Archive For The “News” Category

Gladstone Land Acquires Pistachio Orchard in California

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By Gladstone Land Corporation

MCLEAN, Va. — Gladstone Land Corporation (NASDAQ: LAND) (“Gladstone Land” or the “Company”) announced that it has acquired approximately 930 gross acres of farmland in Chowchilla, California, for approximately $28.6 million. The farm consists of 852 planted acres of pistachio trees in their 11th leaf. In connection with the acquisition, the Company also entered into a 10-year, triple-net lease with The Specialty Crop Company, Inc., reported to be one of the top nut growers in the world and the largest grower of fresh and dried figs in the world.

“We are delighted to add another large pistachio orchard to our growing number of farms,” said Bill Reiman, Managing Director of Gladstone Land. “This acquisition was driven by one of our strong tenant relationships. There are many opportunities for us to grow our farmland assets by teaming up with great producers, and this acquisition is a prime example of that. This orchard is just coming into peak production, and we expect many years of great production.”

“Pistachios are an exciting growth area for us,” said David Gladstone, President and CEO of Gladstone Land. “This orchard is located in an area with attributes conducive for growing pistachios, such as optimal climate conditions and good access to water. Our tenant, The Specialty Crop Company, is an ideal partner for us as we continue to add farmland growing specialty crops to our farmland holdings. And like most of our tenant-farmers, they are growing foods that are considered to be healthy.”

About Gladstone Land Corporation:
Gladstone Land is a publicly-traded real estate investment trust that invests in and owns U.S. farmland and farm-related properties located in certain major agricultural markets across the U.S., which it leases to third-party farmers. The Company reports the current fair value of its farmland on a quarterly basis; as of December 31, 2018, its estimated net asset value was $12.88 per share. Gladstone Land currently owns 87 farms, comprised of 74,828 acres in 10 different states across the U.S., valued at approximately $649 million. Its acreage is predominantly concentrated in locations where its tenants are able to grow fresh produce annual row crops, such as berries and vegetables, which are generally planted and harvested annually; as well as permanent crops, such as almonds, blueberries, and pistachios, which are planted every 10 to 20-plus years and harvested annually. The Company may also acquire property related to farming, such as cooling facilities, processing buildings, packaging facilities, and distribution centers. Gladstone Land pays monthly distributions to its stockholders and has paid 74 consecutive monthly cash distributions on its common stock since its initial public offering in January 2013. The current per-share distribution rate on its common stock is $0.0445 per month, or $0.534 per year.

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Rapid Growth of Greenhouse Production is Apparently Slowing

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The rapid pace with which greenhouse construction is apparently slowing down for several reasons.

According to Cuesta Roble (Oak Hills) Consulting’s 2018 report, there are 894 greenhouse vegetable companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to Cuesta Roble (Oak Hill) Consulting’s 2019 report. The study is named, Greenhouse Vegetable Producing Companies North America

Greenhouse proponents say the structures offer better protection from the unpredictability of weather, outdoor pests and contamination and indoor growing of all kinds offers more reliability and consistency.

In 2012, there was 98 million square feet of greenhouse vegetable production in the U.S. specifically, according to the USDA.

In Canada, greenhouses produced 612.8 million pounds of tomatoes in 2017, the latest number available, according to Statistics Canada. That is more than 14 million pounds above 2016’s production level and about 35 million above 2015. 

But the typical annual 7 percent increase in acreage experienced by the 201 grower members of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association isn’t expected to continue into 2019. Ontario accounts for about 80 percent of the entire Canadian greenhouse output.

And it is not just the cannabis explosion taking up space.

The whole process of expansion has gotten more complicated. There are growing uncertainties of what land municipalities will serve for greenhouse production. 

The time it takes to build a greenhouse has jumped from 24 months to 40 months due to issues ranging from land purchase and rising building costs. As demand increases, so does the demand on resources. 

Cannabis production is demanding on current resources. These resources can mean everything from steel, to municipality services, to construction workers.

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IMG Citrus Adds 4,000-Acre Grove to Portfolio

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By IMB Citrus

VERO BEACH, FL – IMG Citrus, a family-owned, vertically-integrated citrus grower, packer, and shipper in Vero Beach, FL, announced the acquisition of one of the largest grapefruit groves in St. Lucie County. The 4,000-acre grove increases their control of citrus land management in Florida by over 75 percent, securing their position as an established citrus leader in the state of Florida, and solidifying their commitment to the industry. The grove has been renamed Happy Food Grove, after their main consumer brand “Happy Food,” which can be found in supermarkets across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

“Investing in agri-business is always risky, but citrus is even more so today because of Greening,” said Michel Sallin, IMG Citrus President. “We know Florida grapefruit is the best in the world. We believe in this industry and we believe in Florida grapefruit. A solution to Greening will be found, and when that day comes, we’ll be ready.”

While Greening remains a threat, IMG Citrus’ production model utilizes innovative practices and technologies to keep groves productive and profitable.

“We have adopted a more aggressive approach to production, focusing on high density, and super high density planting methods to help combat Greening by creating a more controlled environment,” said Brian Randolph, Director of Grove Production. “In the new grove, we can optimize nutrient and water management, a critical factor for production in a Greening environment. This level of precision not only helps keep the trees healthy, but it’s more environmentally sustainable by reducing water use and nutrient runoff.”

An additional 397 undeveloped tree acres will be home to the company’s new grove redevelopment project, with 273 acres of citrus trees to be set within high-density planting blocks predicted to produce mature fruit within three years, and 124 acres of trees set within existing traditional blocks.

Their high density planting methods were fine-tuned over the last three years at their groves at Cherrylake, IMG Citrus’ sister company, also founded and operated by the Sallin family.

“Cherrylake was originally all citrus groves,” explains Sallin. “We lost nearly everything during the freezes in the 1980’s. Rather than shut everything down, we adapted by turning our Cherrylake property into a thriving, ornamental tree farm that focuses on landscape construction and maintenance, while moving our citrus operation down south to where it is today. 75 Acres of land at Cherrylake is still dedicated to citrus, where we have been able to explore new varieties and high density planting methods.”

The newly-acquired Happy Food Grove also contains a 300-acre reservoir, and is home to native wildlife including deer, wild turkey, alligators, Roseate Spoonbills, and Blue Herons.

“We are stewards of our environment, and we diligently protect the quality of our air, land, and water,” said  Sallin. “We realize that we do not own our land, but rather, we are borrowing it from future generations. Our best management practices help ensure our horticultural practices are in line with this philosophy.”

In addition to the land purchase, the acquisition also included transitioning 17 existing grove employees to IMG Citrus.

“It was important to us that we did not disrupt the operation of the grove, and more importantly, that the employees felt reassured that IMG Citrus would continue to provide them the opportunity to work and grow within the company,” said Joaquin Perez, Human Resources Manager. “Our goal is to make the transition as easy and as seamless as possible, and I think we’ve done that well through open communication. Employees have kept their same positions, they’re just part of a bigger family now.”

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About IMG Citrus:

IMG Citrus is a second-generation citrus grower, packer, marketer, and shipper in Vero Beach, Florida, with over 9,000 acres of productive AGland. Family owned and operated for over 35 years, IMG Citrus was founded by Michel and Veronique Sallin. Born and raised on a French farm, Michel has a genuine love for sustainable agriculture, and an entrepreneurial spirit that fuels a passion for using the most innovative processes and technologies. Today, a second generation of family-operators is involved and working alongside the most professional industry leaders that make up the IMG Citrus team.

About Happy Food:

Happy Food is IMG Citrus’ primary consumer brand, and is marketed in North America, Europe, and Asia. The brand features bright colors, happy fruit faces, and is used to pack citrus including grapefruit, oranges, and mandarins grown in Florida, as well as South America and Mexico. Since its launch in 2013, Happy Food continues to re-energize the citrus aisle with a cheerful, contemporary brand that promotes a healthy, happy lifestyle.

