Archive For The “News” Category

Former Veggie Greenhouses Converted to Cannabis Production Headed to NASDAQ

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Over one million square feet of former vegetable greenhouse production has been converted to grow cannabis in Delta, British Columbia by Village Farms International Inc. and will be traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market.

Village Farms CEO Michael DeGiglio has said the listing is a precursor to “aggressively pursue” opportunities with hemp and cannabidiol products in the U.S. The company has a total of 130 acres (5.7 million square feet) of vegetable greenhouses in Texas that can be converted to produce hemp and CBD products, a process that could be completed in eight months or sooner.

DeGiglio has said the company might also produce hemp in open fields, but plans depend on Texas legalizing hemp.

DeGiglio said in a recent Q&A with Real Money/TheStreet that recreational marijuana and CBD production potentially can bring 10 times the margins that tomatoes do.

The company will be listed under “VFF” on NASDAQ, and continues to be listed under the same symbol on the Toronto Stock Exchange, according to a Village Farms news release.

The initial trading date on NASDAQ for Village Farms common shares has not been determined.

The company plans to report fourth-quarter/year-end financials on March 13, according to the release.

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New Zealand Kiwiberries are Arriving in the U.S.

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The Munch’n kiwiberry brand by Freshmax New Zealand of Tauranga is arriving in the U.S. and other export markets.

A New Zealand summer full of sunshine means an early harvest is underway, according to a news release. The Munch’n kiwiberry brand is in its fourth season, with typical harvests in late February to early- to mid-April.

“We have new product launches in multiple markets, and buyers are extremely supportive about the Munch’n kiwiberry brand. This is our third year actively promoting, and we are really thrilled about the commitment of our retail partners,” Tracey Burns, Freshmax export division manager, said in the release.

Munch’n kiwiberries will be available in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, India and Taiwan.

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Acquisition by Riveridge Produce Means It will Have 50% of MI Apple Volume

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Sparta, MICH.— Riveridge Produce Marketing, the largest supplier of fresh Michigan apples, has acquired the sales operation of Jack Brown Produce, increasing their volume to 50 percent of Michigan’s fresh apple crop. With the increase in volume and varietal availability, Riveridge will be the one-stop solution for retail partners on quality Michigan apples year-round.

In addition to consistent year-round product availability, the expanded sales organization will be positioned to service retailers with quality fruit, expanded varietals and pack to order solutions. Both organizations are supported with innovative, forward-thinking growers who have adapted to market needs, which have provided for the fruit in high demand today.

“Both Jack Brown Produce and Riveridge Produce have complimentary grower communities making this union a natural fit,” said John Schaefer, president, Jack Brown Produce. “We each have modern packing facilities and growers invested in the future, utilizing the latest growing techniques and moving forward on the varieties and strains that support today’s consumer preferences.”

The Jack Brown Produce packing operation adds to the seven Michigan facilities packing for Riveridge Produce today. The expanded operation will offer additional pack time during the critical fall time-frame, while providing retailers additional flexibility, and a continuity program on Michigan apples.  Sharing data and relationships, the two brands will be an all-encompassing source not just on fruit, but also marketing assets and analysis to help drive buying decisions. 

“With two strong, forward-thinking bases of growers, continued investments in new production and a consumer-driven varietal mix, we look to solidify our role as Michigan’s fruit specialists,” said Don Armock, President, Riveridge Produce Marketing, Inc. “This is an opportunity to continue to share knowledge across our grower base and marry producers and customers based on their needs.” 

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About Riveridge Produce Marketing

Riveridge Produce Marketing, Inc. is a vertically-integrated apple grower/packer/shipper/marketer headquartered in Sparta, Michigan, a unique growing region in West Michigan due in part  to the elevation, proximity to Lake Michigan and ideal soil conditions. The company represents one-half of Michigan’s fresh apple crop and is leading the way in food safety, new orchard technology and innovation in sales and marketing. In 2017, Riveridge expanded into cider with its own facility, Riveridge Cider Co.,  pressing and bottling fresh apple cider in blends, varietals and seasonal flavors. Additionally, Riveridge markets fresh apples for Sunrise Orchards located in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

Michigan apples – grossing about $3300 to Dallas.

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Retail Fruit and Vegetables Prices are Expected to Increase this Year

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Grocery store food prices are increasing this year, according to projections by the USDA.

