Archive For The “News” Category

Diversification of New Commodities Continues at Nogales

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Demand for new commodities and specialty items continues to increase at the key Nogales point of entry in Arizona.

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) has been monitoring trends for commodities in southern Arizona, and reports new and specialty items continue to add shipping opportunities at the produce hub.

During the past couple of months, commodities have been reintroduced to the area as demand grows for unique products. Additionally, the area has seen sustainable increases in volume for fresh produce.

Nogales continues to expand with new commodities being imported into the U.S. each year, with highlights including figs, pomegranates, Brussel sprouts and lemons.

Southern Arizona continues to import reliable volumes of tomato, watermelon, cucumber, bell pepper, eggplant, and many other key vegetable items. Commodities with the greatest growth include strawberries, broccoli, and radicchio.

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Keeping It Fresh: USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

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By Nick Rooney, Transportation Broker, ALC Orlando

As the pandemic continues to move its way through the world, we are still navigating how to get through each day. Businesses closing, hair and nail salons shutting down, gym memberships across the globe now unable to be used.

Money has become scarce for some, food being one of the most difficult supplies to have in abundance in many homes. Food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 percent from 2018 to May 6, 2020, leaving millions to worry about their next meal. The Farmers to Families Food Box has done an amazing job helping the millions of families in need during these times of hardship.

This program was built as a way to deliver food to families in need, not letting food go to waste, and helping farmers and ranchers stay in business. The Farmers to Families Food Box program purchases fresh produce and other goods directly from distributors of all sizes across the nation, from local to national. Distributors package these products into family-sized boxes, then they are transported to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving many families in need across the nation.

This is also helping to ensure our logistics system across America remains in a healthy balance by keeping freight moving and carriers in motion.

During the first round of obtaining produce and goods, beginning May 15 and ending on June 30, 2020, an astounding 35 million boxes were delivered in just the first 2 months. Round five started on December 21, 2020 and is scheduled to conclude at the end of April.

The Farmers to Families Food Box program has now provided over 133 million boxes to families in need so far since its inception. With round 5 in play, Farmers to Families has received over 6 billion dollars in funding, keeping companies running, employees paid, and most importantly, families fed.

The product provided is not limited to any specific commodity, for round 5, the USDA will purchase fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, meat, and seafood. This product assortment is just one example of why funding for boxes has been sporadic in cost throughout the year, markets are still alive and adapting causing rates for certain products to reach high dollar amounts, this isn’t stopping the millions of Americans pulling together to help each in need.

The year 2020 provided some of us with a different perspective on daily life and what it means to be in need. I suggest we take a step back and start looking at families and friends within our communities to find struggles and needs that we can try to help with. With everything going on right now, some need food, others may need a friend or someone to talk with, you can truly make a difference in someone’s life this year.

I will strive to make an impact in my community throughout this year starting with donations made to my local food bank. Farmers to Families has opened my eyes to a struggle that I truly thought was being handled here in America. Seeing that there will be more families in need within the coming year, I hope more programs like this one are put into place.

Nick Rooney began working for the Allen Lund Company in October of 2019 as a broker in training for the San Francisco office. Nick then joined the Orlando office in August of 2020, continuing his path to become a broker. As of January 2020, Nick is a transportation broker and manages produce loads for the Orlando office.

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Exports of Mexican Avocados Reveal Record Rise

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During the past decade Mexican avocado exports have tripled, according to the Mexican news source El Economista.

The site reports total Mexican avocado exports for January to November 2020 topped over 1.2 million metric tons (MT). This is a significant rise from the 369,000MT registered for all of 2010 and, based on data from the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, represents a record increase of 6.3 percent over the previous year.

In 2020, though, Mexican foreign sales of avocado fell 7.4 percent to about $2.7 billion from January to November. Most avocados sold in the United States are imported from other countries, particularly Mexico.

For example, in 2018, 76 percent of national avocado consumption was imported from Mexico. Since then, the US Hass avocado industry has grown, reaching a total market value of $ 6.5 billion in 2019.

The USDA has placed the compound annual growth rate for total avocado consumption between 2008 and 2018 at 9.4 percent, rising from 1.1 billion pounds to 2.6 billion pounds. Contributing to this growth were factors such as an increased interest in healthy eating and foods high in nutrients.

Demographic changes also played a part according to El Economista, with 75 percent of Hispanic households purchasing avocados. The US Hass avocado market is projected to continue its growth with an expected 5.5 percent annual increase between 2019 and 2023.

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U.S. Fresh Vegetable Imports Jump by 13% in 2020

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U.S. imports of fresh vegetables jumped 13% in 2020, amid the pandemic, which may have contributed to the increase. The news comes from new statistics issued by the USDA.

