Posts Tagged “feature”

Shipping Updates: Imported Mexican Produce Crossings in Arizona, Texas

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AAADozens of different types of produce items, led by vegetables, represent crossings at the Mexican border into Nogales, AZ, as well as into the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  While produce haulers are feasting on higher freight rates, produce shippers are hoping freight costs will subside soon.

Last week rates on Mexican produce coming through Nogales were higher for some destinations with driver and equipment shortages reported.  For example rates from Nogales to Los Angeles were generally ranging from$1,800 to $2,000 per load, a 6 percent increase from a week earlier, but 50 percent higher than the $1,200 rate at the same time during the past two years.

A few rates exceeded $10,000 from Nogales to New York City last week, but recently have dropped as much as 15 percent.

Tomatoes  (all types) are providing the heaviest volume at around 1,150 truck loads a weeks.  About 900 truck loads of cucumbers are crossing the border each week with squash and bell peppers also having good volume.

Shipments Through South Texas

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas some shippers can’t remember such serious truck shortages for this time of the year.  One citrus shipper needed 20 trucks to cover his loads a couple of weeks ago. For a six-week period ending with the first week of January, rates for citrus from the valley to L.A. have soared from $2700 to $5500.  Overall, South Texas produce rates are generally up about 20 percent from a year ago.

Produce rates from South Texas to Chicago have been ranging from $4000 to $5000, with the average being around $4500, still quite a strong rate.  Produce haulers were grossing around $8800 to New York City.

Mexican tomatoes are providing the heaviest volume with about 1000 truck loads a week, with avocados about one-half this volume.  Other leading items range from limes to various types of tomatoes and broccoli.

South Texas grapefruit and oranges are averaging about 350 truck loads each week.


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Columbian Imports by U.S. Imports are Approved; Early Season Chilean Fruits are Now Arriving

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01152018Columbian imported avocados are being introduced to the United States…Meanwhile, it is springtime in Chile and it’s that time of the year for arrivals of Chilean grapes and well as other fruits.

Last August the USDA approved hass avocados imports by the U.S. from Colombia.  It won’t be heavy volume for sure but observers see slow, but steady increases in 2018.  Colombian agriculture officials said in a news release that hass exports will start this month from a farm near Antioquia, a production area that has been approved for exports to the U.S.

Hass avocado exports from Colombia will increase by 20 percent to Europe and North America, according to the officials with the Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute. The USDA reports through November 2017,  imports of Columbian avocados totaled 29,300 metric tons.

The Columbian institute works with 33 hass avocado production sites including buffer areas.  After complying with plant health requirements put in place by USDA and Colombian officials, all those sites will be authorized to export to the U.S.

Chilean Fruit Imports

California grape shipments to U.S. markets are on their last leg.  Quality has been variable in recent weeks although plenty of pretty sweet grapes have been loaded for this late in the season.  As California finishes up it season, Chilean import grapes are already arriving by boat at U.S. ports, but at this point mostly at Philadelphia.  As fruit volume increases from Chile, other ports such as those at Los Angeles will begin receiving product.   It is early in the Chilean grape season and around 375 truckloads of the fruit are arriving weekly, but volume is increasing with the majority of the volume coming during the next couple of months.  Chilean peaches and plums also are coming in by boat, but in very light volume that also is increasing.

(Photo was taken by Bill Martin in January 1992 on a trip to Chile.  It was photographed at a grape packing plant in Northern Chile.)





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Costa Rica is Expecting Another Increase in Produce Exports

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By Procomer

Portrait of sweet young woman eating blackberries at home - Indoors

Building on several years of increasing produce exports, Costa Rica foresees a strong 2018 as exporters continue to offer an increasingly diverse supply of produce items as well as the capacity to meet new regulatory requirements.

Statistics thru October 2017 (the latest officially available) show Costa Rica exported close to US$2.4 billion in agricultural exports to the world, a growth of 4% compared to the same period in 2016. The United States remains the main destination country with US$1.09 billion from January to October of 2017.

“Costa Rica remains a strong, reliable and versatile exporter of produce,” says Pedro Beirute, CEO of Procomer (Costa Rica’s trade promotion agency).   “We expect to close out 2017 with over US$2.7 billion in ag exports.”

Led by the banana and pineapple industry, Costa Rica’s exports to the world continue to grow and diversify and include strong offerings in yucca, melons, chayote,  and other fruits. Procomer export statistics indicate banana export volume increased over 25% from 2015 to 2017, pineapple by almost 14%, yucca by 12%, watermelon by 57%, and chayote by 33%.   “We expect growth in these highly demanded products to continue in 2018,” says Beirute.

Costa Rica looks to tropical and exotic product growth in 2018.  “The U.S. marketplace continues to demand new and unique products due to the increase in ethnic diversity in the population as well as U.S. consumers expanding pallet,” says Beirute.  “As consumers seek out more tropical, exotic and ethnic items, Costa Rica will play a key role in providing some of this high quality, reliable supply. With more than 145 varieties of fruits and vegetables and more than 365 exporters shipping to the U.S., Costa Rica represents a wealth of potential products for any market.”

Particularly on the future radar for greater development in export offerings are ginger, rambutan, a variety of specialty melons, beets, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin, root products, and more organics. “Costa Rican exporters have long been characterized as serious, trustworthy, professional partners,” says Beirute.  “It only makes sense for U.S. buyers to look a country with our track record of reliability and quality as they seek more and new products.”

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Latest Shipping Estimate for Florida Citrus Remains Unchanged; Vidalia Onions

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DSCN0412The USDA  sees in it latest estimate Florida citrus remaining on schedule to ship 46 million boxes this season….Meanwhile Vidalia onions are in the ground for the season starting in April.

That estimate is a 33 percent plunge from the 2016-17 shipping season, but is unchanged from the December estimate, a first for this season.

The Florida citrus industry took a hammering from Hurricane Irma, which stripped fruit from trees and also stressed many to the point that growers expected increased fruit drop would happen throughout the season. Some trees were uprooted entirely, and others were damaged by standing water in the days after the storm.

The USDA estimate calls for 19 million boxes of early, midseason and navel varieties (down 42 percent from 2016-17) and 27 million boxes of valencias (down 24 percent).

Florida continues to face its lowest citrus forecast in more than 75 years.

Florida’s famous citrus industry and its growers continue to struggle with the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Irma and this damage, combined with the cumulative impacts of citrus greening, leaves Florida’s growers in desperate need of government support.  Industry officials continue to work with Florida Governor Rick Scott and leaders in Washington to get Florida’s growers the relief they need to rebuild and replant.

The USDA estimate for California citrus was also unchanged from December, with the state projected to ship 35 million boxes of navel oranges and 11 million boxes of valencias.  Texas is expected to ship 1.83 million boxes of oranges, up 11 percent from last month’s forecast and up 34 percent from the 2016-17 season.

Florida citrus – grossing about $3200 to New York City.

Vidalia Onions

The Vidalia onion district in Southeastern Georgia accounts for about 22 percent of the total sweet onion shipments in the United States.  The product is in the ground and should be available for loading in April.  Georgia cold and even freezing weather can be okay with planted onions in the ground, as long is the temperature doesn’t plunge to low for too many hours.  There will be more information in the coming weeks.

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The Four Hottest Specialty Produce Trends of 2017

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muscatoGrapesby Carol Bareuther,

Seasonal fruits, emerging specialty vegetables, convenience or pre-cooked ingredients and chile peppers are the four hottest produce trends in 2017, according to Robert Schueller, director of public relations at Melissa’s World Variety Produce, a specialty produce purveyor based in Los Angeles.  Schueller should know. He’s 20-plus year industry veteran and Melissa’s is the leading distributor of more than 1,200 specialty and organic produce products in the United States, selling nationwide and to the top 20 U.S. retailers.  In fact, Schueller’s trends report for 2017 is based off sales of the company’s produce in the marketplace for the 365 days ending October 18, 2017 compared to the year prior.  The produce items that had the largest percentage of increased distribution at retail and foodservice is what created the four trends categories.

1) Seasonal Fruits:

* Green Dragon Apples.  Schueller calls sales of this sweet non-tart cross between a Golden Delicious and Indo variety from Japan one of the biggest trends in specialty fruit.  This yellow skin apple doesn’t store well and is only sold fresh during its short-season from October to December.

* Muscato Grapes. This proprietary variety available July to October from the United States and February and March from Peru, is notable for its high brix or sugar content of 22 compared to 16 for the average grape.

* Winter/Christmas Crunch Grapes. October to December harvested California-grown fruit extends the season from the customary May to September. These are packaged for seasonal merchandising.

* Passion Fruit. Nearly all distribution in the United States is the purple-skin variety, sourced nearly year-round from Florida and California as well as New Zealand. A short supply gap occurs in December and January.

* Jackfruit. New-found interest stems from use of the fruit’s fiber as a vegetarian protein substitute. Eye-catching to sell whole at retail due to its size, more convenient pre-cut jackfruit as a product is currently challenged by short-shelf life issues.

* Rambutan. Closely related to the lychee, this fruit is now available almost year-round multisourced from Central America and Hawaii.

2) Emerging Specialty Vegetables:

* Organic Ginger.  Now its annual availability, rather than for only six months, is driving sales.

* Turmeric.  Interest in East Indian cuisine, as a substitute for ginger in juicing and its health benefits has sparked recent sales of this spice.  Turmeric was the top trending functional food according to the report, ˜Think with Google: Food Trends 2016.”

* Pee Wee Potatoes. Once composted for not meeting grade size, the marble-size of these potatoes is now in demand for its short cooking time.

* Tatuma Squash. Similar in appearance to zucchini, this squash’s staple use in Latin cooking drives its placement in-store.

* Indian Eggplant. A tomato-sized version of a traditional globe eggplant, attributes are an edible skin and short cooking time.

* Tomatillo Milpero. Baby vegetables are big, and this bite-sized tomatillo is riding this trend.

* Petite Baby Bok Choy. This product leads sales in the Asian ethnic category, and demand has become cross-cultural. The small size means no chopping required.

* White Asparagus. Labor intensive to grow since it must be protected from sunlight-producing chlorophyll that customarily colors this vegetable green, white asparagus is more expensive to produce yet is finding widespread favor from fine dining chefs.

3) Convenience / Pre-Cooked Ingredients:

Technology in France not yet introduced to the United States enabled Melissa’s to introduce its steamed line of vegetables 13 years ago with beets first, followed by lentils.  The idea is to take items with relatively long prep times, pre-cook and package ready to eat with a preservative-free shelf life of two months.  New this year, the company has added Gold Baby Beets, Organic Steamed Lentils and Parisienne Potatoes.

4) Chile Peppers:

* Shishito Peppers. This kid-friendly pepper is all about flavor rather than heat, says Schueller.  Popular in Japanese restaurants where its roasted and seasoned with sesame oil and served as an appetizer.

* Hatch Chiles. The mountainous 4,000-feet plus elevation and near 50-degree difference between day and nighttime temperatures in Hatch, NM, produces this thick, meaty, mild-tasting chile. Popularity beyond the Southwest and a short August to September season stems from the pepper’s ability to be roasted, frozen and used all year long.

* Thai Chiles. Small and hot, with a heat-rating between a jalapeno and habanero, this chile first loved in Asian cuisine is now cross-cultural thanks to finding favor in Latin dishes.

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Truck Rates for Produce are Definately Higher This Year

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DSCN0413The New Year started off with good news for owner operators and small fleet owners, but had those in the produce industry anguishing over the cost of transportation rates.

A few coast-to-coast rates out of California actually topped $10,000 with the beginning of January.  Produce rates have soared as much as 30 percent from some shipping areas.  It has caused some int he produce industry to consider rail service, something they seldom think of when rates are more in line.

Depending on whether you are a trucker or a shipper and whether you have contract rates or are dealing in the spot market has a big affected on how you view the rate changes.

Washington state apple rates out of the Yakima Valley in early January to Boston were grossing about $8,400, which mean an additional one dollar cost onto a each 40-pound box of apples. While produce haulers like it, not so with produce receivers.

Vegetable shipments out of the Imperial Valley of California to New England led by head lettuce was grossing about $8400, about $2200 more than at the same time two years ago.

Electronic logbooks, which recently went into effect are being blamed for some higher rates, although it doesn’t appear the new regulations are really being enforced, at least yet.  The new devices make it more difficult for truckers to fudge on their hours of service and if adhered to means drivers can travel fewer miles per week.

While it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for higher produce rates, undoubtedly an improving U.S. economy is creating a bigger demand for refrigerated equipment.  Trucking is a hard life and a demanding one and with better economic conditions, many drivers are seeing other jobs becoming available, not only to make more money, but allowing them to be home more with family.  Still, January is supposed to be one of the slowest times of the year for produce truckers as less volume of fruits and vegetables are generally available.  If rates are ever in the tank it is often during the first quarter of the New Year.


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Chilean Blueberry Exporters Set Export Record; U.S. Receives More than Half of Volume

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PortEvergladesBy Chilean Fruit Exporters Association

SANTIAGO, CHILE — Chile’s blueberry exporters have achieved the highest weekly export figure in the history of the sector in the country, having shipped some 11,575 tons of fruit during week 51. With 45% of the 2017-18 campaign now completed, a total of around 46,000 tons of Chilean blueberries have been exported over the season as a whole, during which time producers and exporters have benefited from favorable climatic conditions.

According to the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association’s Blueberry Committee, the season has continued to progress in a normal manner, setting it apart from the previous campaign when the crop arrived several weeks early leading to complications in export markets.

During the last week of December (week 52), Chile exported 9,600 tons of blueberries, and it is estimated that over the coming weeks shipments will continue to be maintained at around 9,000 tons, the Committee said in its latest Crop Report.

To date, the US remains the principal market for Chilean blueberries, having received 55% of volumes exported during the current season, followed by Europe at 25% and Asia at 16%.

In terms of organic blueberries, a segment which is being tracked by the Crop Report for the first time, Chile exported 411 tons of fruit in week 52, contributing towards 2,630 tons for the campaign to date as a whole.

Chilean organic blueberries have so far accounted for around 6% of total exports in the ongoing 2017-18 season; a percentage which is expected to increase when harvesting begins in central the Araucan region and other areas further south.

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Institutions of Higher Learning Should Know the Importance of Free Speech

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IMG_6364By Larry Oscar

It is interesting to observe how many family traditions creep into our lives over the years. Just about everybody has some favorite tradition for the holidays. Traditions are a part of our life that get ingrained into our very being.

Some people just cannot get through the holiday season without traditions. I wonder why that is? We have some national traditions that go back to the founding of our country. Traditions that are ingrained into the very fabric of our national character. In fact, one of these traditions became so important to the founding fathers that they included it in the Constitution.

You know the Constitution don’t you? It’s the supreme law of the land. One such tradition of the colonialists was free speech. That was something they did not have while living under the king, but after moving to America they suddenly found themselves living where they could say what they thought without fear of retribution from the king’s men.

As the tradition of free speech caught on it became such an important part of liberty that they were willing to die to defend it. Today free speech is under assault.

Our schools and universities have moved from teaching you how to think to teaching you what to think.  And when free speech is a threat to their “what to think” belief system they mistakenly want to shut it down. Somehow they think the diversity of thought needs to be suppressed.

I hate to be a bearer of bad news to these folks, but diversity of thought is and shall ever be a founding pillar of our nation. We do not, nor should we, all think alike. Diversity of thought is what drives our quest for scientific knowledge, new technology, and even the arts.

Can you imagine what sort of music we would have today if composers were forced to all compose the same type of music? It is human nature to be diverse. We are all different in many respects. The founding fathers were intelligent enough to know this. That is why we are not one monolithic nation, but rather a united collection of individual states. Each state has people who live their lives with a slightly different approach than other states.

We are individuals who come together and unite for common causes. Diversity of thought and abilities is a natural state of mankind. ( I Corinthians 12).  If the Marxist-Socialist beliefs that our universities preach is so superior then they should not be afraid of debate. Today it is said that we have a divided nation. Guess what? We have always had a divided nation. Factions exist in a free society. However, our differences have never been subjected to the scrutiny of social media as they are today.

Today you can exercise your right to free speech in just about 10 seconds and broadcast it to millions over social media. And your thoughts and ideas may just bruise the fragile emotions of many a thin skinned liberal. For they have never learned the value of free speech and how it adds to the advancement of our society.

Without free speech we would have never had the fugues of Bach. We would never have discovered the world was round. Copernicus would have been silenced and we would still think the sun revolves around the earth. We would still be having witch trials. We would never have made it to the moon. And we would never have become a free nation in the first place.

All of these things were the result of free speech. Just imagine what type of world we would all live in today if the United States had never been born. The world owes a great debt of gratitude to this nation. We have not always made the right decisions. And why would we? After all, we are just fallible humans. But the good this nation has done far exceeds the bad.

Our generosity and aid to the other nations of this world in times of crisis has never been equaled. We are the bellwether of liberty and freedom for the entire world. We have laid down our lives so that other peoples in other lands can have the freedoms we enjoy. We are indeed an exceptional nation with an exceptionally diversity of people. May we never be of monolithic thought.

We, the people, must stand up and demand that our institutions of higher learning do not become institutions of lower learning. This can only be accomplished within a climate of free speech. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” – Ronald Reagan.

(Larry Oscar is a graduate from the University of Tulsa and holds a degree in electrical engineering. He is retired and lives with his wife on a lake in Oklahoma where he brews his own beer, sails, and is a member of numerous clubs and organizations.)

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Amazon Produce Network Introduces New Pack for Mangoes

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DSCN0450by Amazon Produce Network

Amazon Produce Network has introduced its 60cm x 40cm (24in x 15-3/4in)  5-Down Display Box for mangoes with minimum 24-Lb net product weight.   Although 60x40cm 5-Down boxes are the industry standard for many commodities, most mangoes are currently packed in 34cm x 25cm  (13-1/2in x 10in) 14-Down box.   The 60x40cm Display box is intended to resolve issues that retailers have shared as impediments to the mango commodity’s enormous growth potential.

This design provides greatly increased pallet stability versus the 14-down box, therefore accelerating loading/unloading and warehouse movements.   It also reduces transportation damage claims and the need for airbags and bracing.

At the DC and store level, labor is significantly reduced in picking product with each movement of the 5-Down Display Box equaling almost three of the regular box.   This allows partial pallet store orders to be filled faster at the DC and large displays to be built with ease in the store.   This larger box will not sink down and sit on other product causing bruising as smaller boxes tend to do when stacked on top of other commodities in mixed pallets.

The increased airflow possible with this design helps to have more consistent pressures when using ripening rooms.  The display is very attractive and results in a larger footprint for mangoes within the produce department.

About Amazon Produce Network

Amazon Produce Network is an importer and distributor of mangoes and other produce with a mission to be the most efficient distribution channel in the United States for our customers and growers.

To us, being the most efficient distribution channel means providing the customer with the product, price, service, logistics and information he or she needs to be successful in the dynamic and complex world of produce while also providing the best possible returns to the growers who entrust us to market their crops.

Success is not achieved simply by selling the fruit at the highest price available in the market on any given day. Our success is achieved by obtaining the best average return for the grower’s crops over time through excellent stewardship of the product and service to our customers

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Chilean Cherry Exports Set a Record of Over 150 Million Tons

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cherriesSANTIAGO, CHILE — The Chilean cherry industry has reached a milestone as an industry,  overtaking the historic cherry export limit of 20 million cartons, by shipping more than 30 million cartons during the current 2017-18 season; a figure that is expected to keep rising as exports continue.

“Up until last week we had reached more than 27 million cartons exported, but with the shipment that went out at the weekend, the industry has now overtaken 30 million cartons, the equivalent of 150,000 tons of cherries,” announced Cristian Tagle, President of the Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX).

According to Tagle, the volume reached to date has now surpassed the record 2014-15 campaign, when Chile exported over 21.7 million cartons or 103,081 tons of cherries.

“We estimate that Chilean cherries will continue to supply the Chinese market past Chinese New Year, which takes place on 16 February,” he said.

Tagle noted that the record exports have only been possible thanks to growers receiving favorable climatic conditions, particularly at the start of the season. However, he added that the achievement was also the result of hard work by producers and exporters, which had led to a greater planted area and an emphasis on better-tasting, more productive varieties, as well as the implementation of technologies that have enabled improved management and care of orchards.

ASOEX President Ronald Bown commented:   “As we reach the record volume that we forecast, we have planned an important and intensive promotional campaign. The good news is we are ready and investing to boost consumption of these high volumes that are now a reality, particularly through promotional actions in China, which is the principle market for Chilean cherries.”

Of the 150,000 tons of Chilean cherries exported to date, some 89.1% was shipped to Asia, with China accounting for 94% of this total. In terms of other export destinations, the U.S. received 4.8% of the total volume, followed by Europe (2.4%), Canada (0.4%) and the Middle East (0.1%).

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