Category Archives: Logistics

Farm Fresh Produce ramps up bell peppers program, cabbage

Farm Fresh Produce ramps up bell peppers program, cabbage

Farm Fresh has 50 acres of peppers. Most of Farm Fresh’s produce is shipped to the East Coast, noted Ceccarelli, because their location in North Carolina gives them cheap freight costs when shipping to markets in the region. Ceccarelli noted that the season hasn’t been the best, but they’re busy providing for their customers.
“Peppers have been pretty good so far,” said Ceccarelli. “The market hasn’t been ideal, but we’re keeping our product fresh and our customers happy.”

Farm Fresh Produce is also in the thick of their cabbage program this year. Like with their peppers, Farm Fresh’s cabbage program is focused on East coast markets, which they can reach in about two days from their facilities in North Carolina.

“We’re going to do a lot of cabbage this year,” said Farm Fresh’s Steve Ceccarelli. They began harvesting Napa cabbage at the beginning of last month, and harvesting of regular green cabbage and Flathead cabbage began shortly after. The Napa variety is what Farm Fresh produces the most, with 70 acres dedicated to that kind of cabbage, while 30 acres are dedicated to the Flathead variety.

“We have an advantage from a freight standpoint,” said Ceccarelli. “It’s cheaper for us to ship to the East Coast and the Eastern part of Canada than it is for competitors who aren’t in this region.” Another big program for Farm Fresh is their line of sweet potatoes, which they also predominantly sell on the East Coast. Currently, Farm Fresh has grey, yellow and green sweet potatoes available.

For more information:
Steven A. Ceccarelli
Farm Fresh Produce
Tel: +1 910-508-8933
[email protected]

Publication date: 6/28/2013

Ecuador suspends preferential trade with US over Snowden affair

Move will see tariffs introduced on agricultural exports
Ecuador suspends preferential trade with US over Snowden affair

Ecuador has made the surprising announcement that it is giving up its preferential trade agreement with the United States, a move which could have serious repercussions for agricultural industry. The shock news comes in the wake of the ongoing Edward Snowden affair.

The former CIA agent, turned whistle-blower, is though to be seeking asylum from Ecuador. The country is gaining something of a reputation for sheltering those involved in the leaking of government secrets and is currently housing Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in its London Embassy.

Ecuador’s Minister of Communications, Fernando Alcarado, announced the decision, saying, the country “unilaterally and irrevocably renounces…trade preferences.” He described the decision as a demonstration of Ecuador’s commitment to its values and a sign that it would not allow foreign powers to influence national sovereignty via the exertion of commercial pressure.

Ecuador, he said, “doesn’t accept…threats from anybody and it doesn’t trade its principles or give them up for commercial interests, no matter how important.”

Ecuador’s left wing president, Raffael Correa, has sought to calm concerns on the domestic front over the move, stating that the suspension of preferential trade, which will see the introduction of tariffs on exports, including broccoli and bananas, would have limited impact.

Other have been quick to disagree, pointing out that the relatively straightforward trade processes with the US have turned certain Ecuadorian enterprises into major international industries. Romiro Crespo, of Quito based Analytical Investments, said, “If commerce is restricted there’s going to be unemployment…this does not penalise the government, it penalises the people.”

Just how effective a gesture this proves to be remains to be seen of course and, currently, the prospect of Snowden, who is trapped in international limbo at Moscow airport, making it to Ecuador and one of its embassies is very small, his passport having been revoked by the US authorities.

Publication date: 6/28/2013
Author: Ben Littler

20 Years of Data Show Poultry, Fish, Beef Have Remained Leading Sources of Food-Related Outbreaks

Between 1998 and 2008, poultry, fish and beef were consistently responsible for the greatest proportion of foodborne illness outbreaks, according to a new government analysis.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the 13,405 food-related outbreaks reported during this time period, identifying 3,264 outbreaks that could be attributed to a specific food category. Fish and poultry remained responsible for the greatest share of these outbreaks over these 20 years — accounting for about 17 percent of outbreaks each — followed closely by beef, which was responsible for 14 percent of outbreaks.

Eggs, on the other hand, played an increasingly smaller role as outbreak sources – accounting for 6 percent of outbreaks in 1998-1999 and for just 2 percent in 2006-2008. This trend was largely due to a decrease in the amount of Salmonella outbreaks linked to eggs, according to the report authors.

Leafy greens became a more common outbreak source, responsible for 6 percent of outbreaks in 1998-1999 and 11 percent by 2008-2009. Dairy also grew as an outbreak source, rising from 4 percent in the beginning of the period studied to 6 percent by 2006-2008.

The researchers also looked at the leading pathogen-food combinations that caused outbreaks during the 20-year window, finding that histamine in fish was the most common outbreak source, followed by ciguatoxin in fish, Salmonella in poultry and norovirus in leafy vegetables.

“You see the same combinations of pathogens and foods repeatedly,” said Hannah Gould, epidemiologist in the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases at CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases and lead author of the report. “It’s good to keep tracking that and now to have a method to continue to look at changes over time,” Gould commented in an interview with Food Safety News.

The authors note that the number of outbreaks linked to these commodities should not be confused with the number of illnesses caused by these foods, as outbreaks result in varying numbers of illnesses.

While poultry was responsible for the largest share of illnesses (17 percent) between 1998 and 2008, leafy greens were the next greatest cause of illness, accounting for 13 percent of the 67,752 illnesses attributed to an outbreak food source.

The pathogen/commodity pairs responsible for the most outbreak-related illnesses were norovirus and leafy vegetables, which led to 4,011 illnesses of the 67,752 linked to a designated commodity category.

The team also looked at food preparation, finding that restaurants and delis accounted for the vast majority (68 percent) of the places where outbreak-linked foods were prepared. Private homes were the next most common place of preparation, at 9 percent, followed by catering or banquet facilities (7 percent).

“That’s something interesting that we talk about here more than we usually do,” said Gould, referring to the location data, which CDC doesn’t often report in its reviews of foodborne illness data.

Outbreaks after 2008

What about outbreaks that have occurred since 2008? Have these trends continued or have they changed in the past few years?

“Leafy greens and norovirus continues to be a problem and norovirus has been the number one cause of outbreaks in our data for years and years and years and has remained that way,” said Gould.

Gould also led an analysis of foodborne illness outbreaks that occurred between 2009 and 2010 — published in January of this year — which found that during that period, beef, dairy, fish, and poultry were associated with the largest number of foodborne disease outbreaks.

That report also showed that unpasteurized dairy products are the leading cause of dairy-related outbreaks, accounting for 81 percent of the outbreaks linked to dairy during that time period. Gould said the 1998-2008 report shows that the incidence of raw dairy-related outbreaks has been growing over this time.

“Outbreaks caused by dairy went up as well, and that seems to be caused by an increasing number of outbreaks due to unpasteurized milk,” she said.

The data used for this report comes from CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, which was started by CDC in 1973 and went online in 1998. The authors chose 1998-2008 as their reporting period because the format of the database changed starting in 2008, when it became the National Outbreak Reporting System.

Although this new report may appear similar to one CDC released in January titled “Attribution of Foodborne Illnesses, Hospitalizations, and Deaths to Food Commodities by Using Outbreak Data, United States, 1998-2008,” the two are very different. The January report offers an estimation of total U.S. illnesses linked to various food sources. Though it is based on data from the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, the figures in that report are extrapolated based on national foodborne illness estimates, while this June report looked only at outbreaks reported to CDC.

The complete results of the 2998-2008 data analysis can be found in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Food Safety News

Fresh Valley Foods and A.J. Letizio Sales announce partnership

Fresh Valley Foods Corp., based in Haverhill, MA, announced it has entered into a retail brokerage partnership with A.J. Letizio Sales & Marketing Inc., based in Windham, NH. Under this new agreement, A.J. Letizio will become Fresh Valley Food’s exclusive retail broker in New England and New York for the processor’s full line of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables.

“We’re all very excited about this new partnership,” Bob Tessitore, senior vice president for A.J. Letizio, said in a press release. “Fresh Valley’s full line of fresh-cut produce is the perfect complement to our current line of fresh foods.”

“With our superior level of quality and customer service, and A.J. Letizio’s outstanding reputation and ability to represent us in the marketplace, we will bring extra savings to our retailers and greater value to our retail customers,” Fresh Valley Foods General Manager C.J. Gangi added in the press release.

