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“Spanish citrus sales more difficult than last year”

Gert Bouman, Frutaria:
“Spanish citrus sales more difficult than last year”

Demand for Spanish citrus is currently lagging far behind. That’s what Gert Bouman of Spanish private producer Frutaria says. He points to the recession in Europe as an explanation for the difficult sales – “even worse than last season” – because of which, quite simply, less fruit is sold. “But export to markets outside Europe is also difficult.”


“Of course we see nothing is being sold to Russia. Large volumes weren’t going there anyway, but the produce still has to be sold in other countries. Countries like Poland are also lagging behind this year. The mood is just very lacklustre,” Gert says.  ”We are very busy, but it’s all at very low prices. At the moment, we are fully focusing on retail, because there is little demand on the markets, and you only get low prices. But you’re also seeing promotions on 2 kilos for 99 cents in supermarkets in the Netherlands and Germany. You have to wonder whether that’s good for the industry. The consumer thinks this is the price for an orange, undervaluing the product.”


“The production runs in the south of Spain are good. We ended the Clementine season, and stopped with good quality Navelinas. Now we’re getting the Clemenvilla season started, and we’ve begun with the Salustianas,” Gert says. He thinks a further reorganization of the Spanish citrus sector is unavoidable. The past five years, many cooperatives and private companies have disappeared, a trend which will only continue. With prices like that, there’s no future in the sector, and nobody is enthusiastic about investing in citrus productions, quite the contrary.”


For more information:
Gert Bouman
Frutaria
T: (+34) 661 252 509
M: (+34) 661 252 509
[email protected]
www.frutaria.com

Publication date: 12/17/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Difficult for Hawaii pineapples to ship to mainland

Difficult for Hawaii pineapples to ship to mainland

Pineapple sales in Hawaii remain stable-year round as demands are high, however, the pineapple market on mainland America, particularly the west coast is not so dependable. “The mainland market demand depends on the pineapples America has imported from Central America and Mexico,” states Darren Strand from Maui Gold, “Right now prices are stable, but in a week or two they can change depending on the amount imported.”

Most of the domestically grown pineapple remains in Hawaii, but it is not unusual for growers to ship outside America to Asia. Hawaiian growers are at a disadvantage when shipping within America. “We are eight to twelve days away from America if we ship by boat. South American countries can ship to Los Angeles within three or four days, so they save on length of travel and cost.”

Maui Gold grows pineapples in its 1300 acres of plantation. Despite the fluctuating mainland market, the pineapples are unique through their growing condition. “We are a little further away from the equator than our Central America competitors,” explains Strand, “Along with our fertile volcanic soil, Hawaii’s natural climate of cool nights and hot days help to grow great pineapples.”  

For more information:
Darren Strand
Maui Gold
Phone: (808) 877-3805
[email protected]

Publication date: 10/22/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Product availability more and more difficult due to climate change

Rogier Albas, Arava Holland:
Product availability more and more difficult due to climate change

Israeli herb growers are preparing themselves for the new season. “We still have rosemary, thyme, cilantro and dill available, but we are waiting for the ‘winter crop’ that will become available in October. From that time onwards the volumes will have to increase by the day,” says Rogier Alblas from Arava Holland. Arava Holland is, as of recently, located in Poeldijk

Arava Holland in Poeldijk acts as the European sales office for Israeli fruit and vegetables. Sales of herbs go from the United Kingdom to Czech Republic and from Scandinavian countries to Italy. “Right now Germany is the biggest buyer,” says Rogier. He looks back at a good herb season. “Spring made its appearance early and that had an effect on sales. All in all it went well. For the coming season the growing areas will remain quite similar, although you are always looking for ways to expand.”

The consequences from the Russian boycott on European herbs has been limited for Arava Holland. “We export directly from Israel to Russia. From what I am hearing, the orders from Russia are increasing, but this has not yet had any consequences on the availability of herbs on the European market,” says Rogier.

The developments in the global weather patterns are making it harder to ensure product availability. “Every year it is getting harder, that is why the supply from countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco is increasing. We also import goods from Kenya and Ethiopia and the quality of those products are good.”

For more information:
Rogier Alblas
Arava Holland
ABC Westland 403
2685 DE Poeldijk
Mob: 0031 6 41728074
[email protected]
www.arv.co.il

Publication date: 9/17/2014
Author: Katrina Conrad
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Pineapple market looks up after a difficult August

Mario de Goede: “Demand for crown-less pineapples steadily increases”
Pineapple market looks up after a difficult August

After a mediocre month in August the pineapple market has picked up again. “At this moment sales are moving along, especially with the bigger sizes. Prices vary for the different sizes from 6.50 to 9 Euro,” says Mario de Goede van Cool Fresh International. Due to rain there were some problems with the quality of the pineapples in August, but now the pineapples are in perfect condition to be sold. “Right now supply is still limited, but in the coming weeks more will come this way. I trust that the market will develop well.”

In 2013 Cool Fresh started a project to lower the costs of the crown-less pineapples and increase their worth. By removing the crowns of the pineapples Cool Fresh had calculated that two more pineapples could fit into each box. That is 160 extra pineapples per pallet and 3,200 extra pineapples per container. “This could have a huge impact on the returns of growers, and also on the environment and food safety. By removing the crowns we eliminate a notorious breeding ground for mould in the pineapples,” explains Mario.

Cool Fresh introduced the new crown-less pineapples under the motto ‘Let’s go topless’. “Demand is steadily climbing. More and more customers are becoming interested and a few retailers are picking it up as well,” follows Mario. “We improved the presentation with a new, unique label so that we could present a real consumers product. For a specific part of the market we see a good future for crown-less pineapples.


For more information:
Mario de Goede
Coolfresh
[email protected]
Direct office: + 31 88 3 777 138
Mobile: +31 623 931 499

Publication date: 9/4/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Larger supply causing difficult sales of peppers

Robbert van Essen: “Lit cultivation creates added value”
Larger supply causing difficult sales of peppers

Valstar Holland has been the market leader on the Dutch pepper market for a number of years. What is unique is that the growers who supply to the sales organisation have some lit cultivation, so that the company, with the exception of a short period and December and January, can supply peppers all year round. “Red, green and yellow peppers, as well as Jalapeños, have lit cultivation. This means we can create added value,” says Robbert van Essen, who is responsible for the pepper sales.


“Over the last few years the sales of peppers has gone quite well. Unfortunately this has meant that quite a few smaller growers have opted to join the pepper cultivation. Spain had a good pepper season this year and continued to supply for a long time, which meant they were in our way for a number of weeks. All of this resulted in a more difficult market this year. At the moment the kilo price of the red and green peppers is between 1 and 1.25 Euro and that’s quite mediocre. The expectation is that the market will improve a little over the next few weeks,” says Robbert.


Beside domestic cultivation in the Netherlands and Belgium, fixed partners in Israel and Spain supply imported peppers to Valstar Holland. “The quality is much better than that of the Moroccan peppers,” says the seller. Valstar’s main buyers of peppers are retail and wholesale in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. The first connections to the United States have already been made and it is our goal to continue to extend this export.


According to Robbert the pepper consumption is reasonably stable. “The peppers are mainly consumed by Asians. Last year we saw good sales in the special varieties such as the Jalapeño, Habanero and Naga Jolokia pepper, but this area has been extended and you notice there is too much pretty quickly.”


For more information:
Robbert van Essen
Valstar Holland
ABC Westland 110
2685 DB Poeldijk
T: +31 174 530817
F: +31 174 530888
[email protected]
www.valstar.nl

Publication date: 7/14/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Italy: Difficult year for peaches but we are ready to face it

OP Lagnasco Group
Italy: Difficult year for peaches but we are ready to face it

“Peach and nectarine production in the Cuneo province is expected to be 10-15% less than 2013. We have finished thinning operations and so far the produce seems to be good in terms of quality, colour and organoleptic qualities,” explains Giuseppe “Beppe” Termanini (in the photo), director of Lagnasco Group.


The campaign will start one week earlier than a normal year. “There are some problems like abundant supplies and low consumption rates, but it is still way to early to make an assessment – the campaign does not look easy, but we are ready to face it.”

This year,Lagnasco Group should produce around 15,000 tons of peaches (20% of the total) and nectarines (80%). 80% of these will be sold on the domestic and European markets. “We are equipped to carry out 10-15 day shipments overseas, but our competitors are advantaged in terms of costs and logistics (Greece towards Eastern Europe and the Middle East basin and Spain towards Brazil and South America).”

Contacts:
Giuseppe Termanini
Lagnasco Group Soc. Coop. arl
Via Santa Maria, 2
12030 Lagnasco (CN)
Tel.: (+39) 0175 282119
Fax: (+39) 0175 282181
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.lagnascogroup.it

Publication date: 6/27/2014
Author: Rebecca Baron
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Italy: Difficult year for peaches but we are ready to face it

OP Lagnasco Group
Italy: Difficult year for peaches but we are ready to face it

“Peach and nectarine production in the Cuneo province is expected to be 10-15% less than 2013. We have finished thinning operations and so far the produce seems to be good in terms of quality, colour and organoleptic qualities,” explains Giuseppe “Beppe” Termanini (in the photo), director of Lagnasco Group.


The campaign will start one week earlier than a normal year. “There are some problems like abundant supplies and low consumption rates, but it is still way to early to make an assessment – the campaign does not look easy, but we are ready to face it.”

This year,Lagnasco Group should produce around 15,000 tons of peaches (20% of the total) and nectarines (80%). 80% of these will be sold on the domestic and European markets. “We are equipped to carry out 10-15 day shipments overseas, but our competitors are advantaged in terms of costs and logistics (Greece towards Eastern Europe and the Middle East basin and Spain towards Brazil and South America).”

Contacts:
Giuseppe Termanini
Lagnasco Group Soc. Coop. arl
Via Santa Maria, 2
12030 Lagnasco (CN)
Tel.: (+39) 0175 282119
Fax: (+39) 0175 282181
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.lagnascogroup.it

Publication date: 6/27/2014
Author: Rebecca Baron
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Italy: Difficult year for peaches but we are ready to face it

OP Lagnasco Group
Italy: Difficult year for peaches but we are ready to face it

“Peach and nectarine production in the Cuneo province is expected to be 10-15% less than 2013. We have finished thinning operations and so far the produce seems to be good in terms of quality, colour and organoleptic qualities,” explains Giuseppe “Beppe” Termanini (in the photo), director of Lagnasco Group.