During the 2020 calendar year, the total U.S. import value of 23 major fresh vegetables was $9.7 billion, up 13% from 2019.

2020 import values of asparagus, celery, endive and carrots were down compared with 2019, but every other vegetable commodity tracked scored gains. The value of U.S. tomato imports was up 22%, with fresh potato imports up 30% in value and garlic imports up 18% in value compared with 2019:

2020 import values, with percent changed from 2019, are:

  • Tomatoes; $2.8 billion, up 22%;
  • Peppers: $1.79 billion, up 7%;
  • Cucumbers: $909.9 million, up 10%;
  • Asparagus: $650.5 million, down 6%;
  • Squash: $473.1 million, up 22%;
  • Onions: $464.1 million, up 3%;
  • Lettuce: $407.6 million, up 11%;
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli: $380.6 million, up 10%;
  • Potatoes: $271.5 million, up 30%;
  • Garlic: $219.3 million, up 18%;
  • Beans: $177.4 million, up 17%;
  • Carrots: $103.1 million, down 9%;
  • Cabbage: $90.5 million, up 34%;
  • Peas: $89.9 million, up 18%;
  • Eggplant: 84.1 million, up 18%;
  • Celery: $69.1 million, down 9%;
  • Okra: $44.1 million, no change;
  • Radishes: $30.7 million, up 21%; and
  • Endive: $3.5 million, down 25%.

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U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruits Show Mixed Results

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2020 U.S. imports of fresh fruit revealed mixed trends in 2020, with citrus, mangoes, kiwifruit and berries up big time, while avocados, apples and melons were down by double digits.

Total 2020 imports of fresh fruits were valued at $14.7 billion, up 1% compared with 2019.

U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics showed 2020 import values, with percent changed compared with 2019 were;

  • Berries (excluding strawberries): $3.14 billion, up 7%;
  • Bananas/plantains (fresh and frozen): $2.45 billion, up 1%;
  • Avocados: $2.44 billion, down 12%;
  • Grapes: $1.73 billion, up 4%;
  • Citrus: $1.37 billion, up 11%;
  • Strawberries, (fresh or frozen): $1.1 billion, up 5%;
  • Pineapples, (fresh or frozen): $674.7 million, up 3%;
  • Mangoes: $642.5 million, up 12%;
  • Melons: $607.9 million, down 12%;
  • Kiwifruit: $165.2 million, up 17%;
  • Apples: $157.8 million, down 24%;
  • Pears: $106.01 million, down -10%;
  • Peaches: $61.6 million, down 10%; and
  • Plums: $37.3 million, down 13%.

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Crowley Adds 355 Reefers for Central American Perishables

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Crowley Logistics has added 355 new refrigerated reefer cargo containers to its fleet in Central America to ensure availability for perishables in the supply chain.

The 40-foot-long cubes have wireless asset monitoring technology, allowing continuous monitoring during transit at sea and on land, according to a news release.

“We realize the importance of having the best refrigerated equipment in the right quantities – all strategically positioned to meet customers’ needs during peak perishables season and throughout the rest of the year,” Brett Bennett, senior vice president and general manager, said. “It is a priority for us to ensure we are meeting all their needs for reliable logistics services, including the highest level of available equipment.”

The containers were sent to Santo Tomas, Guatemala to support Central America’s heavy northbound reefer season. They’re equipped with Star Cool refrigeration units, which are environmentally friendly and have been upgraded to boost efficiency and reliability.

Crowley Logistics expanded on-terminal perishables handling capabilities with a new U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection dock at Port Everglades, Fla., earlier in 2020. The $1.6 million dock has space for 80 refrigerated reefers, more than doubling the facility’s previous size.

The dock has shoreside power plugs for each reefer, cutting cargo time and the need to move containers to a separate location for USDA inspections.

Crowly has invested about $160 million in new cargo equipment since 2014.

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Mexican Avocado Imports Break U.S. Records in Weeks Leading Up to The Big Game

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DALLAS — It’s a green victory for Avocados From Mexico (AFM), the No. 1 selling brand of avocados in the U.S. After six years of successful advertising in the Big Game, the company decided to not to air a commercial and shift its strategy to help drive retail sales during the fall season in order to prepare the market for the brand’s boldest Super Bowl promotion ever.

This new strategic approach paid off leading to new historic records. Despite pandemic challenges, the U.S. imported a historic record of 277 million pounds of Mexican avocados in the first four weeks of the year leading up to the most important guacamole consumption event. This represents a 19% increase vs the same period in 2020, with yet another incredible record of 78 million pounds of Mexican avocado imports in a single week for the first time ever.

From October to December (OND), the market sustained an amazing 49+ million lb. weekly average in 2020 of Mexican fruit compared to 46+ million lb. weekly average in 2019. “Since we decided to reinforce the promotional strategy for OND two years ago, Mexican avocado imports have grown 27% during this three-month period, a clear indication that we are on the right path,” said Luque.

With 97% market share in OND, AFM established this time frame as a major tentpole within its annual marketing strategy, with hyper-focused shopper and trade marketing efforts to drive consumption. Given the pandemic’s impact on the foodservice sector, AFM pivoted its strategy to focus on driving demand in retail. AFM’s trade and shopper marketing activities in OND supported strong retail demand with programs such as a national shopper marketing campaign featuring a $500k home giveaway, a national incentive contest with over 35 participating retail accounts, consumer and loyalty offers, and an important emphasis on bagged fruit programs. This paid off in 2020: per Nielsen, avocado consumption during OND was up double digits across the U.S, with an increase of 16.5% in lb. volume compared to OND 2019.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trounced the Kansas City Chiefs 31 – 9 to win Super Bowl LV.

About Avocados From Mexico
Company – Avocados From Mexico, based in Dallas (AFM), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA), formed for the purpose of advertising, promotion, public relations and research for all stakeholders of Avocados From Mexico. Under agreements, MHAIA and the Mexican Avocado Exporter Producers and Packers (APEAM) have combined resources to fund and manage AFM, with the intent to provide a focused, highly- effective and efficient marketing program in the United States. AFM is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

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California Prune Growers Look for Hope After a Challenging Year

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When the sun rose above the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys on New Year’s Day 2020, it was business as usual for California’s prune growers. Their plum trees had been tended to in the run up to winter in order to regulate tree shape and growth, and the first bloom of the year was just weeks away. By the time spring arrived however, the world was caught up in an unprecedented pandemic, the impact of which would be felt economically and socially across the globe.

For Californian agriculture, the combination of COVID-19 and the summer wildfires certainly made for an unusual and challenging year. Buoyed by a healthy, if relatively short, crop however, California Prune growers have found a sliver of hope in sales and are looking ahead to 2021 with optimism.

Donn Zea, Executive Director of the California Prune Board, which represents around 800 prune growers and packers, explains: “Agriculture, like other sectors, has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. The food service industry in particular has been devasted because of restrictions and lockdowns.

“However, with more people choosing to get creative in their own kitchens, consumers have been raiding their store cupboards and experimenting with ingredients they might not normally think to use, such as dried fruit. Consumers are also looking for natural foods with nutritional benefits, and that’s a trend we’ve seen reflected in our sales in Europe and the Far East in particular. We’re hopeful that it continues, especially given California Prunes contain vitamins and minerals that play a part in maintaining healthy immune systems.”

In response to the challenges posed by the both the fires and the pandemic, California Prune growers have adapted well. Donn adds: “Mother Nature waits for no one so, when the harvest came, California Prune growers and their teams worked against the backdrop of smoke, the intense heat of the summer sun and the COVID-19 workplace guidance necessary to keep everyone safe.”

California Prune grower John Taylor, of Taylor Brother Farms in Yuba City, CA, explains: “The pandemic has affected operations, but we felt it less in the orchards, where we were able to separate workers more easily. Our priority this year has been to keep our teams healthy and get through the harvest.”

His fellow Yuba City grower Nick Micheli, of Micheli Enterprises adds: “It was important we responded immediately with the correct procedures such as the implementation of sanitisers, gloves and masks to keep our people safe. Working in PPE in the heat was of course tricky but everyone pulled together under difficult circumstances.”

As challenging as 2020 has been, both growers agree it’s been a ‘vintage’ year for the prunes themselves, in terms of sizing, quality, consistent flavour and excellent sugar content. 

Donn adds: “We’re extremely proud of our California Prunes and the value they can add to the trade and the end consumer in terms of nutritional profile, premium taste and versatility – a process that begins right back in the orchards.”

With the arrival of 2021, the Board is well-placed to respond to the trend towards healthier eating, and its produce comes backed with decades of research into the benefits of eating prunes. For now, though, as the orchards lay dormant for another winter, California Prune growers are already looking ahead to the March bloom. After all, there’s nothing like a blossoming canopy of fragrant flowers to bring hope and optimism.

For more information on California Prunes, visit

Created in 1952, The California Prune Board aims to amplify the premium positioning and top-of-mind awareness of California Prunes through advertising, public relations, promotion, nutrition research, crop management and sustainability research, and issues management. The California Prune Board represents approximately 800 prune growers and 28 prune, juice, and ingredient handlers under the authority of the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture.

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Fresh Blueberry Supplies Expand with Year-Round Blueberries

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by Jaclyn Kramer, USDA

Blueberries are the second-most produced berries in the United States, after strawberries. Over the past 10 years, the total supply of fresh blueberries available for American consumption has increased fivefold. Availability of fresh blueberries to U.S. consumers has grown at a faster pace than that of fresh strawberries over that same time. U.S. production and imports of blueberries both have been increasing rapidly to meet year-round consumer demand.

In 2010, New Jersey, Georgia, and Michigan were the biggest U.S. producers of fresh-market blueberries — blueberries that are not directed to the processed market. California, Washington, and Florida were smaller producers. By 2019, the U.S. blueberry sector had expanded as Georgia, California, and Oregon emerged as the largest suppliers, each accounting for roughly 17 percent of U.S. production. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service reported fresh-market blueberry shipments from eight States in 2019: California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington.

Since 2010, the U.S. blueberry production season has expanded into the spring and late summer/early fall months (see figure above). The Florida crop now typically arrives on the market beginning in March and ending in May. Georgia enters the market in mid- to late April, followed by other major producing States, which come into production through the summer. Since 2010, growers in Florida and Georgia have advanced their season using newer cultivars. In eastern Washington, dry growing conditions and relatively little pest pressure have led to the growth in blueberry production there as well as an extended early season. While the harvest ends in September for growers throughout the United States (except in California, which ships small amounts throughout the year), Washington, Michigan, and Oregon ship into October with the use of controlled atmosphere storage.

Despite seasonal expansion of domestic production, U.S. blueberry supplies remain lower from fall to early spring. Consumer demand for year-round blueberries has encouraged all who can increase production in those months to do so. Production overseas has correspondingly expanded in response.

U.S. fresh blueberry imports grew rapidly over the past decade; on average, the U.S. imported 60 percent of blueberries consumed during 2017-19, up from an average of 50 percent from 2010-12. In 2010, Chile was the main foreign supplier of fresh-market blueberries to the United States, and Peru and Mexico produced much smaller quantities of blueberries.

By 2019, however, Mexico and Peru began increasing their share of the U.S. blueberry import market. For instance, Peru’s blueberry exports have grown exponentially in the last decade: by 2019, Peru had become the leading supplier of U.S. blueberry imports. About 80 percent of U.S. blueberry imports in 2019 were sourced from three countries: Peru, Chile, and Mexico. The boost in imports from these countries is a likely result of increased cultivation of newer varieties and expanded acreage devoted to blueberries in relatively new producers of blueberries, such as Peru and Mexico.

In 2010, there was little overlap in U.S. and foreign blueberry supplies in the domestic market, and the periods between seasons had higher grower prices. Since 2010, domestic and foreign blueberry seasons have extended. Imports from Mexico in early spring have grown, somewhat offsetting imports from Chile, while Florida and Georgia now harvest more in March and April. About 70 percent of import shipments in September and October 2019 were from Peru, increasing competition for producers in Michigan, Washington, and Oregon, where shipments continue until October.

This increase in U.S. production and imports has led to an increase of blueberry supplies in the domestic market, and prices in the U.S. off-season are now lower (see below figure). Correspondingly, the overall price level in 2019 was lower, with smaller price increases in the early spring and fall months. Lower prices that occur as domestic supplies increase are ultimately benefitting U.S. consumers.

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Dragon Fruit is Renamed “Lotus” by India State as Relations with China Deteriorate

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Renaming dragon fruit by an Indian state has occurred decision because of the original name’s “association with China. It has set off a storm of jokes and memes.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the fruit would now be called ‘kamalam’, Sanskrit for the lotus flower, the BBC reports. The lotus is sacred to Hindus and is India’s national flower.

India-China relations have nosedived in recent months. The two countries troops are locked in a tense stand-off along their long Himalayan frontier. India began cultivating dragon fruit only in recent years and it’s now grown in parts of Gujarat too.

It belongs to a family of cactus – and is believed to have earned its fearsome name because its pointy outer layer resembles the scales of a dragon. Though it’s a tropical fruit native to Central America and is largely imported from South America, many in India associate it with China because of its name.

Rivals India and China are often described as the elephant and the dragon respectively, and relations between the neighbors have been especially frosty since their armies clashed high in the Himalayas in the summer. The state’s decision to rename the fruit was announced on Tuesday by Rupani.

The lotus is also the election symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party, to which he and India’s PM Narendra Modi belong.

“The name dragon fruit is not proper, and due to its name one thinks of China. So we have given it the name ‘kamalam’,” Rupani told the local press. Rupani did not elaborate but that was all the inspiration the internet needed.

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