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Red River Valley anticipates a good red potato harvest

Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop.

Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern plains soil, can be as important to crop quality as the growing conditions that created the potatoes. If the soil is too hard it can damage the spuds during harvest.

Kreis said some Red River Valley reds were packed and immediately shipped in early September.

“We expect a good crop this year,” Kreis told The Produce News. “The early reports are that everything is looking good now. There have been a lot of samples” but the large harvest for storage wouldn’t begin until mid-September.

“Last year we put about 4 million bags into storage,” he said. “The number this year will be that, or exceed that, this year. I really don’t know. Yields can vary tremendously. It’s hard to guess exact numbers.”

The Red River Valley’s red potato acreage is expected to be up 1 or 2 percent this year. In 2013, the valley produced 23,000 acres of red potatoes. North Dakota produces a total of about 90,000 acres of potatoes. Beyond reds, these are mostly russets that are virtually dedicated to the processing market. Kreis added that the red potato acreage actually includes yellow potatoes, which will represent about 8 percent of the fresh production.

David Moquist, the secretary-treasurer of O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc., located in Crystal, ND, said the quality of the 2014 potato crop looks good, with higher yields than a year ago.

“If demand holds like it did with the Minnesota crop, there is a good chance the price holds,” said Steve Tweten, president and chief executive officer of NoKota Packers Inc., located in Buxton, ND. “If demand goes down” for Red River Valley red potatoes “with extremely cheap russets hitting the market, all bets are off.”

Tweten said russet potatoes “tend to put a ceiling on the market, but the spread in the price between reds and russets the past few years has increased. The ceiling is limited when russets are plentiful and cheap.”

Tweten said, “The potato crop looks nice. The quality is good. We have average tonnage, based on samples. Not everyone will be harvesting until the week of Sept. 15.”

In a press release that Kreis sent to The Produce News on Sept. 5, he said, “All signs are that it will be a very nice crop. Once we got past the late spring planting, growing conditions have been ideal, but we are still predicting average yields, but harvested acres may be up a bit. This would give us between 4.2 million and 4.5 million hundredweight of potatoes for the fresh market; over 90 percent would be reds, the remainder yellows.

“Demand for red and yellow potatoes in both sectors has increased the past two shipping seasons quite rapidly at the expense of russets,” the release from Kreis continued. “I think there are a number of factors including more exposure of colored potatoes on cable food networks, women’s magazines and restaurant menus. There has also been a substantial increase in retail promotions and shelf space, as red potatoes grow in popularity.”

Kreis added, “Red potatoes from the Red River Valley and Central Minnesota are easily the top sellers in supermarkets in most of the two states.”

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Safmarine meets reefer volume forecast in 2013, anticipates growth in 2014

Safmarine meets reefer volume forecast in 2013, anticipates growth in 2014

The perishable seaborne transport market grew less than anticipated in 2013 and Safmarine’s volumes for 2013 reflected this market reality according to Marc Rooms, Safmarine’s Global Head of Reefers.

With Safmarine’s reefer volumes as forecast for 2013, the carrier is now looking to take on new business in 2014, especially if doing so represents an opportunity to grow its business in tandem with that of its customers.

According to Rooms, “Our focus is on growing volumes to and from the African continent – Safmarine’s traditional and core reefer market – while identifying opportunities for mutual growth in markets such as Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.”
Rooms says that while Safmarine, as the carrier, is responsible for maintaining the temperature of a reefer container at a defined level between point of acceptance and point of delivery, its responsibility to the cargo goes beyond that of merely transporting the cargo from A to B.

“Transporting highly perishable cargo is also an opportunity to offer our customers the benefits of  our many years of experience in the reefer trade, as well as the expertise of our people – our ‘reefer specialists’ located in countries around the world  – who are there to guide reefer shippers on matters such as sanitisation, pre-cooling and packaging.  

He says by being more than a carrier, Safmarine is able to help to ensure that the cargo – which has benefited from high levels of care during the production process – is packed and transported in the best possible manner to ensure it reaches the market in optimum condition.

“As Global Reefer Manager for Safmarine, I conduct regular information sessions in key countries to ensure that all those Safmarine employees who deal with perishable cargo, have the knowledge and the expertise they need to take best care of the cargo.

“During these educational workshops, I always emphasise that a refrigerated container cannot be expected to enhance the condition of cargo during the voyage.  

The condition in which the cargo arrives at destination is determined by its condition before shipment and the manner in which is it handled prior to seaborne transportation.”

Safmarine has for many years been known as the carrier where people make the difference and sharing its reefer expertise is but one of many ways in which the carrier makes that difference for its customers. 

But, says Rooms, “We’re also a company committed to providing more value for our customers by offering the levels of support and solutions that genuinely respond to the needs of our customers and their business and by being flexible, partnership-minded, accessible, caring and always willing to go the extra mile – factors which are essential in reefer shipping. 

“In short, we are driven by our customers’ priorities and their business – “Together we can go places”.

Publication date: 12/23/2013

Giumarra Borquez anticipates increased volumes of fall and winter asparagus

Giumarra Borquez, the Giumarra Cos.’ vertically integrated asparagus partnership, is projecting excellent volume for the upcoming fall and winter seasons.

“Despite the overall reduced asparagus volume caused by inclement weather, Giumarra Borquez is expecting increased volumes of high-quality asparagus this season,” Bruce Dowhan, general manager of Giumarra Borquez and vice president of the Giumarra Cos., said in a statement. “Fortunately, our main growing region in Obregón was not affected by the storms in Mexico.”bruce dowhanBruce Dowhan

Beginning in October, the partnership will supply premium-quality Mexican asparagus to North American customers throughout all of fall and winter, covering heavily promotable holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The asparagus is packed under Giumarra’s “Nature’s Partner” brand, and all asparagus may also be marketed as Fair Trade-certified for retail customers interested in promoting a Fair Trade program. Giumarra Borquez was certified by Fair Trade USA in June 2012.

“We are proud to be the first Fair Trade-certified asparagus grower in the world,” Dowhan added in the press release. “We are seeing increasing consumer awareness and interest in Fair Trade-certified products in the market. Just as our customers look to partner with suppliers who are socially and environmentally conscious, their consumers look to shop at stores with these same qualities.”

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