Archive For The “Trucking Reports” Category

California Heirloom Navels are Being Shipped Until June

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Bee Sweet Citrus of Fowler, CA is shipping heirloom navel oranges until June.

“Unlike other citrus varieties, heirloom navels are never compromised by acidity,” Bee Sweet Citrus director of communications Monique Bienvenue said in a news release.

The release said heirloom navels are grown in older citrus groves, and the same farming methods that were used to grow Washington navels over a century ago are used to grow heirlooms now.

The release said the heirloom navel is a selection of a parent Washington variety, which was the first navel variety brought to America from Brazil in 1870.

“Heirloom navels set a very high standard for other easy-peel varieties,” Bienvenue said in the release. “Its high brix levels make them perfect for numerous snacks and desserts, and we encourage everyone to try them while they’re in season.”

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WP Produce is Shipping Green-Skinned Avocados Year Around

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Tropical fruit grower, packer and shipper WP Produce, Miami, is kicking off its 2019 season with green-skinned avocado varieties to be available the year round.

Green-skinned avocados are experiencing a surge in popularity, according to the company, which markets fruit under the Desbry brand.

In a press release WP Produce noted the non-hass varieties, instead of being used for guacamole, have a firmer texture and are perfect for salads, smoothies, toast, sushi and in soups.

The company sources from growers in Florida and imports from the Dominican Republic, and packs them at a new facility.

“Because we own the land we farm and have strong relationships with our growers, we can ensure a consistent supply of produce throughout the season,”
Desiree Morales, vice president of WP Produce, said in the release. “Our customers have come to depend on the care we take in selecting and packing our produce.”

The company has farms in the Valdesia and Ocoa regions of the Dominican Republic, and partners with growers in the Cambita and Puerto Plata regions, according to the release.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the International Executive Service Corps are educating consumers on the Dominican green-skinned fruit.

“We are very excited for the work being done to promote green skin avocados in the U.S.,” said Christopher Gonzalez, vice president of sales at WP Produce, said in the release. “Consumers are becoming more and more interested in exotic, tropical produce, and green skin avocados are really starting to see a surge in popularity, especially with the continued demand for avocados as a whole. Consumers want to try the next big thing in avocados.”

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Florida Strawberry Shipments are Entering Big Volume Period

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Decent strawberry shipments are finally taking place from the Plant City area of Florida after a slow start during the past month or so. However, it will be February 1st before volume hits a peak.

Although there is no official government acreage estimate for the 2018-19 season, some observers believe total acreage is around 10,000 to 11,000 acres. However, for the 2017-18 the USDA reported planted acres totaled 10,800, while harvested acreage was 10,700 acres.

The USDA said Florida strawberry growers had an average yield of 225 hundredweight per acre. Total production totaled 2.41 million cwt.

Hot weather last fall resulted in smaller strawberries and less volume although that situation started improving in mid December.

USDA shipment statistics show so far this season, conventional Florida strawberry shipments totaled 8.73 million pounds through December 8th, down 43 percent compared with the same time a year ago, when 15.1 million pounds had been shipped.

Total loadings of Florida conventional strawberries during the 2017-18 totaled 240.8 million pounds, according to the USDA.

Strawberry shipments were in a lull in mid-December and decent volume did not occur until after the New Year.

Wish Farms of Plant City, FL reports acreage in Florida could be off a little, perhaps 5 percent — compared with a year ago. Hillsborough County, FL has about 10,000 acres and Manatee County at about 1,000 acres.

While Florida strawberry volume is building, it is not expected to hit real good levels volume until the week of January 20th, which puts shippers in a good position for the important Valentine Day’s (February 14th) demand.

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LGS is Increasing Imports of Spanish Fruit; Fewer California Avocados this Season

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LGS Specialty Sales of New Rochelle, N.Y., is importing more Spanish fruit including lemons, clementines and Vanilla Persimmons, also known as rojo brillante.

LGS also imports and distributes citrus, grapes and avocados. The Spanish fruit is grown in the Valencia and Murcia regions. The company imports lemons from Spain year-round.

“Spain’s Mediterranean climate consistently grows exceptional fruit and we are excited to export more of their products to provide the U.S. market with top-quality produce year-round,” Rebekah McMurrain, persimmons category manager at LGS, said in a news release. “Both Spanish lemons and ready-to-eat Vanilla Persimmons are favorite varieties in Europe and we are pleased to offer them to U.S shoppers.”

The Vanilla Persimmon, a hybrid of the hachiya and fuyu varieties, is available now through February, according to the release. Like the fuyu, it is ready to eat.

California Avocados

California avocado shipments for the 2018-19 season are expected to plunge by nearly 50 percent compared to the 2017-18 season.
The California Avocado Commission 2018-19 preseason crop estimate for all varieties is 175 million pounds, with 167 million pounds of the hass variety.

The lower volume is due to various weather factors including a severe heat wave in July 2018.

Because of the expected drop in shipments, most avocado loads will be destined to California and other western markets

Shipments will be building into March with peak availability from April through August.

