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U.S.: Stable start for Chilean orange season despite higher volume

While recent reports suggest quality problems have set back pricing for Chilean lemons and easy peelers, the first weeks of the season showed a strong footing for the country’s oranges in the U.S.

According to figures from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Chilean orange prices stood at US$ 22/15kg (33lbs) box last week, which is similar to the level they were at for the same period in 2015.

South African orange prices were also within the historic two-year average at US$ 24/15kg (33lbs) box.

Chilean orange shipments started in June and until the first week of July they reached 7,483 metric tons (MT), representing a rise of 11% year-on-year, according to Chilean statistics agency Odepa.

As has been the trend at this time of year, the U.S. has accounted for 85% of Chile’s shipments.

In 2015, Chile finished the orange season with 69,170MT exported, recovering from a low of 57,445MT in 2014.

In terms of easy peelers, a representative from the Chilean Citrus Committee has told the local press there has been a lot of fruit with seeds this year due to cross-pollination.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

www.freshfruitportal.com

FreshFruitPortal.com

Italy: Good prospects for Jingold kiwis despite Russian ban

Italy: Good prospects for Jingold kiwis despite Russian ban

“It is still unknown how the Russian ban will affect the kiwi season. We believe the direct effects will be rather limited, as Russia is not one of our main markets, but we will have to deal with the increased competition from other producer countries like for example Greece. This is why we will work to strengthen the brand and guarantee constant high quality to our clients,” refer the managers of the KiwiGold consortium, owner of the Jingold brand.


The Jingold kiwi campaign will start in the next few days. The suitable moment to harvest is established by the technical managers of the Consortium and it coincides with the moment when the kiwis reach the perfect organoleptic qualities.


“Volumes are similar to last year – many new orchards are now starting to produce but, at the same time, production has dropped in other areas in Southern Italy due to the mild temperatures of last winter.”


The quantities of green Hayward kiwis should increase considerably. “We will select high-quality green kiwis to complete our range together with golden kiwis.”


The main destination market is the European one, where the produce is distributed by groups like Edeka, Corte Ingles, Coop and Tesco. The Asian market is the one growing the most. 

“In Far East countries like China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, Jingold is a recognised brand by both operators and consumers as we have been on the market for a few years.”


“The season is looking good – there is a lot of interest from our usual clients and prospects are good.”


Contacts:
Jingold spa
Piazzale Caduti del Lavoro, 200
47522 Cesena (FC)
Tel.: (+39) 0547 317476
Fax: (+39) 0547 417514
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.jingold.it

Publication date: 10/13/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Despite hail storms South Africa predicts good season

Despite hail storms South Africa predicts good season

Following the hail storms which occurred in the Orange River Region and in the Saron/Halfmanshof area (part of the Berg River Region) last Monday, SATGI estimated losses in the Orange River Region of approximately 1 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons. The volume affected in the Saron/Halfmanshof area is approximately 1.2 million 4.5kg equivalent cartons. It should however be noted that the final impact of hail damage will only be known once all product has been packed.

The vines were in the early growth phase, with the early varieties being at ±10 days prior to flowering, whilst the late varieties are ±4 weeks prior to flowering. Shoot lengths vary from 15cm (late varieties) to 40cm (early varieties). The normal start of the harvest period in this specific area is approximately Week 51/52.

The whole affected area covers approximately 600 ha in Saron/Halfmanshof. Although the hail damage differs from farm to farm, early assessments indicate that up to 1,200 000 million equivalent cartons were lost out of the ±2 500 000 million equivalent cartons packed annually in this area (almost 50% of production).

It should however be noted that the final impact of hail damage is only known once all product has been packed, as the visual damage on the vine differs considerably from the visual damage seen at maturity. Since this damage occurred prior to flowering, the small whole bunches that still looks fine now, may be lost in the next few weeks as a result of the stress the vine has now been exposed to (whole shoots were knocked off some vines).

The South African table grape industry anticipates a good 2014/15 packing season. In general, bud break and vine development were excellent over the last couple of months in all areas due to good chilling accumulation in winter. The excellent winter conditions also bode well for a good crop volume and quality for the season ahead.

Publication date: 10/6/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Despite Ruling, Midwest Egg Producers Unlikely to Give Up California Market Without a Fight

Even after being told last week that they don’t have standing to sue in federal court, six Midwest egg-producing states aren’t likely to give up either battery cages for their laying hens nor the big California market.

Battery cages are housing systems for chickens, laying hens, and various other types of poultry production systems which are used by most egg producers in the U.S. Originally designed for disease control with mechanisms to remove eggs, deliver feed and dispose of manure, they’ve drawn criticism for cramping the birds.

