Posts Tagged “COVID-19”

Peruvian Asparagus Imports are Headed for Peak in September

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U.S. imports of Peruvian asparagus arrive year-round, but peak supplies are expected beginning in September and continuing through the end of the year.

Importers say volume will be flat to slightly lower, in part because of COVID-19 stresses on labor and transportation.

Crystal Valley Foods of Miami, FL imports Peruvian asparagus from Peru year-round, although it typically peaks in the fall from September/October through December.

The USDA reports the four-year volume compound annual growth for Peruvian asparagus from September through January is relatively flat at 1.6 percent.

Southern Specialties of Pompano Beach, FL is receiving lower volumes from Peru compared to the same period last year, with blame pointed at the COVID-19 virus. However, the company has seen volume pick up in August.

Through mid-July, U.S. imports of Peruvian asparagus were 28.5 million pounds, down 40 percent from 48.4 million pounds.

Alter Produce of Calexico says the actions of the Peru government related to COVID-19 could affect the flow of product the balance of the year, because there is no real clear answer. The import outlook is really up in the air depending on how the Peruvian government decides to deal with the pandemic.

But the bottom line is Peruvian growers will be forced to harvest their fields, otherwise they will miss the window before Mexico comes in with big volume in early 2021.

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Washington and Oregon Potato Shipments will be Down

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Northwest potato shipments will be down this season from Oregon due to drought, and from Washington state because of too much rain. The COVID-19 virus also plays a role.

Washington and Oregon rank second and third, respectively, among the 50 states in potato production, with processing accounting for as much as 90 percent of shipments. Demand is reported strong, for both processed and fresh product.

An estimated 80 to 85 of Oregon grown spuds go to processing, and the hard hit foodservice industry has affected all potato growers in the Northwest and the nation.

Riverside Potato Inc. of Merrill, OR reports no snow pack, and a lack of rain resulting in 300,000 to 330,000 acre feet of water being cut to 140,000. The result is the company estimating it will be down 30 to 35 percent in potato acreage in the valley this season.

Riverside will ship product from 200 to 250 acres this year, compared to 550 to 580 acres a year ago.

Wong Potatoes Inc. of Klamath Falls, OR reports drought conditions were worse than any since 2006. Last season, the operation planted over 900 acres, compared to this year, which totals a little over 600 acres.

To the north in the Columbia Basin, along the Washington-Oregon border, rainfall wasn’t a problem, but acreage likely will be down, according to Potandon Produce of Idaho Falls, ID.

Overall, Potandon sees its fresh potato loadings basically being down, although volume might be up slightly in August. However, September and October, product coming out of storage will definitely be up lower.

In Northwest Washington, Valley Pride Sales of Burlington, WA has had too much rain.

The USDA says production in 2019 totaled 11.6 million pounds, compared to 11.3 million in 2018. Potatoes in storage accounted for 17 percent of 2019 production, compared to 18 percent a year earlier.

Oregon production in 2019 totaled 2.82 million pounds, compared to 3.02 million in 2019. Potatoes in storage accounted for 14 percent, unchanged from the previous year.

Northwest region potatoes remaining to be shipped out of storage on June 1, 2020, totaled 5.3 billion pounds. 

June 1 potato stocks in Oregon totaled 403 million pounds. Shipments to date was 2.41 billion pounds. In Washington, June 1 potato in storage totaled 1.97 billion pounds. Loadings to date totaled 85.6 million cwt., or 9.6 billion pounds.

Nationally, the 13 major potato states held 7.5 billion pounds on June 1, 2020, down 4 percent from last year.

Potatoes in storage accounted for 16 percent of the states’ 2019 production, compared with 17 percent for a year earlier. 

Potato diggings have just got underway, which is normal.

Following Labor Day, growers will be putting some product in storage and still pack out of the field. Packing out of the field continues until October 10. Potandon will finish on a Friday, packing old crop, and start a new crop Monday or Tuesday and continue on with the crop out of the field. The company then switches into storage and continues to the next July.

South Basin Packing of Gresham, OR notes the crop is coming along for shipments to retailers, although foodservice is certainly down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norman Nelson Inc. (Double-N Potatoes) of Mount Vernon, WA reports acreage in the Skagit Valley, whose season will start around September 1, appeared to be about normal. Acreage is expected to be similar to a year ago.


