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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.
ITALY
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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The mushroom industry hit the proverbial nail on the head when the Mushroom Council launched its “Swap It or Top It” campaign with a recipe contest in June 2013. Since then, related terms like “blendability” had been attached to the movement resulting in a major boon — and expected strong growth — for mushroom producers across the country.

“We received 119 original mushroom recipe submissions for our 2013 contest,” said Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council. mmigrowerMushrooms are seeing strong growth as a result of consumers looking for healthier foods to eat.“This summer’s recipe contest will encourage consumers to try blendability through participation in the online contest, increase consumer awareness about blendability cooking and health benefits and encourage retailers to display ‘Swap It or Top It’ contest collateral by participating in their own retailer display contest.”

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“The outreach and awareness being generated by all the grower-shippers and the Mushroom Council across social media platforms and at various food shows is taking hold across all commercial and non-commercial foodservice segments,” he added.

Wilder also noted that additional education is needed to bring awareness of the overall concept to the consumer so it can be adopted into menu planning and prepared food applications at the retail level.

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“We are also working on new items for our retail customers that we will launch this fall,” he added. “The item will showcase the versatility of mushrooms and will offer a convenient alternative to sliced mushrooms for busy consumers.”

Giorgio Fresh, a leading mushroom producer headquartered in Blandon, PA, concurs that the Mushroom Council’s efforts to promote mushrooms are having a positive effect on consumer education and on demand.

Bill Litvin, vice president of sales and national account manager, said that Giorgio’s efforts to promote mushrooms with individual customers are also reaping rewards for many accounts.

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“Mushrooms are extremely versatile and can be used and substituted in several applications of cooking,” said Bob Besix, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Country Fresh Mushroom Co. headquartered in Toughkenamon, PA. “The industry must continue its effort to educate the customer on the many uses and benefits of fresh mushrooms, and the Mushroom Council’s ‘Swapabilty’ campaign is good example of this. It teaches consumers how to blend mushrooms in with meats such as a hamburger to reduce the calories and fat content. This not only makes the hamburger a healthier alternative but it also adds flavor.”

Besix added that research and development are ongoing at Country Fresh because the company continuously works with its customer base to develop new products and uses for mushrooms.

Kevin Donovan, national sales manager for Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, said that he senses a build up to something large due to the “Swap-It or Top-It” campaign, and that companies are gearing up for what they believe is yet to come. But he doesn’t think the industry is feeling the major impact quite yet.

“These major trends take some time to build momentum, and there’s still a lot of consumer education necessary for mainstream Americans to realize the many ways that blending mushrooms with other proteins are more nutritional, lower in calories and have a lesser impact on food budgets,” said Donovan. “But I believe it will have a large impact in time. With the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines calling for more fruits and vegetables, and the push in school menus, blending or topping with mushrooms will call for a major demand increase for mushroom producers.

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“While much can be said about mushrooms, their growing popularity really comes down to three things; versatility, nutrition, and most important, flavor,” noted Joe Caldwell vice president of Monterey Mushrooms Inc. headquartered in Watsonville, CA. “If mushrooms did not truly enhance the flavor of dishes they were cooked in, shoppers would find other alternatives for their food dollars.”

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“The more mushrooms are compared to other foods, the more consumers find out what a great bargain they are and a wonderful surprise in their relative cost, value, versatility and nutrition,” he added. “And, oh yeah, did I mention they enhance flavor?”

Caldwell also pointed out that exotic mushrooms continue to experience double-digit growth every year and now account for almost 2 percent of total sales.

“Organic mushrooms are growing faster than any other category,” he said. “Portabellas are starting to experience a near rebirth in growth as that category had been flat for several years.”

Fletcher Street, director of sales and marketing for Ostrom Mushroom Farms in Olympia, WA, said she believes that mushroom mania is really just beginning as people discover the versatility, nutrition and the lifestyle applications whether it is vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan, low-carb or low-fat or just gourmet cooking.

“This discovery has been a lot of years in the making by the Mushroom Council getting the word out to the consumer, and the consumer having it reinforced at the restaurant level,” she pointed out. “I think that continued work with both foodservice and direct consumer interaction from the council, supported regionally by local farms may help to get blended mushroom-meat products into schools. It this happens, we will have a whole new generation growing up liking mushrooms.”

The Mushroom Council’s 2014 “Swap It or Top It” retail contest will take place from June 1 to June 30.

“Participating stores have received their point-of-sale kits, and produce departments will build engaging mushroom displays within the blendability and grilling theme to educate consumers’ on the technique and the recipe contest,” said Minor. “More than $ 10,000 in prizes will be awarded to 21 winning produce departments from stores across the country.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Current mushroom mania resulting in great things for the industry

The mushroom industry hit the proverbial nail on the head when the Mushroom Council launched its “Swap It or Top It” campaign with a recipe contest in June 2013. Since then, related terms like “blendability” had been attached to the movement resulting in a major boon — and expected strong growth — for mushroom producers across the country.