In November 2008, California voters approved Proposition 2, which, effective Jan. 1, 2015, set standards for confining farm animals. The state assembly amended Prop. 2 in 2010. In 2012, the University of California – Davis estimated that changing the hen housing infrastructure to comply with Prop. 2 was going to cost egg producers $ 385 million.

Attorneys general for the six egg-producing states that joined in the tossed lawsuit — Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma — say they’re reviewing their legal options.

Meanwhile, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, favored to win easy re-election for his sixth term, promises to keep “fighting for the state’s agricultural industry.” Iowa is the nation’s largest egg producer.

An Oct. 3 Des Moines Register story carried the headline: “California egg law may lead to ag war between the states.” It noted that the new California law will require at least 116 square inches of space per hen, which is slightly smaller than a sheet of legal paper (8.5 by 14 inches). The current industry standard is 67 square inches, or a little smaller than a 10-by-7-inch rectangle.

For a while, it appeared that the chicken cage issue was going to go away in a big national compromise. That was in July 2011, when the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) entered into a deal to work together on a national cage standard.

It was thought at the time that the industry group and the group usually at the forefront of opposition to large-scale animal production would bring a dramatic end to this lengthy dispute. The much-delayed Farm Bill was to be the vehicle for the UEP-HSUS deal.

But it didn’t happen, and California’s Prop. 2 was later amended to protect that state’s own egg producers by mandating the larger cages for any eggs sold in the state, even if they were produced elsewhere. That’s why the six Midwest states, led by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, went to federal court in early 2014.

However, Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled Oct. 2 that they had failed to show that Prop. 2 as amended harmed the general public in their states rather than simply posed potential harm to some egg producers.

“It is patently clear plaintiffs are bringing this action on behalf of a subset of each state’s egg farmers, not on behalf of each state’s population generally,” she wrote in her decision.

“We disagree with the federal court’s opinion that Missouri lacks standing to defend its businesses and consumers against burdensome economic regulation imposed by out-of-state legislatures,” Koster spokesman Eric Slusher said.

While the six states did not gain traction in the courts this time due to the judge’s call on standing, they are unlikely to go away. And their main concerns have little to do with Prop. 2′s promise “to prohibit the cruel confinement of farm animals” in California.

The Midwestern egg-producing states are really challenging — much like a foreign trade barrier — Assembly Bill 1437 passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2010. It added three additional sections to the 2008 law.

Under AB 1437, as of Jan. 1, shell eggs for human consumption cannot be legally sold in California unless the involved laying hen was kept in facilities that meet California’s animal care standards.

It’s a requirement that has raised numerous questions, but among the most important is whether California can impose its animal care standards on other states as the price of entry to its market. Also, in the recently dismissed lawsuit, the six states argued that the evidence shows that the real purpose of the 2010 amendments was merely to “level the playing field so that in-state producers are not disadvantaged.”

That quote was from a California Assembly committee report for AB 1437. In other words, the states argued that California was not acting to make food safer nor animals healthier, but to advance its own purely commercial interests.

As to whether cage size does involve food safety, there is also dispute. The six states argued that there is no scientific evidence of a correlation between cage size or stocking density and the incidence of Salmonella in egg-laying hens. AB 1437 advocates, however, claimed that battery-cage eggs are 25 times more likely to harbor Salmonella than eggs from cage-free hens.

Food Safety News

Despite Ruling, Midwest Egg Producers Unlikely to Give Up California Market Without a Fight

Even after being told last week that they don’t have standing to sue in federal court, six Midwest egg-producing states aren’t likely to give up either battery cages for their laying hens nor the big California market.

Battery cages are housing systems for chickens, laying hens, and various other types of poultry production systems which are used by most egg producers in the U.S. Originally designed for disease control with mechanisms to remove eggs, deliver feed and dispose of manure, they’ve drawn criticism for cramping the birds.

In November 2008, California voters approved Proposition 2, which, effective Jan. 1, 2015, set standards for confining farm animals. The state assembly amended Prop. 2 in 2010. In 2012, the University of California – Davis estimated that changing the hen housing infrastructure to comply with Prop. 2 was going to cost egg producers $ 385 million.

Attorneys general for the six egg-producing states that joined in the tossed lawsuit — Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma — say they’re reviewing their legal options.

Meanwhile, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, favored to win easy re-election for his sixth term, promises to keep “fighting for the state’s agricultural industry.” Iowa is the nation’s largest egg producer.