The campaign will start one week earlier than a normal year. “There are some problems like abundant supplies and low consumption rates, but it is still way to early to make an assessment – the campaign does not look easy, but we are ready to face it.”

This year,Lagnasco Group should produce around 15,000 tons of peaches (20% of the total) and nectarines (80%). 80% of these will be sold on the domestic and European markets. “We are equipped to carry out 10-15 day shipments overseas, but our competitors are advantaged in terms of costs and logistics (Greece towards Eastern Europe and the Middle East basin and Spain towards Brazil and South America).”

Contacts:
Giuseppe Termanini
Lagnasco Group Soc. Coop. arl
Via Santa Maria, 2
12030 Lagnasco (CN)
Tel.: (+39) 0175 282119
Fax: (+39) 0175 282181
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.lagnascogroup.it

Publication date: 6/27/2014
Author: Rebecca Baron
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Spain: Difficult melon campaign with low prices

European markets realising that large calibres have a better quality
Spain: Difficult melon campaign with low prices

At the moment, the melon campaign is primarily focused in Murcia, although Almeria will remain on the market for around 15 more days, as many growers there planted later due to their fear to the New Delhi virus. 

“The results of the campaign are not positive so far in terms of quality, demand and prices,” points out Javier Uceda, manager of Somevisa.


 
With regard to quality, Uceda notes that the melons from both Murcia and Almeria have suffered the same problem this year: a lack of Brix because of the weather changes that accelerated the fruit’s growth. “Temperatures right now are lower than usual and the recent rains are not desirable during the harvesting period,” he adds. “Melons are generally not as sweet this year.”

As far as prices are concerned, melons have reached an average of less than € 0.40 this season; however, the situation right now has become more complicated and prices have dropped to an average of between 0.20 and 0.30 Euro per kilo at origin. “While it is difficult to make predictions, we expect this negative trend to continue throughout the season,” says Javier Uceda. “The quality problems and the lack of high summer temperatures are not favouring consumption, and there are also some oversupply issues at the moment.”

Growth in the export markets 

The domestic market has always been the most important and remains so for the Piel de Sapo melon, but Javier says that exports are gaining relevance given the increased demand outside the Spanish borders. 

“Over the past few years, we have gained a stable position in Portugal, where large calibres of between 3 and 5 kilos are demanded. In the rest of the continent, including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, we are shipping melons of between 1.2 and 1.8 kg. It is very expensive to find small calibre melons, since almost all the varieties available are intended for the production of large calibres. And, when the melon is small in size, it is usually due to problems during the production process and the quality is not the same,” he explains. 

For this reason, Javier Uceda believes that the trends in demand may also change in the rest of Europe in favour of larger calibres. “This year we are noticing that European supermarkets are realising that large calibres have a better quality.”

Frutas Somevisa is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Villaconejos-based company is devoted to the marketing of melons from all producing areas in Spain, mainly the Piel de Sapo variety. “We have warehouses for handling near the plantations in all production areas because we believe that in this way we reduce the time from harvest to the delivery to our customers, maintaining an ongoing relationship with growers,” states Javier. 

As soon as Murcia’s season ends, the firm will continue with melons from Castile-La Mancha and Villaconejos, which will be the last of a campaign finishing in late September.


For more information:
Javier Uceda García (Manager)
César Uceda (Director)
Frutas SOMEVISA, S.L.
Ctra Aranjuez, 29. Villaconejos, Madrid. Spain
T: +34 918910333
M: +34 629644247
[email protected]

Publication date: 6/26/2014


FreshPlaza.com

AU: “Difficult to get more for your mushrooms”

Matthew Fensom, White Prince Mushrooms
AU: “Difficult to get more for your mushrooms”

Australian mushroom consumption has risen considerably in the last few decades. When records were first collected in 1978, the industry was 6,000 tonnes, and today it’s 65,000 tonnes. Per capita consumption was 600 grams. Today it’s 3.2 kilos a head per year.

Matthew Fensom, General Manager at White Prince Mushrooms, said the prices could be better, “As costs continue to rise it is very difficult to get more for your produce. The white button remains the most popular, but there is a small amount of growth in other more exotic varieties which is mainly driven by factors such as celebrity chefs on TV.”

White Prince Mushrooms grow a variety of mushrooms from the popular white button to the more exotic varieties such as the Enoki, Shieji and Shiitake. A popular marketing point in Australia just now is the vitamin D content of mushrooms, this can be enhanced by putting the mushrooms under a UV light.

Although there has not been much change in packing for mushrooms over the last few years, Matthew explains that sliced mushrooms is one of fastest growing categories especially for the supermarkets and food service industries.

Export of Australian mushrooms is limited, due to the high labour costs it is difficult to compete on the world market, but on the other hand there are very few imports as well, just of the more exotic varieties and prepared mushrooms.

White Prince Mushrooms is based on the outskirts of Sydney and employ around 600 people to turnout their 220 tonnes of mushrooms every week.