“We received 119 original mushroom recipe submissions for our 2013 contest,” said Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council. mmigrowerMushrooms are seeing strong growth as a result of consumers looking for healthier foods to eat.“This summer’s recipe contest will encourage consumers to try blendability through participation in the online contest, increase consumer awareness about blendability cooking and health benefits and encourage retailers to display ‘Swap It or Top It’ contest collateral by participating in their own retailer display contest.”

Minor explained that consumers are more focused than ever on global sustainability, calorie reduction, consuming nutrient-dense foods and exploring the world through cuisine.

“Mushrooms are nutrient-dense, low-calorie, low-fat and, like all fruits and vegetables, they are naturally gluten-free,” he said. “Their versatility and texture allow mushrooms to complement virtually every cuisine, making them a chef favorite and a pantry staple.”

“Blendability is leading the way as the momentum continues,” said Peter Wilder, marketing director for To-Jo Mushrooms in in Avondale, PA. “Consumers looking for healthy alternatives more than ever and mushrooms really tap into that message.

“The outreach and awareness being generated by all the grower-shippers and the Mushroom Council across social media platforms and at various food shows is taking hold across all commercial and non-commercial foodservice segments,” he added.

Wilder also noted that additional education is needed to bring awareness of the overall concept to the consumer so it can be adopted into menu planning and prepared food applications at the retail level.

To-Jo’s customers span all categories, and it has grabbed hold of the blendability by working with a number of protein manufacturers on blended product formulations for some of their national chain accounts. It has launched some blended products and is working another new item planned for launch later this year or early 2015.

“We are also working on new items for our retail customers that we will launch this fall,” he added. “The item will showcase the versatility of mushrooms and will offer a convenient alternative to sliced mushrooms for busy consumers.”

Giorgio Fresh, a leading mushroom producer headquartered in Blandon, PA, concurs that the Mushroom Council’s efforts to promote mushrooms are having a positive effect on consumer education and on demand.

Bill Litvin, vice president of sales and national account manager, said that Giorgio’s efforts to promote mushrooms with individual customers are also reaping rewards for many accounts.

“Health and nutrition, and the trend to blend, are all helping to keep the sales of mushrooms strong and growing,” said Litvin. “We have worked with meat processors on blends of meats and mushrooms.”

Regarding mushroom varieties in high demand, Litvin said that exotics are showing greatest growth from a smaller base. Browns are showing the second greatest growth, and the white category is more mature. While whites are showing growth for Giorgio Fresh, it’s by a lower percentage than the growth rate of the others. Although the company also offers wild mushrooms, the growth is weaker than in other categories.

Everyone agrees that as consumers continue to look for healthier alternatives to their diets, mushrooms fit perfectly with the criteria. Besides being low in calories they offer numerous health and nutritional benefits.

“Mushrooms are extremely versatile and can be used and substituted in several applications of cooking,” said Bob Besix, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Country Fresh Mushroom Co. headquartered in Toughkenamon, PA. “The industry must continue its effort to educate the customer on the many uses and benefits of fresh mushrooms, and the Mushroom Council’s ‘Swapabilty’ campaign is good example of this. It teaches consumers how to blend mushrooms in with meats such as a hamburger to reduce the calories and fat content. This not only makes the hamburger a healthier alternative but it also adds flavor.”

Besix added that research and development are ongoing at Country Fresh because the company continuously works with its customer base to develop new products and uses for mushrooms.

Kevin Donovan, national sales manager for Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, said that he senses a build up to something large due to the “Swap-It or Top-It” campaign, and that companies are gearing up for what they believe is yet to come. But he doesn’t think the industry is feeling the major impact quite yet.

“These major trends take some time to build momentum, and there’s still a lot of consumer education necessary for mainstream Americans to realize the many ways that blending mushrooms with other proteins are more nutritional, lower in calories and have a lesser impact on food budgets,” said Donovan. “But I believe it will have a large impact in time. With the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines calling for more fruits and vegetables, and the push in school menus, blending or topping with mushrooms will call for a major demand increase for mushroom producers.

Phillips Mushroom produces a full line of mushrooms and in a wide variety of packaging. Donovan noted that while the company has no plans to develop a blendable product, such as meatballs or hamburgers, he does expect that the demand on the company’s product will come from processors who see value in creating blended products.

“While much can be said about mushrooms, their growing popularity really comes down to three things; versatility, nutrition, and most important, flavor,” noted Joe Caldwell vice president of Monterey Mushrooms Inc. headquartered in Watsonville, CA. “If mushrooms did not truly enhance the flavor of dishes they were cooked in, shoppers would find other alternatives for their food dollars.”

Caldwell pointed out that the heightened popularity of cooking shows has encouraged exploration of food ingredients.

