Archive For The “Trucking Reports” Category

Mexico, California Driving Strong Spring Blueberry Shipments for Berry People

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HOLLISTER, CA — Blueberry demand remains strong with American consumers, and Berry People, a year-round, full-line shipper of branded organic and conventional strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, has promotable volumes of high-quality fruit available.

“South American supply delays caused by weather, port clearance and unloading delays caused by COVID-19 are behind us, and we now have steady volumes of great quality conventional and organic blueberries from our Mexican growers,” said Jerald Downs, President of Berry People. “Our growers in California report a fruit set that looks promising for harvest towards the end of April; we anticipate a steady transition from Mexican to Californian production over the next 60 days.”

Berry People’s unique approach to grower relationships has helped fuel their triple-digit growth over the past three years. “We bring a long-term perspective and a commitment to delicate bonds of trust to our grower relationships, and we strive to be true partners, with a holistic approach towards improving grower and Berry People operations from top to bottom,” Downs continued. “As a result, our business has grown organically through existing growers’ increasing referrals to their families, neighbors and friends. We are thankful for this organic, yet substantial, year-over-year growth, which has risen in tandem with our retailer and consumer demands.”

Berry People anticipates a robust spring and summer blueberry season in 2021, with a broader and more diversified base of growers and acreage from California and the Pacific Northwest, allowing us to handle the June through September transition with continuity, quality, and volume. 

About Berry People:
Berry People is a year-round, full-line shipper of branded organic and conventional strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and owner of the Berry People brand. Headquartered in Hollister, California, the company’s ownership and key alliance partners hold important production assets in California, Mexico, Chile and Peru. 

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Spring California Strawberry Shipments Expected to be Big Again this Year

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2021 is shaping up to be a big for California strawberries, with total
strawberry acreage for pegged at 36,487 acres.

The California Strawberry Commission’s acreage survey, released in December, shows acreage planted in the fall, which produces fruit during the traditional winter, spring and summer seasons, reported at 28,407 acres, up 5.7% compared to a year ago.

The Salinas-Watsonville district accounts for 43% of the state’s winter/spring/summer acreage, compared with 36% for Santa Maria, 20% for Oxnard and just 1% for Orange County/San Diego/Coachella.

California strawberry shipments are expected to peak in early May, with the state’s shippers projected to ship 10 million or more trays in a week.

While 10 million trays per week are seen for early May, the commission expects 9 to 10 million trays weekly for several weeks.

About 15% of California’s strawberry output is exported.

Total California organic strawberry acreage reported for 2021 is 4,684 acres, which is about 12.8% of total state acreage. Organic output reached a record in 2020, and acreage for 2021 is about the same as a year ago.

California strawberry acreage planted in the summer of 2021, which will produce during the fall season, is projected at 8,080 acres, according to the report. All of the summer planted acreage is in Oxnard and Santa Maria.


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First Domestic Watermelon Shipments Underway from Florida

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A majority watermelons being shipped to U.S. markets are coming from northern Mexico, with additional imports coming primarily from Honduras and Guatemala.

The first domestic shipments of the year got underway in recent days from the Immokalee area of southern Florida with light, but increasing volume.

As the season progresses production will move northward. Central Florida should start around the last half of late April. West Florida may get underway by the middle of May, with Georgia following in June.

Texas had some cold weather several weeks ago and shipments may start a little later than usual, with loadings beginning around May 10.

In California, the early production areas in the Coachella and Imperial valleys should also start about May 10.

Although most states produce watermelons commercially, Florida, Georgia, Texas and California account for nearly 80 percent of domestic production according to the USDA Economic Research Service.

Domestic production has remained fairly steady, and imports have increased in recent years as watermelon consumption continues to rise. Mexico accounts for about 80 percent of imports, with Honduras and Guatemala making up most of the balance.

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Chilean Citrus Exports Continue Growth, with U.S. Receiving 85% of Product

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A 6 percent increase in the volume of Chilean citrus exports for the 2021 season is expected by the Asoex Committee. The estimated total shipping volume is 387,000 metric tons (MT).

The greatest increase will be for mandarins with an increase of 11 percent over last year, followed by clementines with 7 percent growth. Lemons are expected to see a 3 percent increase, while oranges will remain unchanged.

The growth in citrus exports is due to the increase in plantations during the last decade, according to the press release.