An Oct. 3 Des Moines Register story carried the headline: “California egg law may lead to ag war between the states.” It noted that the new California law will require at least 116 square inches of space per hen, which is slightly smaller than a sheet of legal paper (8.5 by 14 inches). The current industry standard is 67 square inches, or a little smaller than a 10-by-7-inch rectangle.

For a while, it appeared that the chicken cage issue was going to go away in a big national compromise. That was in July 2011, when the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) entered into a deal to work together on a national cage standard.

It was thought at the time that the industry group and the group usually at the forefront of opposition to large-scale animal production would bring a dramatic end to this lengthy dispute. The much-delayed Farm Bill was to be the vehicle for the UEP-HSUS deal.

But it didn’t happen, and California’s Prop. 2 was later amended to protect that state’s own egg producers by mandating the larger cages for any eggs sold in the state, even if they were produced elsewhere. That’s why the six Midwest states, led by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, went to federal court in early 2014.

However, Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled Oct. 2 that they had failed to show that Prop. 2 as amended harmed the general public in their states rather than simply posed potential harm to some egg producers.

“It is patently clear plaintiffs are bringing this action on behalf of a subset of each state’s egg farmers, not on behalf of each state’s population generally,” she wrote in her decision.

“We disagree with the federal court’s opinion that Missouri lacks standing to defend its businesses and consumers against burdensome economic regulation imposed by out-of-state legislatures,” Koster spokesman Eric Slusher said.

While the six states did not gain traction in the courts this time due to the judge’s call on standing, they are unlikely to go away. And their main concerns have little to do with Prop. 2′s promise “to prohibit the cruel confinement of farm animals” in California.

The Midwestern egg-producing states are really challenging — much like a foreign trade barrier — Assembly Bill 1437 passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2010. It added three additional sections to the 2008 law.

Under AB 1437, as of Jan. 1, shell eggs for human consumption cannot be legally sold in California unless the involved laying hen was kept in facilities that meet California’s animal care standards.

It’s a requirement that has raised numerous questions, but among the most important is whether California can impose its animal care standards on other states as the price of entry to its market. Also, in the recently dismissed lawsuit, the six states argued that the evidence shows that the real purpose of the 2010 amendments was merely to “level the playing field so that in-state producers are not disadvantaged.”

That quote was from a California Assembly committee report for AB 1437. In other words, the states argued that California was not acting to make food safer nor animals healthier, but to advance its own purely commercial interests.

As to whether cage size does involve food safety, there is also dispute. The six states argued that there is no scientific evidence of a correlation between cage size or stocking density and the incidence of Salmonella in egg-laying hens. AB 1437 advocates, however, claimed that battery-cage eggs are 25 times more likely to harbor Salmonella than eggs from cage-free hens.

Food Safety News

Despite Ruling, Midwest Egg Producers Unlikely to Give Up California Market Without a Fight

Even after being told last week that they don’t have standing to sue in federal court, six Midwest egg-producing states aren’t likely to give up either battery cages for their laying hens nor the big California market.

Battery cages are housing systems for chickens, laying hens, and various other types of poultry production systems which are used by most egg producers in the U.S. Originally designed for disease control with mechanisms to remove eggs, deliver feed and dispose of manure, they’ve drawn criticism for cramping the birds.

In November 2008, California voters approved Proposition 2, which, effective Jan. 1, 2015, set standards for confining farm animals. The state assembly amended Prop. 2 in 2010. In 2012, the University of California – Davis estimated that changing the hen housing infrastructure to comply with Prop. 2 was going to cost egg producers $ 385 million.

Attorneys general for the six egg-producing states that joined in the tossed lawsuit — Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma — say they’re reviewing their legal options.

Meanwhile, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, favored to win easy re-election for his sixth term, promises to keep “fighting for the state’s agricultural industry.” Iowa is the nation’s largest egg producer.

An Oct. 3 Des Moines Register story carried the headline: “California egg law may lead to ag war between the states.” It noted that the new California law will require at least 116 square inches of space per hen, which is slightly smaller than a sheet of legal paper (8.5 by 14 inches). The current industry standard is 67 square inches, or a little smaller than a 10-by-7-inch rectangle.

For a while, it appeared that the chicken cage issue was going to go away in a big national compromise. That was in July 2011, when the United Egg Producers (UEP) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) entered into a deal to work together on a national cage standard.

It was thought at the time that the industry group and the group usually at the forefront of opposition to large-scale animal production would bring a dramatic end to this lengthy dispute. The much-delayed Farm Bill was to be the vehicle for the UEP-HSUS deal.

