Archive For The “News” Category

US Foods is Expanding Facility in Louisiana

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Foodservice supplier US Foods Holding Corp. is expanding its Marrero, La., facility, nearly tripling its size to support growth in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

US Foods, Rosemont, Ill., broke ground on the project in late January, with plans to have it operating by late 2020, according to a news release. The project will expand the F. Christiana facility from 70,000 to 200,000 square feet.

“This is an important day for US Foods as we take the next step to expand our footprint in Louisiana and reaffirm our commitment to our customers and the community,” Keith Knight, south region president for US Foods, said in a news release about the Jan. 31 groundbreaking ceremony.

US Foods purchased broadliner F. Christiana in mid-2017.

The construction project includes a kitchen and training center for customer product demonstrations and recipe development, plus a technology center for customers to learn about US Foods’ web-based business solutions, according to the release.

The facility is designed to meet energy efficiency standards in refrigeration, lighting, and heating and cooling systems.

US Foods has more than 60 locations, according to the release.

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Americold Acquires PortFresh Holdings; State of Art Facility is Planned

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By Americold Realty Trust

ATLANTA- Americold Realty Trust (NYSE: COLD), (the “Company” or “Americold”), the world’s largest owner and operator of temperature-controlled facilities and infrastructure, today announced that the Company has acquired privately-held PortFresh Holdings, LLC (“PortFresh”), a leading temperature-controlled operator servicing fresh produce trade primarily through the Port of Savannah. In connection with its acquisition of PortFresh, Americold plans to build a new 15 million cubic foot state-of-the-art cold storage facility on adjacent land owned by PortFresh. The total cost of the acquisition, including approximately 163 acres of contiguous land, is approximately $35 million. The cost of the planned new build is expected to be between $55 to $65 million. Americold funded the acquisition with cash on hand and expects to fund the development from available capital resources.

“The Port of Savannah is one of the fastest growing ports in the United States and has seen increased traffic of temperature-controlled trade. With this investment, Americold is fulfilling our customers’ requests to expand into this growing market, which provides an efficient and cost-effective solution to meet their import and export needs. We believe this development project represents a significant long term growth opportunity for the Company, as we continue to grow our scale and develop our partnership with the Port of Savannah,” said Fred Boehler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Americold Realty Trust.

The planned new facility will feature 37,000 pallet positions, advanced blast freezing capabilities, and space and infrastructure to support refrigerated-containerized trade. Americold expects to begin construction on the new facility in the first half of 2019, with the opening expected to be in the first quarter of 2020.

The Port of Savannah imported 1.8 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containerized cargo in 2017, a 10.6% increase over 2016, making it the nation’s fourth-largest port, as reported by the 2018 U.S. Ports Report from Descartes Datamyne. The port’s Southern US location, ocean carrier network and access to transportation channels, including to growing markets in South America and Europe, reduces transportation time as compared to Northeastern ports, which require additional trucking and transport. The Port of Savannah continues to expand and has a stated strategy to double its storage capacity with its partners in the next 10 years.

“The Georgia Ports Authority is pleased to welcome Americold to the Savannah market,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “This announcement represents yet another expansion of Savannah’s position as a hub for the handling of cold and chilled cargoes, and complements the port’s continued on-terminal development of refrigerated cargo infrastructure.”

Brian Kastick, PortFresh’s Founder and CEO, has joined Americold with this acquisition and will help to grow the Company’s fresh produce business initiatives. “I am delighted to join the Americold platform at this exciting time. PortFresh has developed the import market for temperature controlled logistics in the Port of Savannah. I believe that Americold’s brand, platform and operational expertise will enhance PortFresh’s capabilities to serve both our existing and new customers,” stated Kastick.

The returns for the development project and acquisition are consistent with the Company’s stated return expectations for such projects upon stabilization.

About Americold

Americold is the world’s largest owner and operator of temperature-controlled warehouses. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Americold owns and operates 156 temperature-controlled warehouses (as of September 30, 2018), with approximately 928 million refrigerated cubic feet of storage, in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Argentina. Americold’s facilities are an integral component of the supply chain connecting food producers, processors, distributors and retailers to consumers.

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This Doggoned New Chilean Beer is Tasting Plum Good

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The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association worked with The Long Beach Beer Lab Brewery in Long Beach, CA, to produce a unique Chilean plum beer. A total of 4,000 16-ounce bottles are currently being distributed throughout California.