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New York Vegetable Shipments are Gearing Up

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New York growers have been conservative planning for the 2020 summer shipping season in most part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Turek Farms of King Ferry, N.Y. converted some of its vegetable acres into grain crops this year, because of all the uncertainty. 

Sweet corn is Turek’s biggest crop, but also grows and ships cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, summer and winter squash, pumpkins and cauliflower.

Cabbage and summer squash loadings started in mid-July. Sweet corn shipments got underway the first few days in August, which is about 10-14 days later than usual.

Winter squash, broccoli and pumpkins are on schedule, with all pumpkins planted by the end of June.

A look westward at Torrey Farms in Elba, N.Y., reveals zucchini and yellow squash started about July 6 and cabbage and green beans July 12.  Cucumbers and early transplant onions were ready about July 23.

Williams Farms of Marion, N.Y., has about 1,000 acres, and grows potatoes, onions and cabbage for the fresh market, field corn, and apples, carrots and beets for processing.

New York growers produced 14.7 percent of all the U.S. cabbage, 11.4 percent of the nation’s apples, 11.3 percent of the nation’s snap beans and 10.6 percent of the nation’s squash, according to the USDA’s annual statistical bulletin for 2017-18.

The state ranked second in highest production of cabbage, apples and snap beans.

A year later, New York growers produced 20.7 percent of all the U.S. cabbage, 13.6 percent of the nation’s apples, 12 percent of the nation’s snap beans and 10.9 percent of the nation’s squash, according to the USDA bulletin for 2018-19.

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California Lettuce Shipments are Moving in Good Volume

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Lettuce shipments to retailers have been relatively strong since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while foodservice business has been down, but generally seems to be improving.

Over 1,800 truck loads of Iceberg and Romaine lettuce are being shipped weekly from the Salinas Vally.

Coastline Family Farms of Salinas, CA reports loadings destined to retailers has been booming, while restaurants and other foodservice has been hit hard. The company’s primary items are Iceberg lettuce, romaine, romaine hearts, green leaf and red leaf lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and green onions.

Misionero Vegetables of Gonzalez, CA ships Earth Greens Organics and Garden Life lines, which include leafy greens and lettuce items.

The Nunes Co. Inc. of Salinas reports good crops with
iceberg lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, romaine, romaine hearts and celery.

Church Brothers of Salinas says INSV continues to be a problem in the Salinas Valley. INSV is Impatiens Necrotic Spot. The virus causes a wide variety of symptoms including wilting, stem death, stunting, yellowing, poor flowering, ‘chicken pox-like’ sunken spots on leaves, etches or ring spots on leaves, and many others. When loading, you should look for such symptoms.

The grower shipper has its Tender Leaf program which includes specialty items such as the new Tuscan Tender Leaves mix, Ready Leaf, Tuscan Baby Romaine — a hybrid leaf that makes for a creative, healthy serving vehicle — and romaine wraps.


Church Brothers’ major leafy green/lettuce items are iceberg, romaine, green leaf, and butter lettuce.

Dole Food Co. of Charlotte, N.C. markets 11 Dole-branded leafy green/lettuce products, including arugula, butter lettuce, chard, endive, green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, kale, radicchio, romaine and spinach.

The company also offers 66 packaged salad varieties including its popular Chopped!, Slawesome! and Premium salad kit lines, salad mixes and slaws. 

The company’s growers experienced hardly any pest or disease problems this season.

Salinas lettuce is grossing – about $6500 to Atlanta.

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Watercress, the CDC’s Most Recommended Powerhouse Veggie, Boosts Immunity

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By B&W Quality Growers

Fellsmere, Fla. – As COVID-19 concerns escalate around the country, consumers are seeking immunity-boosting ingredients to incorporate in their diets. While it may be common knowledge that leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients, there is a lesser known variety that reigns supreme when it comes to health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks watercress at the top of their list of Powerhouse Fruits and Veggies, the foods most strongly associated with reduced chronic disease risk.

