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Weather conditions in Chile have been favorable for this season’s crops

Apart from some recent rains that affected cherry volumes, weather conditions have been favorable for this season. “We expect to see volume increases across all commodities, even cherries,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America, based in San Carlos, CA.

The news is especially good because Chile saw large volume decreases in 2013-14 due to severe frosts in the country.Karen-BruxKaren Brux

Looking specifically at the blueberry category, Brux noted that there is a huge increase over 2013-14.  Exports of Chilean blueberries are expected to increase by 30 percent over last season, with volume exceeding 200 million pounds.

“Roughly 70 percent of exports come to North America, so that’s great news for our market,” added Brux.

She also noted a few promotion tips for retailers. Many shoppers still associate certain commodities, like blueberries or stone fruit, with a specific season, but Brux said, “Retailers should let their customers know that they can continue enjoying their favorite summer fruits during the winter, thanks to Chile.

“It goes without saying that retailers should communicate the key selling points of whatever product they’re carrying to their shoppers,” she continued. “For example, a large retail chain is flying in all of their Chilean stone fruit to offer what they believe are the freshest, best-tasting fruits for their shoppers. We’re helping them develop point-of-sale materials that communicates this. Another large retail chain brings in Muscat grapes from Chile and builds beautiful displays with information that highlights the unique taste of this grape.”

This also brings attention to the broader grape category. Brux said retailers see sales increases across all varieties. The CFFA works with them to develop targeted promotions.

“It’s additionally helpful to give consumers season-appropriate usage ideas and wellness messages,” Brux pointed out. “Consumers are familiar with summer usage ideas for items like cherries, blueberries, grapes and stone fruit, but what about during the cold winter months? We worked with one retail chain to introduce our roasted Brussels sprouts and Chilean grapes recipe via a video that was sent out to a database of more than 300,000 customers. The CFFA also has numerous usage ideas and corresponding images for everything from a cherry, wild rice and quinoa salad to cherry chocolate chip muffins to smoked salmon with blueberry compote or a festive green grape salsa for St. Patrick’s Day.”

For people committing to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year, the CFFA also has commodity-specific health messages available. It is, for example, currently working with a registered dietitian from a large retail chain in the Northeast to supply short sound bites on all of the Chilean fruits.

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Excellent conditions produce perfect Tasmanian cherries

Excellent conditions produce perfect Tasmanian cherries

The weather in Tasmania has been favourable leading into harvest and cooler weather has made the harvest later than previously expected for cherry producer Reid Fruits.

“Some good sunshine and warmth prior to the season commencing has allowed the fruit flavour complexity and brix to develop perfectly. We expect an increase in production but aligned with our predictions given a lighter crop last season.”

“Harvest will start in the Derent Valley in late December – around Christmas. We only produce cherries in Tasmania – currently growing only in the Derwent Valley in Tasmania but intend to plant high altitude orchards in other locations in 2015.”

The company hopes to increase its export to South Korea in particular, due to the FTA which came into effect on the 12th of December.

“China will continue to grow but we have a portfolio of over 25 countries and we see all of them playing a significant role in our marketing strategy. With the lower Australian Dollar we expect that we will re-enter several markets such as the USA and some European countries after an absence of many years due to the challenging exchange rate combined with tough economic times.“

Reid Fruits re-branded last season and is committed to producing the finest cherries for discerning cherry consumers around the world.

“Our Gold Kangaroo range of  premium packaging reflects our commitment to the consumer. To complement our premium 2kg cherry cartons we have also launched a 1kg gift pack as well for export markets.”

For more information:
Lucy Gregg
Reid Fruit
Mobile: +61 408 977725
www.reidfruits.com

Publication date: 12/17/2014
Author: Katja Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

FDA Shuts Down Sprouts Processor for ‘Unsanitary Conditions’

William H. Oshiro, owner of RZM Food Factory, has agreed to stop processing and distributing food until he demonstrates to the FDA that RZM Food Factory’s facility and practices comply with federal food safety requirements.

The agreement, known as a consent decree of permanent injunction, was signed by a federal judge and entered in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii on Dec. 11, 2014.

