Archive For The “News” Category

Mexico, Peru Dominate Berry Volume, According to USDA Report

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A recent detailed 18-page National Berry Report by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service details volumes of berries placed in the market since Jan. 1, 2023. It offers information on strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Peruvian Blueberries

Peru produces about 68 percent of the blueberries in the market so far this year.

The market has received a total of 112.3 million flats of blueberries, up from 101.2 million a year ago so far this year. Peru has shipped 76.1 million flats of blueberries in 2023. For the same dates in 2022, Peru provided 60.3 million flats.

Running a distant second this year is Chilean blueberry volume, which still accounts for a strong 17.2 million flats. This is up from 14.5 million a year ago.

Mexico’s volume to the market is slightly down this year, to 11.4 million blueberry flats, about a million below the 2022 figure.

The state of Georgia dropped way off this winter, from 11.5 million flats early in 2022 to 6.7 million thus far in 2023. Also, Argentina’s blueberry volume to the U.S. this year is significantly down by 1.2 million, to less than 700,000 flats so far in 2023.

Colombia and Uruguay are both slightly down as blueberry sources, collectively accounting for less than 200,000 flats.

Mexican Strawberries

Since the first of the year, strawberry volume from Mexico, totaling 26.7 million flats, almost equals the combined total from California and Florida.  

California has shipped 13.7 million flats so far in 2023. Oxnard provided 13.5 million of those total California flats. With Florida providing 14.1 million, the two states in 2023 have combined to ship 27.3 million flats of strawberries.

Florida’s 2023 volume is down year-on-year, from 16.0 million year-on-year. California’s strawberry volume has dropped from 16.7 million a year ago.

Mexico’s volume is up three million flats to date over 2022. A year ago, Mexico’s total strawberry exports to the U.S. totaled 23.6 million flats.

Pharr, TX, is significantly increasing its lead as the strongest Mexican strawberry crossing point. To date in 2023, Pharr’s strawberry volume is 17.6 million flats, up from 14.3 million a year ago. Laredo, TX, rose to 6.0 million flats, up from 4.2 million flats of strawberries in the first six weeks of 2022. The other significant crossing point for Mexican strawberries this year is Otay Mesa (San Diego, CA) which is down two million flats to 3.0 million.

Raspberries and Blackberries

USDA figures show very consistent volumes for both raspberries and blackberries entering the market this year, compared to the same period in 2022. The 2023 blackberry volume is 27.9 million flats, versus 27.3 million in 2022. Raspberry volume for 2023 is 29.9 million flats, up slightly from 28.5 million a year ago.

Mexico is the overwhelming raspberry source, providing all but 300,000 flats for the U.S. market so far. California’s raspberry volume plummeted from a half-million flats in early 2022 to a quarter-million so far this year. So far this year, Canada and Guatemala combine for 38,000 flats of raspberries.

Mexico has supplied about 62 percent of the blackberries for the U.S. market so far this year. Mexico’s blackberry volume this year is up around 1.5 million flats to 17.3 million. All other sources of blackberries account for 10.2 million flats, with California shipping 9.3 million flats into the early 2023 market. 

Georgia’s blackberry volume is down about 300,000 flats to 784,238 total in 2023.

Guatemala has shipped about a half-million flats of blackberries in the early weeks of each of the last two years.

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Over 1 Million Tons of Mexican Avocados Exported to the U.S. Last Year

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Mexico exported just over one million tons of avocado to the U.S. in 2020. With this, the combined annual commercial value totaled $3.1 billion dollars, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The federal agency reports the success of exported Mexican avocados has been based on its quality, safety measures and a larger area devoted to cultivation, with a total 248,456 hectares.

Along with this extensive growing area, the country’s sustainable practices and an efficient and effective use of water resources have allowed the industry to secure surplus volumes in order to set annual records in the international market.

Of total exports, 95% corresponded to fresh whole avocados, 4% to guacamole and 2% to pulp.

Data from the USDA shows from January to November last year, 82% of the total fresh avocado imported came from Mexico, with a value of $2.7 billion dollars.

According to data from the Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera (SIAP), in 2022 the sale of guacamole showed a year-on-year increase of 8%, going from 35,809 tons to 38,723 tons, while avocado pulp was marketed in quantities averaging 338 tons per week.

The origin of the fruit was exclusively from Michoacan fields certified by Mexican and U.S. health authorities.

However, in the second half of 2022, the USDA approved imports from Jalisco, expanding the scope of the Mexican industry in the U.S.

In the case of guacamole, which is a sauce that combines avocado pulp, garlic, onion, chile, tomato, lime juice and salt, 2,975 tons were destined for the U.S. market in the three weeks prior to the Super Bowl, while in the same period last year, pulp exports averaged 371 tons per week.

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How to Determine a Ripe Banana

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Depending on ripeness, bananas range in color from shades of almost hunter green flecked with whispers of yellow, all the way to deep canary yellow speckled with pinpricks of brown. Where a banana falls on this green-to-yellow range holds the key to where this banana will travel next on its circuitous journey from farm to produce aisle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes a numbered color index that conveys quick-glance standardization to help produce buyers make decisions. Depending on whether the case of bananas in question looks like a No. 2 or a No. 5 will determine the exact amount of time the bananas will spend in a ripening room, benefiting from specific temperature controls and piped-in ethylene gas that helps ripening progress smoothly.

After close monitoring in the ripening room confirms that the fruit is the perfect golden yellow color, the fruit is transported to the store. At the store, the bananas are tucked into merchandising displays. Only now can the produce team sit back and wait to discover if the bananas pass the final, most difficult desirability test: Will the ripe fruit catch a shopper’s eye?

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Retail Organic Strawberry Sales Surge 22% in One Year

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IRI retail scan data shows that retail organic strawberry sales in 2021 totaled $447.6 million, up a whopping 22% from 2020.

Organic strawberries accounted for 12.2% of total retail strawberry sales in 2021, IRI data shows. Organic strawberries also represented nearly 6% of total organic produce sales in 2021, according to IRI.

Retailers in 2021 moved 98.5 million pounds of organic strawberries at an average retail price of $4.55 per pound, retail scan data reveals.

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Importance of Texas Ports for Mexican Produce Continues to Increase

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A significant share of northbound produce shipments from Mexico is coming through the Laredo port district of Texas, a new USDA report reveals.

Called the “U.S.-Mexico Agricultural Trade Logistics Review,” the report indicated that, excluding avocados, about 38% of Mexico’s fresh fruit and vegetable exports flow through Laredo crossings, 30% through Nogales and 17% through San Diego.

Much like fresh produce southbound from the U.S., Mexico’s exports of fresh fruits and vegetables are shipped almost exclusively by truck, the report said.

In value terms, the U.S. held a 64% market share of all agricultural and related exports to Mexico in 2021. During the same year, 81% of Mexico’s total agricultural exports went to the U.S.

While U.S. exports of fresh produce to Mexico often flow through the Western land ports such as Nogales, Ariz., and San Diego, the report said northbound shipments are more heavily oriented towards eastern commercial crossings in Texas. 

“Some exceptions exist for products whose production zones in Mexico are in closer proximity to the Nogales/San Diego commercial crossings such as table grapes and watermelon,” the report said. “However, existing infrastructure, inspection capacity, and more direct access to the largest U.S. markets dictate more eastbound trade flows.”

In fact, U.S. imports of avocados from Mexico, totaling more than 1 million metric tons in 2021, are largely shipped through the Laredo district in Texas, the report said.

“Fresh tomatoes represent another product that is shipped at volume through the Laredo district throughout the year (especially through the McAllen port of entry),” the report said.  However, the report said there are also seasonal increases through Nogales in the first half of the year with a less-pronounced increase through San Diego mid- to late year. 

The report said a notable feature of Mexican fresh fruit and vegetable trade through the Laredo district is the extent to which certain products flow through certain port of entries.

“For example, a large majority of fresh fruit and vegetables transit through the Reynosa/McAllen port of entry as opposed to the Laredo/Colombia port of entries,” the report said.

Based on the geography of production zones for several fresh products in Mexico, the report said the Nogales port of entry is also a seasonally important conduit particularly of table grapes, watermelon and several vegetable varieties. 

In 2021 and 2022, northbound agricultural trade from Mexico to the U.S. has been characterized by record values due in part to the current high-price environment for food and agricultural products, the report said.

“Strong consumer demand in the U.S. continues to contribute to record volumes of food and agricultural imports,” the report said. 

Another feature of cross-border trade during COVID-19 was an increasing imbalance between north and southbound freight shipped via truck, with far more freight heading northbound than southbound, the report said.

“This imbalance is not new and for several years predating COVID, food and agricultural trade via truck was more heavily northbound-oriented. However, the imbalance sharpened in 2020 and 2021. A north-south imbalance that was traditionally 3-to-1 reached as high as 8-to-1 in late 2020. Also complicating the commercial truck area of the supply chain are driver shortages on both sides of the border.”

The report said the national trucking association in Mexico (CANACAR) estimated that Mexico has a shortage of up to 50,000 truckers.

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Clementine and Mandarin Popularity Continues to Soar

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Retail per capita availability of fresh tangerines/tangelos and mandarins has increased 187% since 2000, USDA statistics show. This has been helped by a doubling of domestic production and a quadrupling of imports.

Retail 2020 per capita consumption of tangerines/tangelos/mandarins was 6.3 pounds, up from 2.7 pounds in 2000.

The total U.S. supply of soft citrus varieties was 2.3 billion pounds in 2020, with 1.42 billion pounds supplied by domestic production and 862 million pounds from imports.

That compares with 870 million pounds of total supply in 2000, when 657 million pounds were grown in the U.S. and 220 million pounds were imported.

The share of supply provided by imports rose from 24% in 2000 to 37% in 2020, according to the USDA.

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USDA Statistics: Mexico’s Dominance in Imports is Revealed

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The U.S. imports of many fruits and vegetables are dominated by product from Mexico, with numerous fresh produce commodities showing double-digit gains in value over the last two years, USDA statistics show.

Avocados are the top-valued U.S. fresh produce commodity imported from Mexico, USDA statistics show. 

U.S. imports of Mexican avocados totaled $2.9 billion from December 2021 through November 2022, up 13% from the previous year and up 31% from two years ago. Mexican avocados accounted for 88% of the value of all U.S. avocado imports in 2022, down from 91% the previous year but the same percentage as five years ago.

The second-biggest U.S. import category of Mexican produce was berries (excluding strawberries), valued at $2.49 billion from December 2021 through November 2022, up 15% from the previous year and up 37% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 59% of U.S. berry imports (excluding strawberries) in 2022, up from 58% the previous year and up from 55% five years ago.

Mexican tomatoes were the third-leading U.S. produce import from December 2021 through November 2022, accounting for $2.43 billion. That is up 3% from the previous year and up 3% from two years ago.

Mexico accounted for about 86% of all U.S. tomato imports in 2022, up from 85% the previous year and up from 84% five years ago.

U.S. imports of Mexican fresh peppers totaled $1.44 billion from December 2021 through November 2022, down 3% from the previous year but up 12% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for about 76% of total U.S. fresh pepper imports in 2022, down from 77% the previous year but up from 70% five years ago.

U.S. imports of fresh and frozen strawberries from December 2021 through November 2022 totaled $1.2 billion, down 2% from the previous year but up 24% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for about 85% of total U.S. strawberry imports in 2022, down from 87% a year ago and down from 94% five years ago.

U.S. imports of citrus totaled $788.8 million from December 2021 through November 2022, up 18% from the previous year and up 50% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 43% of U.S. citrus imports in 2022, up from 42% the previous year and up 39% from five years ago.

U.S. imports of fresh cucumbers totaled $693.4 million from December 2021 through November 2022, up 8% from the previous year and up 13% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 62% of total U.S. fresh cucumber imports in 2022, down from 64% the previous year and down from 68% five years ago.

U.S. imports of Mexican fresh grapes totaled $659.4 million from December 2021 through November 2022, up 16% from the previous year and up 28% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 30% of total U.S. grape imports in 2022, down from 31% the previous year and down from 32% five years ago.