But it didn’t happen, and California’s Prop. 2 was later amended to protect that state’s own egg producers by mandating the larger cages for any eggs sold in the state, even if they were produced elsewhere. That’s why the six Midwest states, led by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, went to federal court in early 2014.

However, Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled Oct. 2 that they had failed to show that Prop. 2 as amended harmed the general public in their states rather than simply posed potential harm to some egg producers.

“It is patently clear plaintiffs are bringing this action on behalf of a subset of each state’s egg farmers, not on behalf of each state’s population generally,” she wrote in her decision.

“We disagree with the federal court’s opinion that Missouri lacks standing to defend its businesses and consumers against burdensome economic regulation imposed by out-of-state legislatures,” Koster spokesman Eric Slusher said.

While the six states did not gain traction in the courts this time due to the judge’s call on standing, they are unlikely to go away. And their main concerns have little to do with Prop. 2′s promise “to prohibit the cruel confinement of farm animals” in California.

The Midwestern egg-producing states are really challenging — much like a foreign trade barrier — Assembly Bill 1437 passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2010. It added three additional sections to the 2008 law.

Under AB 1437, as of Jan. 1, shell eggs for human consumption cannot be legally sold in California unless the involved laying hen was kept in facilities that meet California’s animal care standards.

It’s a requirement that has raised numerous questions, but among the most important is whether California can impose its animal care standards on other states as the price of entry to its market. Also, in the recently dismissed lawsuit, the six states argued that the evidence shows that the real purpose of the 2010 amendments was merely to “level the playing field so that in-state producers are not disadvantaged.”

That quote was from a California Assembly committee report for AB 1437. In other words, the states argued that California was not acting to make food safer nor animals healthier, but to advance its own purely commercial interests.

As to whether cage size does involve food safety, there is also dispute. The six states argued that there is no scientific evidence of a correlation between cage size or stocking density and the incidence of Salmonella in egg-laying hens. AB 1437 advocates, however, claimed that battery-cage eggs are 25 times more likely to harbor Salmonella than eggs from cage-free hens.

Food Safety News

California growers expect large crop of quality grapes, despite challenges

It is not easy being a farmer anywhere, and it has certainly not been easy in recent years to be a grape grower in California in the face of a plethora of challenges, ranging from drought exacerbated by government-imposed limitations on agricultural water use to rising labor costs and a maze of ever-intensifying regulatory pressures.

Yet thus far, California grape growers have been able to meet the challenges and turn out ever-increasing volumes of high-quality grapes in an expanding array of varieties.

22-CalGrapes-Crop--ScarletRPlantings of Scarlet Royal red seedless grapes, a relatively new variety, have increased significantly in California’s San Joaquin Valley in recent years for the mid- to late season. (Photo courtesy of Sundale Sales)Last year was a record year for California grape shipments, with a record 116.2 million boxes of grapes (19-pound equivalent) going to market. For 2014, the crop was officially estimated at just over that — 116.5 million boxes — at the season’s start. The California Table Grape Commission revisited the estimate at its meeting on July 17 and reaffirmed that number, notwithstanding some early vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley picking out a little lighter than growers had anticipated, attesting their confidence that if all went as expected, strong volumes would be realized throughout the balance of the season.

In the San Joaquin Valley, California’s largest grape growing region, the 2014 harvest started earlier than usual — earlier than ever for some growers — with varieties coming off from one week to as much as two weeks earlier than average.

However, many growers quickly discovered that for a variety of reasons the volume was not there in the early vineyards that they had anticipated. Some growers had smaller bunches than they expected, and many found the berries were not sizing as well as the year prior. However, the quality of the harvested fruit, they say, has been excellent.

Even so, as of the week ending July 4, shipments were well ahead of the prior year. “Because it is an early season,  our volume is significantly ahead of last year,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Tree Fruit Agreement July 11. As of that date in 2013, “we had shipped a total of six million boxes out of the Coachella Valley and out of the San Joaquin Valley. This year, we have shipped 9.2 [million boxes].“

How the trend would play out over the course of the season remained to be seen, as the preponderance of the volume was still ahead.

California’s fresh grape volume is increasingly skewed to the latter part of the season. Most new varieties being introduced are mid- to late season varieties, and most new plantings have been for the latter part, rather than the earlier part, of the season.

On average, the industry ships around 60 percent of its volume after Sep. 1, but Nave expected that number to be higher this year in spite of the early start, and shipments to date being “significantly ahead of where we are this year.”