For more information:
Matthew Fensom
White Prince Mushrooms
Tel: +61 2 9627 4799
Email: [email protected]
www.whiteprince.com.au

Publication date: 5/8/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Difficult season with numerous challenges for Chilean fruit growers

Difficult season with numerous challenges for Chilean fruit growers

According to Karen Brux, of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA), Chile’s recent earthquake, despite being a tragic shock for the country, had fortunately no impact on the fresh produce industry. The September frosts, on the other hand, described as “the worst in 80 years,” had a particularly deep impact on two commodities:  kiwifruit for the summer campaign and stonefruit, such as peaches, nectarines and plums, although other products, like grapes were also affected.

Blueberries were a bright spot, and producers still expected increased volumes this year, but a different problem took place, which was the presence of the European Grapevine Moth, which resulted in the USDA requiring fumigations on all imported blueberries from December onwards, causing delays and drops in export volumes to the U.S.. The three week port strike in January did not help either.

Despite these many challenges, “we were still able to organise numerous promotions for blueberries, and we are just wrapping up a large-scale promotion for grapes that has been running in the U.S. and Canada,” explains Karen.

The Chilean kiwifruit season has only just started and the production is expected to drop by 50 to 60% compared to last year. New Zealand, which is the main competitor during the summer, will be shipping less conventional green varieties to the U.S. and this will thus become a very high-price market.

In terms of kiwi varieties, the growth of the SunGold in New Zealand is not going unnoticed, and Chilean growers are surely paying attention to consumer trends in the U.S. and other worldwide markets. Strategies are also being designed to be able to do a better job at growing and supplying consumers with the products they want.

As more markets develop, including Asia and the Middle East, Chilean exports also expand to new destinations, although the U.S. and Canada are still huge markets that cannot be ignored. Promotions in North America focus on the whole spectrum of Chilean fruit. The CFFA has a fresh fruit marketing budget to support trade, while the various specialised committees (blueberry, citrus, etc.) are devoted to specific sectors. Large retailers need to offer year-round supply of many products and the CFFA’s job and main challenge is to ensure that Chilean fruit has a prominent place on their shelves by consistently offering high quality produce.

For more information: www.fruitsfromchile.com

 

Publication date: 4/16/2014
Author: Juan Zea Estellés
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Difficult season for French chicory

“Consumer prices not affected by minimum price”
Difficult season for French chicory

Perle du Nord is France’s only national chicory brand.  Caroline Basset, the company’s Marketing Manager tells us that 80,000 tons are produced annually (by their 175 producers) which represents 45-50% of French production.

However she says that sales are not going well at the moment and ”the problem this year is that we haven’t had a winter”.  Chicory is on offer all year round but production is at its strongest between October and March. ”It really is a winter salad and is the 4th most consumed vegetable in France, including potatoes” continues Caroline Basset, ”now with the early arrival of Spring, other competitive vegetables have come on the market, who also have low prices. The situation has been difficult for almost a month now”.  

During these difficult times they do turn to export which allows them to transfer volume to avoid dropping prices on the large retail market in France. ”We sometimes do food banks” says Caroline Basset. They also take measures such as destroying the product before it reaches an advanced stage to avoid saturating the market. 

Chicory fine
In March 2012, 11 organisations of chicory producers were fined €3.6 million due to a common agreement on minimum price that was carried out over 14 years.  Over 90% of French chicory production was involved. The Autorité de la Concurrence decided that the effect on the price paid by the consumer was limited.   However, the organisations had to pay fines, which Daniel Bouquillon, President of the Chicory Growers Union  says means ”we lost credibility in front of our banks and suppliers”. 

Caroline Basset confirms that the producers disputed this judgement and the decision of the court of Appeal took place this week and they have ”proven with figures” that this did not affect consumer prices and that ”what we did was not a breach”. She says that ”the consumer never paid more for their chicory”.

As for prices, Perle du Nord says ”we fix our prices ourselves depending on demand and available volume,” whilst also taking into account prices fixed at auction in Belgium and Brittany (though they themselves do not work within an auction system).    

It is apparent that in the future ”there will be less and less chicory producers, so the organisation of production will develop” but the size of production itself will not.  At Perle du Nord they feel strongly that they have a  production method that enables farmers to earn a good living and continue to produce chicory. 

Please visit www.perledunord.com for more information.

Publication date: 3/28/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

USDA Says It’s Difficult to Replicate Denmark and Eliminate Salmonella in Poultry

(Editor’s note: This is Part Four of a recent four-part series by Lynne Terry on how Salmonella in poultry is handled in Denmark and the U.S. Part One is here, Part Two is here, and Part Three is here. The series is being republished by permission from The Oregonian.)

Denmark’s journey from a surge of Salmonella infections to the near eradication of the bacteria in chicken is a success story that could not easily be replicated in the United States, American poultry experts say.

The U.S. chicken industry is too big, they claim, and the reforms would be too costly, causing sticker shock in grocery stores. There also is no will among industry, regulators or retailers in the U.S. to follow Denmark and other European countries that have declared a zero tolerance for Salmonella in chicken.

“It is very impressive, but it’s not feasible in the United States,” said Scott Russell, professor of poultry processing at the University of Georgia.