“The more mushrooms are compared to other foods, the more consumers find out what a great bargain they are and a wonderful surprise in their relative cost, value, versatility and nutrition,” he added. “And, oh yeah, did I mention they enhance flavor?”

Caldwell also pointed out that exotic mushrooms continue to experience double-digit growth every year and now account for almost 2 percent of total sales.

“Organic mushrooms are growing faster than any other category,” he said. “Portabellas are starting to experience a near rebirth in growth as that category had been flat for several years.”

Fletcher Street, director of sales and marketing for Ostrom Mushroom Farms in Olympia, WA, said she believes that mushroom mania is really just beginning as people discover the versatility, nutrition and the lifestyle applications whether it is vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan, low-carb or low-fat or just gourmet cooking.

“This discovery has been a lot of years in the making by the Mushroom Council getting the word out to the consumer, and the consumer having it reinforced at the restaurant level,” she pointed out. “I think that continued work with both foodservice and direct consumer interaction from the council, supported regionally by local farms may help to get blended mushroom-meat products into schools. It this happens, we will have a whole new generation growing up liking mushrooms.”

The Mushroom Council’s 2014 “Swap It or Top It” retail contest will take place from June 1 to June 30.

“Participating stores have received their point-of-sale kits, and produce departments will build engaging mushroom displays within the blendability and grilling theme to educate consumers’ on the technique and the recipe contest,” said Minor. “More than $ 10,000 in prizes will be awarded to 21 winning produce departments from stores across the country.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Kansas Officials Say Four of Seven Current E. coli Cases Linked to Private Event

Four cases of E. coli O157:H7 in the Wichita, KS, area stem from contamination at a private event and are not related to last Monday’s Wolverine Packing Co. recall of about 1.8 million pounds of pathogen-tainted beef.

Those infected at the private event, about which no details were released, include two people from Sedgwick County and two from Harvey County.

One of the four has seen the infection progress to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication in E. coli cases involving possible kidney failure and which usually strikes children.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow said state officials are investigating three other E. coli cases that appear to be unrelated to the four cases from the private event.

Two of those other three were from Cowley County, where one person had both E. coli and HUS, while the other was solely an HUS case. The third case is from Nemaha County, where the individual was treated for both E. coli and HUS. It also unlikely that any of those three are connected to the recalled beef.

Meanwhile, 20-year old Crystal Skram of Kansas City, MO, who got sick April 22 on vacation in Texas and where she was treated for both E. coli and HUS, was reportedly wondering if the source of her infection was the recalled beef.

Skram spent 20 days in a Texas hospital before returning to Missouri. She went through having her kidneys shut down, fluid retention, and dialysis.

Because Skram was hospitalized in Texas, Missouri health officials say they were not aware of her case until she did some media interviews after returning home.

Food Safety News

Delayed Texas entry only wrinkle in current watermelon deal

Jason Hanselman, industry affairs associate for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, provided The Produce News with a snapshot of watermelon movement as of mid-May. “After our tremendous start, we’re seeing production slow somewhat compared to previous years,” he said. “Traditionally, we see a large spike this time of year into the Memorial Day holiday. On the domestic side, everything is looking pretty normal other than [a] late start out of Texas, for which we’re now getting data.”WatermelonMovementOVSoil Conservationist Juan Pena of the Natural Resources Conservation Service talks with a landowner near Raymondville, TX. (Photo courtesy of Ken Hammond/U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service)

The following information provides a summary of the volume of watermelons moved by region/state since May 7 in the United States: Arizona/2.18 million pounds; California/8.89 million pounds; Florida/58.4 million pounds; Guatemala/720,000 pounds; Honduras/2.1 million pounds; Mexico/92.82 million pounds; and Texas/1.47 million pounds.

The combined shipping volume since May 7 was 166.6 million pounds, down approximately 4 percent from the same date in 2013. Hanselman said, “So really the biggest reason for this recent small shortage is due to Texas just starting to get up and running a couple weeks later than usual.”

Despite the reduction in poundage, he went on to say that the industry is still seeing better-than-normal volume in primary production regions. “I think this goes to highlight how important of a region Texas is,” he said. “The encouraging thing is that a late start is something that can be overcome, assuming production is relatively normal going forward and there is still time to hit the Memorial Day window. It’s likely that this phase is merely a lull, and that soon the country will be awash in watermelon as most other regions are showing strong starts to the year.”

Watermelon prices are showing a slight upward trend. “Usually this time of year sees only decline or leveling off. So it’s an encouraging sign that prices are ticking up with production only down slightly,” he noted. “This should give us a strong indication that demand is very solid right now, and as production continues to thrive this should be a good indication that prices should stay with it barring a ridiculous over-supply situation.”