B&W Quality Growers watercress is revered by health experts and restaurant chefs for its health benefits and flavor, but home chefs have yet to realize its full potential. Watercress boasts many healthy features, including anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, 28 vitamins, minerals and compounds, and it provides a great source of Vitamin C, proven to reduce cold and flu symptoms.

The vibrant green watercress from B&W Quality Growers, the world’s largest grower of distinctive baby leaves, is versatile and adds a peppery crunch to many dishes. It can be used in salads, smoothies, appetizers, entrees, and more.

“Self-care has become so important these days, and what better way to take care of you and your family than to feed them the most nutritionally-dense food on the planet,” says Mark DeLeo, CEO, B&W Quality Growers. “Not only is watercress packed with vitamins and minerals, it is deliciously versatile enough for chefs to create memorable takeout dishes and home cooks to spice up family favorites.”

B&W Quality Growers partnered with chefs to develop simple, yet flavorful recipes they can make in under 30 minutes, such as Watercress Frittata, Watercress Turkey and Pear Panini, and Watercress Hummus. For information about B&W Quality Growers and more chef-inspired recipes, visit www.bwqualitygrowers.com.

About B&W Quality Growers
For 150 years B&W Quality Growers has produced distinctive baby leaves® with unique flavor profiles including green watercress, exclusive red watercress, baby arugula, red kale, and baby spinach. With year-round availability from seasonal farms spanning eight states, B&W grows, packs and ships premium quality leaves to retail, wholesale, foodservice and specialty customers across North America and Europe. B&W’s products are certified Kosher, food safety compliant and naturally packed for maximum freshness. Learn more about B&W at www.bwqualitygrowers.com.

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Ag Imports and Exports Forecast Lowered by U.S. Due to COVID-19

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The export and import forecast for the 2020 financial year due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been revised downward by the USDA.

The forecast also reports China has told state-owned agricultural companies to suspend purchases and cancel orders as tensions flare with the U.S. over the situation in Hong Kong. The report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has created a shock to world economies that will cause an unusually high level of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.”

The organizations cut the U.S. agricultural export forecast for the 2020 financial year ending Sept. 30 to $135.5 billion, down $3 billion from the February forecast. This is primarily due to reductions in bulk commodities including soybeans, cotton, corn, and wheat.

The forecast for horticultural exports is unchanged at $35.5 billion. Whole and processed tree nuts are unchanged at $9.1 billion, with most shipments destined for Europe and Asia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are steady at US $7.1 billion on stable shipments to top markets Canada and Mexico. Processed fruits and vegetables are unchanged at$7 billion on steady shipments to Canada.

Meanwhile, U.S. agricultural imports in 2020 are projected at $130.2 billion, down $2.3 billion from the February forecast. This decline is primarily driven by expected decreases in imports of horticultural products.

The forecasts for imports of fresh fruit and vegetables are reduced by $500 million and $200 million respectively, as these perishable products are vulnerable to spoilage when there are delays in the supply chain.

It said these delays are “due to precautionary steps having been added to the production and transportation processes and reductions in the availability of labor.”

The export and import figures, if realized, would mean the U.S. would have its smallest positive trade balances in years, just $6.3 billion. By comparison, in 2014 the country exported $152.3 billion and imported$109.3 billion of agricultural products, resulting in a positive trade balance of $43.1 billion.

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North America Increases Mexican Strawberry Imports by 23%, Reports Tridge

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Tridge, a global sourcing and market intelligence hub for food buyers and suppliers, has reported the latest market trends affecting the food and agriculture sector. This week the biggest news relates to a surge in demand for Mexican strawberries, which has increased its export rates by 11% since April.

In comparison to this time last year (April – June), the demand for the product in the global market has risen significantly. North America, for example, has increased its import rate for Mexican strawberries by 23%.

A similar trend has been witnessed for Mexican bananas. Despite prolonged lockdown in the country, exports for bananas have increased by 8% compared to 2019, with North America and Europe being the main export destinations.

However, Middle Eastern countries have experienced a decline in fruit imports from Mexico. This is due to a lack of air freight and trade restrictions across borders, resulting from the impacts of Covid-19.

Hoshik Shin, founder and CEO at Tridge, said: “While the impacts of Covid-19 are still impacting trade, our workforce has observed significant increases in the demand for fruits from European and North American importers.