About IMG Enterprises:

IMG Enterprises, the holding company for IMG Citrus, is a Florida owned and operated family agri-business with divisions in citrus, real estate, mitigation banking, and landscape construction. The mission of IMG Enterprises is to manage a sustainable enterprise rooted in the land which benefits its family, employees, and community, while having a positive impact on the environment. With over 500 employees, the company ranks 31st on the list of Top Privately Held Companies by the Orlando Business Journal.

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Good Movement Continues with Apple Shipments

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By Stemilt Growers

WENATCHEE, Wash. – The apple season continues to roar along and Stemilt’s latest Fruit Tracker Fast Facts analysis is proof of strong category performance in March 2019.

According to Nielsen scan data, apples made up 8.2 percent of fresh produce sales on average in the U.S. between February 24 and March 30. The volume of apples was down 1.8 percent year-over-year and dollars were up a nominal 0.2 percent.

“With less volume in this crop and supplies starting to dwindle because of seasonality, we expect to see strengthening apple prices in the coming months,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt communications manager. “The 2019-20 apple crop is trending two weeks later than last season’s crop start and that will add pressure on supply and demand during the late summer transition.”

Regionally, the Midwest topped the national average, with apples making up 9.4 percent of fresh produce sales in March 2019. The Northeast was second with 7.7 percent of fresh produce sales from apples, followed by the South at 7.5 percent and the West at 7.8 percent.

The top five apple varieties in March 2019 were: Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. Gala volumes were up 14 percent year-over-year with dollars also up double-digits at 10.7 percent. Gala accounted for 27 percent of March apple sales. Honeycrisp has also seen volume growth of 9.3 percent and dollar growth of 7.2 percent when compared to March 2018. Honeycrisp made up 24 percent of apple dollars in March.

“Gala has been moving in a positive direction all season. The quality of Gala this year has helped this top variety and helped drive consumer demand for apples,” said Shales.

Stemilt’s signature apple, Pinata®, saw sales increases in March 2019 when compared to the year prior. Fueled by good sizing and great eating qualities, volumes of the tropical apple were up 4 percent and dollars up 6 percent in March.

The average retail price of apples in March 2019 was $1.69 per pound. Organic apples were up nearly 2 percent in volume year-over-year and made up more than 9 percent of total apple volumes sold in March 2019. The average retail price for organics was $2.19 per pound, a 30 percent premium over conventional apples.


About Stemilt

Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of organic tree fruits.

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Melon Varieties are Added to Mix at Dan Andrews Farms

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Two varieties of melons are being added to the line up this season by Dan Andrews Farms LLC of Bakerfield, CA.

Over the year the firm has grown honeydews, cantaloupes and watermelons and this season is adding orange-flesh honeydews as well as hami melon that shaped like a football, which have white flesh and an exterior yellow rind with a touch of green.

Hami melons taste similar to honeydews, but are more of an Asian specialty melon.

The company has reduced cantaloupe acreage to add the new melons, which were requested by customers. The produce will bein June and July.

Andrews Farms also has gone back to growing carrots after dropping the item a couple of years ago. The carrots will include jumbo and short-cut carrots for Grimmway Farms in Bakersfield.

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Celebrating our 51st Wedding Anniversary!

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Today is the 51st wedding anniversary for my wife Vivian and I.

It doesn’t seem that long ago I met Viv at a 4th of July church picnic. It wasn’t totally by accident as my older bother had invited me to his church a week earlier and I briefly met her there.

It’s been quite a journey and I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. We have a beautiful daughter and wonderful son-in-law, as well as a precious 5-year old grandson.

Throughout my career as a writer, mostly with trucking and produce related publications, I have had her unwavering support. Nearly all of those years I was self employed as an independent contractor. She handles the books, taxes, etc. She also can be a pretty good editor.