“The key focus of the CFFA is on retail promotions, but this was a really fun and creative way to utilize Chilean plums,” said Steve Hattendorf, western region merchandiser for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. “An importer donated the plums and the Beer Lab created a delicious beer out of them. We look forward to potentially working with the Beer Lab on other fruit-forward beers.”

Headed by BrewMaster and Chief Scientist, Dr. Levi Fried, the Beer Lab is a small manufacturing brewery dedicated to fermentation-forward beverages, including sours, one of the hottest beer categories. According to Nielsen, for the 52 week through May 20, 2017, dollar sales of sour beer styles soared 49 percent in off-premise outlets. According to Dr. Fried, fresh fruits like Chilean plums are the perfect addition to sours.

“Chilean plums were the perfect addition to our crisp farmhouse ale, Milk the Mustache. Blended with our sourdough ale and aged for three months with the delicious hand processed Chilean plums, the end result was a crisp, complex and satisfying beer,” Dr. Fried stated. The Beer Lab promoted the Chilean Plum beer by offering t-shirts, bottles and glassware gift packages. 

“We look forward to teaming up with Fruits from Chile in the future on more ‘exbeeriments,’ adding other great tasting Chilean fruit to our beer,” Dr. Fried added. 

When it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Chilean summer fruits are in peak supply. Grapes, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, and blueberries are currently available at retailers throughout North America.

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Del Rey Avocado Expands its California Operations

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A new facility has been added by Del Rey Avocado Co. of Fallbrook, CA, that adds an additional 43,000 square feet of cold storage and ripening rooms to the company’s existing footprint in San Diego County.  The new facility is located in Vista, CA.

The new Southern California facility comes following the company’s January 2017 expansion, when the company purchased a new facility in Vineland, N.J., according to a news release.

The new facility, according to the release, will serve customers in the Western U.S., in addition to imports from Mexico.

“Our growth and expansion would not be possible without the support of our customers and the tremendous relationships we enjoy with them,” Bob Lucy, president of Del Rey. 

“In addition to our customers, our employees are the key to our growth and success. Not a day goes by that we don’t counting our blessing.”

Del Rey Avocado employs 85 full-time staff in its Southern California facilities.

“Opening a new facility has long been our goal and desire to streamline our operations, improve efficiencies and offer us an opportunity to be innovative in meeting the need of our customers,” Bob Siemer, chief agronomist/partner for the company, said in the release. 

“The new Vista facility will also provide our growers many benefits as it will allow us to receive fruit faster and get products to market faster.”

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Pricey Produce to Hike Canadian Grocery Bills In 2019

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The average Canadian family can expect to spend $411 more on food in 2019, bringing their total yearly grocery bill to $12,157 thanks to more expensive fruit and vegetables, according to Canada’s Food Price Report.

This expected increase in food spending of 1.5 to 3.5 per cent is mostly due to an anticipated price hike of as much as six per cent for produce. 

“With fruit and vegetables being a major part of a healthy diet, the increase in cost may hinder Canadians’ ability to maintain the twofold effort of putting food on their plates and ensuring that food is healthy,” said University of Guelph Prof. Simon Somogyi, one of the lead authors of the report and Arrell Chair in the Business of Food in the College of Business and Economics.

The ninth annual report provides a price forecast for 8 food categories and is a joint project between researchers at the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University. The projected national price jump is slightly higher than last year’s one- to three-per-cent increase.

2019 Food Price Forecasts
Food Categories Anticipated Increase
Bakery 1% – 3%
Dairy 0% – 2%
Food 0% – 2%
Fruits 1% – 3%
Meat (-3%) – (-1%)
Restaurants 2% – 4%
Seafood (-2%) – 0%
Vegetables 4% – 6%
Total Food Categories Forecast 1.5% – 3.5%

Provincially, food price increases are expected to exceed the national average in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan and lag the national average in the Atlantic provinces. Food prices are expected to increase by the average amount in Manitoba and Quebec.

Somogyi said poor growing conditions due to weather and increasing demand are potentially driving next year’s rising costs of fruit and vegetables.

“There is a strong likelihood El Nino will return, which means North America will suffer from dryer conditions,” he said. “Also, we are seeing an increase in plant-based protein consumption, and the foods that go into this type of protein come from the vegetable category. Increased consumption means increased demand which flows into increased prices on the grocery store shelf.”

This surge in consumption of plant-based proteins is also contributing to an expected drop of as much as 3 per cent in the price of meat and seafood.

“These prices are in decline as Canadian consumers turn to plant-based proteins in large numbers,” said Prof. Sylvain Charlebois in the faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University and a lead author of the report. “For example, we consume 94 million fewer kilograms of beef annually today than in 2010, and as demand drops, so does price.”