RZM Food Factory prepared, packed, and held ready-to-eat mung bean, alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts and distributed them in Hawaii. After FDA investigators documented unsanitary conditions at the firm during previous inspections, Mr. Oshiro had agreed to make changes in his production operation, but the FDA has repeatedly found and documented unsanitary conditions.

Sprouts are commonly consumed in their raw state without further processing to eliminate pathogens. Therefore, the manner in which they are produced, packed, and held is critical to ensuring that the potential for microbial contamination is minimized.

Mr. Oshiro has said that RZM Food Factory is no longer processing or distributing food. If Mr. Oshiro decides to resume operations, under the consent decree, he must first demonstrate that RZM Food Factory’s sanitary practices, building, and equipment are suitable to prevent contamination of the food that it prepares and distributes. In addition, to resume operations, Mr. Oshiro must, among other things, retain an independent sanitation expert and develop a program to eliminate unsanitary conditions at the facility.

“The FDA repeatedly advised RZM Food Factory of unsanitary conditions at the facility,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “If and when the company is permitted to resume operations, the FDA plans to continue monitoring its operations and may require the company to recall products or cease production if the agency discovers future violations of food safety practices.”

Food Safety News

FDA Warning Letters: Food Made Under Unsanitary Conditions

In its latest round of warning letters to food processors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to three food processors who were found to be producing without proper food safety plans and therefore producing under insanitary conditions.

Los Angeles-based International Marine Products, Inc. was found to not have hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans for its canned crabmeat and marinated anchovy fillets. By the FDA’s definition, those products were considered to be made under insanitary conditions.

The FDA found Old Mill Bread Company of Seattle had serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. Specifically, the company failed to effectively control for pests in processing areas.

Inspectors at Old Mill Bread’s facilities found two insects crawling inside the dough sheeter as it was in use. They also found 72 dead and live insects inside a dough mixer bowl not in use, and at least eight dead insects in flour on the floor adjacent to the dough mixer.

The company was also cited for a number of other failures, including failure to maintain equipment in a manner that protected against contamination.

Finally, Fitkin Popcorn or Cedar Falls, IA, was also found to be violating the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for also not taking effective measures to exclude pests from the facility.

An inspection of the company in September found a number of pest problems, including rodent and bat droppings on the floor in the room where popcorn bags were stored. The firm also failed to provide hand-washing facilities in the area where popcorn was sifted, cleaned and packaged into those bags.

Each company was given 15 days to respond to the concerns raised by FDA in the warning letters.

Food Safety News

FDA Warning Letters: Food Made Under Unsanitary Conditions

In its latest round of warning letters to food processors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to three food processors who were found to be producing without proper food safety plans and therefore producing under insanitary conditions.

Los Angeles-based International Marine Products, Inc. was found to not have hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans for its canned crabmeat and marinated anchovy fillets. By the FDA’s definition, those products were considered to be made under insanitary conditions.

The FDA found Old Mill Bread Company of Seattle had serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. Specifically, the company failed to effectively control for pests in processing areas.

Inspectors at Old Mill Bread’s facilities found two insects crawling inside the dough sheeter as it was in use. They also found 72 dead and live insects inside a dough mixer bowl not in use, and at least eight dead insects in flour on the floor adjacent to the dough mixer.

The company was also cited for a number of other failures, including failure to maintain equipment in a manner that protected against contamination.

Finally, Fitkin Popcorn or Cedar Falls, IA, was also found to be violating the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for also not taking effective measures to exclude pests from the facility.

An inspection of the company in September found a number of pest problems, including rodent and bat droppings on the floor in the room where popcorn bags were stored. The firm also failed to provide hand-washing facilities in the area where popcorn was sifted, cleaned and packaged into those bags.

Each company was given 15 days to respond to the concerns raised by FDA in the warning letters.

Food Safety News

FDA Warning Letters: Food Made Under Unsanitary Conditions

In its latest round of warning letters to food processors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to three food processors who were found to be producing without proper food safety plans and therefore producing under insanitary conditions.

Los Angeles-based International Marine Products, Inc. was found to not have hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans for its canned crabmeat and marinated anchovy fillets. By the FDA’s definition, those products were considered to be made under insanitary conditions.

The FDA found Old Mill Bread Company of Seattle had serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. Specifically, the company failed to effectively control for pests in processing areas.

Inspectors at Old Mill Bread’s facilities found two insects crawling inside the dough sheeter as it was in use. They also found 72 dead and live insects inside a dough mixer bowl not in use, and at least eight dead insects in flour on the floor adjacent to the dough mixer.

The company was also cited for a number of other failures, including failure to maintain equipment in a manner that protected against contamination.

Finally, Fitkin Popcorn or Cedar Falls, IA, was also found to be violating the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations for also not taking effective measures to exclude pests from the facility.

An inspection of the company in September found a number of pest problems, including rodent and bat droppings on the floor in the room where popcorn bags were stored. The firm also failed to provide hand-washing facilities in the area where popcorn was sifted, cleaned and packaged into those bags.

Each company was given 15 days to respond to the concerns raised by FDA in the warning letters.

Food Safety News

Climate change provides good growing conditions for charcoal rot in soybeans

With over 100 diseases that can attack soybean crops, why would charcoal rot rise to the top of the most wanted list? University of Illinois scientists cite the earth’s changing climate as one reason that more research is needed on the fungus that causes charcoal rot.

Fungi may often be associated with cool, damp growing conditions but Macrophomina phaseolina, the fungus that causes charcoal rot, prefers hot and dry drought conditions.

“As the climate continues to change and we see more extremes in the weather, including hotter, drier summers, this fungus will have more favorable conditions to gain a foothold in soybean and other crops,” said Osman Radwan, a U of I molecular biologist. “If we look at diseases of soybean, we find that soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is at the top, but in the past decade or so, charcoal rot has become one of the top 10 diseases that affect soybean yield.”

In examining previous studies on charcoal rot, Radwan and his team noticed that worsening weather conditions associated with climate change, such as higher heat and drought, brought an increase in the incidence of charcoal rot in soybean. He suggests that a research strategy be created to develop a high-yielding soybean that is both resistant to charcoal rot and drought tolerant.

“Right now we are screening lines of soybean to charcoal rot and drought stress, in collaboration with Glen Hartman, a USDA-ARS and U of I plant pathologist,” Radwan said. “His team is screening for charcoal rot resistance, and I am screening for drought tolerance,” Radwan said. “Our ultimate goal is to identify the line that shows resistance to both charcoal rot and drought stress and in this way improve soybean tolerance to both the pathogen and the extreme weather conditions.”

The review of research on the subject has been written along with Hartman and Schuyler Korban from U of I. Radwan said that this background for what’s already been done on the topic will help them to develop a strategy for the next step.

Radwan emphasized that it’s not just soybean crops at risk. The fungus causes charcoal rot in about 500 other host plants, including corn, sorghum, sunflower, and other important crops. This fungus also grows in high concentrations of salt, which isn’t much of a problem to growers in the United States, but it is for farmers in developing countries where salinity is considered an issue. Consequently, the plant must be able to tolerate drought, salt, and resist this fungus at the same time.

One intriguing direction Radwan described that shows promise is that there may be interactions between M. phaseolina and other soil pathogens such as soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and sudden death syndrome (SDS).

“We have some assumptions about whether SCN can increase or decrease the incidence of charcoal rot as resistance to both pathogens might be controlled by two different pathways,” Radwan said. He explained that biotrophic pathogens such as SCN need plant tissue to survive, but the fungus that causes charcoal rot is necrotrophic, meaning that it kills the plant tissue, then lives on the dead plant cells.

“We need to understand at the molecular level how these two pathogens interact when they are present in soybean fields. Understanding the mechanisms of molecular interactions between SCN and M. phaseolina will help molecular biologists and breeders to design an effective method to control both diseases and to breed soybean for resistance to both pathogens,” he said.

Although no plants have complete immunity from the fungus, some soybean lines have been shown to have partial resistance to it. Hartman’s group has already begun screening many lines in soybean for resistance to charcoal rot.

In controlled greenhouse conditions, Radwan grows a variety of soybean cultivars in sandy soil and then stops watering the plants to simulate drought. The susceptible ones wilt and, even after adding water, don’t recover. Those that are tolerant to drought survive.

“If we screen for drought stress, we hope to find some cultivars that are charcoal rot resistant and others that are drought tolerant so that we can cross them,” Radwan said. “Of course, they also must have good agronomic traits, such as having a high yield potential, in order to be acceptable to farmers.”

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily