Archive For The “News” Category

Strawberries Lead in Value of Ventura County Produce Crops

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California’s Ventura County strawberries remains the top crop and the county’s 10 leading crops in terms of value are mostly fruits and vegetables, according to the Ventura County Crop & Livestock Report for 2017.  The report details changes in value for different fruits and vegetables.

Kale, riding a wave of popularity in recent years, dropped off the top 10 list in 2017, replaced by cabbage.  Celery moved up a slot to Number 3, switching places with nursery stock.

The 10 leading crops in Ventura County in 2017, with values in millions from 2017 and (2016), and ranking last season:

 

  1. 1. Strawberries $654.3, ($654.9, No.1)
  2.  2, Lemons $258.6, ($276, No. 2)
  3. Celery $210.4, ($202.4, No. 4)
  4. Nursery stock $198, (206.8, No. 3)
  5. Raspberries $166.7, ($171.2, No. 5)
  6. Avocados $118.7 ($129, No. 6)
  7. Cut flowers $49.9 ($48, No. No. 8)
  8. Tomatoes $47.5 ($48, No. 9)
  9. Peppers $45.8 ($61.1 No. 7)
  10. Cabbage $33.9 ($29.5; not on list)

Other million-dollar crops in the county this year, and value in millions, include kale ($31.6); total lettuce ($29.9); cilantro ($25.1); and blueberries ($20.8).

Organic fruit and nut production in Ventura County continued to grow in 2017, with total value going from $133.4 million from 5,019 acres to $167.1 million on 6,260 acres, according to the report.

Organic vegetables and herbs in Ventura County, however, dropped, from $40.7 million from 2,290 acres in 2016, to $30.2 million from 2,500 acres.

Throughout the report, growers tell their stories on how the Thomas Fire affected their operations in the last year. The fire broke out in early December and lasted just over a month, burning homes and affecting lemon and avocado production. At the time, it was the largest wildfire in California history, but it has already been surpassed by fires this summer. According to the report, the stories/testimonials serve “as a tribute to the strength and resilience of Ventura County’s agricultural industry …”

“Avocados take several years to come into production,” Deborah Brokaw Jackson of Brokaw Ranch Co., said in the report. “Even if we could replant right away, we are looking at about six years to full recovery.”

She said about 40% of the company’s avocado trees — 60 acres —are unlikely to make a full recovery, and nurseries in the region won’t have trees available until 2021 due to demand.

Gordon Kimball of Kimball Ranch said his operation’s recovery will also be long-term.

“The challenges we are facing due to the Thomas Fire are economic losses and financing the operation going forward,” Kimball said in the report. “Not all of the costs scale down by the reduction in tree count. Then there’s getting the replacement trees since the nurseries were sold out two years before the fire.”

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Mission Produce Opens New Ripening, Distribution Center in Portland, Oregon

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DSCN0857by Mission Produce

Mission Produce, the industry leader in producing, distributing, and marketing fresh Hass avocados has opened a state-of-the-art, ripening and distribution center in Portland, Ore. This new forward distribution center (FDC), will expand Mission’s capabilities in the Pacific-Northwest.

“Portland, Ore., is a great location for our new FDC,” stated Ben Barnard, Vice President of Global Partnerships and Business Development. “This new facility at 58,000 square feet, will expand our ripe capacity by providing 10 ripe rooms that are each capable of storing 24 pallets. Also, the facility will enhance our cold storage by offering two coolers and a cutting-edge refrigerated control system,” continued Barnard. In addition to coolers, a refrigerated control system, and ripe rooms, the Portland facility will house five functional refrigerated loading docks and five temporary non-refrigerated docks.

“Mission is extremely excited about this new facility,” added Steve Barnard, President, and CEO. “We are always looking ahead and considering the demand for avocados. Our continued growth within the ripe category is necessary. This FDC is strategically positioned in Portland, Ore., to broaden our ripe capacities in the Pacific-Northwest region, keeping Mission within a 24-hour truck-drive away anywhere nationwide.”