The USDA Economic Research Service forecasts the food-at-home consumer price index (CPI) to rise 1 to 2 percent in 2019. Though that’s higher than the 0 to 1 percent uptick estimated for 2018, the increase expected for 2019 would mark the 4th straight year of deflating or lower-than-average inflating retail food prices, the agency noted in its Food Price Outlook 2018-19 report. The gain also would be less than the 20-year historical average of 2.1 percent.

Product categories expected to see price increases this year include dairy products (+3% to +4%), fresh vegetables (+2.5% to +3.5%), fresh fruit (+2% to +3%), cereals and bakery products (+2% to +3%), beef and veal (+1% to +2%), poultry (+1% to +2%), fish and seafood (+0.25% to +1.25%), and sugars and sweets (0% to +1%).

The expected rise in dairy prices for 2019 comes after a flat to 1% decrease estimated for 2018, according to the USDA.

Food prices are on their way up at the grocery store this year, according to projections by the USDA.

The USDA Economic Research Service forecasts the food-at-home consumer price index (CPI) to rise 1% to 2% in 2019. Though that’s higher than the 0% to 1% uptick estimated for 2018, the increase expected for 2019 would mark the fourth straight year of deflating or lower-than-average inflating retail food prices, the agency noted in its Food Price Outlook 2018-19 report. The gain also would be less than the 20-year historical average of 2.1%.

Product categories likely to see price increases this year include dairy products (+3% to +4%), fresh vegetables (+2.5% to +3.5%), fresh fruit (+2% to +3%), cereals and bakery products (+2% to +3%), beef and veal (+1% to +2%), poultry (+1% to +2%), fish and seafood (+0.25% to +1.25%), and sugars and sweets (0% to +1%).

The expected rise in dairy prices for 2019 comes after a flat to 1% decrease estimated for 2018, according to the USDA.

“Milk production is expected to rise at a modest rate of 1.1% in 2018. Dairy exports have strengthened but are expected to be limited for the rest of the year due to recent tariffs imposed by Mexico and China,” the report said. “Domestic demand for most dairy products has been relatively weak in the first half of the year but is expected to recover in the second half of 2018.”

Egg prices — among the most volatile retail food prices due to changes in seasonal demand — are projected to inch up 1% or less in 2019 following an estimated 10% to 11% jump in 2018. The USDA said recent price hikes at the farm and wholesale levels indicate that retail egg prices could continue to rise over the next few months. That contrasts with 2017, when more egg-laying birds and a higher number of eggs per hen eased prices, the agency explained.

Food categories that may experience retail price decreases include fats and oils (-3% to -2%), pork (-0.75% to +0.25%), other meats (-0.25% to +0.75%), processed fruits and vegetables (-1% to 0%), and nonalcoholic beverages (-0.25% to +0.75%).

“In addition to commodity prices, prices for other factors of production may influence retail food prices in 2019,” the USDA said in the report. “Electricity and diesel costs, as well as many other costs associated with food production, transport, and retail sales, are expected to rise, placing upward pressure on prices.”

Meanwhile, the USDA expects food-away-from-home prices — food purchased at restaurants — to grow at a consistent rate this year, rising 2% to 3%, the same increase estimated for 2018.

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2018 Big Idaho Potato Truck Tour Has Officially Ended

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Eagle, Idaho –When the Big Idaho® Potato dropped at midnight in front of the Capitol Building on New Year’s Eve, the Big Idaho® Potato Truck, which was front and center for the “spudtacular” show, officially ended its 2018 tour.  And what a year it was! The Truck…

  • Traveled 40,000+ miles
  • Participated in 68 scheduled events
    • Four events had over 300K attendees
      • St. Patricks’ Day Parade, Pittsburgh, PA
      • Art Car Parade, Dallas, TX
      • National Memorial Day Parade, Washington, D.C.
      • Rose Festival, Portland, OR
    • 15 events had over 100K attendees, including
      • Indianapolis Indy Car Race, Indianapolis, IN
      • NASCAR, Bristol, TN
      • St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Hilton Head, SC
      • Pegasus Parade, Louisville, KY
      • SeaFair Festival, Seattle, WA
  • Donated $12,000 to 21 charities across the country through its “A Big Helping” program
  • Was invited to appear at American Idol’s Semi-Finals in Coeur D’Alene, ID
  • Generated more than 300 million media impressions

However the biggest news of the year was the unveiling of Big Idaho®Potato 2.0. Weighing in at 4 tons, the fiberglass potato is just as impressive as the original, but with a few subtle differences. The potato is still 28 feet long and 11.5 feet high, but it’s a little trimmer in the middle (10 feet wide), and two tons lighter so it can travel to more places. The original potato, which was only supposed to last one year, became too road worn to travel and now resides in its home state of Idaho.
“The Big Idaho® Potato Truck continues to drive many of our marketing campaigns. It’s the focus of our national television commercials, it helps promote the potato’s impressive nutritional profile and generates hundreds of millions of impressions for the Idaho® potato brand,” explained Frank Muir, President & CEO, Idaho Potato Commission. “Now that we’ve got a new fiberglass potato, there’s no end in sight for the biggest potato on wheels.”

