Posts Tagged “Lettuce”

Don’t Let all the Kale Talk Fool You

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DSCN7651Despite all the hoopla in the media over the latest trendy vegetable – kale – head lettuce remains much more popular with American consumers.

At first glance, it looks like kale has taken over the American palate. The number of times restaurants have mentioned iceberg lettuce as a menu ingredient in salads has dropped 17 percent in the last three years, according to research from the market-research firm Mintel. Mentions of kale are “off the charts,” said Caleb Bryant, a food-industry analyst at Mintel. “Kale is just exploding in all restaurants, whether it be salad or roasted kale,” he said.  And on store shelves, there is a similar rise in kale products, from kale chips to kale smoothies and juices, he said.

The mentions of kale from 2014 to 2015 as an ingredient in salads jumped 63 percent; before 2014, mentions of kale were so infrequent that there aren’t even kale-and-iceberg comparable data, Bryant said.

American are eating a lot more iceberg (head) lettuce, even though kale appears to be far more popular on menus.  The U.S. either produced or imported 13.5 pounds of iceberg per capita for use in 2015, a drop from 20.9 pounds per person in 2005, according to the USDA.  Kale, meanwhile, has remained relatively steady for the last decade, with the U.S. producing and importing just 0.6 pounds of kale per person in 2015, up from 0.4 pounds per person in 2005.

Pre-made salads and salad kits at grocery stores have increased in popularity, and many contain at least some iceberg  Plus, iceberg is an ingredient in foods that aren’t salads, such as wraps, he said. Iceberg also has a long shelf life and a resistance to turning brown, which may be attractive to restaurants and companies that produce bagged salads.

It will take some time for the kale trend to really change what farmers are producing, because it takes time for Americans to acquire a bigger appetite for it.  Agriculture specialists are constantly analyzing restaurant and retail patterns and trying to anticipate what new products are becoming popular.  However, even when they can predict a trend, farmers need several years to build up a sufficient supply of seeds and to dedicate land to grow a new crop.

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Which is Worse for the Planet? Lettuce or Bacon?

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A study claims lettuce may produce more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than bacon does by a particular metric.  And there is more to the whole story.

The claim that lettuce produces more GHGs per calorie originates from a Carnegie Mellon University study that was promoted recently.

It found that the U.S. National Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommendations on how much produce, seafood and dairy you should eat could be “harmful to the environment.”

The study, by Prof. Paul Fischbeck, and graduate students Michelle Tom and Chris Hendrickson, examined how many resources U.S. diets consume, and how many GHGs they produce per calorie.

“Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken,” Fischbeck said in a news release.

Many outlets (and Carnegie Mellon’s news release) jumped on the study’s finding that lettuce is “three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon.”

And at least one expert blasted the claim as ludicrous.

Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie Mellon University offers degrees in 20 locations around the world.



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California’s Salinas Valley, Kern County are Providing Loads

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IMG_6576California is now shipping an astounding 7 million trays of strawberries per week, which should set another record for loadings by the time the season ends.  Most loadings are taking place from the Santa Maria area and the Watsonville district.

The Salinas Valley continues to ship a wide variety of vegetables.  Head lettuce loadings are providing the heaviest volume, averaging about 1,500 truckloads per week.  However, there’s lots of other items ranging from various types of lettuce, to cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Kern County

This week most potato sheds should be hitting full production.   Shipments of fresh potatoes from the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley should continue into early July.

There has been a 10%-plus drop in acreage of reds, whites and yellow spuds.  More specifically:  whites are down 13%;  reds, as well as yellows are off 12%.  The nationally over produced (thanks primarily to Idaho)  russet acreage in Kern County is down a whopping 65 percent.

Russet acreage in Kern County has dropped to about 1,000 acres from a high of 12,000 to 14,000 acres about 20 years ago.

While Kern County shippers are predicting  enough transportation with trucks, rail, intermodal and Railex, they say it will be expensive.

Kern County potatoes and carrots – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley veggies – about $7300 to New York City.


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California Shipments of Oranges, Veggies and Strawberries

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Early California navel orange shipments have gotten off to a good start this season and expect to load around 93 million boxes before the season concludes.  This would be up from 83 millon cartons from the previous season.  Loadings have been steady and are expected to remain this way in the weeks ahead.

Something to keep an eye on is the restrictions California  is putting ictions on citrus fruit and plants in Tulare County after two recent detections of Asian citrus psyllid.  It is not a full quarantine, but if another psyllid is found — it would be the fourth detection.  This would trigger a two-year quarantine.  Current restrictions are in place for six months.

The psyllids, which can carry citrus greening disease, feed on citrus trees, sucking the sap and weakening them, but they can carry citrus greening, a bacterial disease.  The disease is no threat  to humans or animals, but it can stunt and even kill citrus trees.   The problem also has been detected in Florida and Texas.