Mission hosted a grand opening of the new facility last August. The event was for customers and potential partners to tour the FDC and meet members of the Mission team from quality, sales, and ripening. “Our team of Mission trained experts were thrilled to host this grand opening. They are ready to continue assisting the Pacific-Northwest region with their ripening expertise and knowledge of the avocado industry standards,” stated Ryan Fink, Vice President of North American Operations. “By continuing to expand our facilities, we are able to better serve our growing customer base with additional capacity to react when needed. Also, with the upgraded refrigeration and ripening controls we are able to continue to monitor and ensure conditions stay optimal to deliver the highest quality fruit to our customers daily.”

About Mission Produce:

Mission Produce owns and operates state-of-the-art avocado packing facilities in multiple global locations including California, Mexico, and Peru. In addition, the company’s global distribution network includes 11 ripening and distribution centers in North America, China, and Europe.

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Ecuadorian Dragon Fruit (Pitahaya)Imports by U.S. Soar in First Year

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A15Following only one season of exporting dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya, the U.S. has become Ecuador’s second-largest market.

Quito-based Agricola Pitacava of Quito has shipped 40 metric tons of the tropical fruit, also known as pitahaya, to the U.S. compared to last season.

Ecuador exported 68 metric tops to its leading market, Hong Kong.

Market access by U.S. authorities was granted in June 2017, followed by the first exports taking place in September.

Some observers note the U.S. market, which now has a lot of people from Asia living it, turns out to be better than expected.  Asians are familiar with red dragon fruit, as well as yellow dragon fruit.

Agricola Pitacava reports its exports to the U.S.  are a little over 18 percent of its total volume of 220 metric tons, which also include exports to the Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Ecuador’s export volume to the U.S. in the first year is unprecedented.   For example, it took 5 years for Hong Kong to become the company’s top export market after it opened in 2013.  There is a lot of optimism regarding the U.S. market, not only because of its large population, but it has higher incomes. This is important because is seen as one of the most expensive fruits.

Pitahaya often costs around $8 per pound in the U.S., compared to HKD69 (U.S. $8.80)  in Hong Kong.  In Europe the pitahayas are sold by per piece at €8 – 10 (US$9 – 11.50).

Consumer preferences vary widely between the west and the east regarding dragon fruit, or pitahaya.  For example,  in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, there is a preference for bigger fruit, of 300g and above.  However in the U.S. consumers do not for pitahaya sizes and are purchasing smaller sizes from 180g to the big fruit that could be 450g.

 

 

 

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Updates on 2 Potato and Onion Shippers in Idaho and Oregon

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A348Potato shipper Eagle Eye Produce, headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, is loading potatoes out of Mattawa, WA, and Pioche, NV, with farming operations at each location with production and shipping facilities on each farm….Meanwhile Oregon onion shipper River Point Farms is shipping onions year around.

Eagle Eye Produce has found the Nevada growing area offers ideal growing for potatoes due to isolation and dry climate.  This reduces disease issues which often hinders other growing regions.   The company has a climate-controlled storage on site, providing it with the ability to ship potatoes starting in September and going through May.

In Mattawa, the Eagle Eye facility will provide about 2,500 truck loads of product available for shipment with a high percentage of No. 1’, which means excellent quality that is shipped to foodservice customers.

Eagle Eye started its new crop potato shipments on August 1st and will continue shipping through next July, which means it has potatoes year-round.

Eagle Eye Produce reports trucking and transportation issues remains one of the biggest challenges with the company and the produce industry.

This is resulting in Eagle Eye searching for alternate means of transportation for shipping product ranging from rail, to cold connect, and intermodal.  There operation also has its own logistic department with a fleet of trucks that helps reduces the challenges it faces with transportation.

River Point Farms

River Point Farms, based in Hermiston, OR, is a vertically integrated, source-based onion supplier shipping whole skin-on, whole peel and cut onions to market 52 weeks per year.

The company is one of the largest onion shippers in the United States growing between 400 to 500 million pounds of onions annually.  The firm has yellow, red, sweet yellow, sweet red, white and organic yellows on its farms in the Columbia Basin.  River Point has a state-of-the-art packing and storage facilities allowing it to grow, store, pack and process quality onions year-round.

River Point Farms started its new crop of onion shipments in late June.

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Wish Farms Closes On Property For New Headquarters

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A29By Wish Farms

Plant City, FL – Family-owned, international berry supplier Wish Farms, will be breaking ground on its new, state-of-the-art headquarters. The Plant City property is a prime location next to Interstate 4 situated on Frontage Road, west of Park Road.

“Visibility was a major factor in the selection of the site, as that falls in line with the strategic vision for our brand,” said Wish Farms owner Gary Wishnatzki. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, approximately 115,000 vehicles travel along the stretch of highway every day. “We want to carry on the nearly 100-year old tradition between our company and this community, so I’m extremely pleased that we are staying in Plant City.”

Wish Farms’ recognizable consumer brand has seen a significant spike in popularity since it rebranded in 2010. Gaining traction with berry shoppers across the country, the move comes at good time for the company. Wish Farms’ Chief Operating Officer J.C. Clinard: “Space has been an issue for us during this growth period. The move is going to drastically increase our efficiency and scalability, while positively impacting the local economy.”

The Beck Group will be overseeing the construction on the 36-acre site, as well as the design-build of the 20,000-square foot, three-story office building. RCS Company of Tampa is tasked with constructing the 138,000-square foot warehouse. It will include blueberry and strawberry processing, pre-cooling, materials storage, and cooler space.

Keeping the company’s logo in mind, a “pixie theme” will be front and center. Beck’s team has been working closely with “Head Pixie”, Wishnatzki. He wants the new space to be unique. “We have a lot of fun and unexpected things planned; this is going to be a special place.” The new design, which incorporates the latest environmentally responsible and sustainable methods, will include a large solar array. “I see our new campus as a retention and recruiting tool for top talent, but I’m really excited that our new home is going to reflect our fun, family-friendly brand.”

The plan also calls for a treehouse conference space, being designed and built by James “B’fer” Roth, from DIY Network’s The Treehouse Guys. An adult-sized indoor slide and a large rooftop deck will be prominent features. The land contains a four-acre lake and a spring, which will be preserved to highlight the property’s natural beauty. A new organic blueberry farm will be planted to add to the company’s current offerings.

Joe Kuhn, the seller, was the third-generation of his family to possess the land. His grandfather, Andras, acquired it in 1929 as payment for a pre-depression loan. Coincidentally, both Wishnatzki and Kuhn’s grandfathers immigrated to the United States within a year of each other. “I’m very happy that the property is going to stay in the agriculture sector and with a company that has a special bond with the area. This is truly the best-case scenario for all,” said Kuhn.

Proceeds from the sale are going into the Kuhn Family’s charitable trust that will share funds with the community. Ribbon cutting is planned in the winter of 2019.

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About Wish Farms:

Wish Farms, founded in 1922 and third-generation owned, is a year-round supplier of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries growing both conventional and organic varieties.

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Produce Associations are Pleased with Trade Agreement between U.S., Mexico, Canada

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A33by Produce Marketing Association

Newark, Del. – Richard Owen, the vice president of Global Membership & Engagement of the Produce Marketing Association, issued the following statement regarding the conclusion of negotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico to update the free trade agreement among the three countries:

“The members of the Produce Marketing Association are pleased that negotiators have concluded discussions on an updated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade.  A single agreement is the best way to address the extensive relationships and investments in produce and floral production and sales that have developed in North America. This agreement is consistent with our overarching goals of free and fair trade and we hope that the new agreement will be quickly ratified by all three countries.

We are encouraged by the certainty that this new agreement provides to companies doing business in North America. The 6-year review and 16-year duration of the agreement give confidence for future investment to further build and expand trade among the countries as our members work to supply consumers’ expectations of a vast range of fresh produce and floral products year-round. Some of our members sought provisions on seasonal products not included in the final agreement, and we appreciate commitments from negotiators to continue to examine opportunities to address their concerns.”

About Produce Marketing Association

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption.

By United Fresh Produce Association

“United Fresh is encouraged by the news that a revised tri-lateral agreement has been reached between the United Stated, Mexico and Canada.  The strong relationships our members have established between these three countries have helped enable the growth of the fresh produce industry over the last quarter century. Coming on the heels of United Fresh’s annual Washington Conference and the inaugural Global Trade Forum in which this issue was front, and center and where attendees heard directly from key U.S. negotiators, the announcement of this revised agreement highlights the importance of our continued engagement on key policy issues by those in the produce industry. United Fresh looks forward to working with Congress to achieve the swift approval of this new agreement.”