Founded in 2010, Fresh Valley Foods Corp. offers a full line of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables for retail and foodservice accounts under the “Freshen Ready,” “All Natural,” “Fresh 21″ and “Fresh Valley” labels.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Pomegranate Kernels Recalled in Connection with Townsend Farms Hep A Outbreak

Scenic Fruit Company, based in Oregon, has voluntarily recalled 5,091 cases (61,092 8-oz. bags) of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels due to potential contamination of hepatitis A.

No illnesses have been connected to the Woodstock brand pomegranate kernels, but they were imported from Turkey and may be associated with the imported pomegranate kernels implicated in the ongoing Townsend Farms frozen berry hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened at least 122 people in eight states.

The products are sold in 8-oz. resealable plastic pouches with UPC Cod 0 42563 01628 9. Further coding information is on the back portion of the pouches below the zip-lock seal. The following lots are subject to recall:

  • C 0129 (A,B, or C) 035 with a best by date of 02/04/2015
  • C 0388 (A,B, or C) 087 with a best by date of 03/28/2015
  • C 0490 (A,B, or C) 109 with a best by date of 04/19/2015

The products were shipped between February 2013 through May 2013 to UNFI distribution centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington State. UNFI distribution centers may have further distributed products to retail stores in other states.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection generally appear within 14 to 50 days of exposure and include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice and dark urine.

Those who receive a vaccination within two weeks of exposure may prevent illness, and anyone who has already received a hepatitis A vaccination in the past is not at risk of infection.

Food Safety News

“Piel de Sapo melons increasingly valued on European market”

Manager Jose Beltran of Hispalco s.a.:
“Piel de Sapo melons increasingly valued on European market”

Hispalco s.a. has been exporting fruit and vegetables to the European markets for over 20 years. Its brand Monna Lisa is known on the market as a quality brand of high prestige. “Her mysterious smile is a symbol and guarantee of quality, service and exclusivity. This challenge is difficult to control in these times, but we have made our position in the market and continue to grow,” says manager Jose Beltran.

The commercial department and quality controllers at Hispalco work with the producers every day to get the best results. After the success of Monna Lisa the company started their second brand Unicorn a number of years ago to serve a larger customer base.

At the moment the company is also working hard to strengthen the organic branch with the brand Hispalco Bio by creating a new product line, which distinguishes itself from the conventional line. These product have been grown 100% organically, and are organically certified.

The season of stone fruit, melons and watermelons is now in full swing. The company has also started selling cherries and grapes from Puglia and Sicily under the brands Gioconda and Unicorn. “The best plantations and varieties can be found in these regions of Italy. We will also offer French peaches and nectarines from Langedouc and Rousillon in the sizes A and AA from the end of July, also under the exclusive brands Unicorn and La Joconde, to offer the customers a quality products, as opposed to one Spanish variety with an increasingly low supply.”

Hispalco supports the idea of exporting more Piel de Sapo melons, as they are becoming increasing valued in the European markets. “With a sweeter and juicer flesh and longer shelf life the Piel de Sapo is a great product with added value,” says Jose Beltran. When we ask the manager of Hisplaco what the secret behind the success is, he answers; “There is no secret or magic potion. It’s a matter of hard work, remaining constant and being surrounded by people who share the same values and prove this by never losing their entrepreneurial spirit.”

For more information:

Hispalco, S.A.

C/ Barranco Pascual, 45

Esq. C/ Labradores

Polígono Industrial Campo Aníbal

46530 Puzol (Valencia)

Tel.: 00 34 96 340 44 22

Fax: 00 34 96 340 40 56

Publication date: 6/27/2013

With Recent Victories, Movement to Label GMOs Gains Steam

More than six months after a big defeat in California, the movement to label foods containing genetically modified organisms appears to be picking up steam across the country.

In the past three weeks, Connecticut and Maine passed labeling bills, the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first time approved a non-GMO label claim for meat products, Chipotle began voluntarily labeling menu items containing GMO ingredients online, and, perhaps most notably, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration funding to label genetically modified salmon if the agency approves the fish.

These are all small steps compared to what California’s Proposition 37 would have accomplished – since that state consumes about 8 percent of all groceries in the United States, some speculated that food giants would have reformulated their products to avoid creating two supply chains – but the string of victories has many in the so-called ‘Right to Know’ movement confident the tide is turning in their favor.

“It’s simply a matter of time,” said Scott Faber, who serves as executive director of Just Label It, a national advocacy campaign. Faber, who is vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, used to be a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which actively lobbies against mandatory labeling initiatives.

Faber believes mandated GMO labeling is inevitable, in part because the food industry would prefer federal standards over a patchwork of state laws.

“I think companies are starting to realize the fight is worse than the label,” he added, noting that campaigns against labeling can harm consumer confidence for certain brands. Some consumers, for example, who buy brands like Cascadian Farm, Kashi, Horizon Organic, Muir Glen, and Odwalla were outraged last fall after learning the companies’ corporate owners had helped fund the effort to defeat Prop 37.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association said in a statement that it remains opposed to “special mandatory labeling for food products containing genetically modified ingredients because these labels could mislead consumers into believing that ingredients from genetically engineered plants are somehow different or unsafe or unhealthy – in clear contradiction of scientific fact.”

GMA points out that ingredients derived from GM plants have been widely studied and are considered safe by FDA and groups like the American Medical Association. According to the association, foods with genetically modified ingredients make up 70 to 8o percent of the products on grocery store shelves “because they require fewer pesticides, help foods have a longer shelf life and keep production costs down” which reduces food costs for consumers.

The group has been actively engaged in the labeling issue and contributed $ 2 million to help defeat Prop 37, which ultimately went down 51 to 48 percent. In total, $ 9.2 million was spent in support of the proposition and $ 46 million was spent opposing it.

In a speech last summer to the American Soybean Association, GMA CEO Pam Bailey said, “Defeating the initative is GMA’s single highest priority this year,” according to an account in the Hagstrom Report. “We have worked with you on what we consider to be valuable technology, but in the past year we have seen an increase in the rhetoric against it.”

Bailey said the current movement for labeling is stronger than past attempts. “Social media is feeding this effort and making it more difficult to confront and more powerful,” she said, according to the report.

While momentum may by building for labeling advocates, their recent victories come with significant caveats.

The bills approved in Connecticut and Maine only kick in if other states, including a neighboring state, pass labeling requirements. Vermont’s house passed a bill to require labeling GMOs in May but the state senate is not expected to take up the same law until next year. Labeling legislation or ballot initiatives have been introduced in 25 other states, but it’s not clear which states might actually adopt them.

Baylen Linnekin, the executive director of Keep Food Legal, a libertarian group that advocates against government involvement in the food arena, said he thinks mandatory labeling is unnecessary and still faces significant challenges going forward.

“I would not say it’s inevitable,” said Linnekin, explaining that even if labeling laws succeed at the state level they would be challenged in court.

In a recent column for Reason, Linnekin argued the government should stay out of the labeling business: “The truth is that most federal labeling schemes are flawed at best, and often involve conflicts and compromises that rob meaning from the label.”

On the other hand, Linnekin applauds the voluntary actions by companies like Whole Foods, which announced earlier this year it will require GMO labeling in its stores by 2018, and McDonalds and Starbucks, which both recently adopted calorie labeling on their menus.

The non-GMO label approved by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service last week – the first GMO-related claim allowed on U.S. meat, poultry and some processed egg packages – and Chipotle’s decision to note which foods contain GMOs on their online menu are prime examples of voluntary moves to meet niche consumer demands.

According to the New York Times, FSIS approved the label – which can be used on meat and liquid eggs from animals fed only non-GMO feed – after three meat companies petitioned for similar claims. The claim will be certified by the Non-GMO Project.

Private sector labels to help consumers avoid products containing GM ingredients have taken off in recent years. The Non-GMO Project, the leading third-party certifier in North America for non-GMO claims, said interest in certification has increased four-fold in the past year alone as Prop 37 and Whole Foods announcement has raised consumer awareness about GMOs. The group now certifies more than 10,000 products.

“These days you can walk into a gas station and find Non-GMO verified products,” said Courtney Pineau, assistant director of the project.

Despite the explosion in voluntary labeling, advocates want a national law.

While there are labeling bills in both chambers, no one expects Congress will approve them anytime soon. In May, the U.S. Senate voted on a bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have required GMO labeling nationwide, but the measure failed by a vote of 71 to 27.

The closest that advocates have come to mandatory, national GMO labeling of any kind, was last week when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 15 to 14 to give the FDA $ 150,000 to implement labeling for GM salmon if the agency gives the fish a green light, which it is expected to do.

FDA has said it would not require the GM salmon to be labeled, which is consistent with the agency’s policy that GM foods are not materially different from non-GM foods. Some advocates think this decision has driven more consumers to support labeling efforts.

A petition asking FDA to require labeling for the modified salmon garnered nearly 25,000 signatures and consumer campaigns pressured Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target, Giant Eagle, and 50 other retailers to promise they wont sell the fish even if the FDA approves it.

A handful of U.S. lawmakers, mostly from states like Alaska, Washington and Oregon, whose wild salmon fisheries are highly lucrative, have opposed approving the GM salmon and have argued that if the fish is approved it should be labeled as a GMO. The labeling amendment that succeeded in the Senate Appropriations Committee was co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). In the House, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has made similar attempts at mandating labeling for GM salmon.

Colin O’Neil, a regulatory analyst for the Center for Food Safety, an anti-GMO advocacy group, called the amendment “a big step forward for labeling in this country.”

The group said it’s not aware of efforts to strip the Begich-Murkowski amendment from the appropriations bill, but said that it would be closely monitoring the bill when it eventually goes to conference to be reconciled with the House version because “we have not seen something like this get that far before.”

Food Safety News

Italy: Strawberry cultivation in Europe – current varieties and new selections

Italy: Strawberry cultivation in Europe – current varieties and new selections

A technical meeting was held on the importance of strawberry cultivation in Europe and on new interesting varieties for the domestic and European market on 18th June 2013 at the CReSo (Centro Ricerche per la Frutticoltura) located in Boves (Piedmont).

The event was organised by Cristiano Carli and Roberto Giordano, research managers from Creso. Roberto Giordano and Dr. Walther Faedi from Folrì’s CRA-FRF have talked about the strong and weak points of each of the varieties that are cultivated and available on the market.

Walther Faedi, national coordinator of the ‘Liste varietali dei Fruttiferi’ project, listed the main characteristics and tendencies in the main countries that produce strawberries i.e. Turkey, Spain, Poland, Germany, Italy, England, Holland and Netherlands.

Some of the data:

TURKEY Increase of cultivated surfaces but there are a few problems as regards distribution because of the difficulties in transportation. The production period is very long, from December to June.
SPAIN Decrease in surface areas but increase of production. Long production period, from December to June. Camarosa is the most popular variety even though Candonga is also gaining a following thanks to its organoleptic qualities.
POLAND The technique is being specialised and competitive producer cooperatives are being created. The production is mainly destined to the fresh market, leaving only a small part to the industry. Labour costs are really low: €2.5/h.
GERMANY Open field crops are the most popular. Expanded in the past few years, pressurising markets and lowering prices. Strong competitor for Italy. Elsanta and Clery are the main varieties. Remontat cultivars are increasing.
In 2012, there were 3700 hectares of strawberry crops (-20% with respect to 2000), 40% of which in the North (Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Trentino and Piedmont). The Italian production can satisfy the demand coming from the domestic market the whole year round. Produce from Sicily and Calabria arrives on the markets from January to March, that from Campania and Basilicata from April/May and overlaps with that from the North (Verona and Emilia Romagna. Summer is covered by the mountain areas and Sicily covers late autumn.

Dr. Faedi then explained the new varieties in the different Italian regions: “In the South, a number of different varieties is being evaluated, such as for example Rania, Nabila, Pircinque and Kamila from Italy, Sabrina, Fuentepina, Antilla and Primoris from Spain and Splendor, Florida-Fortuna, Mojave and Benicia from America. In the North, Italian Cristina, Romina, Garda, Alina, Dely and Joly are being considered.”

Finally, DR. Faedi analysed some varieties more in detail, such as VR177.2, as the fruit represent a good compromise between weight, compactness, Brix level (sugar content), aroma and shelf-life.