On July 18, following the commission’s reaffirmation of the 116.5-box estimate, Nave said, “All expectations are that we are going to have a good quality crop, and there is a lot of fruit. The vast majority of it comes off after Sept. 1. I expect we will have 65 or 70 percent of it coming off in the fall, into the winter.”

“It is going to be another big crop,” said John Zaninovich, president of Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons in Richgrove, CA, July 9. “I don’t know if it will be a record or not, but it is definitely a very big crop” and appears to be a good quality crop. “I am expecting good demand, because all the growers are growing varieties that eat well now and look good, so the retailers and consumers should be happy.”

Growers attributed the lighter-than-anticipated production on some early vineyards to various factors, including a mild winter and some intense summer heat.

“Overall, the crop looks good. Size is good” and the color is good, said Anthony Stetson,  sales manager at Columbine Vineyards in Delano, CA, July 2. “I’d say the heat we are having this week has slowed everything down considerably,” largely because harvest crews were only able to work half a day in the heat, he said. “Demand has stayed pretty good” right through the Fourth of July pull, he added.

“The quality is outstanding this year, and it has been a seamless transition out of Mexico to the Central California deal on red grapes,” said Atomic Torosian, a partner in Crown Jewels Produce LLC in Fresno, CA. “Up here in the Central Valley,” he said, he has seen “good berry size and nice firm grapes. So far … it has been a real good deal.” He expected markets to remain active at least through the month of July on all colors of grapes.

The crop is neither light nor heavy but “a good solid crop of grapes this year,” according to Scott Boyajian, director of sales for Sunview Marketing International in Delano, CA, July 3. He expected the total California crop to come in “somewhere between 117 and 120 [million boxes],” which is a bit over the official estimate.

Timing, for Sunview, was running about a week early, “which is good,” he said. “An extra week will help us move the crop through the system.”

“The market has been very strong,” said Jared Lane, vice president of sales and marketing for Stevco Inc, July 10. That is partly due to the fact that “we haven’t been able to pick as heavy as an industry” as expected. The transition from the spring grape deals out of Mexico and Coachella, CA, to the San Joaquin Valley “was very, very smooth,” he added. “There was not a lot of overlap. The San Joaquin Valley started almost directly as Mexico and Coachella were winding down … so the market has stayed very healthy. I expect it to stay healthy for at least the month of July.”

The main challenges facing the industry this year are water and labor, and specifically “quality of labor and quality of water,” Lane said. “We think we have enough water” to finish the remainder of the crop, “but we are not sure … so we are monitoring that weekly.”

“Water has been a big issue in the valley,” said Brian Crettol, a salesman at Jasmine Vineyards Inc. in Delano, CA, July 9.

“We are basically getting zero allocations” for surface water this year, “so it is all well water.” Seeing that coming, the company put in new wells and retrofitted old wells “to make sure we have a steady water supply.” However, continued drought conditions could be problematic, as water tables have been dropping. Rainfall is needed to recharge the aquifers, he said.

Some of the early fruit did not size as well as expected, and some ranginess in size was also seen early on, but “what we are seeing now, as the later districts are starting to come off this week and next week, is that berry size seems to havae evened out. I think we’ve got more consistency” in Flames, Sugraones, Princess and Summer Royals, said Shaun Ricks, vice president of Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA, July 8. “Quality and consistency has also improved.”

Earliness has advantages, but “I’ll take quality and consistency over that just about any day,” he said.

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

Michigan crops looking good, despite being late due to cold weather

Like so much of the United States, the winter and spring in Michigan was long, cold and wet. These factors have delayed production in the state, but fruit and vegetable growers alike indicated that their fresh products will be in good condition.

Some vegetables, such as radishes, were shipped as early as May and early June. As the calendar turns to July, Michigan vegetable shipping will be gearing up toward full production.FruitOverviewJohn Schaefer, Jr., president of Jack Brown Produce Inc., in Sparta, MI, said his firm will be shipping storage apples into July. Schaefer said the early indications for the 2014 crop are for an ‘excellent season.’

Buurma Farms, Inc. has vegetable farms in Gregory, MI, and Willard, OH. Loren Buurma, company treasurer, told The Produce News that the two locations provide supply security for the firm, should one of these locations endure bad weather.

“The key is to keep the chain business” through consistent supplies, he said. Buurma ships from Georgia farms from February to June.

Normally, vegetable harvest dates on the Michigan farm are 10 to 14 days behind the Ohio operation. But it was Ohio this spring that experienced a relatively colder spring growing season. Thus, Buurma’s Michigan farm is only three or four days behind Ohio.

Buurma said that radishes started in early June. His shipments of Michigan celery began the week of June 9. This was followed by collards, kale, flat parsley, cilantro and other such crops.

In Byron Center, MI, Nick Huizinga, general manager, of Hearty Fresh Inc., indicated that Michigan cabbage harvest will be a week late, starting about July 10 this year. Michigan cucumbers and squash are “on pace as usual and will be on the market in August.”

Bruce Heeren, marketing director for Michigan Fresh Marketing in Comstock Park, MI, said his company started shipping squash June 10 and cucumbers June 20-25. Tomatoes will be on the market in mid-July. “Those are three of our bigger items,” Heeren said.

In Michigan’s apple business, John Schaefer, Jr., president of Jack Brown Produce Inc., in Sparta, MI, said his firm will be shipping storage apples into July. Schaefer said the early indications for the 2014 crop are for an “excellent season.”

Up the road from Jack Brown at Riveridge Produce Marketing, Inc., Don Armock indicated that on the ridge of Michigan’s apple country, bloom is “seven to ten days later than normal.” While marketers like early production, Armock said “it is really better if the crop is later because the apples are harvested in later ‘apple weather.’” This means cooler temperatures at harvest time in mid-September. Apple varieties like Gala, McIntosh and Honeycrisp have the best flavor when they gain color with those late summer dropping temperatures.

The 2013 crop “had the potential for a full crop but it didn’t quite become a full crop. This year it has the potential to be a full crop” and may very well meet that potential, Armock said.

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

Judge Dismisses Charge Against Minnesota Raw-Milk Farmer Despite Probation Violations

Michael Hartmann, the Gibbon, MN, farmer who admitted breaking state law by selling raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products to consumers, has avoided jail time and been released from probation.

Sibley County District Court Judge Erica MacDonald determined Wednesday after a hearing in Gaylord, MN, that Hartmann should not be assessed further penalties for his actions, and she dismissed a charge against him of probation violation.

Defense attorney Zenas Baer called the judge’s decision a “rebuke of the state.”

“The court affirmed the bedrock principle that the state cannot insert itself into a private transaction between consenting adults to buy a natural product, or interfere with the type of foods that a parent might choose to nourish their family with,” Baer said.

Assistant Sibley County Attorney Donald Lannoye took a very different view.

“It’s our position that court orders need to be followed,” he said. “And that when they aren’t followed, consequences need to be imposed. When a court finds that a person violates a court order and does nothing about it, we believe that calls into question the legitimacy of the court order.”

Judge MacDonald had ruled earlier this spring that Hartmann was violating terms of his probation by continuing to sell raw milk away from his farm and not cooperating with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which continues to investigate his activities. Minnesota law only allows on-farm sales of raw milk.

In 2012, Hartmann pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of illegally selling raw milk and raw milk products and selling beef and pork without a license. That action was part of a plea agreement which reduced a nine-count complaint to the two misdemeanor counts and headed off a jury trial.

At that time, Hartmann was fined $ 585 and sentenced to unsupervised probation for six months. He also agreed to follow all state licensing and labeling laws.

Raw milk and raw milk products from his farm had been linked to an E. coli outbreak in 2010, which sickened at least eight people. Later that year, three people were sickened with Campylobacter and four with Cryptosporiduim parasites, both of which were reportedly found on his farm.

After the E. coli outbreak was linked to Hartmann’s dairy operation and inspectors reportedly found objectionable conditions there, Hartmann was ordered to stop selling raw milk until the problems were fixed. He maintained that no E. coli was ever found in his raw milk and that his products have not made anyone ill.

Food Safety News

Despite harvest delays, Walla Walla volume should be normal

Producers of Walla Walla sweet onions are expected to begin their harvest a week to 10 days behind typical timetables. Mike Locati, chairman of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee, said cold weather was the culprit.

“We had some issues in December [with the fall planted crop],” he told The Produce News. Transplants and direct-seeded onions are faring well, and Locati said temperatures were warming up in the Walla sdfaeMike LocatiWalla River Valley during April.

Walla Wallas are grown on 600 acres in the growing district. “Our volume should be normal,” he stated. Typically, 1,000 40-pound units are produced per acre. “I’m optimistic we’ll get close to that,” he added.

The harvest will ramp up toward the end of June and run through mid-August. “It’s a little early to tell about sizing,” he stated, but he expects adequate supplies of jumbos this season. “Maybe not as many colossal.”

Locati said growers are hoping for that perfect production trifecta in 2014: a good crop, good demand and “hopefully the pricing will be nice.”