U.S. imports of fresh lettuce totaled $532 million from December 2021 through November 2022, up 31% from the previous year and up 52% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 88% of U.S. fresh lettuce imports in 2022, unchanged from the previous year and up from 85% five years ago.

Mexican mango imports have been steadily rising, USDA statistics show.

From December 2021 through November 2022, U.S. imports of Mexican mangoes were $468 million, up 11% from the previous year and up 24% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 62% of total U.S. mango imports in 2022, up from 59% the previous year but down from 63% five years ago.

U.S. imports of Mexican fresh melons totaled $410 million from December 2021 through November 2022, up 13% from the previous year and up 20% from two years ago. Mexico accounted for 59% of total U.S. melon imports in 2022, up from 57% the previous year and up from 49% five years ago.  

Other U.S. imports of Mexican commodities, with imports from December 2021 through November 2022, with percent change from the previous year, according to USDA statistics:

  • Onions: $407 million, up 6%.
  • Cauliflower and broccoli: $392 million, up 12%.
  • Squash: $381 million, up 5%.
  • Asparagus: $365 million, down 9%.
  • Bananas and plantains: $221 million, up 4%.
  • Beans: $105 million, down 3%.
  • Celery: $78 million, up 10%.
  • Eggplant: $75.1 million, up 22%.
  • Carrots: $70 million, up 40%.
  • Cabbage: $58 million, down 3%.
  • Pineapple: $51 million, up 29%.
  • Garlic: $35 million, up 16%

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Chilean Fresh Fruit Export Volumes Were Steady in 2022

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Chilean fruit exports during 2022 totaled 3.44 million tons with a value of $7.44 billion FOB, an increase of .6 percent in volume and decrease of .4 percent in value when compared to 2021.

Of this total value, 68.4 percent was with fresh fruit, 22.9 percent to processed fruit, and 8.7 percent to dried fruit, ODEPA reported.

Fresh fruit sales totalled 2.615 million tons for $5.085 billion, reflecting a decrease in volume of .1 percent and 4.7 percent in value compared to the previous year.

The main commodity exported during the analysis period were cherries, reflecting a volume of 397,000 tons for $2.130 billion FOB, reflecting an increase of 18.1 in volume and 17.3 percent in value compared to the previous year.

They are followed by table grapes, with a volume of 605,994 tons for $871.6 million FOB, showing an increase of 15.4 percent in volume and decrease of 5.1 percent in value. Apples followed with a volume of 602,478 tons for $518.4 million FOB, representing a decrease of 6.4 percent in volume and 15.7 percent in value. Finally there were blueberries, with a volume of 105,403 tons for $428.8 million FOB, reflecting a decrease of 6.6 in volume and 26.1 percent in value.

Nuts reached sales of 153,408 tons for $648 million FOB, reflecting an increase of 7.3 percent in volume and decrease of 4.4 percent in value.

Processed fruits reached sales of 670,785 tons for $1.706 billion FOB, reflecting an increase of 1.7 percent in volume and 17.1 percent in value.

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Addie’s Debuts as East Coast’s First Drive-Up Grocer

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NORWOOD, Mass. –  Addie’s, the drive-up grocer redefining the grocery shopping experience, officially launched today its first concept store with $10.1 million in seed funding led by the Disruptive Innovation Fund, the venture capital arm of Clay Christensen’s Rose Park Advisors.

Instead of patchworking together in-store grocery, online grocery, and direct-to-consumer delivery models, Addie’s has built an entirely new one: a pick-up-only store designed solely for stocking, storing, and bagging groceries without the need for a shopper ever to step foot in the store itself. 

The pandemic accelerated the need to reinvent how busy consumers get their groceries, but traditional retailers and established grocery delivery apps have struggled to optimize the experience for consumers. Mercatus predicts that online grocery shopping will double to $200+ billion by 2026.

Delivery-only options cannot scale beyond population-dense urban environments, and curbside pick-up out of traditional supermarkets is inefficient, unreliable, and unprofitable. These models have significant limitations: few available time slots, low-quality produce, service fees, and frequent out-of-stock items, resulting in frustrated shoppers.

Addie’s has reimagined every aspect of grocery shopping, from inventory management to store layout, enabling accurate and affordable grocery pick-up in minutes. Consumers purchase groceries through Addie’s custom app or website and choose a pick-up window that works best for their schedules.

Addie’s saves time, money, and valuable resources by redesigning the store as an onsite warehouse and the parking lot as a convenient drive-up experience. These savings translate to higher starting wages for store employees ($20 per hour), all while maintaining competitive pricing for customers and using just a quarter of the energy required of regular supermarkets.

“We believe that taking better care of busy families should be done in a way that also takes care of our team, our community, and our planet,” said Jim McQuade, co-founder and CEO of Addie’s. “With our seed funding, we’ve built an end-to-end experience to serve people in and around Norwood in a way that can be replicated in suburbs nationwide. We look forward to quickly expanding, offering busy families across the country drive-up grocery convenience without compromise.”

“The 100-year-old grocery business is not immune to disruption,” said Matt Christensen, CEO and Managing Partner at Rose Park Advisors. “The traditional business model of in-store shopping makes serving convenience-focused shoppers highly challenging. We see disruptive potential in Addie’s technology-powered drive-up grocery model and are excited to support them as they launch.”

Addie’s first store, a 22,000 sq. ft. retail location, is now open in Norwood, Massachusetts. The company stocks a curated selection of national brands and local favorites, constantly improving its assortment based on customer searches and requests. To learn more about Addie’s, visit

About Addie’s

Addie’s is the first-of-its-kind drive-up grocer redefining the grocery experience. By eliminating in-store shopping, Addie’s has reimagined every aspect of grocery shopping, from inventory management to store layout, enabling accurate and affordable grocery pick-up in minutes. Consumers purchase groceries through Addie’s custom app or website, then choose a pick-up window. Backed by Clay Christensen’s Rose Park Advisors, Addie’s plans to expand across the U.S. The first concept store is now open in Norwood, Massachusetts.

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South Mill Champs has Grand Opening of its New Mushroom Facility

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KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. – South Mill Champs, one of North America’s largest growers and suppliers of fresh mushrooms and mushroom products announced the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art farm in Oxford, Pa.

The new facility will be one of North America’s largest single-site mushroom farms and one of the largest phase 3 composting operations. The grand opening marks the completion of the first phase of the multi-year, multi-phase farm and compost operation buildout.

“We’ve been innovating since the beginning,” said Mike Pia Jr., VP of Business Growth at South Mill Champs. “Our family has been producing compost and growing mushrooms for over 90 years in Pennsylvania. Our approach is, and has always been, to stay nimble and adapt to new technologies as they become available and proven. There is a growing demand for fresh quality produce, and we want to meet that demand with the best product possible for our partners and, ultimately, the consumer. This new facility will allow us to do just that.”

Green initiatives, including solar panels and water reducing processes and technologies, are being implemented at this facility in line with the company’s commitment to sustainability and water stewardship. Once fully implemented, on an annual basis, the facility will generate the majority of its electricity from a renewable source, capture and reuse millions of gallons of rain and wastewater, and upcycle thousands of tons of agricultural byproducts and other waste materials in the making of compost.

South Mill Champs is a leading vertically integrated compost producer, grower, and supplier of North American-grown fresh mushrooms and functional mushroom foods. Headquartered in Kennett Square, PA, South Mill Champs is a leading innovative and customer-focused supplier. It offers mushrooms and other products with full-service logistics and storage and has a reputation for superior quality and consistent supply.

South Mill Mushrooms of Pennsylvania, Champs Mushrooms of British Columbia and Loveday Mushroom Farms based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, merged between 2017 and 2020 to form South Mill Champs. Together, South Mill Champs supplies fresh mushrooms and other produce to customers in all segments of the mushroom marketplace throughout the United States and Canada.

In November 2020, South Mill Champs expanded its distribution capabilities with the opening of a new distribution center in Winter Haven, Florida. In December 2020, the company acquired The Mushroom Company, a full line mushroom processor located in Maryland. During 2021 and 2022, South Mill Champs established distribution capabilities in Sacramento and Indianapolis and expanded its fresh mushroom production capacity in British Columbia, Manitoba and Pennsylvania.

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