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Mexican veg deal coming on for Ciruli Bros.

RIO RICO, AZ — Mexican vegetable volume is building this December for Ciruli Bros. LLC, based here.

Chris Ciruli, the firm’s chief operating officer, indicated Dec. 9 that the Los Mochis, Sinaloa, green bean deal had just begun. Ciruli was also receiving hot peppers and green, yellow and Mexican gray squash.

Slightly farther to the south, Culiacan was shipping eggplant and cucumbers, with colored Bell peppers, tomatoes and Romas due to start by Christmas.

“Those will be our last new items until mangos start March 1,” he said.

Ciruli expects to be importing and distributing seasonal Mexican produce into May.

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

Mexican veg deal coming on for Ciruli Bros.

RIO RICO, AZ — Mexican vegetable volume is building this December for Ciruli Bros. LLC, based here.

Chris Ciruli, the firm’s chief operating officer, indicated Dec. 9 that the Los Mochis, Sinaloa, green bean deal had just begun. Ciruli was also receiving hot peppers and green, yellow and Mexican gray squash.

Slightly farther to the south, Culiacan was shipping eggplant and cucumbers, with colored Bell peppers, tomatoes and Romas due to start by Christmas.

“Those will be our last new items until mangos start March 1,” he said.

Ciruli expects to be importing and distributing seasonal Mexican produce into May.

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

W.Va. workers OK new deal with Kroger

Workers at Kroger stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky have voted to ratify a new contract.

Members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 said the three-year deal preserves health and retirement security and increases wages.


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“This contract is an improvement,” Local 400 president Mark P. Federic said. “Our members will keep their current health care benefits, with no increase in weekly premiums, and won’t be forced onto the often inferior plans offered through the ACA’s health care exchanges. Kroger will pay their share of benefits in full through the life of the contract, our members’ pensions will be properly funded, and our members will all see pay increases.”

The new agreement takes effect retroactively as of Oct. 15. It expires on Oct. 7, 2017, and covers 4,000 workers.

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Senators Ask Government to Consider Food Safety When Reviewing Smithfield Deal

Fifteen U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle are urging the government to consider food safety as they review the proposed sale of Smithfield Foods, America’s largest pork company, to Shuanghui International, China’s largest meat processor.

The $ 4.7 billion deal, which would be the largest Chinese takeover of an American company, will be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency committee chaired by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that includes 16 agencies, including the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security, that reviews foreign investment to ensure national security is not compromised. In a letter to the Treasury last week, the Senators asked Mr. Lew to include the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the review process so that both the food supply and food safety issues can be taken into consideration — the latter is especially of concern to American consumers in the wake of a slew of food safety scandals in China.

“We believe that our food supply is critical infrastructure that should be included in any reasonable person’s definition of national security,” read the letter, which was signed by 15 out of 20 senators on the Agriculture Committee. “Any CFIUS review of this transaction should look beyond any direct impact on government agencies and operations to the broader issues of food security, food safety, and biosecurity.”

Citing the potential for other foreign acquisitions of American food and agriculture companies, the lawmakers said they have questions about “whether the appropriate authorities are evaluating potential risks and proposing sufficient mitigation measures to protect American interests” and asked CFIUS to consider making USDA one of the lead agencies on the committee.

“The United States has the safest, most efficient and reliable food supply in the world,” the letter continued. “It is one of our nation’s great strengths, and we must ensure that it is preserved and protected.”

The letter, signed by Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member Thad Chochran (R-MS) as well as four other Republicans and nine other Democrats, said the committee would examine how the transiction is reviewed and take a look at how similar transactions should be reviewed in the future.

News of the sale of Smithfield Foods, garnered a mixed reaction. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and several food safety experts, including Bill Marler (publisher of Food Safety News), have pointed out that regardless of ownership Smithfield Foods still falls under jurisdiction of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, but others have expressed concerns about whether the acquisition could open the door to unsafe products being imported into the United States.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said, “This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers…We know that Chinese food products have been a threat to public health and that Shuanghui was found to have produced and sold tainted pork.  This merger may only make it more difficult to protect the food supply.”

On Tuesday, China’s Commerce Ministry Shen Danyang responded to the concerns raised by U.S. lawmakers.

“China’s quality management of pork imports and Shuanghui’s purchase of Smithfield are totally unrelated to U.S. food safety,” said Danyang. “We hope the U.S. will treat the merger case fairly and properly.”

Danyang noted that China does not ban U.S. pork imports, the country only prohibits the import of pork from pigs raised on ractopamine, a growth promoting drug widely used in the U.S. pork industry.

As Food Safety News reported earlier this month, the Shuanghui acquisition raises new questions about the future of the controversial feed additive, which is also used by Canada, Brazil, and others, but banned by the European Union, Russia, and China.

This article has been updated to include China’s response.

Food Safety News

US (CA): Watermelon growers deal with less water

With the state’s water woes, California’s watermelon growers have had to find a way to keep up production with dwindling water allocations. While some growers have managed to keep up good yields, others across the state have suffered by having to do with less.

“Overall, this year has been good with good yields,” said Steve Dabich, director of sales for Dulcinea Farms. “The challenge was that we knew we were going to have to use more well water, because of the water shortage, but that hasn’t hindered us at all.” Dabich said their growers were able to successfully drill for more water, and because they weren’t significantly hampered by water restrictions, they were able to get good yields.

However, growers relying on water allocations during the years when there wasn’t a drought, has led to a lack of these resources when there actually is one. Growers throughout the state have had trouble matching production from previous years because of combined weather events and a lack of water. That’s led to decreased production and increased prices. Some growers, knowing that growing watermelons would be difficult this, opted to grow other crops. That further depressed state production and has led to increased prices.

“The situation for watermelons has been less volume and higher prices,” said Barry Zwillinger of Legend Produce. “Prices in California are about 30 percent higher than normal, and that’s because growers in the state have produced fewer watermelons. Growers want to maximize their acreage, and watermelons tend to use more water, so many growers tended to grow more cantaloupes this year instead of watermelons.”

FreshPlaza.com

Governors: Artie T., Market Basket nearing deal

The governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts in a joint statement Friday evening said all parties in the Demoulas Super Markets dispute were close to a deal to sell the beleaguered Market Basket chain to ousted president Arthur T. Demoulas, and that Demoulas could return to operating authority on an interim basis within days.

Demoulas in a separate statement confirmed he had submitted an offer to buy the shares he does not own in the company and that he “expects that this purchase can and should be finalized immediately.”

However, neither the company, its board of directors, nor its majority shareholders had confirmed a deal as of late Friday. Reports as recently as Friday morning said the company was considering other offers. And Demoulas’s statement read as though he may still be trying to influence an outcome.

“The bid remains at full price and its terms are extremely favorable to the sellers,” the Demoulas statement said. “There is nothing that stands in the way of getting this done this weekend. It’s time to complete this deal so we can all get back to doing what we love doing, and that is running Market Basket.”

The board was expected to meet Saturday, reports said.

The statement, from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and New Hampshire counterpart Maggie Hassan, said: “In briefings today, all parties report that they are optimistic that an agreement will be reached to sell the company to Arthur T. Demoulas and to restore him to operating authority on an interim basis until the sale closes. Subject to reducing their agreement in principle to writing by Sunday, the Board will forestall taking adverse employment action against the employees who have abandoned their jobs. We are hopeful that employees will return to work, and the stores will reopen, early next week.”

Market Basket has been virtually shut down as a result of employee walkouts and a customer boycott for five weeks. The protests followed Arthur T. Demoulas’s firing by the board in late June.

Supermarket News

Analysts Watching Sobeys’ ‘Magical’ Safeway Deal

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Analysts in Canada last week were still waiting for another shoe to drop in the wake of Empire Cos.’ sweeping announcement that it would acquire Safeway Canada. The $ 5.8 billion deal, announced earlier this month and expected to close this fall, could signal the beginning of a new round of food retail consolidation in Canada, some analysts said. Others thought the deal itself might still draw a challenging offer from competitors Loblaw and/or Metro …

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Supermarket News

Analysts Watching Sobeys’ ‘Magical’ Safeway Deal

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Analysts in Canada last week were still waiting for another shoe to drop in the wake of Empire Cos.’ sweeping announcement that it would acquire Safeway Canada. The $ 5.8 billion deal, announced earlier this month and expected to close this fall, could signal the beginning of a new round of food retail consolidation in Canada, some analysts said. Others thought the deal itself might still draw a challenging offer from competitors Loblaw and/or Metro …

Registering for Premium Content on Supermarket News will give you INSTANT access to invaluable articles and media content that industry professionals rely on. You will have access to our special reports, feature articles, and industry analysis. It’s FREE, easy and quick.

Already registered? to view your content.

Supermarket News

Southwest Michigan peach deal begins

Peach harvest in southwest Michigan is under way. “A few are in now,” said Barry Winkel, the partner and general manager of Benton Harbor, MI-based Greg Orchards & Produce Inc. The volume will grow in the last days of July.

Red Haven peach harvest will begin from this area in the first week of August, Winkel said. Southwest Michigan’s peach trees were hurt by bitterly cold weather last winter. Winkel expected about two-thirds to three-fourths of a full peach crop.

Over the winter, a couple of times temperatures in those orchards bounced as low as -17 degrees Fahrenheit. “Usually if you get to -10 it really gets iffy,” he said. “I’m surprised we got through with what we did.”

Growers around Benton Harbor have experienced a cool, wet summer. “Today the highs will be in the mid- to high 70s, and the low tonight will be in the 50s,” he said. The rain helps the size “but sometimes it affects the flavor. If it stays warm now, we will be fine.”

Winkel said local demand “will gobble up all the peaches we have.” Buyers in Michigan and surrounding states — certainly including Illinois and particularly Chicago — create very strong markets.

“We are within 500 miles of a lot of people,” he said. “We have more requests from buyers for pictures and the backgrounds of our growers, as they tout locally grown.’”

In southwest Michigan, the apple harvest will begin with Paula Reds in the third week of August.

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