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

FDA Wont Set Specific FSMA Deadlines Despite Court Order

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Food Safety have not been able to come to an agreement on a proposed schedule of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) deadlines despite a court order to do so by May 20.

The order came after CFS sued FDA in August 2012 for missing several statutory deadlines in its implementation of FSMA, the most sweeping update to food safety law in seven decades. The two parties, unable to agree on deadlines as the court ordered, were granted a 20-day extension to June 10 by a U.S. District Court, but ultimately did not submit a joint proposal like they were supposed to. They each submitted their own timelines for the remaining regulations.

FDA’s timeline for each key part of FSMA – including the foreign supplier verification program, preventive controls, produce safety, and other provisions  – is longer than CFS’ and it lacks specific dates.

For example, FDA proposed issuing a final rule for produce safety standards by roughly June 2015, but CFS proposed a final deadline of May 1, 2014, which could be extended by up to one year if further analysis is required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

For the foreign supplier verification program, FDA set a deadline for a proposed rule by this summer, without setting a date, while CFS set a deadline of August 31, 2013. For the final rule, FDA set a deadline of summer 2015, while CFS set a deadline of December 31, 2013.

FDA set its own timeline for issuing a proposal for accrediting third party auditors. The agency plans to have a proposed rule out by this summer and a final rule by “roughly” summer 2015. CFS set an August 31, 2013 deadline for a proposed rule and a December 31, 2013 deadline for a final rule.

Consumer advocates said they are dismayed by FDA’s refusal to agree to a shorter timeline for many key food safety rules, many of which are already well passed the statutory deadlines set by Congress.

“The Center for Food Safety’s proposed deadlines are entirely reasonable,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “FDA needs to get the job done. We’re tired of waiting for regulations and proposals that are long overdue.”

Smith DeWaal said it was “ridiculous,” for example, that FDA was setting a goal of summer 2015 for the foreign supplier verification proposal, especially considering the agency submitted a draft proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget in November 2011 for review. In FSMA, FDA was directed to write this program no later than one year after the law was enacted in January 2011, so FDA met this requirement and has now been waiting on OMB for nearly a year and a half.

Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, said that Congress included specific deadlines in the law “for a reason – to ensure timely implementation of the important food safety provisions contained in FSMA.”

“I think CFS’ argument that the implementation period should not be ‘open-ended’ is a valid one,” he said. “Not everything in the process is under FDA’s control, but it is in the best interest of consumers for implementation of FSMA to occur expeditiously.  And court-imposed deadlines could help make that happen.”

Food Safety News

Most states debate GM labeling despite federal bill

State legislative efforts regarding GMO labeling will be for naught if a new federal bill, deemed by labeling supporters as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, is passed.

The “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., would prohibit mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.
 

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Supermarket News

French kiwi season going well despite less volume elsewhere

French kiwi season going well despite less volume elsewhere

With a couple of months left in the French kiwi season, suppliers have found a market with good demand. But there is a worry that with a freeze affecting supplies from Chile, fewer kiwis worldwide could change the buying habits of consumers and lead to less demand in the future.

“Sales for kiwis in France are going fast,” said Jean-Baptiste Pinel of Prim’land. “So we expect to finish in May, which is the normal end date of the season in France.” He reported good quality as well as steady demand for fruit this season, which has contributed to the good sales. Part of the robust demand this season might be due to the fact that there are fewer kiwis coming from Chile this year because production was negatively affected by cold weather in September.

“We weren’t affected so badly with the frost in Chile because we don’t have a lot of plantings in the affected areas,” said Pinel. “But, though it’s difficult to know the degree of the decrease, production in Chile this year could be 60 to 65 percent lower than the average annual production.” While that decrease in production can lead to higher prices and prove a short-term boon for European producers, Pinel warned that sustained gaps in production are not good for kiwi suppliers throughout the world.

“It’s not good for French or Italian growers that Chile doesn’t have enough kiwis,” explained Pinel. “Because if supplies of product are too low because of losses in Chile, then this means consumers can’t consume kiwi fruit, so they can go to other products to compensate, and that’s bad for all.”

For more information:
Jean-Baptiste Pinel
Prim’land
Tel: +33 5 58 90 09 95
Email: [email protected]
www.primland.fr

Publication date: 3/18/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Chiquita reduces fourth quarter loss despite tricky year

Chiquita reduces fourth quarter loss despite tricky year

Charlotte-based Chiquita Brands International said Thursday that it had reduced its fourth quarter losses, as the produce company wrestled with harsh weather and a glut of bananas that drove down prices on the world market. The company has worked to return to profitability for years, having trimmed expenses and cut unprofitable business lines such as snacks and new kinds of fruits.