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National Outlook for Sweet Potato Shipments Gets Cloudy Following Hurricane Florence

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DSCN0837News has been sketchy so far, but The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and consumer estimates Hurricane Florence inflicted over $1.1 billion in damage to crops and livestock in North Carolina.  Of that, about $27 million is damage to sweet potatoes, other vegetables and horticultural crop losses.  North Carolina ships more sweet potatoes annually than all of producing states combined.

The numbers easily top the $400 million seen following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in the release. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”

According to the state’s agricultural department:

  • Row crop losses are estimated at $986.6 million
  • Forestry losses are estimated at $69.6 million
  • Green industry losses are estimated at $30 million
  • Vegetable and horticulture crop losses are estimated at $26.8 million
  • Livestock, poultry and aquaculture losses are estimated at $23.1 million
  • Livestock losses are 4.1 million poultry and an estimate of 5,500 hogs.

The state did not make damage estimates by individual commodities.

Sweet potato growers and shippers report it could be months before the full extent of losses may be determined.  Sweet potato harvest in the state continued September 27th after Florence, with more than half of the crop remaining in the field.

Prior to the massive Hurricane and flooding, Nash Produce LLC of Nashville, NC expected sweet potato acreage to be down.

Southern sweet potato shipments has been declining in recent years primarily due to overproduction and poor markets.

U.S. sweet potato acreage in 2017 was down 2.45 percent compared to 2016, although yield per acre increased 16 percent.  No official estimate has been made for acreage or volume for 2018.

J Roland Wood Produce Co. of Benson, NC expects a 10 percent reduction in yields this year as a result of a decrease in acreage after last year, plus several weeks of dry weather before Florence.  The company had a 20 percent cut in yields from last year, totaling a 30 percent reduction in yield rate from 2017.

Ham Produce Co. Inc. of Snow Hill, NC had been harvesting a few weeks when Florence hit.  SMP Southeast/Edmonson Farms of Vardaman, MS started harvesting in the last half of August. While quality was described as having very good quality, volume still wasn’t expected to equal last year.  However, total shipments by the company were expected to be adequate to fill customer demand.

Bland Farms of Glennville, GA was expecting the company’s volume to be similar to last year.

 

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Red Delicious Apple after Decades May Lose Number One Ranking

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A12Red delicious apples most likely will lose its Number one ranking in the U.S. after being the most popular apple for decades.  It is expected to be replaced by the gala variety.

Final tabulations will not be available until the fall’s harvest is complete.  However, the U.S. Apple Association reported last summer at its Annual Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago, pre-season estimates point to the change, ending an era that began more than half a century ago.

Other apple varieties making up the largest crops are granny smith, fuji and Honeycrisp, according to a news release.

U.S. Apple Association’s annual Production and Utilization Analysis puts gala production for the upcoming season at 52.43 million 42-pound cartons (up from 49.57 million cartons). Red delicious is forecast to drop from 57.91 million to 51.69 million cartons.

“The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption domestic market has caused demand for red delicious to decline,” Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs, said in the release. “However, red delicious is important in the export market, where it makes up roughly half of our apple exports.”

That includes important markets like Mexico and China, where U.S. apple exports now face higher tariffs in response to Trump administration tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products from those countries sent to the U.S. How exports of red delicious and other apples will fare in the coming season remains to be seen.

The pre-season top-five ranking is notable for another change: golden delicious has ceded its position to relative newcomer Honeycrisp. In a testament to how the old guard of popular apple varieties is quickly changing, Seetin said Honeycrisp production and sales trends put it within striking distance of the third-largest variety crop within two years. Honeycrisp production was 19.32 million cartons for the 2017-18 marketing year, and numbers from the Outlook conference put this year’s production at 23.57 million cartons.

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Pecan Industry Launches First-Ever National Consumer Campaign

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A25by American Pecan Council

FORT WORTH, Texas — Pecans have been hovering below the radar for most Americans – often dismissed as an ingredient just for holiday pies. Even though pecans are the only major tree nut indigenous to America, many people in the country are unaware of the versatility, health benefits, American heritage, and year-round availability of pecans. That’s all about to change.