According to Hanselman, “The price increase is almost solely due to the lower-end prices dropping out for the most part with heavy concentration around $ 0.20 per pound. Prices seem to be in a good place, which bodes well going forward.”

Stephanie Barlow, director of public relations and social media for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, said she met with growers in Gainesville, FL, in mid-April during a training session and asked them for their insights about the Florida watermelon season. “Harsh winter weather only minimally affected the Florida crop,” she was told. “The growers had a positive outlook.”

Shipments out of north Florida were set back by a few weeks, but Barlow said production is now in full swing. “[Central] Florida is shipping on time,” she added. Shipments out of south Florida began in late April.

Florida growers will begin harvesting their second crop in late October, and production will continue into December.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Delayed Texas entry only wrinkle in current watermelon deal

Jason Hanselman, industry affairs associate for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, provided The Produce News with a snapshot of watermelon movement as of mid-May. “After our tremendous start, we’re seeing production slow somewhat compared to previous years,” he said. “Traditionally, we see a large spike this time of year into the Memorial Day holiday. On the domestic side, everything is looking pretty normal other than [a] late start out of Texas, for which we’re now getting data.”WatermelonMovementOVSoil Conservationist Juan Pena of the Natural Resources Conservation Service talks with a landowner near Raymondville, TX. (Photo courtesy of Ken Hammond/U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service)

The following information provides a summary of the volume of watermelons moved by region/state since May 7 in the United States: Arizona/2.18 million pounds; California/8.89 million pounds; Florida/58.4 million pounds; Guatemala/720,000 pounds; Honduras/2.1 million pounds; Mexico/92.82 million pounds; and Texas/1.47 million pounds.

The combined shipping volume since May 7 was 166.6 million pounds, down approximately 4 percent from the same date in 2013. Hanselman said, “So really the biggest reason for this recent small shortage is due to Texas just starting to get up and running a couple weeks later than usual.”

Despite the reduction in poundage, he went on to say that the industry is still seeing better-than-normal volume in primary production regions. “I think this goes to highlight how important of a region Texas is,” he said. “The encouraging thing is that a late start is something that can be overcome, assuming production is relatively normal going forward and there is still time to hit the Memorial Day window. It’s likely that this phase is merely a lull, and that soon the country will be awash in watermelon as most other regions are showing strong starts to the year.”

Watermelon prices are showing a slight upward trend. “Usually this time of year sees only decline or leveling off. So it’s an encouraging sign that prices are ticking up with production only down slightly,” he noted. “This should give us a strong indication that demand is very solid right now, and as production continues to thrive this should be a good indication that prices should stay with it barring a ridiculous over-supply situation.”

According to Hanselman, “The price increase is almost solely due to the lower-end prices dropping out for the most part with heavy concentration around $ 0.20 per pound. Prices seem to be in a good place, which bodes well going forward.”

Stephanie Barlow, director of public relations and social media for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, said she met with growers in Gainesville, FL, in mid-April during a training session and asked them for their insights about the Florida watermelon season. “Harsh winter weather only minimally affected the Florida crop,” she was told. “The growers had a positive outlook.”

Shipments out of north Florida were set back by a few weeks, but Barlow said production is now in full swing. “[Central] Florida is shipping on time,” she added. Shipments out of south Florida began in late April.

Florida growers will begin harvesting their second crop in late October, and production will continue into December.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Current global food production trajectory won’t meet 2050 needs

June 19, 2013 — Crop yields worldwide are not increasing quickly enough to support estimated global needs in 2050, according to a study published June 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by research associate Deepak Ray and colleagues from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota.

Previous studies estimate that global agricultural production may need to increase 60-110 percent to meet increasing demands and provide food security. In the current study, researchers assessed agricultural statistics from across the world and found that yields of four key crops — maize, rice, wheat and soybean — are increasing 0.9-1.6 percent every year. At these rates, production of these crops would likely increase 38-67 percent by 2050, rather than the estimated requirement of 60-110 percent. The top three countries that produce rice and wheat were found to have very low rates of increase in crop yields.

“Particularly troubling are places where population and food production trajectories are at substantial odds,” Ray says, “for example, in Guatemala, where the corn-dependent population is growing at the same time corn productivity is declining.”

The analysis maps global regions where yield improvements are on track to double production by 2050 and areas where investments must be targeted to increase yields. The authors explain that boosting crop yields is considered a preferred solution to meet demands, rather than clearing more land for agriculture. They note that additional strategies, such as reducing food waste and changing to plant-based diets, can also help reduce the large estimates for increased global demand for food.

“Clearly, the world faces a looming agricultural crisis, with yield increases insufficient to keep up with projected demands,” says IonE director Jon Foley, a co-author on the study. “The good news is, opportunities exist to increase production through more efficient use of current arable lands and increased yield growth rates by spreading best management practices. If we are to boost production in these key crops to meet projected needs, we have no time to waste.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News