Chiquita lost $ 31 million during the fourth quarter, down from a $ 333 million loss during the same quarter a year earlier. Sales ticked up about 1 percent, to $ 748 million, even as an unexpected oversupply of bananas from Ecuador and Guatemala pushed prices down.

“Chiquita weathered the banana impact thanks to the strength of our brand,” chief executive Ed Lonergan said during a conference call with analysts. Going forward, Lonergan said the world banana market “started the current year somewhat soft” but is expected to recover as the year progresses.

Bananas remain the lion’s share of Chiquita’s business, accounting for $ 488 million in revenue during the fourth quarter. Despite an increase in the number of bananas sold, the revenue figure is flat from a year ago primarily because of lower prices in North America and weak sales in Europe and the Middle East.

Chiquita kept prices in Europe higher, executives said, to emphasize the brand’s premium. “This choice, while right for us, resulted in lower overall volume,” Lonergan said. The number of boxes of bananas sold in Europe fell 15 percent. Sales of bananas plunged 20 percent in the Middle East, which continues to be wracked by wars and political instability.

Chiquita also sells private label and Fresh Express-brand bagged salads, an area where the company has tried to increase its revenue. Sales of the company’s bagged salads rose 2 percent in the fourth quarter, to $ 228 million.

But salads were a challenge, too, for Chiquita. The company has been hit hard by persistent drought in the West, which hurt growing regions in Yuma, Ariz., California’s Salinas Valley and Mexico. Shortages of iceberg lettuce and other salad ingredients led to higher costs, Chiquita said.

Chiquita assumes the drought will continue, and is shifting production to other places such as the Southeast U.S. in order to compensate for the loss of much of its arable land.

The company is also buying or leasing more land in Central America to increase the proportion of banana production it directly controls. Currently, Chiquita grows about 38 percent of the bananas it sells, and buys the rest from third-party growers. But bananas from farms the company owns or leases have a lower cost per box. So Chiquita looks to buy or lease land again in places such as Panama, the first time the company has done so in years. Executives said Chiquita recently bought 500 hectares in Honduras, the company’s first purchase there since the 1990s.

For the full year, Chiquita reported a $ 16 million loss, down sharply from a $ 405 million loss in 2012. The company’s sales in 2013 were down less than 1 percent, to $ 3 billion.

Source: charlotteobserver.com

Publication date: 2/28/2014


FreshPlaza.com

USDA’s revised WIC packages exclude white potatoes despite protests

WASHINGTON — A final rule that revises the food package for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) recipients includes fresh fruits and vegetables, but the ban on fresh white potatoes continues.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to publish the final WIC rule March 3 after receiving more than 7,000 letters on its 2007 interim measure, many of whom voiced support for adding whole grains and fruits and vegetables to the revised WIC package.

Under the final rule, WIC women can receive cash vouchers of $ 10 per month and their children $ 8 per month for fruit and vegetable purchases.

But USDA is not allowing white potatoes, mixed vegetables containing white potatoes, noodles, and nuts or sauce packets. Canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables can be purchased with the vouchers. Fruit or vegetable must be listed as the first ingredient in WIC-eligible processed fruits and vegetables, and frozen fruits may not contain added fats, oils, salt or added sugars.

“The restriction of white potatoes, as recommended by the [Institute of Medicine], is based on data indicating that consumption of starchy vegetables meets or exceeds recommended amounts, and food intake data showing that white potatoes are the most widely used vegetable,” the interim rule said. “The department recognizes that white potatoes can be a healthful part of one’s diet. However, WIC food packages are carefully designed to address the supplemental nutritional needs of a specific population.”

The National Potato Council, which has been working with Congress to lift the ban, issued a statement in response to USDA’s decision.

“We are disappointed that USDA has chosen to ignore the latest nutritional science and consumption data in its final WIC rule,” the NPC said in a press statement. “When USDA revised the WIC program to include all fresh fruits and vegetables – except fresh white potatoes – it relied on an IOM report that looked at consumption data from the mid-1990s. However, much has changed over the past two decades, and the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consumption data from its National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey demonstrate that today’s women and children are falling well short of their consumption targets for starchy vegetables.”

The final WIC changes are just one of several food policy reforms rolled out by the White House the last week of February as part of the four-year anniversary of the Let’s Move! initiative.

First Lady Michelle Obama also announced new food marketing guidelines for schools and new Nutrition Facts panel changes to food labels.

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