“Weather conditions and labour shortages have affected harvest yields for some producers, meaning that importers will be looking for alternative suppliers. Using an online sourcing and trading platform such as Tridge will give buyers more options when looking for quality products at good prices.”

About Tridge

Tridge is a global trade ecosystem where buyers and suppliers of agricultural and food products can find everything they need to understand their markets with just a simple search. Using a combination of the latest digital technology and the latest insights gathered through a human network, they provide a very powerful global-scale platform for buyers and suppliers to connect and do business with each other more confidently.

Using a global network covering over 150 countries worldwide, Tridge has developed a comprehensive data set of 300,000,000+ prices and 1,600,000,000+ trade data points covering 1000+ items in the agriculture and food sector, and successfully facilitates the B2B and B2C trading of these items. Tridge aims to achieve digitalisation and globalisation of the trade industry.

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U.S. Imports Plunge in April Amid COVID-19 Concerns

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U.S. foodservice business in April plunged because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which apparently contributed to a steep fall in U.S. fruit and vegetable imports.

U.S. imports of fresh vegetables in April were $770.2 million, down 25 percent from March and off 6.5percent from April 2019, according to the USDA..

Imports of fruit (both fresh and frozen) in April were $1.27 billion, off 23 percent from March and down 17 percent from April 2019.

By commodity, imports of U.S. fresh produce in April, with percent change from April 2019, were:

  • Berries (excluding strawberries: $284.9 million, up 3 percent;
  • Bananas: $216 million, no change;
  • Avocados: $191 million, down 41 percent;
  • Tomatoes: $185 million, down 13 percent;
  • Peppers: $150 million, down 8 percent;
  • Grapes: $145 million, down 20 percent;
  • Strawberries: $118 million, no change;
  • Melons: $86 million, down 31 percent;
  • Cucumbers: $78 million, up 3 percent;
  • Pineapples: $50 million, down 25 percent; and
  • Mangoes: $48 million, down 17 percent.

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California Garlic Shipments are Just Getting Underway

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California garlic shipments are just getting started and strong demand is expected to continue as consumers do more home cooking and seek to boost immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christopher Ranch of Gilroy, CA is now shipping with its early garlic, which is the heirloom garlic variety, Lerg, that is slightly milder than the company’s late garlic proprietary heirloom, the Monviso variety.

This year’s California garlic shipments could hit about 100 million pounds, with 15 million pounds of early garlic and 85 million of late garlic.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of foodservice outlets in March, Christopher Ranch’s garlic shipments were split pretty evenly between foodservice and retail.

The company reports its peeled garlic for foodservice shipments basically went to zero the week of the first shelter-in-place. It required major adjustments as business suddenly included mostly retailers. Still, demand was described as “stratospheric.”


While Christopher Ranch had planned to carry 100 percent U.S.-grown garlic for the 2019-20 marketing season, increased demand in recent months required the grower/shipper to import about a third of its garlic mostly from Mexico and Argentina.

I Love Produce of Kelton, PA reports strong shipments during the COVID-19 pandemic for people seeking to boost immunity and cook at home. The company imports Chinese garlic and ginger.

The company report during the months of January and February roughly when China was shut down (because of COVID-19), that is when that spike in demand started. China is now shipping garlic at close to normal levels.

I Love Produce sees with new crop supply of garlic on tap from California, Spain and China, expanding supplies may take some of the pressure off tight supplies.

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California Pear Shipments to Get Normal Start in Early July

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California pear shipments will be getting off to a normal start in early July, after two years of late harvest starts,

Greene and Hemly of Courland, CA report Bartletts in California’s River District will start the season.

Growers are preparing for the season with an uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and safety of employees is factoring into preparation decisions.

“We employ 450 people in our farms and packinghouse,” Chiles Wilson, owner of Rivermaid Trading Co., Lodi, CA., said in a press release by the California Pear Bureau. “We want to make sure we can give them their jobs back this year. It’s not just about us as farmers but all the people we employ and their families.”

The California Pear Advisory Board is focusing on flavor, particularly on the effects of ethylene blocker 1-MCP, commonly used in storing different fruit to halt the ripening process.

California pear growers ship only new-crop pears. 

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