U.S. regulators recognize that Salmonella poses a big problem, causing an estimated 1 million cases of food poisoning each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tainted poultry accounts for about 17 percent of that and causes more deaths than any other commodity. The economic toll, including medical expenses and lost workdays, runs as high as $ 1.8 billion per year for Salmonella-tainted poultry, according to USDA and other economists.

Last year, amid the Foster Farms outbreak, the agency announced a plan to stem Salmonella. Its goal is to reduce illnesses by 25 percent by 2020. The plan, which is still being rolled out, includes a controversial overhaul of inspections, enhanced testing and a first-ever limit on allowed Salmonella in cut-up chicken.

Denmark opted for a more comprehensive approach, attacking Salmonella in flocks, poultry barns, animal feed and slaughterhouses. That tactic would be practically impossible under the fractured U.S. food safety system, officials and poultry experts say. No single federal agency in the U.S. has the authority to dictate the sweeping reforms that would be required.

USDA regulates meat, poultry and processed eggs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees animal feed and raw eggs, along with the bulk of the food supply. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authority over pesticide use and animal waste on the farm.

“We have very limited authority of what we can do,” said Dan Engeljohn, inspection chief at USDA.

Most strains of Salmonella do not harm chickens. The bacteria live in their guts, and the birds are healthy. But two strains that sicken birds – Salmonella pullorum and Salmonella gallinarum – can devastate flocks. The bacteria threatened to wipe out the U.S. poultry industry in the early part of the past century, prompting creation in 1930 of the National Poultry Improvement Plan, a joint venture involving the poultry industry, federal government and state authorities.

The program, which still exists and is voluntary, involves testing birds for the bacteria, separating and butchering positive flocks, tight sanitation measures in hatcheries and a Salmonella-free label, allowing for export and interstate commerce. As in Denmark, the plan relies on a top-down approach aimed at eliminating the bacteria in breeder stock to ensure infection-free birds in the next generation.

The U.S. program has been a huge success.

“They went after the (Salmonella strains) that make the animals sick and controlled them,” Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy chief of foodborne diseases at CDC. “We all have to ask whether a similar approach expanded to other types of Salmonella might help (stem human illnesses).”

USDA food safety officials say their authority starts at the slaughterhouse. USDA’s animal health service only regulates diseases in animals. No single agency appears to have a legal mandate to fight bacteria that can kill people but do not harm animals on the farm.

“That is an issue that Congress would have to deal with,” said Engeljohn of the USDA.

But USDA does have the authority to ban contaminants in the food it regulates. The agency did just that in 1994 for E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef. In 2012, it adopted a zero-tolerance policy for six other potentially deadly strains of E. coli.

Agency officials insist they lack a legal framework to ban Salmonella, based on judicial precedent and the intricacies of the law.

There’s also a cost factor. The Danish government spent $ 30 million to compensate farmer losses, but Denmark only slaughters about 100 million chickens per year, while U.S. processors butcher 8.5 billion.

“In order to do what they did in Denmark, we’d have to retrofit all of the (chicken) houses and that would be cost-prohibitive,” said Russell of the University of Georgia.

The retail price of chicken would soar, with the industry pricing itself out of the business, Russell said. Danish chicken meat costs about double the average price here.

“That’s the thing about the U.S.,” Russell added. “They simply will stop buying chicken if it becomes more expensive than beef.”

For now, the onus on avoiding chicken-related Salmonella illnesses rests with consumers, although industry is stepping up to curb contamination, according to Charles Hofacre, a leading poultry veterinarian and professor at the University of Georgia.

Companies are using new products on farms and experimenting with antimicrobial washes and other techniques in slaughterhouses. But getting results will take time, he said.

“It’s a monumental task to eliminate normal bacteria from the intestine of a chicken,” Hofacre said. “If it was easy, I promise you the poultry industry would take care of it in a heartbeat. The last thing they want is someone to get sick from eating their products.”

Food Safety News

Difficult dairy policy debate: It’s not over yet

Andrew Novakovic is a professor in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, whose research focuses on the U.S. dairy industry and federal policy related to dairy, other agriculture and food. He explains the complex new dairy policy, which the Senate is expected to vote on early this week.

Novakovic says:

“In the final days of negotiating between House and Senate versions of the farm bill, the dairy section was often reported as an especially difficult sticking point. Although both versions contained a very similar objective of replacing existing safety net programs with a new ‘margin insurance’ program, the House bill did not include a further companion program that would have penalized farmers for production deemed excessive in periods when insurance payments were being made. The House opposition proved to be vigorous and obstinate. The result was a new margin insurance program plus a heretofore-unexpected plan to increase USDA donations to food assistance programs when dairy farm market conditions are especially severe.

“The new margin program expands access to larger scale farmers and redefines financial stress according to returns over feed costs instead of just the price of milk. Both of these changes are in reaction to the severe dairy farm stress that was revealed by the Great Recession and the explosion in feed prices over the last few years. The Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers (MPP) is a voluntary program that pays participating farmers an indemnity when a national benchmark for milk income over feed costs falls below an insured level. Coverage is available to all farmers, on a percentage of their historical production, at increasing premium costs beginning with a margin that is at catastrophically low levels and rising to near average market returns.

