Archive For The “Trucking Reports” Category

Chilean Grape Imports are Increasing after Slow Start

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Some winters Chilean grape imports are flooding U.S. markets the first half of January, but pretty much hit a stone wall this year as we entered 2019. That is now changing as shipments of California grapes are in big volume declines as the season concludes.

There was still a lot of California fruit in U.S. markets during December — a whopping 55 percent more California grapes in cold storage in mid-December 2018 vs. mid-December 2017. As a result, Chile has been shipping less to North America and more to Asia.

Through mid December 10,575 tons of Chilean grapes were shipped to North America, compared to 29,000 at the same time last year.  Through the end of December, 71 percent of all Chilean grape exports went to North America.

Chilean grape exports started slowly, but have picked up gradually this year. Overall, Chile reports good volumes of grapes for this season and will be exporting product through the current season.

Total global exports of Chilean grapes through the end of December reached 15,419 tons, which was a “significant decline” from the 31,000 tons of a year earlier, according to the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.

Chile stepped up shipments to the U.S. by early January, however, with the remaining California inventory having dissipated, Brux said, dropping to 1.5 million cases at the end of the year, according to a recent market report.

“Now that January has arrived and much of the California inventory has cleared, we’ll start to see increased volumes, along with big retail promotions, for Chilean grapes in North America,” she said.

As of the first week in January, harvesting was primarily in the Coquimbo region (IV), with the Valparaiso (V) region starting, Brux said.

The largest shipment of Chilean winter fruit so far this season arrived at the Port of Wilmington Dec. 27. The shipment contained more than 676,000 boxes of fresh table grapes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums, Brux said. The third bulk reefer was scheduled to arrive the second week of January.

Grape volume from the Copiapó region likely will exceed 10 million boxes this season. The largest volumes from that region were to be harvested from December through mid-January, with late varieties finishing by the first week in March.

North America is the largest market for Chilean grapes, taking in 47% of all Chilean grape exports in 2017-18, Brux said.

Bill Poulos, grape category director for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group, said he expects volumes this year to match year-earlier figures.

“We anticipate red and green grape volumes to be fairly similar to last year, as fortunately the (Nov. 12) hailstorm largely spared Chile’s grape-growing regions,” he said. “With new varieties coming into North America, we expect higher overall volumes in April and May than in the past. This steady supply picture is emerging despite the decline in the flame variety in Northern Chile.”

New varieties will have noticeably higher volumes, said Fernando Soberanes, director of operations for South America with Los Angeles-based Giumarra Cos.

“We expect to see increased production of proprietary grape varieties out of Chile as they continue to gain popularity in the market,” he said. “In general, volumes of traditional grape varieties are declining out of Chile in favor of newer varieties. The decline is heavier toward the early-season varieties than the late varieties, so we will see smaller volumes coming in at the onset of the season and heavier volumes toward the end.”

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Orri Jaffa Mandarins Heading to North America

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Tel Aviv – The Plant Production and Marketing Board of Israel predicts 2019 will see significant increase in exports of the Orri Jaffa mandarin to the U.S. and Canada. The organization set goals for expanding export of its leading, easy-to-peel mandarin in response to the increased demand for high-quality, easy-peelers.

It carries a particularly long shelf life and appears later in the season compared to other easy peelers – from January into May.

The American citrus market has been growing significantly in recent years and is composed largely of imports. The mandarin sub-category is the largest in the citrus category, accounting for some 40 percent of the citrus market. More than 230,000 tons of easy-to-peel mandarins are shipped into the U.S. annually, at a total value of more than $1 billion. This is in addition the 1 million tons produced domestically.

Over the past 5 seasons, citrus exports from Israel to North America have increased from 3,000 tons to 9,000 tons last season, of which about 5,300 tons are easy-to-peel mandarins. This season, export of Orri Jaffa mandarin alone is expected to reach 9,000 tons, constituting a potential 70 percent growth.

In spite of this significant rise in consumption of the mandarins in the U.S., consumption per capita is among the lowest in the world, about 2.5 kg per year. But based on the rapidly increasing demand, that figure is forecast to double. In Canada that figure has almost doubled exceeding 4.6 Kg per capita.

The Jaffa Orri is a mandarin developed by scientists at the Israeli Volcani Research Center. This easy-to-peel mandarin retains an excellent, fresh, sweet flavor with a fleshy texture, and mouthful juiciness, while bearing virtually no seeds.

Data from studies conducted in recent years confirm a doubling of per-capita consumption of easy-to-peel mandarins in the past two decades. This coincides to a significant increase in the intake of easy-peelers in the American market, mainly in place of traditional oranges. In recent years, this phenomenon has led to a sharp upsurge in the import of easy-peelers to America, leading to the establishment of new groves.

“The US market for easy-to-peel mandarins is substantial and holds promise as a developing target market for Israeli citrus exports,” says Tal Amit, Director of the Citrus Division in the Plant Production and Marketing Board of Israel. “The success of easy-peeler mandarins in particular can be easily credited to the fruit’s great flavor and unbeatable convenience.”

Orri Jaffa mandarin currently is exported to 45 countries worldwide. Most of the yield is exported to Europe (78 percent). The most prominent outlets in Europe of the popular fruit are: France (39 percent), the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Russia (7 percent each). About 18 percent of the fruit is shipped to North America, and 4 percent to Asia Pacific.

The Plant Production and Marketing Board of Israel was established in 2004 to assist farmers in advancing their agricultural missions. The board promotes the Jaffa brand and other registered citrus industry brands. It helps kick-start pioneering R&D projects, executes centralized crop protection initiatives, assists organizations in meeting phytosanitary standards and insures growers against weather-related losses.