Click here to enlarge the chart.

Dr. Roberto Lombardo also talked about the varieties and the selections currently being experimented at the CreSo. Primy (medium-early), Garda (medium-early), Joly (medium-late) and Laetitia (late) were the varieties included in the extensive experimentation under the 2013 Fragola Unifera programme.

Dr. Lombardo explained how, “Garda has a good productivity, the fruit is cuneiform, with a good weight, the flesh is compact and tastes good, it is important though to verify the colour. Primy has a good productivity, with a good weight; fruits are conical with a flat tip and the colour is deep red, which must be checked with high temperatures; the taste is balanced though the resistance of fruits to handling has to be analysed. Joly has an excellent sweet and aromatic taste, the colour is bright red, which turns to deep red with high temperatures, the flesh is quite compact, the productivity is average and it is easily detachable. Laetitia is conical, with good weight, it resists to handling, the colour is bright red and the taste is good and sweet.”

Once the presentation was over, it was possible to taste the different varieties of strawberries, both those registered and those experimented.

Publication date: 6/25/2013

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Poor pollination and rain have meant fewer-than-normal quantities of cherries from Washington this month. Demand for fruit has outpaced supplies, but despite diminished quantities this month, growers are hoping July will bring better volumes.

“We’ve had a diminished crop so far,” said Stemilt Growers’ Roger Pepperl. “We had poor pollination, and then rain took out some of our June cherries.” While exact numbers on how much of this month’s crop was affected weren’t available, Pepperl said it was a significant amount. But he noted that Stemilt’s cherry season, that’s planned to go into late-August or early-September, should see increased volumes of fruit in July.

Similarly, Columbia Marketing International’s Bob Mast expects the latter half of the season to be much better than the beginning.

“We’ve been off to a slow start, and we hope to ramp things up when the weather turns,” said Mast. “It’s going to be important for retailers to catch up with sales that have been lost due to lack of availability, so the hope is to get late season sales going.” The weather Mast mentioned has included inopportune rain. While precipitation has slowed down the harvesting of fruit, it’s also made for cracked fruit that needs to be culled. The more fruit that is weeded out because it’s cracked, the less fruit available on the market. That’s caused problems for retailers who want to take advantage of strong demand ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

“Supplies from California finished off pretty quickly, so demand for the volume coming out of the Pacific Northwest picked up rapidly,” explained Mast. “We’re frustrated because retailers want to get fruit into the system for the Fourth of July, so we’re looking to transition into our later season varieties.” With diminished volumes of fruit, pricing has been high. But less fruit per tree has also meant that the cherries that do make it to stores are larger and of very good quality.

“This is some of the best quality fruit we’ve seen in a while,” said James Michael, vice president of marketing for Northwest Cherries. “Fewer buds and fewer cherries per tree means better quality, so the fruit on shelves is incredible, and that’s fueling demand.” Increased demand and good quality fruit have been the bright spots to a beginning of the season that has seen lower volumes. Now growers are hoping to get past the rough start and finish the season strong.

“It’s been a bad June so far,” said Pepperl, “but we anticipate having a good July.”

Publication date: 6/26/2013
Author: Carlos Nunez

Raw Milk Bill Brought Back in America’s Dairy State

Buoyed by the partial acquittal of Sauk County raw milk producer Vernon Hershberger, a Wisconsin state senator is going to try again to make it legal to sell unpasteurized milk and milk products in the Diary State.

West Bend Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman has dropped a bill into the Wisconsin Legislature that would allow limited sales of raw milk and raw milk products, which he claims are recommended by nutritionists and chiropractors for health benefits.

“Unfortunately, there is a law on the books where technically it’s still illegal to sell raw milk in the state of Wisconsin,” says Grothman. His bill would permit the sale of unpasteurized milk from farms registered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The same farms would sell buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, ice cream, butter and cheese made with raw milk.

Grothman’s bill, which won’t go to a public hearing until Fall, would allow on the farm sales directly to consumers, but would continue to ban retail sales in stores or farmer’s markets.

A dairy farm that sells raw milk directly to consumers would risk losing their license. The Grothman bill sets up an exemption to that possibility by allowing those interested in selling raw milk to register with DATCP.