“The Dairy Product Donation Program (DPDP) is a program that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately procure and distribute certain dairy products when the new national benchmark margin falls below the lowest margin level specified for the MPP. These products would be targeted for use in domestic, low-income family, food assistance programs, such as, but not limited to, The Emergency Food Assistance Program. This program provides a new authority to the Secretary of Agriculture, but it is consistent with existing efforts to procure and provide dairy products for a variety of food assistance programs.”

A new paper by Novakovic and others titled: “The Dairy Subtitle of the Agricultural Act of 2014 is available for download at: https://cornell.box.com/FarmBill2014

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. The original article was written by Melissa Osgood. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

“Difficult melon sales due to constant stream from Southern Europe”

Leon van den Hombergh, Frankort & Koning:
“Difficult melon sales due to constant stream from Southern Europe”

The supply of Brazilian melons has already started, but the market has a lot of competition from European production areas. “Spain and Italy still have locations where watermelons and yellow melons are harvested in abundance, and we are really talking about a large volumes,” says Leon van den Hombergh. “The continuous stream of South European melons means that there is a lot of pressure on the market.”

“Brazil can send a few containers per week less, but this is nothing compared to the volumes that are left in Europe,” the importer continues. “The canteloupe season is nearing its end in Southern Europe and the Galia season is already over, but we still have at least four weeks supply of yellow and watermelons. We are selling the melons at the moment, but they aren’t exactly being snapped up. However, October and November have never been a prosperous month.”

“The quality is good and everything is under control, it’s just that the current market price is not at the desired level. Now we are dealing with a lot of new players, in terms of import and well as export, who are trying their luck in the melon sector. It is a well known fact that a lot of new exporters pop up after a good year,” says Leon.

“The advantage for the Brazilian suppliers is the advantageous exchange rate, the Real has devalued against the euro, compared to the rise in production and transport costs. The biggest problem is that we still have to contend with hundreds of containers filled will European product on the field.”

For more information:
Leon van den Hombergh
Frankort & Koning
Venrayseweg 126
5928 RH Venlo
Tel: +31 (077) 389 72 72
Fax: +31 (077) 382 61 34
www.frankort.nl

Publication date: 10/10/2013


FreshPlaza.com

EU: Difficult Summer period for strawberries

Jan Engelen, Veiling Hoogstraten: “Market improved again now”
EU: Difficult Summer period for strawberries

The strawberry market went through a very difficult period, but according to Jan Engelen it is going better at the moment. “It was actually a coincidence. Due to the cold Spring the open ground cultivation moved back together with the cultivation on racks. Then July was very warm and that pushed everything into production at the same time. All of a sudden there was a top supply; in three/four weeks 6 million kg. was supplied. In addition when we have a lot of production other North-European countries have the same problem and prices are not good.”


Photograph: Frank Croes for Veiling Hoogstraten

Low point
“The lowest average price on a daily basis was 1.15/kg and that was really a low point. Especially because this happened during the open ground period. That was different last year as well. Questions arise with this, such as: How to continue with open ground cultivation? Especially because there is a rather large difference in price between the protected and open ground cultivation at the same time. It is a fact that open ground is dependent upon the weather, on which we have no influence. Therefore it is a heavy risk and often things with a lot of risk either run very well or very badly. I certainly believe in a future for this cultivation and we even advise companies to spread the risk and to do protected cultivation. A number of them followed this advice, but in general an open ground grower remains an open ground grower. They specifically chose for this and then they will not split this up.”


Photograph: Frank Croes  for Veiling Hoogstraten

Difference in price
Jan mentions that the average difference in price between open ground and protected strawberries changes from day to day. “When it does not go well everything is bad, but as soon as the market goes better the difference is bigger. That was 30 cents/kg and even higher. I think that this is mainly dependent on the appreciation of the buyer. Some of them however, have more confidence in protected productions. This year, however, this is without a base. We have not had any problem with the quality of the open ground strawberries.”

Pressure on export
“At the end of last week the market improved and this week as well it went better. We are now back at a price of 3.50/kg. That is the price of all selections. The price is good for the time of the year. Because of the larger production this season there was also more pressure on the export. We sell in France and Scandinavia and they bought less in a period with a large supply. In Spring the production was late. Spain disappointed. Therefore we had high prices. Up until May, the price was far above the average. We then received 3.78 but because of the Summer period this has now decreased again. The average price is now 3.05 over the entire season.”
 
For more information:
Jan Engelen
Veiling Hoogstraten
59, Loenhoutseweg
Hoogstraten – Belgium
Tel: +32 3 3400233
Fax: +32 3 3147844
www.hoogstraten.eu

Publication date: 8/13/2013


FreshPlaza.com

Digital marketing isn’t that difficult, expert says

An expert on digital marketing tried to demystify the subject during a seminar session at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference in Monterey, July 26-28.

Carisa Miklusak, who is the chief executive officer of Chicago-based tMedia, with that company name standing for “transmedia,” told the audience of foodservice operators and suppliers that their digital brand marketing should merely be an extension of their offline marketing program. “Define who you are offline before launching a digital campaign,” she said.

Miklusak discussed the power of digital media and told several case studies of tremendous marketing effects — both good and bad — that it has had on companies. But she continually came back to the same theme: Digital media is merely another avenue to communicate with one’s customers.