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First Chilean Ship Arrives at NJ Terminal

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Gloucester Marine Terminal LLC based in Gloucester City, NJ received its first arrival of fresh Chilean fruit three weeks ago when the M/V Baltic Jasmine unloaded nearly 2,500 tons of Chilean grapes, plums, nectarines and other products.

Weekly service for Chilean winter fruit will continue through April.

“Having the first vessel is a responsibility that we take seriously,” Peter Inskeep, of the Gloucester Marine Terminal, said in a press release. “We have placed a huge emphasis on the culture of food safety, and once again our terminal has been awarded the highest SQF Level II certification. This means that the delicious products that pass through our hands from Chile, Peru, Brazil, Spain, Morocco, Central America and South Africa are guaranteed safe handling.”

The M/V Baltic Jasmine is part of the fleet owned and managed by Baltic Shipping, a long-time customer of the Gloucester Terminal.

“The 2018/2019 fruit season promises to be a good one, and this means increased consumer access to lots of fresh and healthy products from our partners around the world,” Eric Holt, with Holt Logistics Corp., said in the release.

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Avocado Imports by U.S. Should Remain Strong this Season

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Mexican avocado imports by U.S. importers will remain strong in 2018-19.  A  new report from the USDA notes Mexican hass avocado production is forecast at 1.9 million metric tons or more for marketing year 2018-19.

By way of comparison, production estimates for the 2017-18 season are about 2 million metric tons, according to industry estimates.

Mexico’s Michoacán region is the world leader in avocado production and accounts for 80 percent of total Mexican avocado volume.

Total area planted for Mexican avocados for 2017-18 is about 571,000 acres, up a little more than 5 percent from about 540,000 acres in 2016-17.

Export outlook

Mexico’s avocado exports for 2018-19 are forecast to be close to 1 million metric tons, according to the report. That is similar to 2017-18, according to the USDA report.

The USDA report said the U.S. is the top importer from Mexico, consuming between 74 and 79 percent of total Mexican exports. About  6 percent of exports are sent to Japan and 7 percent to Canada.

While Mexican hass exports to the U.S. have increased with year-round access to all 50 states, the USDA report said exports to Canada, Japan and Europe have also risen.

The USDA report said a price dispute between producers in Michoacán and packing companies caused growers to cease harvesting activities Oct. 29 for approximately two weeks.

The report said an agreement was reached to end the strike on November 14,th when the parties along with the Mexican government agreed to have public reports of market information including:

  • Product exported;
  • Product sent to domestic market;
  • Volumes sold; and
  • Destination

Growers in Michoacán generally sell their fruit on the spot to a packer in terms of pesos per kilo.

“The intention is to have transparent commercial value information of the avocado trade,” the USDA report said. “Parties agreed that market prices will be adjusted according to the supply/demand principle.”

Mexican producers said the strike caused a deficit of 38,000 metric tons in the U.S. market, but that resumption of packing was expected to erase that shortage within a few weeks,  according to the USDA report.

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Updates: Fewer Apples for Shipping; RRV Potatoes; Star Group Tomatoes

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There were 16 percent fewer U.S. fresh apples remaining to be shipped as of December 1st compared to a year ago, according to a new report from the U.S. Apple Association.

Total fresh apples in storage totalled 103.3 million 42-pound cartons,  down from 122.9 million cartons last year and 11 percent less than the five-year average holdings of 116.7 million cartons.

Apples in storage for processing were off even more sharply, with 25.5 million cartons down 44 percent from a year ago and off 42 percent from the five-year average.

Red River Valley Potatoes

By Ted Kreis, NPPGA Communications

As we near the halfway point of the Red River Valley fresh potato crop shipping season, marketers are pleased, especially when comparing this year to last year.

The good fortune started early in the season when a heavy snow cover protected about 4,000 acres of unharvested potatoes from the very cold temperatures that settled in for a few days after the snowstorm.

The color and quality of this year’s crop is excellent and supplies are much more manageable after a nearly 10 percent cut in fresh acres in the Red River Valley.

Demand is strong. Big potato crop losses in Wisconsin and Canada has pushed more business to the Red River Valley.

Last year’s biggest problem, without the doubt, was the truck shortage. It was responsible for lost sales, higher freight rates, backed-up inventory which in turned caused falling prices and higher shrink later in the season. This year trucks have been much more available and nobody knows exactly why, but we are all hoping it continues through the second half of the season.

The Star Group Tomatoes

The Star Group of  Voorhees Township, is producing tomatoes in a new greenhouse facility in Culiacan, Mexico.

The Big Taste brand roma tomatoes are entering the market the U.S. market through McAllen, Texas, and Nogales, Ariz., according to a news release.

The company will be shipping the romas, beefsteaks, grape tomatoes and slicer cucumbers through the winter from the new Culiacan facility.

Other Big Taste branded products from The Star Group in Mexico are tomatoes on-the-vine, grape tomatoes and Big Taste berries.

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Western Shipping Updates: Peppers Plus, Fresh Farm; and Sunions

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Here’s a shipping update on three companies in the Western U.S.