Today the pecan industry launched its first-ever national consumer campaign to help America’s native nut proudly claim its spot as a super nutritious, super versatile and super local nut. American Pecans, The Original Supernut™ is a brand positioning for pecans and a consumer education initiative to get Americans to think about pecans in a new way.

“The American pecan industry has a rich history dating back centuries and a powerful story that is largely untold – our goal is to change that,” said Mike Adams, a Texas pecan grower and chairperson of the American Pecan Council – a new organization formed as a result of a Federal Marketing Order (FMO) for pecans approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2016. “Other nuts, to their credit, have benefited from large consumer campaigns for decades. Now, we want to shine a light on our industry that has come together to share the story of the American Pecan.”

The campaign will help change America’s perception of pecans, focusing on three major reasons they truly are The Original Supernut.

  • Pecans are super nutritious: Even though pecans are typically considered a dessert nut, they are extremely nutrient dense and nearly two decades of research document their heart-health benefits.* Pecans are among the highest in “good” monounsaturated fats, and contain plant protein, fiber, flavonoids and essential minerals, including copper, manganese and zinc.
  • Pecans are super versatile: They are an easy snack right out of the bag or mixed with dried fruit for a fast trail mix. They can be tossed onto morning oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, and salads. And while pecan pie is a holiday favorite, pecans can be used in many savory recipes such as pasta, dips, and even tacos – the possibilities are endless.
  • Pecans are super local: Of all the major tree nuts eaten in the U.S., pecans are the only ones indigenous to America. Once grown wild and enjoyed by Native Americans, pecans are now harvested in 15 states across the pecan belt.

The U.S. annual pecan harvest averages about 300 million pounds, which is a large portion of the global pecan supply. However, pecan production is significantly lower than other major tree nuts that have benefited from Federal Marketing Orders for decades, such as 2 billion pounds for almonds and 1 billion for walnuts. Pecan growers have planted thousands of acres of new trees in the last few years in anticipation of the expected increase in demand.

About the American Pecan Council

The American Pecan Council (APC) is a group of passionate pecan growers and shellers whose life work is dedicated to growing, harvesting and processing America’s native nut. Founded in 2016 through a Federal Marketing Order, the APC’s mission is to promote the many benefits of the American Pecan and help tell the story of this truly unique nut. With oversight by the USDA, APC aims to build consumer demand, develop markets and establish industry standards. APC is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and funded by pecan handlers in 15 pecan-producing states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.

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Organic Fruit Sales and Volume are Showing Double Digit Growth

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A15Organic fruit dollar volume and dollar sales rose 12.6 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.

Organic Produce Network and Nielsen data show items leading the list were berries, experiencing a 22 percent sales increase.  Berries are followed by bananas and apples.

Sales of organic strawberries, blueberries and blackberries exceeded $586 million in 2017, with volume up 22 percent.

Organic apple volume increased 11 percent and banana volume was up 17.5 percent.

Organic fruit suppliers say they’ve got plenty of product to go around this season.

CMI Orchards LLC of Wenatchee, WA is reporting its biggest tonnage year on organics this season with apples.  The company markets the Daisy Girl Organics brand.

Most of the increase is attributed to acreage transitioning from conventional.

The Oppenheimer Group of Vancouver, B.C. reports its imported organic apple program is winding down as it is preparing for its fresh-crop organic Envy, Jazz and Pacific Rose from Washington.

Oppenheimer also is currently handling organic Zespri green kiwifruit and the increasingly popular SunGold kiwifruit.

Stemilt Growers Inc. of Wenatchee, WA  is shipping organic versions of all the fruit the company grows.  This includes organic cherries and apricots during the summer, as well as an entire crop of organic peaches and nectarines.

Other times of the year, Stemilt ships organic apples and pears.

Homegrown Organic Farms of Porterville, CA notes some growers have left the organic business since the could no longer meet the size, color and flavor requirements and still receive organic certification. The company reports consumers still will pay a premium for organic tree fruit, but the bar has been raised from when they would pay more for a product simply because it’s organic. An organic product has to look just as good as conventional now.

Another popular organic item are bananas.

Dole Food Co. of Westlake Village, CA is seeing its strongest growth in demand for organic bananas.

Organics Unlimited Inc. of San Diego offers plantains and coconuts, but its bestseller by far is organic bananas and the company is expecting sales increases to continue.

The company currently is adding acreage.

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