The Senator claims farms that register will be under the same requirements, as they would normally have for producing grade A milk regarding cleanliness, temperature, and other safety requirements.

The bill also sets up criteria for clean containers, proper labeling, a posted sign, and compliance with all state rules. As Wisconsin is the nation’s largest dairy state, Grothman will face strong opposition by the multi-billion dollar pasteurized milk industry, which claims raw milk’s frequent outbreaks gives their product a bad name.

A spokesman for the Wisconsin Safe Milk Coalition say it is impossible to make raw milk safe. The Wisconsin Legislature passed a raw milk bill in 2010, but former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it. Attempts by Grothman and others since then to permit raw milk have since failed to go anywhere. A task force appointed by Doyle outlined what it would take to make raw milk both safe and legal in Wisconsin, but Grothman has ignored those stiffer requirements and other raw milk advocates.

Scott Walker, the current governor, has indicated he could sign a raw milk bill with sufficient safe guards in it. Unlike most state legislatures in the Midwest, the Wisconsin Legislature meets periodically throughout the year.

Food Safety News

US (WA): Apricot season transitions from California to Washington

US (WA): Apricot season transitions from California to Washington

As the California apricot season winds down, volumes of fruit are picking up in Washington. While the market is currently tight, that should be resolved as more varieties come online in the near future.

“Size of fruit is up a bit from last year, and our orchards were lucky enough to avoid hail damage,” said Viva Tierra’s Addie Pobst. While she noted that hail damage is always a danger growers have to look out for early in the Summer, the absence of that has allowed Viva Tierra to start the season off well.

“We will have nearly double the production volume we had last year,” added Pobst. With only late-variety fruit coming out of California, the market is now looking to Washington for apricots. Viva Tierra currently has the Robada apricot available, and though Pobst said the market is a little tight right now because there isn’t a lot of volume, prices should come down as volumes pick up later in the season. Viva Tierra’s other varieties include the Perfection and Rival, which they ship in two-layer panta packs and 24 pound volume fill.

“Quality will be similar to last year, which was great,” said Pobst. “It’s just a question of making sure we pick the fruit at its peak of flavor and get them out to the stores so people can enjoy them.”

Addie Pobst
Viva Tierra Organic, Inc.
Tel: +1 360 855 3195 

Publication date: 6/26/2013
Author: Ben Littler

North Peruvian banana growers to increase yield 50%

North Peruvian banana growers to increase yield 50%

The Piura Center for Small Organic Banana Grower Associations (CEPIBO) in northern Peru aims to increase yields by half with the help of improved agricultural practices.

CEPIBO president Luis Alberto Ruiz told Agraria magazine that current yield was 1,500 boxes per hectare, but the goal was to reach 2,250 boxes per hectare.

“Standardized technical assistance and participation plans will be implemented, which will make the most of resources in a more efficient way,” Ruiz Medina was quoted as saying by Agraria.

“In addition, credit will be given to farmers so they can buy fertilizer, which will improve production.”

CEPIBO has 1,220 acres of organic bananas belonging to its 754 partners, so it is estimated that under the new system production will go from 1.83 million boxes to 2.74 million boxes.

Thus, the cooperative leader expected the group to ship 800 containers this year, each with 1,080 boxes, highlighting the main markets as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the US.


Publication date: 6/24/2013

North Peruvian banana growers to increase yield 50%

North Peruvian banana growers to increase yield 50%

The Piura Center for Small Organic Banana Grower Associations (CEPIBO) in northern Peru aims to increase yields by half with the help of improved agricultural practices.

CEPIBO president Luis Alberto Ruiz told Agraria magazine that current yield was 1,500 boxes per hectare, but the goal was to reach 2,250 boxes per hectare.

“Standardized technical assistance and participation plans will be implemented, which will make the most of resources in a more efficient way,” Ruiz Medina was quoted as saying by Agraria.

“In addition, credit will be given to farmers so they can buy fertilizer, which will improve production.”

CEPIBO has 1,220 acres of organic bananas belonging to its 754 partners, so it is estimated that under the new system production will go from 1.83 million boxes to 2.74 million boxes.

Thus, the cooperative leader expected the group to ship 800 containers this year, each with 1,080 boxes, highlighting the main markets as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the US.


Publication date: 6/24/2013

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Kroger announces senior leaders, new divisions

The Kroger Co. has named Rick Going president of the company’s new Nashville division, Calvin Kaufman president of the new Louisville division, Jayne Homco president of the Michigan division, and Erin Sharp group vice president of Kroger manufacturing.

“Rick, Calvin, Jayne and Erin bring to their new roles a passion for customers and proven experience leading teams to deliver consistently strong performance,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s president and chief operating officer, said in a press release. “Their leadership will help us build on our customer first strategy to enhance customer loyalty, accelerate our growth and deliver shareholder value.”

Kroger also announced the establishment of two new supermarket divisions, a Nashville, TN, division and a Louisville, KY, division.

“Opportunities for growth in Tennessee, northern Alabama, Kentucky and Southern Illinois and Indiana inspired us to take this path,” McMullen said. “We believe this move will enable our associates to do what they do best – meet the needs of our local customers and neighbors, our communities, and each other.”

Going, currently president of the Michigan division, has been named president of Kroger’s new Nashville division.

He joined the company in 1981 and has held a number of leadership positions at the store, district and division level before advancing to his current position in 2007.

The Nashville division will include more than 11,800 associates working in 63 stores in the Nashville area and 28 stores in the Knoxville, TN, and Huntsville, AL, markets.

Kaufman, currently group vice president of Kroger manufacturing, has been named president of the company’s new Louisville division. He joined Kroger in 1994 and has served in a variety of leadership roles, including as Kroger’s senior director of logistics, before he was named to his current role in 2007.

The Louisville division will include nearly 15,000 associates working in 98 Kroger stores in Kentucky, southern Illinois and southern Indiana.

Homco, currently vice president of merchandising for Kroger’s Southwest Division, has been promoted to president of the Michigan Division. She replaces Going. Homco joined Kroger in 1978. She was promoted to vice president of merchandising for the company’s QFC division in 2004 and took on her current role in 2007.

The Michigan division includes nearly 16,000 associates working in 129 Kroger supermarkets in Michigan.

Sharp, currently vice president of operations for Kroger manufacturing, has been promoted to group vice president of Kroger manufacturing. She replaces Kaufman.

She joined Kroger in 2011 in her current role. Previously, she served as vice president of manufacturing for the Sara Lee Corp. In that role, Sharp led manufacturing and logistics operations for the central region of their U.S. Fresh Bakery Division. In her new role, Sharp will oversee approximately 7,000 associates working in 37 food processing plants in the United States.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

2014 Sunrise Date Set for DataBar on Perishables

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — GS1 US here, which oversees bar coding standards in this country, has set 2014 as the “sunrise date” for the implementation of the GS1 DataBar – a more flexible and expansive symbol than the traditional UPC bar code — for perishable food such as loose produce and variable-measure meat, seafood and deli products.

The sunrise date is considered the date by which a particular technology is expected to be adopted; in this case that would mean food retailers would be able to scan and process the DataBar on perishables by the start of 2014. Retailers have already largely begun scanning the DataBar on coupons over the past year.


Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.

GS1 US has designed different versions of the DataBar as alternatives to the UPC.  The “stacked omnidirectional” version of the DataBar, which contains the 14-digit global trade-item number (GTIN) that identifies the supplier and product, is small enough to be implemented on loose produce. It has “a 2014 sunrise data for full implementation,” said James Chronowski, global standards director for GS1 US, who gave a progress report on the DataBar at the GS1 Connect conference in San Antonio earlier this month.

The DataBar on loose produce gives retailers improved front-end accuracy and shrink control, among other benefits, Chronowski said.

The 2014 sunrise date also applies to the “expanded stacked” DataBar, which contains up to 74 alphanumeric characters and is being applied to perishables items that have variable weights and sell-by dates among other attributes, as well as to coupons, he said.

According to SN’s 2013 Technology Survey, more than three-quarters (76.7%) of respondents, including 86.7% of operators with 50 or more stores, have adjusted their POS systems to be able to scan and process the GS1 DataBar bar code on coupons. Fewer retailers are able to scan and process the DataBar on loose produce and variable weight items.

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