Peppers Plus LLC of Rio Rico, AZ began shipping peppers December 1st, and will continue shipping Mexican vegetables into the spring.

While the company will continue shipping green, red, yellow and orange blocky Bell peppers, it has discontinued shipping mesh-house bells.  Meanwhile the operation increased from 100 to 112 acres of peppers this season.

Peppers Plus also is shipping hard shell squash and will continue until about June 1st.  Peppers should wrap up in mid May.  The company has been expanding its growing operation on average of 10 to 15 percent per year.

Fresh Farm is Shipping

Fresh Farms’ winter vegetable program “will be up ten percent for every item,

The operation has been shipping green Bell peppers, pickles, eggplant and hard squash since mid November and should continue with good volume until May.

The firm’s English cucumbers will be shipped until mid-April.

Fresh Farms’ green bean shipping started earlier this month and was soon followed by yellow and bi-colored sweet corn.

The company’s organic program this season includes zucchini, yellow, butternut and spaghetti squash, as well as American and English cucumbers and green beans.


Shipments of Sunion onions has got underway in its second season.

Sunions, a long-day sweet onion variety grown in Washington and Nevada, was developed by Nunhems Vegetable Seeds and is distributed by Generation Farms of Lake Park, GA;  Onions 52 LLC of Syracuse, UT and Peri & Sons Farms Inc. of Yerington, NV.

Unlike other long-day onions, Sunions actually become sweeter and tearless in storage, according to a news release.

Sunions are released for sale using a certification process that includes a sensory panel with the authority to determine Sunions ship dates, and the panel uses three separate tests for both flavor and tearlessness before releasing Sunions for shipping.

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CA Grape Shipments to Go Through January; Romaine E.Coli update

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Grape shipments from California are moving in record volume as the season approaches a conclusion.

Between October 13th and November 30th, California grape shipments totaled over 27.7 million 19-pound boxes to domestic and export markets.  The USDA report the number beats the previous seven-week record during that time frame set in 2013.

California grape grower-shippers also broke the record for the three-month shipping period from September 1st to November 30th, with over 55 million boxes of grapes, according to the California Table Grape Commission. The previous record was also set in 2013.

Shippers also set a new record for the five-week period of September 8th to October 12th.

Shipments are expected to continue through the end of January.

Romaine E.coli 

The Food and Drug Administration has named Adam Bros. Farm in Santa Barbara County, California as one potential source of the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine — but it cautions that the finding does not explain all the illnesses in the outbreak.
Investigators found E. coli in the sediment of an irrigation reservoir used by Adam Bros. Farm, but the FDA continues to search for other sources of contaminated product.
“While the analysis of the strain found in the people who got ill and the sediment in one of this farm’s water sources is a genetic match, our traceback work suggests that additional romaine lettuce shipped from other farms could also likely be implicated in the outbreak,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb and deputy commissioner Frank Yiannas said in a statement. “Therefore, the water from the reservoir on this single farm doesn’t fully explain what the common source of the contamination (is). We are continuing to investigate what commonalities there could be from multiple farms in the region that could explain this finding in the water and potentially the ultimate source of the outbreak.”

The investigation has produced records from five restaurants in four states, with those restaurants sourcing from 11 distributors, nine growers and eight farms, according to the FDA.
Currently, there is no one company that is a part of all the supply chains being investigated.

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Leafy Green Shipments from Branch Farms Coming out of Florida

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A23by Branch: A Family Of Farms

South Bay, Fla. – Branch: A Family of Farms, the country’s largest distributor of sweet corn, is in the midst of a promising season of leafy green production out of their Belle Glade and South Bay, Fla. farms.

The region and its crops were spared by Hurricane Michael in early October which allowed Branch to ship its full offering of leafy greens without interruption.

“We are very lucky that we can meet demand of leaf lettuce from our Florida farms,” says Brett Bergmann, president of Branch. “We look forward to providing our customers with fresh, quality product this holiday season.”

Branch’s farmers grow a full assortment of leaf items including green and red leaf, Boston, romaine, endive, escarole, parsley, dill, cilantro and Chinese cabbage.  This year’s forecasted cool winter provides ideal growing conditions for Florida leafy greens.

Branch growers invest in trialing new varieties each new season to provide the best items available. This year’s new offerings include a new green leaf variety and three romaine varieties which were bred specifically for the Florida environment. These varieties have good head size and weight and are excellent for romaine hearts. Additionally, a new endive was introduced that grows in a more upright and conical manner. This helps reduce shrink through minimizing rib breakage as well as making it easier to pack.

“Our primary goal from our research and development process is to continuously improve upon the eating experience for the consumer and of course improve upon how existing varieties perform in the Southern climates,” said Bergmann.  “We thrive from having collaborative conversations around product innovation with customers.  More so than ever before, it’s imperative to be continuously innovating and planning out varieties and supply needs well in advance.”


About Branch
Since 1957, our founding principles still drive us at Branch: integrity, quality, service – a commitment to our industry and the sustainability of our environment. As a family owned and operated business, we are a premier grower, packer, shipper of sweet corn in the United States also offering our customers green beans, leafy greens, radishes and celery.

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