However, she did allow that digital media is a “customer-driven” medium. It is easy to understand that when considering restaurants and the many online review sites available, including yelp, foodspotting and foursquare. Each of these websites allows consumers to punch in their needs or wants in one way or another and be directed to specific places. For example, foodspotting lets a consumer who is interested in salmon that night to search for nearby restaurants that have salmon dishes. No doubt the site will highlight customer-posted pictures and reviews.

However, she said the restaurant operator can also “own” their own site and place their own pictures and promotional material. Miklusak said the entire pull and push dynamic of sales is changing with this instant information. Nonetheless she had many tips that companies can use to build their own digital platform and communicate with their customers.

She urged companies to consider what they do well offline and tell that same story online. If they are good at sales, customer service or product differentiation, tell that story through their website and digital marketing presence on the various sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

However, she said those looking for information on the website do respond to different dynamics. They want transparency, humanism and authenticity, she said, explaining how each of those concepts creates a real connection with the consumer.

A real world example, Miklusak said, is that in your communication on website the writer should not use words like “our company” or “organization”. “Use ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘you’,” she said. Those personal pronouns connect with people in a genuine way, and that is what Web users want.

Miklusak said that the most important thing for a business to do before in getting involved in digital marketing is to build a business plan concerning their effort. And equally as important, she said, you need to know why you are doing it and what you are trying to accomplish so that your success can be measured. “It’s a myth that you can’t measure social media. If you know your goals, you can measure your success.”

In the end, her 90-minute session boiled down to a quick three-minute sketch in which Miklusalk used two audience volunteers to illustrate how one should enter the conversations currently taking place on the Internet. After all, “conversation” is one of the favorite buzz words when almost anyone is talking about digital marketing. It is often heard that companies want to join or control the conversation happening about them online. And experts are often advising companies that they need to get involved online because the conversation about their company is taking place with or without them.

Like any conversation, online or offline, Miklusak said you have to listen and participate before you can meaningfully add to the discussion. Her skit involved two people talking about going out and having an Italian dinner. Miklusak and her audience actors showed how barging in and trying to control that discussion just doesn’t work. First you have to listen to what’s going on. Next you need to participate by answering questions or just being part of the conversation, and finally you can create information and share with the rest of the group. In this specific skit, Miklusak was able to suggest a restaurant that the other two people might like after listening to their needs.

Digital media is that simple, she said.

Miklusak said the best place for a company to start the process of digital marketing is to go online for just a few minutes a day for a solid week and see what’s being said in the space in which they want to communicate. If the business is a restaurant, for example, the owner or manager can go on to these review sites and listen to what people are saying about their place. During week two, the business representative can start to join in and be part of the discussion. By week three, she said the business should have a good idea of what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong. At that point the owner should be in a good position to offer solutions to problems and stress their good points. In a nutshell, they can then start their digital marketing campaign.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Digital marketing isn’t that difficult, expert says

An expert on digital marketing tried to demystify the subject during a seminar session at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference in Monterey, July 26-28.

Carisa Miklusak, who is the chief executive officer of Chicago-based tMedia, with that company name standing for “transmedia,” told the audience of foodservice operators and suppliers that their digital brand marketing should merely be an extension of their offline marketing program. “Define who you are offline before launching a digital campaign,” she said.

Miklusak discussed the power of digital media and told several case studies of tremendous marketing effects — both good and bad — that it has had on companies. But she continually came back to the same theme: Digital media is merely another avenue to communicate with one’s customers.

However, she did allow that digital media is a “customer-driven” medium. It is easy to understand that when considering restaurants and the many online review sites available, including yelp, foodspotting and foursquare. Each of these websites allows consumers to punch in their needs or wants in one way or another and be directed to specific places. For example, foodspotting lets a consumer who is interested in salmon that night to search for nearby restaurants that have salmon dishes. No doubt the site will highlight customer-posted pictures and reviews.

However, she said the restaurant operator can also “own” their own site and place their own pictures and promotional material. Miklusak said the entire pull and push dynamic of sales is changing with this instant information. Nonetheless she had many tips that companies can use to build their own digital platform and communicate with their customers.

She urged companies to consider what they do well offline and tell that same story online. If they are good at sales, customer service or product differentiation, tell that story through their website and digital marketing presence on the various sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

However, she said those looking for information on the website do respond to different dynamics. They want transparency, humanism and authenticity, she said, explaining how each of those concepts creates a real connection with the consumer.

A real world example, Miklusak said, is that in your communication on website the writer should not use words like “our company” or “organization”. “Use ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘you’,” she said. Those personal pronouns connect with people in a genuine way, and that is what Web users want.

Miklusak said that the most important thing for a business to do before in getting involved in digital marketing is to build a business plan concerning their effort. And equally as important, she said, you need to know why you are doing it and what you are trying to accomplish so that your success can be measured. “It’s a myth that you can’t measure social media. If you know your goals, you can measure your success.”

In the end, her 90-minute session boiled down to a quick three-minute sketch in which Miklusalk used two audience volunteers to illustrate how one should enter the conversations currently taking place on the Internet. After all, “conversation” is one of the favorite buzz words when almost anyone is talking about digital marketing. It is often heard that companies want to join or control the conversation happening about them online. And experts are often advising companies that they need to get involved online because the conversation about their company is taking place with or without them.