“In total there are 22,230 hectares planted, of which 8,427 correspond to mandarin plantations, 7,376 hectares of lemons, 6,260 of oranges and 167 of grapefruit,” Juan Enrique Ortúzar President of Asoex said.

The export volume of clementines is expected at 55,000MT, while mandarins are predicted to be 145,000MT.

Regarding lemons, 98,000MT is expected for this year, and oranges will maintain export numbers from last season, with shipments of 89,000MT

Ortúzar said that the favorable predictions are due to more rains in the central zone of Chile last year and the water reservoirs in Norte Chico.

U.S. is Main Market

The U.S. is the primary destination for Chilean citrus, receiving about 85 percent of total shipments. It is followed by the Far East and Europe, which account for about 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

After these markets, Canada, Latin America and the Middle East follow.

As for China, the market opened the doors to citrus last year with total shipments reaching 1,031MT of mandarins, 404MT of oranges, 46MT of clementines and 5,650MT of lemons.

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Mexican Grape Crossings into U.S. to Begin in Early May

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The Sonora Grape Growers Association (AALPUM) projects 21.5 million 18 lb. (8.2 kg) cartons to be packed and shipped between early May and mid-July, 2021.

AALPUM association president Marcos Camou, AALPUM general manager Juan Laborin and Fresh Produce Association of the Americas grape division chairman John Pandol recently presented the crop estimate via Zoom. This estimate is 2% less than the 2020 harvest and 11% less than the 2019 crop.

The largest volume is white seedless varieties at 44%, followed by red seedless varieties at 43%, then black seedless varieties at 7% and then ‘other’ 6%, which includes Red Globes and specialty varieties like Cotton Candy. Sonora is the only growing area supplying North America that produces a majority of green seedless. Between 3 and 5% of the grape crop is certified organic.

The harvest season is subdivided into four section

Preseason         10% everything prior to May 15 including other early areas.

Early Season    16% May 16-30      .

Peak Season     53% May 31 – June 20

Late Season      21% post June 21 into July

Shipping will continue from Nogales and other forward distribution points will continue until mid-July.

The estimate had a new look that reflects changes in the industry. Not long ago 80% of the volume was three varieties. Today 40% is over a two dozen newer proprietary varieties.   “To give a rundown of individual varieties, each with beginning and end of harvest date for each growing area is no longer a useful description of the crop” , said FPAA grape division chairman John Pandol. “The purpose of giving an estimate is so our supply chain partners; operational service providers, government agencies and commercial partners can prepare”

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Sun Belle Launches 2021 Pomegranate Arils Program

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Berry importer/shipper/marketer Sun Belle Inc. has launched its 2021 Pomegranate Arils program with Green Belle organic and Sun Belle conventional  4.4 ounce cups packed  by Agricola Los Medanos S.A. in Ica, Peru. The arils are extracted from just-ripe pomegranates in Los Medanos’ ultra-clean facility using state of the art technology, including UV sanitation,  immediately packed in retail cups with peel  and resealable lids with a tamper proof outer ring seal, and air shipped to North America.

The arils are ruby sweet flavor pops which enliven meals and celebrations throughout the day – from the breakfast bowl to desserts, salads, savory dishes, and snacks to delicious beverages.

Janice Honigberg, president of Sun Belle Inc. kicked off this year’s program saying: “Pomegranates are among the world’s most ancient fruits, always sought after for their taste and beauty. The tiny red jewels are rich in vitamin C, K, B-6 and potassium.  High in anti-oxidants and fiber but with a low-calorie count, pomegranate arils are a delicious ready-to-eat snack for health-conscious consumers.  Sun Belle is pleased to offer such superb quality products through the spring and summer months.”

Sun Belle, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2021, was founded by Honigberg in Washington, DC and is the exclusive marketer of the Sun Belle and Green Belle brands. In addition to arils, introduced in 2018, Sun Belle markets and distributes conventional and organic blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; certified biodynamic organic cranberries and blueberries; golden berries, Black Mission figs and red currants; and green house and specialty produce.  Sun Belle operates distribution and sales centers in Jessup, Maryland; Miami, Florida; Schiller Park, Illinois; Oxnard, California; and Laredo, Texas.


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Vanguard Updates Exports of New Zealand Apples, Pears

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ISSAQUAH, WA – The total production of New Zealand apples and pears this season is estimated to be approximately 21- 22 million cartons. The exportable crop is expected to be 19.5 million cartons. 

There were 3 significant factors that led to the estimated volumes of New Zealand apples and pears this season:

Despite favorable weather in most New Zealand growing regions, hailstorms wreaked havoc on the South Island this season. Some growers located in the South Island’s Nelson area lost 70-90% of their fruit from hail damage. The hail damage was very specific to the Nelson area. In other growing regions of New Zealand, the good weather supported positive growing conditions for the fruit and brought beautiful color.

Vanguard is monitoring how the labor challenges will impact the ongoing harvest and overall volumes, and volumes specific to every variety.

Vessel availability is also adding to the challenges.  Shipping lines are informing New Zealand packers that they are suspending service to specific destinations given the complexities of making even close to timely ETA’s. An example would be that OOCL has informed the New Zealand industry this week that they will not take anymore bookings for Europe, and NYK has cancelled bookings and all routes to Asia and Russia.

Growers continue to harvest and pack early varieties in New Zealand, mainly Gala and in smaller numbers Early Fuji and Beauty.
Complexities related to weather, labor, and shipping will be key variables to stay alert to throughout the season.



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Vidalia Onion Shipments in Sight as Pack Date is Set for April 19

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Vidalia onion shipments will start the third week of April from Southeastern Georgia.

For the 2021 season, approximately 10,000 acres of Vidalia onions were planted, Vidalia Onion Chairman Aries Haygood said. “We are anticipating a good harvest, and consumers across the country should have ample supply throughout the season.

The date growers can start packing under the Vidalia onion name is April 19. The date is determined each year by an advisory panel comprised of Vidalia industry members, state agriculture scientists and the Department of Agriculture, according to a press release.

Soil and weather conditions in south Georgia are taken into consideration to select the date, to help ensure only the highest-quality onions end up on consumers’ plates.

“It is a special moment every year when we announce the Vidalia onions pack date, but this year we will mark the passage of the 1986 Vidalia Onion Act by our state legislature that played a defining role in making our state’s official vegetable an iconic brand recognized around the world,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said in the release. 

First discovered in the 1930s, Vidalia onions quickly grew in popularity over the next few decades. The Vidalia Onion Act established that only sweet onions grown in 20 South Georgia counties from a distinctive Granex seed and packed and sold on or after the official pack date each year could be called  Vidalia onions. 

Known for its sweet, mild flavor and treasured by cooks nationwide, the vegetable is hand-cultivated by 60 registered growers. They represent about 40 percent of the sweet onion market and are sold in every state.

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Western Lettuce Shipments in Seasonal Shift: Caution Urged Loading Head Lettuce

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Shipments of lettuce and other leafy greens are shifting from the California and Arizona deserts to the short Huron, CA, season, with the Salinas Valley season just getting underway this week. Some caution is urged in loading head lettuce, which has quality problems.

Markon Cooperative notes in its weekly Fresh Crop Report, lettuce prices are steady and supplies are strong as consumer demand is rising with more restaurants opening.

USDA reports both romaine and iceberg lettuce prices have nearly doubled in the last month.

Romaine, green leaf and spring mix supplies are very good quality, Markon reports, while iceberg lettuce has some issues with frost, mildew and wind-damaged outer leaves. It is recommended your receiver be alerted while still at shipping point the condition of the lettuce.

The transition from the desert areas to northern California growing areas occurs every spring.

California/Arizona desert lettuce and other vegetables – grossing about $6100 to Chicago.

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Florida Peach Shipments are Starting Soon

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Florida is the first state in the U.S. to ship peaches each year, which typically occurs near the end of March and is available into May. It may not be a long season, but it’s the first domestic stone fruit crop of 2021.

Florida’s Institute for Food and Agriculture Sciences is expecting the best crop in 5 years.

Florida Classic Growers of Dundee, FL should begin loading its peaches by the end of March, with volume peaking the first two weeks of April, 

The season appears it will be a little more condensed than in previous years as volume is expected to dwindle after the first week of May. Volume will probably be off slightly, although an excellent season is expected.

Since 2004, Florida commercial peach acreage has hovered in the 2,000 range. Described as stable, the reason is due to climate, not economics.

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