Archive For The “News” Category

Berries, Grapes and Avocados Lead U.S Import Increases

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U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables rose 6 percent from May 2019 through April 2020, which was led by grapes, avocados and berries.

USDA trade statistics report imports of fresh vegetables for the period were $9.31 billion for the year ending April, up 7 percent. Imports of frozen/fresh fruit were $15.08 billion, up 6 percent.

Combined U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables totaled $24.38 billion, up 6 percent from the previous year.

Imports of avocados rose 14 percent for the year ending in April, the value of grape imports increased 24 percent and berries (excluding strawberries) increased 8 percent compared with the previous year.

U.S. imports for the year from May 2019 to April 2020, with percentage change compared to the previous year:

  • Berries (excluding strawberries): $2.92 billion, up 8 percent;
  • Avocados: $2.79 billion, up 14 percent;
  • Bananas/Plantains (fresh/frozen), $2.46 billion, up 1 percent;
  • Tomatoes: $2.4 billion, up 1 percent;
  • Grapes: $1.77 billion, up 24 percent;
  •  Peppers: $1,66 billion, up 4 percent;
  • Citrus: $1.18 billion, down 6 percent; and
  • Strawberries (fresh or frozen): $1.01 billion, up 3 percent.

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Mission to Open Massive Texas Distribution Center

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A massive distribution center in Laredo, Texas, for Mexican avocados and other produce items is being built by Mission Produce Inc. of Oxnard, CAs.

Construction on the 262,000-square-foot facility began in May and is scheduled to be completed in mid-2021, according to a news release. It will shorten Mission’s replenishment time and add flexibility in managing inventory, according to President and CEO Steve Barnard.

“The city of Laredo is strategically positioned on the border of Texas and Mexico, making it an ideal location for the distribution of Mexican avocados into the United States,” Barnard said.

The distribution center will also add to third-party services Mission provides to other businesses, with versatility to include other produce. Forty docks, ripening rooms, bagging areas and pallet cooling capacity will allow the company handle any commodity.

Ample refrigerated docks and short-term storage space can accommodate third-party logistics needs to house, cool and cross-dock fresh produce imported from Mexico.

“Mission Produce’s decision to invest in Laredo speaks volumes for city’s international trade and logistics industry, which has made Laredo the number-one port in the country,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said.

A M King Construction Co. LLC is building the facility.

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Ag Imports and Exports Forecast Lowered by U.S. Due to COVID-19

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The export and import forecast for the 2020 financial year due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been revised downward by the USDA.

The forecast also reports China has told state-owned agricultural companies to suspend purchases and cancel orders as tensions flare with the U.S. over the situation in Hong Kong. The report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has created a shock to world economies that will cause an unusually high level of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.”

The organizations cut the U.S. agricultural export forecast for the 2020 financial year ending Sept. 30 to $135.5 billion, down $3 billion from the February forecast. This is primarily due to reductions in bulk commodities including soybeans, cotton, corn, and wheat.

The forecast for horticultural exports is unchanged at $35.5 billion. Whole and processed tree nuts are unchanged at $9.1 billion, with most shipments destined for Europe and Asia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are steady at US $7.1 billion on stable shipments to top markets Canada and Mexico. Processed fruits and vegetables are unchanged at$7 billion on steady shipments to Canada.

Meanwhile, U.S. agricultural imports in 2020 are projected at $130.2 billion, down $2.3 billion from the February forecast. This decline is primarily driven by expected decreases in imports of horticultural products.

The forecasts for imports of fresh fruit and vegetables are reduced by $500 million and $200 million respectively, as these perishable products are vulnerable to spoilage when there are delays in the supply chain.

It said these delays are “due to precautionary steps having been added to the production and transportation processes and reductions in the availability of labor.”

The export and import figures, if realized, would mean the U.S. would have its smallest positive trade balances in years, just $6.3 billion. By comparison, in 2014 the country exported $152.3 billion and imported$109.3 billion of agricultural products, resulting in a positive trade balance of $43.1 billion.

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North America Increases Mexican Strawberry Imports by 23%, Reports Tridge

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Tridge, a global sourcing and market intelligence hub for food buyers and suppliers, has reported the latest market trends affecting the food and agriculture sector. This week the biggest news relates to a surge in demand for Mexican strawberries, which has increased its export rates by 11% since April.

In comparison to this time last year (April – June), the demand for the product in the global market has risen significantly. North America, for example, has increased its import rate for Mexican strawberries by 23%.

A similar trend has been witnessed for Mexican bananas. Despite prolonged lockdown in the country, exports for bananas have increased by 8% compared to 2019, with North America and Europe being the main export destinations.

However, Middle Eastern countries have experienced a decline in fruit imports from Mexico. This is due to a lack of air freight and trade restrictions across borders, resulting from the impacts of Covid-19.

Hoshik Shin, founder and CEO at Tridge, said: “While the impacts of Covid-19 are still impacting trade, our workforce has observed significant increases in the demand for fruits from European and North American importers.

“Weather conditions and labour shortages have affected harvest yields for some producers, meaning that importers will be looking for alternative suppliers. Using an online sourcing and trading platform such as Tridge will give buyers more options when looking for quality products at good prices.”

About Tridge

Tridge is a global trade ecosystem where buyers and suppliers of agricultural and food products can find everything they need to understand their markets with just a simple search. Using a combination of the latest digital technology and the latest insights gathered through a human network, they provide a very powerful global-scale platform for buyers and suppliers to connect and do business with each other more confidently.

Using a global network covering over 150 countries worldwide, Tridge has developed a comprehensive data set of 300,000,000+ prices and 1,600,000,000+ trade data points covering 1000+ items in the agriculture and food sector, and successfully facilitates the B2B and B2C trading of these items. Tridge aims to achieve digitalisation and globalisation of the trade industry.

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Freight Market Intelligence Consortium is Acquired by DAT Solutions

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Modern popular models of heavy trucks are shades of blue in a row on a truck stop for drivers’ rest and refueling of vehicles for the further movement for delivery commercial goods in accordance with the schedule drawn up and route

DAT Solutions, a North American online freight marketplace entered an agreement to acquire Freight Market Intelligence Consortium (FMIC) from Chainalytics Inc.

“FMIC is a subscription-based benchmarking and analysis service that leverages almost $50 billion in actual freight transactions from almost 200 companies across manufacturing, retail, wholesale and third-party logistics,” according to a news release.

DAT has $118 billion worth of global shipment data across multiple transportation modes and real-time spot-market transaction pricing. Combining this with FMIC’s intelligence and rate modeling expertise, the company will be able to develop new products, services and insights.

“More than a thousand shippers, brokers and carriers from across the globe directly contributing rates uniquely positions DAT to deliver the only near real-time view into freight pricing and global supply chain in North America. This gives our customers unrivaled logistics insight and a stunning 360-degree view of the entire supply chain” Claude Pumilia, DAT president and CEO, said in the release.

Benefits of the acquisition include a source for global freight intelligence, transportation and market intelligence solutions, access to global market analytics, a team of market experts and model-based benchmarking techniques for transportation markets.

“The combination of FMIC’s contract rate benchmarking and analytics with DAT’s spot-market data and freight matching will provide unparalleled capabilities for analytics and forecasting on the global freight and supply chain markets,” Gary Girotti, Chainalytics executive vice president of supply chain intelligence and technology products.

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Allen Lund’s Bob Rose Addresses Key Trucking Issues

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  1. When COVID-19 hit a lot of businesses switched from restaurants and other foodservice to retail.  What are your biggest challenges making the transition from a logistics stand point? 

When the pandemic hit, ALC was very busy and actually increased our business because we are deeply imbedded in the food and beverage space.  Our customers were required to help feed even more people than ever before.  Our foodservice businesses were of course more stressed as restaurants, schools and big venues were closed or cancelled, so we helped by working on other strategies with our customers and worked to pivot into retail whenever possible.

2. How much of your perishable freight is handled by owner-operators and small fleets and do you see this changing at all?

We have a mix of owner-operators and smaller fleets as well as some of the biggest trucking names in the produce industry hauling loads for Allen Lund Company.  In order to service our clients, we need all of our carrier relationships to work together to solve the complex transportation issues for our shipper clients.  In general, the trucking industry is made up of wonderful people that follow the American dream of owning their own businesses and I hope that doesn’t change.  The one thing I hope people realized through this crisis is that all of the drivers across the U.S. have kept the flow of goods moving – without these drivers this pandemic would have been much worse – so thanks again to all those drivers out there!

3. What trends do you see in the coming months regarding truck and driver availability, as well as freight rates?

Well with what’s going on in the economy we should not see a driver shortage in the near term.  We do not see the purchasing of many trucks right now, as class 8 sales are way down.  Freight rates have been all over the place this year, and we all want to make sure the trucking companies stay in business and are treated fairly.  However, we do live in a supply demand market – which can really be difficult to maneuver through during these major disruptions.  Overall we see this year as a roller coaster, but feel truck rates will be going up later in the year and into next year as we hope the economy gets back on its feet.

4. What are the biggest changes you have seen in recent years making trucking more efficient such a communication, dock scheduling, etc.

You know everyone is talking about data, but truly accurate data that tells a good story is still a few miles away.  We all like getting packages in just a few days so the systems to make that happen will require trucking to continue to change, but that change will be substantial as we work out all the kinks.  We need all of our carriers to get on a network of some sort so they can all play in the successes of this new market we are entering in.  It’s funny that you mention dock scheduling as our AlchemyTMS has solved major issues for our customers – carriers and shippers with that software module.  The more we can automate systems that help our carriers and shippers alike, less manpower and frustration exists – which is a great thing.  We have spent a lot of time and money to develop systems to make sure our customers get their products to market safely, secured and on time.

Bob Rose is Vice President, National Produce Sales, for the Allen Lund Company.  While ALC is based in LaCanada, CA, Bob is based in the San Francisco office and has been with company 34 years.

Allen Lund Company is a national third-party transportation broker with nationwide offices and over 500 employees working with shippers and carriers across the nation to arrange for dry, refrigerated (specializing in produce), and flatbed freight. Additionally, the Allen Lund Company has a Logistics & Software division, ALC Logistics, as well as an International division. 

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Delaware River Ports Cargo Trade Increases by 9%

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The Philadelphia Regioanl Port Authority reports refrigerated cargo trade into the Delaware River increased by 9 percent last year. Now operating with the PhilaPort name, the organization recently released its latest trade statistics.

The Delaware River ports handled fresh fruit worth $3.6 billion in 2019. Philadelphia has its own seaport infrastructure. But the port of Wilmington, DE, and New Jersey Delaware River port facilities substantially add to the overall trade numbers of river trade totals.

The Delaware River ports in 2019 received a total of 4 metric tons of refrigerated cargo. Of this total, bananas contributed 47 percent of the tonnage.

Pineapples, which typically arrive with bananas on containerized cargo ships, accounted for 14 percent of the tonnage. Citrus fruit accounted for 6 percent of the river’s tonnage, while grapes and melons each represented 4 percent of tonnage.

Refrigerated meats accounted for 7 percent and “other” commodities filled the total tonnage, with 18 percent.

Reefer containers brought 28 percent of the river’s total cargo tonnage, despite the presence of much heavier items like dry containers (31 percent) and liquid bulk (20 percent).

The river’s container trade has grown by an average of 12 percent per year since 2012. The reefer container cargo growth shot from 88,461 20-foot equivalent units in 2012 to 219,619 in 2019.

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U.S. Imports Plunge in April Amid COVID-19 Concerns

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U.S. foodservice business in April plunged because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which apparently contributed to a steep fall in U.S. fruit and vegetable imports.

U.S. imports of fresh vegetables in April were $770.2 million, down 25 percent from March and off 6.5percent from April 2019, according to the USDA..

Imports of fruit (both fresh and frozen) in April were $1.27 billion, off 23 percent from March and down 17 percent from April 2019.

By commodity, imports of U.S. fresh produce in April, with percent change from April 2019, were:

  • Berries (excluding strawberries: $284.9 million, up 3 percent;
  • Bananas: $216 million, no change;
  • Avocados: $191 million, down 41 percent;
  • Tomatoes: $185 million, down 13 percent;
  • Peppers: $150 million, down 8 percent;
  • Grapes: $145 million, down 20 percent;
  • Strawberries: $118 million, no change;
  • Melons: $86 million, down 31 percent;
  • Cucumbers: $78 million, up 3 percent;
  • Pineapples: $50 million, down 25 percent; and
  • Mangoes: $48 million, down 17 percent.

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N.C. Ports Increase Refrigerated Capacity as Perishable Demand Grows

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A new record for refrigerated container volume has taken place at The North Carolina Ports Authority.

The organization reported ports moved 1,459 refrigerated containers — 2,918 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) — in April.

Even with the pandemic, N.C. ports continue to experience a “healthy flow” of refrigerated cargoes; the largest refrigerated import is bananas, according to a news release. Fiscal year 2020 (July-April) volumes are up 20 percent over the previous year, and annual growth from FY2014-19 is up 225 percent.

“It has long been North Carolina Ports’ goal to become one of the premier cold ports for shippers and these numbers are evidence of that mission,” Paul Cozza, executive director of North Carolina Ports, said in the release. “Additionally, our record-setting April highlights our expanding perishables portfolio as we have quadrupled refrigerated container volume over the last five years.”

The Port of Wilmington is seeing import and export demand increase during the pandemic.

“To support this growth, we are making the necessary investments to improve and expand our capabilities which in turn will benefit the North Carolina agriculture industry, the state’s grocery sector and additional cold chain users,” Hans C.E. Bean, North Carolina Ports chief commercial officer.

A new refrigerated container yard opened in April at the Port of Wilmington, a $14 million project that increased on-terminal refrigerated container plugs from 235 to 775.

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7 States to be Served by Gotham Greens’ New Greenhouse Near Denver

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Gotham Green, Brooklyn, N.Y., is opening a 30,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse in the Denver area to supply retailers in seven states.

The Aurora, Colo., facility is adjacent to Stanley Marketplace, a food hall/urban market, and an abandoned runway at the former Denver Stapleton Airport.

It’s the eighth greenhouse for the company, bringing its production capacity to nearly 35 million heads a year, according to a news release. Gotham Greens products will be available in 30 states.

The Aurora facility will supply retailers including Whole Foods Markets, Choice Markets and Alfalfa’s, and products include two new lettuce varieties, Crispy Green Leaf and Rocky Mountain Crunch. Gotham Greens also plans to work with restaurants and other foodservice operators as they open again, according to the release.

“Given the current pressures on our country’s food system, one thing is clear: the importance of strengthening our national food supply through decentralized, regional supply chains,” Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, said in the release. “Our business model has enabled us to remain nimble during these unprecedented times and continue to deliver fresh, locally-grown produce to customers and our communities.”

Beyond lettuces, the company grows basil and has branded dressings and dips. Gotham Greens dressings are available at Whole Foods nationwide.

“Although we never envisioned our Denver greenhouse opening and national salad dressing rollout happening during a global pandemic, we’re proud to be providing people across the country with healthy, fresh food options they can get excited about,” Puri said. “With the rise of cooking at home, we’re seeing consumers get creative and enjoy our dressings in a variety of different ways – as a savory dip, tangy marinate or freshly tossed with salad greens.” 

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