Desert Shipments

In The California desert, as well as Yuma, AZ,  recent warm cauliflower and broccoli shipments  well above normal.  Loadings are usually brisk this time of year anyway as supplies to buyers for the Christmas holidays are ramping up.  A similar situation exist for various types of lettuce in the desert.


California is in between seasons now and strawberry shipments are light.  While the Watsonville area has pretty much finished, loadings are now coming out of Ventura and Orange counties.  Volume will remain light until after the first of the year.


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California Vegetable Shipments Shifting to Different Areas

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While head lettuce shipments continue from the Salinas Valley and the Huron District in the San Joaquin Valley, volume is rapidly decreasing as the seasonal shift if well underway and volume increases from the desert areas of the Imperial Valley in Southern California and in the nearby Yuma district of Arizona.

Normal shipments are expected from the desert areas through the end of the year.  Loadings for romaine from the Imperial Valley should start the week after Thanksgiving.

Lettuce loads from the Salinas Vallely are expected to overlap the Imperial Valley season by a week or two.

Record shipments of tables grapes continues from the San Joaquin Valley spanning the Kern District to the northern part of the valley is averaging over 1,600 truckloads per week…..Also from the Kern District is shipments of carrots, averaging about 350 truckload equivalents per week.

Strawberry shipments from the Watsonville District are in a seasonal decline, while volume is picking up from Ventura County.  Moderate volume continues from the Santa Maria District.  As with many vegetables in California, berry volume is much lower than only a few weeks ago.

There’s a number of produce items in California providing light volume, but at this point may be helping to fill out the truck.  Those items may range from oranges to lemons, kiwi, various veggies and even holiday product such as pomegrantes.

San Joaquin Valley produce – grossing about $4400 to Chicago.


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Fall Produce Shipments Increasing Around the Country

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Fall is definately settling in across the USA and autumn produce loads also are increasing.

The biggest indication the new season is gearing up is in the Northwest with shipments of apples from Washington’s Yakima and Wenachee Valleys.   Last week the state’s apple volume exceeded 2,200 truckload equivalents and the amount will continue increasing in the weeks ahead.  Demand for apples around the country is strong in big part due to Michigan losing most of its crop due to weather, plus significant losses in New York state.

In California, the heaviest volume for produce shipments continues with table grapes from the San Joaquin Valley, averaging about 1,600 truckloads per week.  Salinas Valley lettuce is providing the next most available loads averaging about around 1,200 truckloads each week.  There also are good loading opportunities with Watsonville area strawberries and with tomatoes from the Central San Joaquin Valley.  The valley also is shipping stone fruit, but it is now in a seasonal decline.

In the upper mid-west, central Wisconsin about 400 truckloads of potatoes a week, but this will be increasing.   In the same area, fresh cranberry shipments are small compared to potatoes, but still significant and will be increasing, particularly by the end of October as Thanksgiving shipments get underway.

In New England, there are light amounts of apples being shipped.  Massachusetts cranberry shipments from the Cape Cod area also have started, and will increase in a similar fashion to those in Wisconsin.

On New York’s Long Island, about 60 truckloads of potatoes are being shipped weekly from the eastern end of the island.

Looking at North Carolina, the nation’s largest sweet potato shipper, there are about 65,000 acres of the product.  Normal volume is expected.  Some of the old crop is still being loaded.  However, the new sweet potato crop will soon provide most of the shipments.  A average amount of about 15 million cartons of sweet potatoes should be shipped from North Carolina over the next 10 or 11 months.

Washington apples – grossing about $4400 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley vegetables and berries – about $7100 to New York City.

Wisconsin potatoes – about $1000 to Chicago.

North Carolina sweet potatoes – about $1500 Atlanta.



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Some Obvious, Not So Obvious Loading Opportunities

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Produce shipments from the Western half of the USA offer perishable haulers some obvious and not-so-obvious choices for obtaining loads.

Here’s some places you may not have considered.  New crops of potatoes are now available in some upper mid-western states.  The Big Lake, MN area is shipping both red potatoes and russets.  New crops of spuds have recently got underway from Central Wisconsin, Nebraska and Northern Colorado.

In Idaho and Malheur County, OR., loading opportunities have recently become available with a new crop of storage onions.  While the area is known for its onions, a few shippers are starting to offer sweet onions.  Just be aware that these shippers are new at this game and still may be on a learning curve relating to quality.  Sweet onions often do not store well.

In California, the heaviest volume from the Salinas Valley is with head lettuce, averaging about 1,100 truck load equivalents per week.  Many other vegetable items are also being shipped…..In the nearby Watsonville District, about 750 truckload equivalents of strawberriers are being loaded weekly.

Plenty of loading opportunities are coming from the San Joaquin Valley of California with stone fruit, veggies and grapes.  Heaviest table grape movement is from the southern valley area known as the Kern District, but volume is rapidly increasing from more northern areas of the valley.

An update on apple shipments from Washington state, shows it will account for 77 percent of the nation’as apple shipments during the 2012-13 shipping season.  Washington always leads the nation in this category, but with heavy weather related losses to apples in Michigan and New York state, the northwest will provide an even more than normal percentage of the country’s apple loads.  Washington expects to ship its second largest amount of apples in history; and this is despite a 10 to 15 percent crop loss due to hail storms earlier this year.

Salinas Valley produce – grossing about $7500 to New York City.

Big Lake MN potatoes – about $1300 to Chicago.

Central Wisconsin potatoes – about $2500 to Atlanta.



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Caution Needed in Loading Salinas Lettuce

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There have been some reports of “fringe burn” on lettuce being shipped out of California’s Salinas Valley.  This results from an exceptionally windy summer where the leaves are damaged from the wind and debris that is blown.  While all lettuces have been affected to a certain degree, it appears to be more prominent with romaine and romaine hearts.

Otherwise, the Salinas Valley has had great weather this summer, with many days being under 70 degrees F.  This is quite a difference from the “roasting” much of the USA is experiencing.  Just take a little extra time inspecting the lettuce being loaded on your truck, and make sure your receiver(s) know what is being delivered and have any defect information written on the bill of lading.

There also are reports of some large Iceberg lettuce that is overripe.  This occurs when product is left in the fields too long before harvesting.


California continues on track for possible record shipments of strawberries.  The state has been running about 13 million trays ahead of this same period a year ago.  The record is 181.3 million trays.  The heaviest volume of a long season for shipping California strawberries is coming to a close.  Shipments typically decline in August and into the fall.

Once again, here is a reminder to be extra cautious if you are hauling highly perishable berries this time of year, because of the extreme heat occuring in many parts of the USA.  Please check out the in transit warming information on the TransFresh ads found on this website. 

Besides strawberries out of the Watsonsville district, California also is shipping raspberries and blackberries.  There should be decent supplies for hauling over at least the next couple of months.

Salinas Valley produce – grossing about $5500 to Cleveland.

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California Shipments Continue Heavy Summer Volume

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The Salinas and San Joaquin Valleys  continue to provide your best loading opportunities in California.

Head lettuce may be producing the biggest volume from Salinas and is averaging around 1700 to 1800 truckload equivalents a week.  However, there remains significant tonnage coming with other types of lettuce, as well broccoli, cauliflower, celery and many other items….The nearby Watsonville area is shipping a lot of strawberries….

The relentless heat baking much of the USA this summer makes it paramount you take precautions to protect your load  (check out the TransFresh ad on this website that provides “in-transit warming” information).

The Santa Maria district has much lighter volume than Salinas, but it also is shipping many of the same vegetables.

The San Joaquin Valley has both fruits and vegetable loadings occurring from many areas.  In the central valley around 500 to 600 truckload equivalents of mature green tomatoes are being shipped each week….Table grape loadings continue on pace to what could be record shipments this year, with heaviest volume currently coming from the Arvin and Delano areas.

Shipments from the California desert of cantaloupe (and some other items) has mercifully come to an end as some product was looking pretty rough at the end of the season.

California supplies for refrigerated equipment generally remain adequate, but you shouldn’t face signficant delays for loads in most cases because of the seasonal volume.

Salinas vegetables are grossing – about $7700 to Hunts Point in New York City.

San Joaquin Valley fruits and vegetables – about $5000 to Chicago.

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Will Produce Rates Increase for Fourth of July?

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Normally we would see a bump in rates for hauling produce as the Fourth of July holiday approaches – when Independence Day falls on any day but Wednesday.   This is not to say there will not be a increase in produce rates, but some observers are saying it may not be as high, or may not even occur this year for the holiday.  Regardless, strong demand for refrigerated equipment will continue before and after the Fourth, and rates are expected to remain healthy in the coming weeks.

In Southeastern Arkansas, peak tomato shipments are continuing.  While it has been an excellent growing season, triple digit temperatures have moved in.  If the extreme heat continues the mid July conclusion to tomato shipments may happen even before that.

In Virginia, some are not aware the state ranks fourth nationally in tomato shipments, and 6th nationally in potato, apple and snap bean volume.

Moving to the Northwest, Washington state cherry shipments are in heavy volume.  Loadings should continue until September and the state is on a course for record shipments.

In California, rates have had only minor fluctuations since early June.  The Salinas Valley has lighter than usual volume with broccoli and cauliflower, plus lettuce shipments have been hampered as East Coast receivers took advantage of coastal shipping areas such as New Jersey, which started weeks earlier than normal.  This put Eastern lettuce shipments on a collision coarse with West Coast lettuce shipments.  Eastern receivers could save $7 to $8 per carton on lettuce, just on shipping costs, when they purchased eastern lettuce as opposed to that product from California.

Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $8500 to New York City




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