After seven years the Truck’s track record is pretty impressive…

  • The average tour length is 6 months
  • The Truck has traveled approximately 211,722 miles
  • It’s attended events in 651 cities/towns
    • 46 events had more than 300,000 people in attendance
    • 76 events had more 100,000 people in attendance
  • The Truck has traveled through more than 10,000 cities and towns, nationwide and all lower 48 states
  • “A Big Helping” has donated $67,000 to 124 charities located across the country
  • Millions have taken pictures of the Big Idaho® Potato Truck on their mobile devices
  • Every day we receive appearance requests from fans, festivals, and events, all over the country
  • Media coverage to date is in the billions!

The 2019 Big Idaho® Potato Truck Tour schedule will be available in early February 2019

About the Idaho Potato Commission

Established in 1937, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) is a state agency that is responsible for promoting and protecting the famous “Grown in Idaho®” seal, a federally registered trademark that assures consumers they are purchasing genuine, top-quality Idaho® potatoes. Idaho’s growing season of warm days and cool nights, ample mountain-fed irrigation and rich volcanic soil, give Idaho® potatoes their unique texture, taste and dependable performance. These ideal growing conditions are what differentiate Idaho® potatoes from potatoes grown in other states. For more information, visit

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Michigan Apples to be Shipped by Applewood Fresh Growers

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Applewood Fresh Growers LLC, located in Sparta, MI, is now shipping Michigan apples.

Although it’s a new company, Applewood Fresh traces its roots to the 1935 founding of Applewood Orchards Inc., of Deerfield, MI.

“Our work is about more than just sales or profit,” Scott Swindeman, Applewood Fresh owner and fourth-generation grower and partner at Applewood Orchards, said a news release. “We take pride in serving as a reliable partner to our growers and customers, providing access to healthy, great-tasting fruit to people across the country and cultivating strong industry relationships along the way.”

Applewood Fresh Growers produce 21 apple varieties across the country year-round. The company’s grower network has more than 11,000 acres, and apple varieties include some managed (licensed) varieties: Kiku, Kanzi, Rave and SweeTango.

Applewood Fresh emphasizes sustainability measures adopted by growers, including advanced irrigation and pest control, eco-friendly packaging and solar/wind power.

“We are thrilled to extend the legacy of a multi-generational company that not only offers delicious, quality apples but also values and prioritizes its relationships throughout the supply chain, from grower to buyer to consumer,” Antonia Mascari, director of marketing at Applewood Fresh, said in the release.

Applewood Fresh announced the new company on Jan. 8, the same day Riveridge Produce Marketing, another Sparta apple grower-shipper-marketer, announced its acquisition of Sparta apple company Jack Brown Produce’s sales operation.

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Truck Rates Decline as More Equipment is Available

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As more trucks become available for hauling, truck rates have experienced a small decline, according to DAT Solutions in a report.

National average spot rates for dry van, reefers, and flatbeds continue to decline, the company reported earlier this month.

Included in the report: 

In a typical seasonal slump, the number of trucks on the spot truckload freight market increased 7.4 percent while the number of loads dipped 10 percent during the week ending January 19, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.
National average spot rates declined for the second straight week: 
– Van: $2.01/mile, down 4 cents
– Flatbed: $2.38/mile, down 4 cents
– Reefer: $2.37/mile, down 5 cents

Reefer trends

Truck posts increased 5 percent while load posts fell 15 percent, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to drop from 6.1 to 4.9 loads per truck. It’s been more than six months since the load-to-truck ratio has been below 5 loads per truck.
Average spot rates were down on several key regional reefer lanes and major markets across the country.
– Los Angeles: $2.92/mile, down 11 cents after an 18-cent decline the previous week
– Atlanta: $2.56/mile, down 5 cents
– Lakeland, Fla.: $1.46/mile, down 9 cents
– McAllen, Texas: $2.24/mile, down 7 cents
– Philadelphia: $2.90/mile, down 5 cents
– Chicago: $2.80/mile, down 14 cents after falling 13 cents the previous week

Below are some examples of truck rates from Oxnard, CA over the past year, which charts the decline in truck.

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U.S. Imports More Bananas in 2018

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Banana imports to the U.S. and European Union increased year-on-year in the first few months of 2018, with many important Latin American suppliers shipping greater volumes.

U.S. imports through September rose by 9 pecent from the previous year to 3.2 million metric tons (MT), while to the EU through August rose by 4 percent to 4 million MT, according to USDA and Eurostat data.

The U.S.’s main supplier of the period, Guatemala, increased its shipments to the North American country by 6 percent to 1.4 million MT, while the second-biggest supplier, Costa Rica, saw a 4 percent hike to 649,000MT.

There were significant increases from some smaller suppliers such as Mexico (+22 percent, 241,000MT) and Ecuador (39 percent, 353,000MT). Honduras, the number-three supplier, shipped 4 percent fewer with 360,000MT.

As for Europe, the region’s main supplier, Ecuador, boosted shipments by 12 percent to 1.7 million MT, while Costa Rica, the number-three supplier, increased shipments by 8 percent to 837,000MT.

Meanwhile, there were decreases for Colombia (-2 percent, 902,000MT), the Dominican Republic (-4 percent, 198,000MT), and the Ivory Coast (-1 percent, 197,000MT).

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Henry Avocado Moves Headquarters to Nearby Industrial Center

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Henry Avocado has moved its headquarters, packing and distribution center in Escondido, CA, to a new building in a nearby industrial center.

The 50,000-square-foot two-story facility in Escondido is 20 percent larger than the previous site and features the latest processing, refrigeration and forced-air ripening elements in the industry.

The new Henry operation consolidates under one roof the administrative and processing machinery and personnel of several buildings at the old location, and provides space for 20 forced-air ripening rooms and five loading docks.

The company, which is a year-round grower-shipper, made the move to maximize efficiency of operation and now has the potential to custom-ripen over 2 million cartons annually. The fresh product is shipped to customers via two adjacent major highways. The I-15 services the north-south corridor while the I-78 services the east-west customer network.

Henry also opened a large distribution center in Charlotte, NC, in 2017, in order to deliver fresh shipments that meet custom-ripening orders as precisely as possible.

“We consider the supply chain as paramount to quality, which motivates our decisions to modernize and relocate as required,” Henry added. “Our seven centers are strategically located, designed and managed to ensure quality, food safety and fresh delivery to customers wherever they are.”

Headed by the new Escondido building, all seven of Henry’s Primus Labs-certified distribution centers meet or exceed the federal, state and industry Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines. Two are located in Escondido and there is one each in Phoenix; Milpitas, CA; San Antonio and Houston, TX; and Charlotte, NC. Together they total 100 ripening rooms with delivery by a modern fleet of refrigerated trucks.

A pioneer in the industry, Henry was founded in 1925 and was among the first to commit to growing and promoting the Hass variety of avocados. Subsequently, Henry developed the first forced-air ripening rooms in 1983. By adding import contacts and capabilities in Mexico, Chile and Peru, Henry Avocado became one of the early year-round suppliers of fresh avocados in 1990.

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U.S. Cold Storage Opens New Texas Facility

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A35United States Cold Storage recently opened its third facility in Laredo, Texas.

The 232,366 square-foot-warehouse was built in eight months by engineering firm Stellar, and completed with a tight schedule driven by the timing of the Mexican strawberry season, according to a news release from Stellar, Jacksonville, Fla.

The $35 million facility distributes a variety of produce, including Mexican avocados.

U.S. Cold Storage, Camden, N.J., has operated in Laredo for more than 50 years, George Cruz, senior vice president of U.S. Cold Storage’s Southern Region, said in the press release.

“As food trade with Mexico continues to grow, we found ourselves in a position to respond to our customers’ growing needs with more space,” Cruz said in the release.

Cruz credited Stellar with building the facility in time for Mexican harvests.

The cold storage facility’s features include:

  • Refrigerated loading dock with 21 truck doors;
  • Separate cross-dock area with four truck doors for inspections/transloads;
  • Refrigerated repacking room;
  • 27,000 pallet positions; and
  • Secure trailer yard for ease of importing and border crossings.

U.S. Cold Storage, a subsidiary of John Swire & Sons Ltd. in the United Kingdom, has 40 facilities in 13 states.

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