

With over 100 years of brand recognition and one of the newest and largest state of the art packing facilities in Mexico, Fresh Del Monte remains committed to offering its customers the freshest and most convenient produce options. The innovation of Apeel will help to provide new and more sustainable options for them for years to come.

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Ginger Imports Surge in 2020

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High prices for ginger in the domestic market is a key factor in The United States being the world’s largest importer of product, as well as due to the beneficial properties against COVID-19.

About 89 percent of ginger imports by the U.S. are conventional, while showing a steady growth at an average annual rate of 8.3 percent. In 2019 Agraria reported there was 78,505 tons of ginger imported.

From January to August 2020, the U.S. imported 63,392 tons of ginger, reflecting a 17 percent increase when compared to the same time period in 2019 (54,100 tons).

China is the leading supplier of ginger to the U.S. with an average share of 77 percent of all imports. However, their share has been declining from 83 percent in 2013 to 76 percent in 2019 (59,555 tons) and 69 percent between January-August 2020 (43,729 tons).

Brazil has taken over this share, with their exports to the U.S. growing at a 19 percent annual average rate. It doubled its supply to the United States in 2018, over 2017, from 3,158 tons to 6,488 tons.

In 2019, it increased its volume by 23 percent, exporting 7,957 tons, surpassing ginger suppliers such as Peru and Costa Rica, while at the same time increasing their share to 10 percent of the total imported. It increased 12 percent from January-August 2020.

Peru is the third-largest supplier of ginger to the U.S., with an average annual growth rate of 15.1 percent. Its peak was achieved in 2017 with 5,414 tons.

Since then, its exports declined the next two years, reaching the lowest level in 2019 with 2,831 tons. From January-August 2020 it surpassed 3,880 tons, exporting more to the U.S. than all of 2019, reflecting a 37 percent growth.

Organic ginger
The U.S. has begun to import organic ginger in low volumes, for now, due to its limited supply. These imports account for 11 percent of ginger imports.

From January-August that share increased to 12 percent, accounting for 8,404 tons, which is 85 percent more than the 4,500 tons imported during the same period in 2019.

While the previous main supplier of organic ginger to the U.S. was China, accounting for more than 80 percent of all imports in the previous years, from January-August 2020 their share fell to only 4.7 percent.

Peru was then the main supplier, accounting for an 86.5 percent from January-August 2020 with 7,267 tons, while in 2019 they exported 5,682 tons.

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New Research Reveals America’s Fruit & Vegetable Consumption is Eroding

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By Produce for Better Health Foundation

Despite decades of industry and public health efforts, America’s fruit and vegetable consumption continues to decline, according to newly released State of the Plate: America’s Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Trends research from the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH).

The research shows people are eating fruits and vegetables less frequently, down nearly 10% since 2004, when the PBH State of the Plate reporting began. The most significant contributors to this decline have been a 16% decrease in vegetable consumption frequency, followed by a 15% reduction in juice intake. In the past five years alone, overall consumption has declined by 3%, indicating the trend is worsening every year.

Every five years, PBH conducts an in-depth analysis of fruit and vegetable consumption patterns in partnership with The NPD Group, which tracks how, when and where we eat fruits and vegetables. PBH’s research report provides valuable insights to better understand Americans’ eating behaviors and, ultimately, identifies opportunities to effectively help people enjoy more fruits and vegetables in all forms (i.e., fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice), more often.

“It is no exaggeration that we are in the midst of a fruit and vegetable consumption crisis in our country. Further, this underconsumption is not only pervasive among all age groups but it is also persistent,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, president and CEO of PBH. “The PBH State of the Plate research report shows most Americans currently eat fruits and vegetables on just one occasion or less each day. A decline in fruit and vegetable eating occasions does not bode well for the future of fruit and vegetable intake and, most importantly, Americans’ health and happiness.”

“We were already long falling behind in our consumption goals, but much of this new data is especially striking considering we are also in the midst of a worsening obesity epidemic as well as a global pandemic in which consuming foods that support our immune system like fruits and vegetables is even more critical,” Reinhardt Kapsak added. “Research continues to show that eating more fruits and vegetables is the single most important action people can take for better health and happiness. Yet, we’re clearly failing Americans in making this action easy and enjoyable, given the continued decline in consumption. The time is NOW to rethink and reimagine how we improve fruit and vegetable consumption in America.”

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Daily Avocado Consumption is Beneficial for Gut Health, Study Reveals for First Time

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Eating avocado as part of your daily diet can help improve gastrointestinal system health, a new study from the University of Illinois, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences shows.

It is well known that avocados are a healthy food that is high in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, which is a heart-healthy fat. However, it was unclear how avocados impact the microbes in the gut.

Researchers found that people who ate avocado every day as part of a meal had a greater abundance of gut microbes that break down fiber and produce metabolites that support gut health. They also had greater microbial diversity compared to people who did not receive the avocado meals in the study, according to the paper.

Avocado is an energy-dense food, but it is also nutrient-dense, and it contains important micronutrients that Americans don’t eat enough of, like potassium and fiber.

“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce,” said Sharon Thompson, a graduate student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at U of I. “Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health,” Thompson said.

“Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short-chain fatty acids. These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.” While other research on avocado consumption has focused on weight loss, participants in this study were not advised to restrict or change what they ate. Instead, they consumed their normal diets with the exception of replacing one meal per day with the meal the researchers provided.

The purpose of the study was to explore the effects of avocado consumption on the gastrointestinal microbiota, said Hannah Holscher, assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I. “Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota,” she said.

Soluble fiber content is important and a medium avocado provides around 12 grams of fiber, which goes a long way toward meeting the recommended amount of 28 to 34 grams of fiber per day. “Less than 5 percent of Americans eat enough fiber. Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day,” Holscher said. “We can’t break down dietary fibers, but certain gut microbes can. When we consume dietary fiber, it’s a win-win for gut microbes and us,” she said.

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