During most of my career in journalism there was a lot of travel. I’ve visited many produce shippers, and wholesalers, as well as transportation companies over four-plus decades, located from coast-to-coast.

I give Viv much of the credit for being there during the critical years to raise our daughter who today is an excellent physical therapist in home health. We also are so proud of her for being an extraordinary mother and wife. Our son-in-law is also very special and talented.

My wife is loving, caring and a blessing to all who know her. We are blessed with relatively good health and are thankful for our family and friends. We also are thankful to all of you who make possible.

What a life we have shared and most of it has been made possible by living in the greatest country in the world. May God bless America and each of you.

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Study Sheds Light on Who Buys Produce and Why

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Shoppers of produce who purchase fresh cut (referred to value-added) items often or whenever possible tend to fall into several categories.

Core value-added shoppers were found by The Food and Marketing Institute in a study found that 47 percent have a six-figure household income, 47 percent make three or more shopping trips a week, and 43 percent order produce online. The results have been released in the 2019 Power of Produce report.

Additonally, 40 percent of core value-added buyers are also core local buyers, and 36 percent are also core organic buyers.

“Core value-added shoppers are interesting to retailers, with above-average spending and weekly trips,” FMI wrote in the report. “Much like seen in organic, the presence of children is a point of entry, particularly among high-income shoppers. In urban areas, expanded assortment is likely to do well, including organic value-added assortment and kid-focused solutions.”

Two years ago, 20 percent of shoppers fell into that category. Now the number is 28 percent.

“Despite the increase in purchase frequency, there is significant room for growth, with 64 percent of shoppers being occasional users, at best,” FMI wrote. “Overall, value-added users skew toward higher-income shoppers, older millennials, often with young kids living at home.”

The core value-added shoppers reported several variables that would prompt them to purchase more — better prices (57 percent), longer shelf-life (39 percent), greater assortment (39 percent), greater variety of flavors (36 percent) and better organic offering (32 percent).

Many consumers who land in the category of sometimes buying value-added produce are Gen X (47 percent). Within that periphery group, 49 percent eat fresh fruits and vegetables 4-5 days a week, 47 percent make two trips a week, and 47 percent have a household income of less than $35,000.

For that shopper segment, key triggers to buy more were better prices (63 percent) and longer shelf-life (37 percent), according to the report.

Among consumers who hardly ever buy value-added produce, many are baby boomers (37 percent), limited-assortment shoppers (31 percent), two-person households (33 percent) and people who eat produce less than three times a week (35 percent).

In that group, 58 percent said better prices would prompt them to buy more, but 17 percent said they were unlikely to buy more regardless of changes made.

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Cost of Eating Out is Rising Faster than Eating at Home

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A8The cost of eating out is rising faster than eating at home.

The latest USDA Economic Research Service food price outlook reports restaurant food prices in October were up 2.5 percent higher than year-ago.

By contrast, the USDA reports food purchased at grocery stores was just 0.1 percent higher compared to a year ago.

“Between the 1970s and early 2000s, food-at-home prices and food-away-from-home prices increased at similar rates,” the report said. “Since 2009, however, food-at-home and food-away-from-home price growth has diverged.”

While grocery prices have shown signs of price deflation in recent years, restaurant prices have steadily increased.

In part, the different price responses are attributed to variations in the cost structure of restaurants versus supermarkets or grocery stores. Labor and rental costs are a bigger factor with restaurants than grocers.

For this reason, decreasing farm-level and wholesale food prices, which have exerted downward pressure on food-at-home prices, have had less of an impact on restaurant menu prices.


For 2018, the USDA notes retail food prices are expected to change between zero to 1 percent, below the 20-year historical average of 2.1 percent.

The USDA said while fats and oils, pork, nonalcoholic beverages, dairy, and processed fruits and vegetables could potentially decline in price, prices for beef and veal, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables are expected to increase.

“Due to deflation in 2016 and 2017, expected price increases would still leave overall price levels in 2018 lower than in 2015,” the USDA said.

For 2019, the USDA said retail prices are expected to rise between 1 and 2 percent, which would mean the fourth year in a row with lower-than-average inflation.

Fruits and Vegetables

Retail prices for fresh fruits in October were down 1.5 percent compared with October 2017, with apple prices off 3.6 percent and banana prices were off 0.7 percent.

The USDA expects fresh fruit prices to increase 1 to 2 percent in 2018 and increase 2 to 3 percent in 2019.

Retail fresh vegetable prices in October were 0.7 percent higher than in October 2017. Fresh vegetable prices are expected to change between zero and 1 percent in 2018 and increase an additional 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2019.

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California Sun Dry Introduces Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta

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California Sun Dry Foods, a leading brand of sun-dried tomatoes, launched the company’s first-ever Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta. The new appetizer caters directly to consumers’ preferences for all-natural spreads and conveniently packaged snack foods, and it is a unique addition to the company’s already extensive portfolio.

“We’re excited to expand our segment in the produce category,” said Charles Olin, vice president of sales and marketing at Saco Foods LLC, based in Middleton, WI. Saco Foods acquired California Sun Dry in January of this year. “We’ve come up with a recipe that meets shoppers’ snacking needs, making it easy to enjoy a fast and healthy bite or serve to a crowd.”

The Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta, comprising fresh tomatoes, diced onion, a zesty herb blend and the company’s signature sun-dried tomatoes, is the first ready-made appetizer for the company, adding a distinctive item to the brand’s produce set. California Sun Dry’s comprehensive product portfolio includes jarred and bagged sun-dried tomatoes, sauces and spreads.

“We approached the creation of this product by looking at what is trending in consumer purchasing and came up with a solution that meets the growing interest in healthy diets and elevated snack platters. It appeals to ingredient-conscious consumers at a price that is accessible to all,” said Pam Statz, vice president of sales at Saco Foods.

The new bruschetta is adaptable in the kitchen for a wide variety of uses. Suggested retail price for California Sun Dry Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta is $4.49 per nine-ounce jar. It is shipped in a six-count case.

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Routes, Facilities for Chilled Produce are Added at Port of Savannah

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East-West routes have been added to Georgia’s Port of Savannah for its chilled produce business.

The port serves as a gateway for perishable products after joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot Program, according to a news release. Before, the port received produce from Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Argentina that had been cold treated. Now the port serves all of South America, with the ability to import from Spain, Morocco and Italy.

“This is an exciting development that opens Savannah as a new option for growers around the world to reach the U.S. Southeast with greater speed and efficiency,” Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said in the release. “Georgia’s central location means shorter overland routes to inland markets, allowing time-sensitive cargo to reach customers faster, fresher and at lower cost.”

Proximity to large cities like Atlanta and Memphis sets the port up as a hub for refrigerated produce. Ships call on the port 35 times a week.

Earlier this year, Americold Realty Trust, which owns and operates temperature-controlled facilities and infrastructure, acquired PortFresh Holdings, which serves the fresh produce industry primarily through the Port of Savannah.

“We’ve got kiwis on the water, and we are getting our first few containers in from Morocco now,” Ken Burke, vice president of client relations at PortFresh, said in the release. “We’re gearing up to handle very heavy business starting with the summer citrus program from Chile and Peru, and for next season, the Spanish and Moroccan produce will really start to come online.”

Savannah can handle time-sensitive items like asparagus, previously shipped as air cargo, but now delivered in containers to the port.

“Not only can we now handle produce that has undergone cold treatment while in transit, Savannah also has a local facility certified to perform re-treatment should that prove necessary,” Cliff Pyron, Georgia Ports Authority chief commercial officer.

A variety of fruit comes through the port, including blueberries, mangoes, apples, pineapples, grapes, bananas and avocados, according to the release.

PortFresh has 100,000 square feet for chilled produce storage, and Americold plans to add an additional facility with 37,000 pallet positions.

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