Like any conversation, online or offline, Miklusak said you have to listen and participate before you can meaningfully add to the discussion. Her skit involved two people talking about going out and having an Italian dinner. Miklusak and her audience actors showed how barging in and trying to control that discussion just doesn’t work. First you have to listen to what’s going on. Next you need to participate by answering questions or just being part of the conversation, and finally you can create information and share with the rest of the group. In this specific skit, Miklusak was able to suggest a restaurant that the other two people might like after listening to their needs.

Digital media is that simple, she said.

Miklusak said the best place for a company to start the process of digital marketing is to go online for just a few minutes a day for a solid week and see what’s being said in the space in which they want to communicate. If the business is a restaurant, for example, the owner or manager can go on to these review sites and listen to what people are saying about their place. During week two, the business representative can start to join in and be part of the discussion. By week three, she said the business should have a good idea of what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong. At that point the owner should be in a good position to offer solutions to problems and stress their good points. In a nutshell, they can then start their digital marketing campaign.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Difficult summer fruit campaign for Spanish exporters

This summer fruit campaign has been complicated so far this year due to the delays in the harvest, as well as low consumption. According to Óscar Serra, manager of Best Fruit S.L.U., the problem at the moment lies in the lack of volumes of stone fruit in a still very quiet market.

“The weather has played a key role this year. Not because it was cold or it rained a lot, but simply because it has been very strange and variable all over Europe,” he observes.


“In general, we are aware of product shortages in the market, with sales not taking off at the pace of other years. We started with stone fruit from Murcia with very small volumes due to the cold spring, and next, with Lleida’s season, which arrived with great delays and lower production volumes. This has consequently caused prices to be very high, reducing consumption as a result,” explains Óscar Serra.

Additionally, he affirms that the quality has also not been up to the usual standard, as it has also been affected by the weather.

Based in the town of Puçol, in the Spanish province of Valencia, Best Fruit is devoted to the export of fruit, especially to Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia.

“Our goal as an institution is very simple: we aim to become a tool that can help exporters in shipping their goods and sell them at the best price possible,” concludes Óscar Serra.

Contact:
Óscar Serra
BEST FRUITS, S.L.U.
Caminàs, 1-bajo. Puçol, Valencia. Spain.
T: +34 961 958 980
F: +34 961.424.749
M: +34 630388790
[email protected]

FreshPlaza.com

Is it difficult to become PTI compliant?

A lot has changed since the concept of the Produce Traceability Initiative burst on the scene a half-dozen years ago. At the time, case labeling every carton with a code that could be read up and down the supply chain appeared to be a daunting task, but now experts say it isn’t that difficult at all — and is much less expensive than first imagined.

Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management for the United Fresh Produce Association, said the technology providers have worked through the issues and have solutions for shippers and retailers and everyone in between.  

United Supermarkets in Lubbock, TX, recently adopted the FoodLink system, and Director of Produce Procurement Tommy Wilkins said that 98 percent of the company’s produce providers are using the system and are PTI compliant.

Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer of FoodLink, said the company’s traceability program, which he also calls a warehouse management system that has both a field and a packingshed component, is really quite simple.

In essence, a shipper purchases a system that can print case-level barcodes for either field or packingshed application, said Brooks. The printing of the label downloads the relevant information into the software program. That label is then scanned throughout its trip from the field to the retail warehouse distribution center and even beyond, out from the distribution center to the individual store. Along the way, the information is stored on the FoodLink site for easy access.

Brooks said this system can provide whole-chain traceability if everyone along the chain is on the FoodLink system. If not, he said the FoodLink system can import information from other systems and can also download the information to other systems.

He said the FoodLink program works with a smart phone, so virtually anyone with a smart phone — and that’s just about everybody — can open the FoodLink program, access the correct customers page and scan the bar code at any point along the supply chain.  

Brooks said that typically the product is scanned in the field and then scanned (via a pallet tag) by the truck driver when it is picked up from the field and delivered to the warehouse.

The pallet information, or the advanced shipping notice, is typically used from that point on as the cartons make their way to the retailer distribution center.

“The fact that you can use a smart phone makes this pretty inexpensive,” said Brooks. “Nowadays, you can buy an Android for $ 100 or less.”

FoodLink’s charges are calculated through a data usage metric, which can include other services such as electronic invoicing. Brooks said only the very largest shippers will have investments in the couple hundred thousand dollar range. He said for smaller shippers, the cost is very reasonable. And he maintains that the return on investment is tangible.  

To be in compliance with Walmart and other receivers, shippers have to adopt PTI, so Brooks said if they get over that mental hurdle and then look for the ROI, they will find it.  

For suppliers, he said PTI eliminates errors and chargebacks; offers foolproof first-in/first-out warehouse management; and can efficiently manage all purchase orders, order changes, ASNs and invoicing. For buyers, Brooks cites the advantages as being lower cost of goods sold, improved fulfillment service and better product quality being sold.

And for both shipper and receiver, full PTI compliance means complete traceability from the field to the store level.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines