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Strikes delay Mexican avocado season

While the grower strike is largely resolved, the setback will affect supply and prices over the coming weeks. 

Avocado prices have been fairly high for the opening of the 2016-17 Mexican harvest due to a producer strike, but the issue appears to be resolved and prices are expected to start stabilizing.

Diario.mx reported growers in Michoacan did not harvest for the week of July 4-11, protesting outside the offices of the Mexican Avocado Grower and Packer Exporter Association (APEAM) calling for fixed dollar payments on exports.

In the domestic Mexican market prices reached MXN65 (US$ 3.50) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) last week, compared with an average price of MXN15 (US$ 0.81) for the previous season.

APEAM representative for the municipality to Tancítaro, Javier Mora, told the publication negotiations had been in pesos for exports, so even if the value of the dollar rose the price received would be the same.

The story reported that after the strike that affected 90% of the state’s municipalities, growers reached a deal to be paid in pesos but with a dollar equivalency.

In an avocado market update, U.S. company Mission Produce said effects would be continue to be felt even though the situation was getting back to normal in Mexico and industry volume was up slightly last week due to higher Californian production.

“Basically the numbers don’t look as bad as the reality, but the combination of severely curtailed production will have repercussions for the next several weeks; until more fruit is available for the market,” Mission said in the update.

“Mexican shipments to the U.S. were about 16 million pounds, down from 22 million the prior week. The grower embargo is essentially resolved at this point, but the slowdown will have a lingering effect for several weeks as the pipeline refills.

“Production estimates for the next three weeks are 18, 22 and 25 million pounds, signaling that the Flor Loca harvest is ramping up.”

The update highlighted volume from California would decline in the coming weeks, but Mexico should rebound to fill the void.

“Market pricing should remain high until supply and demand are more in balance.”

Despite the news of protests, Mexican Agriculture Minister Jose Calzada Rovirosa attributed the higher prices to a “cyclical” situation for the crop in the local press.

“This has to do with cyclical processes. The harvest finished in June and the new harvest started on July 10 and here prices will surely start dropping substantially,” he was quoted as saying.

“In terms of time, I don’t know, but I want to comment that around 2.5 million [metric] tons of avocados are produced and Mexico produces 1.3 million.”

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

FreshFruitPortal.com

New charges delay union vote at Mrs. Green’s

A planned union vote at Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets has been canceled at the request of the union so that federal authorities can investigate new allegations that the retailer violated worker rights to organize in the weeks leading up to the vote.

The retailer subsequently denied the charges, and called them a delay tactic.

The vote had been scheduled to take place Oct. 17, but a memo from the National Labor Relations Board issued Oct. 16 said the union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, requested that the vote be canceled so as to allow the agency to investigate, among other charges, allegations that certain workers saw their hours cut as a result of their support of a union, and were told they would not get raises as a result of the activity.

The Mount Kisco, N.Y., store has been the scene of long-standing tension between workers and the retailer, resulting in the firing — and subsequent court-ordered rehiring — of eight workers said to have supported formation of a union at the store. The workers were fired following a failed union vote there in 2013.

“Mrs. Green’s management is clearly intimidated by their employees banding together to collectively demand more from their employer, and the company has repeatedly shown they are willing to do whatever it takes, including breaking federal labor laws, to keep the union out,” UFCW Local 1500 president Bruce Both said in a statement.


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A spokesman for Mrs. Green’s parent Natural Markets Food Group told SN: “It is apparent that union bosses are using these desperate delay tactics because they believed Mrs. Green’s associates — in a secret, government-supervised election — would vote against them.

“But delaying the vote won’t hide reality: the entire family at Mrs. Green’s Natural Market — from the company leadership to our customers —has never been prouder of its hard-working associates. It is why we provide them with industry-leading benefits and promotional opportunities from within. Most important, the Mrs. Green’s family listens to and respects our associates. We always will.

“We hope these meritless accusations can get resolved quickly so that associates can have the right to choose for themselves.”

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Lidl CEO confirms U.S. plans, with delay

The chief executive of German discount giant Lidl confirmed plans for a U.S. rollout, but said stores would open later than some analysts anticipated.


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Klaus Gehrig, CEO of Lidl parent Schwarz Group, told the German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme Thursday that U.S. expansion was “in full swing” but that 2018 was the target date for stores. As reported previously in SN, Lidl has established a U.S. office in Arlington, Va., headed by executives from its division in Ireland tasked with a feasibility study.

Analysts in Europe had anticipated Lidl could begin opening stores in the U.S. as early as 2015. Reports did not indicate reasons for the apparent postponement.

Klaus told the newspaper that Schwarz’ sales for the fiscal year ended Feb. 28 grew by 10% to about $ 98 billion (U.S.). 

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Consumer and Public Health Groups: FDA Should Not Delay FSMA Implementation

(The FDA’s important food safety work, like the rest of the agency’s mission and much of the federal government, is currently on hold due to the government shutdown.  But once the agency gets back to work – which we hope is very soon – we urge them to continue to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act as expeditiously as possible.)

In 2010, Congress passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Passage of the legislation followed years of debate on how to improve our food safety system, numerous Congressional hearings, and media reports on dangerous foodborne illness outbreaks, which were sickening and killing consumers across the country.

After President Obama signed the bill into law in January 2011, consumer groups were hopeful that FDA would work swiftly to implement the law.  Prior to writing proposed rules, FDA made considerable efforts to gather stakeholder input, holding several public meetings and numerous interactions with food producers and other stakeholder groups. When FDA finally developed proposed rules on produce safety and preventive controls, the rules were reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget for over a year before they were released to the public. FDA again held public meetings and engaged stakeholders to solicit their input, even sending FDA officials on a cross-country tour to hear directly from food producers. The due date for public comment on the proposals was pushed back twice to accommodate industry requests and to allow time to review the proposed import rules.

Now, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and others want FDA to delay implementation of these important rules even further and publish a second draft of proposed rules. NASDA raises concerns by producers in member states as one of the reasons to delay publication of a final regulation. Since FDA will undoubtedly be relying on NASDA members to help the agency enforce these rules at the state level, it alarms consumer and public health groups when those who are supposed to enforce regulations are advocating on behalf of the food producers who will be required to implement the regulations.

There are a number of issues and concerns in the proposed rules that FDA must address. Still, we believe that FDA needs to move forward without delay. In a decision of the federal district court, the judge said that FDA must finalize the proposed rules by mid-2015. This is a more than ample timeframe, and well past the statutory deadlines that Congress originally established in the law. Phased-in compliance dates within each rule will provide smaller producers with additional time – in some cases several more years – to implement the new regulations.

The public comment period provides all stakeholders with an opportunity to provide FDA with their best ideas, data, and suggestions for improving the rule. Then it’s up the agency to synthesize that input into a final regulation and to implement the law.  Delaying the process further ultimately means that consumers will continue to suffer illnesses and even deaths from contaminated food, which could have been averted by FSMA.

 

Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Consumer Federation of America

Consumers Union

The Pew Charitable Trusts

National Consumers League

STOP Foodborne Illness

Trust for America’s Health

Food Safety News

Consumer and Public Health Groups: FDA Should Not Delay FSMA Implementation

(The FDA’s important food safety work, like the rest of the agency’s mission and much of the federal government, is currently on hold due to the government shutdown.  But once the agency gets back to work – which we hope is very soon – we urge them to continue to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act as expeditiously as possible.)

In 2010, Congress passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Passage of the legislation followed years of debate on how to improve our food safety system, numerous Congressional hearings, and media reports on dangerous foodborne illness outbreaks, which were sickening and killing consumers across the country.

After President Obama signed the bill into law in January 2011, consumer groups were hopeful that FDA would work swiftly to implement the law.  Prior to writing proposed rules, FDA made considerable efforts to gather stakeholder input, holding several public meetings and numerous interactions with food producers and other stakeholder groups. When FDA finally developed proposed rules on produce safety and preventive controls, the rules were reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget for over a year before they were released to the public. FDA again held public meetings and engaged stakeholders to solicit their input, even sending FDA officials on a cross-country tour to hear directly from food producers. The due date for public comment on the proposals was pushed back twice to accommodate industry requests and to allow time to review the proposed import rules.

Now, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and others want FDA to delay implementation of these important rules even further and publish a second draft of proposed rules. NASDA raises concerns by producers in member states as one of the reasons to delay publication of a final regulation. Since FDA will undoubtedly be relying on NASDA members to help the agency enforce these rules at the state level, it alarms consumer and public health groups when those who are supposed to enforce regulations are advocating on behalf of the food producers who will be required to implement the regulations.

There are a number of issues and concerns in the proposed rules that FDA must address. Still, we believe that FDA needs to move forward without delay. In a decision of the federal district court, the judge said that FDA must finalize the proposed rules by mid-2015. This is a more than ample timeframe, and well past the statutory deadlines that Congress originally established in the law. Phased-in compliance dates within each rule will provide smaller producers with additional time – in some cases several more years – to implement the new regulations.

The public comment period provides all stakeholders with an opportunity to provide FDA with their best ideas, data, and suggestions for improving the rule. Then it’s up the agency to synthesize that input into a final regulation and to implement the law.  Delaying the process further ultimately means that consumers will continue to suffer illnesses and even deaths from contaminated food, which could have been averted by FSMA.

 

Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Consumer Federation of America

Consumers Union

The Pew Charitable Trusts

National Consumers League

STOP Foodborne Illness

Trust for America’s Health

Food Safety News

Retailers Applaud ACA Delay

ARLINGTON, Va. — Retail associations welcomed the announcement Tuesday that the Obama Administration would delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate by one year.

“We’re pleased that the administration recognized the unique challenges facing the food retail community, and our dynamic workforce, and offered 2014 as a transitional year,” said Jennifer Hatcher, senior vide president of government and public affairs at Food Marketing Institute here. “In the meantime, we will encourage our members to test the systems through voluntary reporting in 2014.”

The ACA previously had required businesses with 50 or more employees to provide “affordable health care coverage” to full-time workers, effective Jan. 1, 2014, or face steep fines. That mandate will now be delayed by one year, after heavy lobbying by retail groups.

According to some reports, many employers — especially small- to mid-sized firms — were counting on health care reform being repealed and would not have been prepared to meet the requirements by Jan. 1.

The National Retail Federation said the one-year delay “will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment.”

“We appreciate the administration’s recognition of employer concerns and hope it will allow for greater flexibility in the future.”

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