This the first time in a decade that prices in meat and seafood have dipped.

“Since the global financial crisis 10 years ago, we have seen a steady increase in the price of these two items,” said Somogyi. “Given they play a significant role in our diets, a decrease will have a positive impact on the average Canadian’s grocery bill.”

When it comes to dining out, families can expect their restaurant bills to be $143 more than last year. This is mainly the result of a minimum wage increase, which has raised costs for Canadian restaurants.

“With 35 percent of Canadians’ food budgets spent on buying food outside of the home, this will have an impact on the wallets of Canadians,” said Somogyi.

Along with more consumption of plant-based proteins, other food trends expected to influence food prices this year include edible cannabis products and the new Canada Food Guide.

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Retail Food Inflation, Including Produce, is Predicted to Stay Low

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting retail food prices will rise between 1 percent and 2 percent in 2019.

The USDA report in 2018, retail food prices rose just 0.4 percent. The modest increase was the first in three years, but still below the 20-year historical annual average of 2 percent.

In 2019, the USDA said retail food inflation may continue to remain low at the grocery store. If price rise by the predicted 1 percent to 2 percent, the USDA said it would be the fourth year in a row with deflating or lower-than-average inflating retail food prices.

The USDA said fresh fruit prices rose 1 percent in 2018, and economists expect fresh fruit prices to increase an additional 2 percent to 3 percent in 2019. 

The USDA’s food price report said fresh vegetable prices rose 1.1 percent in 2018 and are expected to increase an additional 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2019.

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Economic Benefit of Nogales Port Cold Facility is Cited

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Investment in a cold inspection facility at the Mariposa Port of Entry at Nogales by the state of Arizona has received praise from The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget includes $700,000 for the facility at the port, according to a news release from the FPAA. Other stakeholders, including the FPAA and Santa Cruz County, have added funding for the project.

The ability to distribute temperature-sensitive items such as berries can help importing companies to expand operations to year-round, according to the FPAA.

“Imagine Nogales companies selling strawberries, raspberries, sensitive leafy vegetable items and more,” Lance Jungmeyer, FPAA president, said in the release. “Presently these items are not imported very much in Nogales because inspection infrastructure is not adequate during warmer months. Now, Arizona can participate in these lucrative markets.”

The FPAA touted the economic benefits of the project, including adding jobs and increasing the area’s tax base.

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports berry exports from Mexico to the U.S. are more than $1 billion a year, Arizona is a minor importer, according to the news release.

A University of Arizona study commissioned by the FPAAA concerning a cold inspection facility at the Nogales port shows economic effects:

  • $43 million to $48 million in additional sales;
  • $27 million to $30 million increase in gross state product; and
  • $15 million to $17 million in labor income.

The FPAA and Santa Cruz County Port Authority have pledged up to $500,000 for the project, according to the release.

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New Strawberry Variety Could Boost Early Season Shipments from Florida

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A strawberry variety with higher yields in November and December, when the season is starting and berries are in demand has been developed by
University of Florida researchers.

Named Florida Brilliance, the new variety, is gaining such interest among growers that it could account for 40 to 50 percent of Florida strawberry acreage next season, according to a university news release

Longer shelf life and better flavor are also attributes of Florida Brilliance.

The berry has a “glossy, shiny appearance,” according to Vance Whitaker, associate professor of horticultural sciences at the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

“Our farmers need to produce more strawberries during this period in order to remain profitable,” Whitaker said in a news release. “This variety has beautiful, flavorful fruit that is available consistently throughout the season, from Thanksgiving to late March in Florida, and thus on grocery store shelves in the eastern United States during this period.”

Grower Adam Young of Dover, FL., planted Florida Brilliance on 45 acres, about one-quarter of his production.

“It takes the weather better,” Young said in the release. “The fruit shape is more uniform. It definitely looks like we’re going to use it as our workhorse.”

Whitaker and his colleagues at the university’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm developed the berry through conventional cross-pollination, choosing “parent” strawberries with different but complementary characteristics, according to the release.

Florida Brilliance is being grown on about 1,500 acres in Hillsborough County, about 15 percent of the overall crop in Florida, according to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. That’s significantly higher than first-year commercial plantings from past university releases.

“Growers tell us that this variety will replace the current standard Florida Radiance as quickly as planting stock is available,” Whitaker said in the release. “Next year, 40 to 50 percent of the industry could be planted in this variety.”

Florida Brilliance resists many diseases, Whitaker said, and is easy to harvest because it has long stems and an open plant canopy.

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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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