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Desert Lettuce Shipments are Becoming More Steady

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It appears lettuce shipments out of the Yuma, AZ area and California’s near by Imperial Valley are getting back on track following a few weeks of inclement weather including snow and cold temperatures, plus a slow down from the holidays.

dCoastline Family Farms Inc. of Salinas, CA, which has an operation in Brawley, CA has noted three separate delays in harvesting, packing and shipper because of icy weather, plus an additional two days harvest was reduced due to light rain. However, business is now returning to normal.

Still, if you are hauling lettuce be aware of some possible quality issues relating to epidermal peeling and discoloration, although the core of the lettuce should be in good condition. The main concern now is possible rain in the forecast.

Suppliers observe the market has regained some momentum after the holidays. Prices are steadying as producers ship more stable volume again. Hope is that the steady market will continue, but growers will be keeping an eye on forecast rain in the growing regions later this week.

While snow in the desert regions of California and Arizona are a bit unusual, it does happen. However, much the leafy green shipments in the United States occurs here during the winter months. Some observers note the desert areas generally have less disruption of shipments than coastal California areas such as Ventura County and Santa Maria.

Desert lettuce and other vegetables – grossing about $5400 to Atlanta.

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Berry People Expands Baja California Organic Strawberry Program

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Hollister, CA – Berry People has announced the start of its organic strawberry season from Baja California in Mexico, having recently completed a successful first year of operations.

These top-quality strawberries, which are now available in both an 8x1lb and 12×8.8oz formats, will ramp up in volume in January, peak from February through April, and taper off in June.

The Baja season comes at a time when U.S. domestic production is limited, providing retailers and their customers an attractive alternative for a reliable supply of organic strawberries. Work is also underway to develop acreage for substantial November and December volumes next season.

The company has grown since it started operating in late 2017 and is now set for further controlled expansion in 2019 by developing important summertime production to finish out its year-round shipments.

Jerald Downs, President of Berry People, noted shareholders recently completed a substantial 2018 equity capital contribution in preparation for 2019’s projected growth.

“A strong balance sheet and sufficient capital resources are important to stay in the vanguard as to the marketplace’s product and service needs, whether that be in the development of new varieties, pack-styles and technologies, investment into new facilities, or in the provision of harvest advances to key outside growers,” said Downs.

About Berry People: Berry People is a year-round, full-line shipper of organic and conventional strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and avocados, and owner of the Berry People® and Avo People brands®. 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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The Importance of South Texas Produce Shipments

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Texas produce growers are currently harvesting and shipping melons, citrus and other crops to supermarkets mostly throughout the Eastern half of the country.

When the Lone Star State producers of fresh fruits and vegetable are not in season, Texas is the major route for fruits and vegetables from Mexico.

Many Texas produce operations also have relationships with the growers in Mexico.

For example, in 2016, two-thirds of all the fresh produce sold in Texas was grown in Mexico. Texas grows $900 million of 60 different produce items on 117,000 acres. There are 26,000 acres of watermelons, and 22,000 acres of grapefruit out of a total of 29,000 acres of citrus.

As of 2018, Texas had a population of 28 million people and has the third highest growth population rate of all the states at 1.8 percent per year.

J & D Produce Inc. of Edinburg, TX is a grower-shipper in the Rio Grande Valley and has been shipping kale during the winter for over 25 years to the northeastern U.S.

The company estimates 20 percent of what it grows is distributed in the Lone Star State, while the other 80 percent is shipped out of the state wholesale terminal markets and retail distribution centers, mostly east of the Mississippi River.

Texas is so important in grapefruit and orange production that when California’s largest grower-shipper wanted to fill out their portfolio of year-round citrus, they looked to the Lower Rio Grand Valley.

Wonderful Citrus of Los Angeles grows and ships Texas grapefruit and oranges. While volume during the past five years has been flat, new plantings of grapefruit and oranges were launched a few years ago. The company is now expecting shipments to increase over the next several years.

Wonderful citrus is now the largest red grapefruit grower in Texas, accounting for 50 to 55 percent total share of volume this winter season.

Although Florida remains the orange juice king despite struggles with citrus greening disease, California and Texas are by far the leading fresh market citrus producers with a combined total of nearly 300,000 acres,

The 2018-2019 Texas vegetable shipments experienced problems due to weather factors during the growing season and will conclude in the middle of April. Excessive rains in the Rio Grande Valley, including the Winter Garden district west of San Antonio, made for difficulty in planting schedules, and then later with harvesting, packing and shipping.

In 2016, U.S. fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico reached about 10 million metric tons, with a total value of about $12.4 billion, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service statistics, which accounted for 43 percent of all U.S. fruit-and-vegetable imports from all countries.

About half of all the fresh produce coming into the country from Mexico does so through Texas. Each year, 255,000 truckloads cross the border from Mexico into Texas. At the Pharr International Bridge south of McAllen alone, 157,000 loads of produce come in every year, which is a little more than Nogales, AZ.

Tomatoes account for nearly 30 percent of all the vegetables imported from Mexico, while avocados, watermelons and limes make up more than half the volume of fruits.

Over the previous 12 years, fresh produce from Mexico has grown significantly each year, the biggest items being tomatoes, avocados, limes, mangos and broccoli. Mangos and limes are very close in volume and one or the other can lead in volume from year-to-year to rank number 5 in imports. The volume of both is now larger than sweet peppers.

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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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