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Norovirus is parked down the road from GOP convention

Those attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland should have little to worry about when it comes to a norovirus outbreak more than a hour away in Sandusky, OH.

The 11 staffers who were stricken are members of the advance team for the California delegation.The first illnesses began before the largest delegation arrived. By the time the California delegates arrived, quarantines were underway to keep those stricken advance team members away from them.

RNC-2016-logoThe resort hotel where the Californians are staying is in Erie County, OH, where Health Commissioner Peter Schade is charged with investigating the outbreak.

Shade says the Erie County Health Department has isolated the 11 who are ill and has taken steps to prevent the spread of norovirus to rest of the California delegation. Tests are underway to confirm norovirus as the cause of the illnesses.

The first to become ill was an advance team member, who then infected her husband. The resort hotel where the delegation is staying has a large indoor waterpark, which is seen as a favorable environment for norovirus.

The California delegation received emails early in the morning of the first day of the convention with instructions on precautions to take. The hotel set up hand sanitizing stations throughout the property.

Norovirus can be spread by food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Symptoms including both diarrhea and vomiting along with stomach pain and nausea, typically beginning in 12 to 48 hours after exposure. Most people recover in one to three days. The advance team members are being asked to wait 24 hours after they are feeling better before getting back buses to Cleveland.

The convention ends Thursday night when Donald Trump is scheduled to accept the GOP nomination for President of the United States.

The United States experiences 19 to 21 million cases of norovirus annually, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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Food Safety News

Justice helps FDA shut down noodle and sprout distribution

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors began recording the failure to properly maintain the Kwong Tung Foods facility at 1840 East 38th Street in Minneapolis in 2010.

Pipes were observed draining directly onto the floor. During 2011, 2012, and 2014 inspections, FDA observed dripping into food preparation areas and/or a food production room.

Those problems dating back to 2009, which were explained in Form FDA 483 observation reports after inspections and in warning letters, went unaddressed by Kwong Tung Foods.

But last week, a problem that dragged on for almost eight years came to end in 48 hours when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kwong Tung Foods Inc.

beansprouts_406x250The consent decree is being enforced against Kwong Tung Foods doing business as Canton Foods; the firm’s president and owner, Vieta C. Wang; and vice president, Juney H. Wang, to prevent the distribution of adulterated noodles and sprouts.

Department of Justice attorneys filed a complaint on July 14, in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota at FDA’s request.   The complaint alleged that Kwong Tung Foods violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing noodles and sprouts to be adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under insanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.

According to the complaint, the insanitary conditions included failure to exclude pests and rodents from the facility, failure to maintain equipment and failure to ensure adequate employee sanitation.

“Kwong Tung Foods was repeatedly warned about the insanitary conditions at its Minneapolis food facility,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to protect consumers from adulterated food and enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location.  Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.

According to the complaint, in October 2015, FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility, located at 1840 E. 38th Street in Minneapolis, and observed numerous insanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair.

USDistrctCourtMinn_406x250 Specifically, according to the complaint, FDA observed evidence of live and dead pests and rodents in production rooms, a black mold-like substance and debris on production equipment, inadequate employee sanitation practices, and potential cross-contamination with major allergens.  In addition, FDA observed condensate dripping onto finished bean sprouts, according to the complaint.

FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility twice in 2014.  As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed failures to exclude pests from the facility and to adequately maintain equipment and employee sanitation practices.

Under federal law, food processors are required to comply with current good manufacturing practices provided by FDA regulation.  The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.

The government is represented by Trial Attorney Alistair Reader of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bahram Samie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. They were assisted by Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Kang of the Food and Drug Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.

 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Food Safety News

Justice helps FDA shut down noodle and sprout distribution

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors began recording the failure to properly maintain the Kwong Tung Foods facility at 1840 East 38th Street in Minneapolis in 2010.

Pipes were observed draining directly onto the floor. During 2011, 2012, and 2014 inspections, FDA observed dripping into food preparation areas and/or a food production room.

Those problems dating back to 2009, which were explained in Form FDA 483 observation reports after inspections and in warning letters, went unaddressed by Kwong Tung Foods.

But last week, a problem that dragged on for almost eight years came to end in 48 hours when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kwong Tung Foods Inc.

beansprouts_406x250The consent decree is being enforced against Kwong Tung Foods doing business as Canton Foods; the firm’s president and owner, Vieta C. Wang; and vice president, Juney H. Wang, to prevent the distribution of adulterated noodles and sprouts.

Department of Justice attorneys filed a complaint on July 14, in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota at FDA’s request.   The complaint alleged that Kwong Tung Foods violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing noodles and sprouts to be adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under insanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.

According to the complaint, the insanitary conditions included failure to exclude pests and rodents from the facility, failure to maintain equipment and failure to ensure adequate employee sanitation.

“Kwong Tung Foods was repeatedly warned about the insanitary conditions at its Minneapolis food facility,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to protect consumers from adulterated food and enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction.  As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location.  Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.

According to the complaint, in October 2015, FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility, located at 1840 E. 38th Street in Minneapolis, and observed numerous insanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair.

USDistrctCourtMinn_406x250 Specifically, according to the complaint, FDA observed evidence of live and dead pests and rodents in production rooms, a black mold-like substance and debris on production equipment, inadequate employee sanitation practices, and potential cross-contamination with major allergens.  In addition, FDA observed condensate dripping onto finished bean sprouts, according to the complaint.

FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility twice in 2014.  As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed failures to exclude pests from the facility and to adequately maintain equipment and employee sanitation practices.

Under federal law, food processors are required to comply with current good manufacturing practices provided by FDA regulation.  The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.

The government is represented by Trial Attorney Alistair Reader of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bahram Samie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. They were assisted by Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Kang of the Food and Drug Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.

 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Food Safety News

FDA Shuts Down Sprouts Processor for ‘Unsanitary Conditions’

William H. Oshiro, owner of RZM Food Factory, has agreed to stop processing and distributing food until he demonstrates to the FDA that RZM Food Factory’s facility and practices comply with federal food safety requirements.

The agreement, known as a consent decree of permanent injunction, was signed by a federal judge and entered in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii on Dec. 11, 2014.

RZM Food Factory prepared, packed, and held ready-to-eat mung bean, alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts and distributed them in Hawaii. After FDA investigators documented unsanitary conditions at the firm during previous inspections, Mr. Oshiro had agreed to make changes in his production operation, but the FDA has repeatedly found and documented unsanitary conditions.

Sprouts are commonly consumed in their raw state without further processing to eliminate pathogens. Therefore, the manner in which they are produced, packed, and held is critical to ensuring that the potential for microbial contamination is minimized.

Mr. Oshiro has said that RZM Food Factory is no longer processing or distributing food. If Mr. Oshiro decides to resume operations, under the consent decree, he must first demonstrate that RZM Food Factory’s sanitary practices, building, and equipment are suitable to prevent contamination of the food that it prepares and distributes. In addition, to resume operations, Mr. Oshiro must, among other things, retain an independent sanitation expert and develop a program to eliminate unsanitary conditions at the facility.

“The FDA repeatedly advised RZM Food Factory of unsanitary conditions at the facility,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “If and when the company is permitted to resume operations, the FDA plans to continue monitoring its operations and may require the company to recall products or cease production if the agency discovers future violations of food safety practices.”

Food Safety News

Improved security solutions coming down the pipeline

A major issue confronting retail grocers in 2015 is protecting customer data and payment information. Data security is critical to protecting a company’s point-of-sale systems and information assets, and more importantly, shoppers expect it whenever they enter the check-out lane.

Right now, total data security is a goal — not yet a reality. But solutions are in the pipeline, and they couldn’t be coming at a better time.

The impact of data hacking on consumers has been huge. In 2013, more than 550 million people had their identities stolen, according to Symantec. The Target and Home Depot data breaches grabbed headlines for the magnitude and extent of stolen data. But, most people might be surprised to learn that data security incidents occur more often at financial institutions (34%), than retail merchants (10.8%), according to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Despite the bad headlines, there are reasons to be encouraged that improved security solutions are becoming available. After years of relative indifference to the problem, consumers now demand assurance that their personal identifiable information is protected. As a result, companies are investing in additional resources to find solutions. This energy, in turn, is fueling innovation to counter the sophisticated strategies of hackers.

For example, First Data, an industry partner with the National Grocers Association, has developed a data security solution that is of particular relevance to the grocery industry. TransArmor is a payment card security system that combines the flexibility of encryption with random-number tokenization to protect merchants and their customers from the consequences of a payment card data breach. (Tokenization is the security solution behind the new Apple Pay mobile app.) Mobile payment systems are also beginning to emerge that perform the dual function of protecting customer data, while limiting the impact of swipe fees.

Retailers already go to great lengths to prevent data breaches, but effective merchant solutions are on the horizon that will put hackers out of business.

Supermarket News

EU-28: Apple, pear production up – grape production significantly down

USDA Fresh Deciduous Fruit Report Annual 2014
EU-28: Apple, pear production up – grape production significantly down

The EU-28 remains a leading producer of fresh deciduous fruits. Apples are the most important fresh deciduous fruit grown within the European Union. Commercial apple production in marketing year (MY) 2014/15 is estimated to increase by 8 percent year-on-year and reach 11.7 MMT. Commercial pear production is forecast to
be comparable to MY 2013/14 at 2.2 MMT whereas table grapes production is expected to be down by 16 percent and account for 1.6 MMT. Non-commercial apple production shows an increase of estimated 45 percentto 1.6 MMT; non-commercial pear production forecast is at an almost 3 percent decline reaching 160,000 MT.

Significantly higher apple production is expected to occur in Poland, Italy, Germany,
Hungary, Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, which is only partially offset by lower production in Spain, Croatia, Romania, France, Portugal, Bulgaria, and the Baltic countries. The Netherlands and Belgium report higher pear
production in MY 2014/15 by about 20 percent, which is offset by 3 percent lower production in Italy (the major pear producer within the EU) and 9 percent lower production in Spain. Table grape production is expected to be significantly down especially in the major producing country Italy but also in Spain and Greece. On an average, quality and fruit size of the apple crop in MY 2014/15 is reported to be very good.

Click here to see the full report

Publication date: 11/4/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Pear season winds down

Pear growers in California were picking the last of their fruit this week, as the state finishes up its harvest. Production is expected to be less than that from the previous season, as harvesting was ahead of schedule for most of the season.

“Typically, we have fruit into November and December,” said Chris Zanobini, executive director of the California Pear Advisory Board. “This year, we’ll be pretty much cleaned up sooner than that.” Last year’s crop production reached 3.8 million, and it’s expected this year’s crop will be smaller than that, at 3.0 million boxes. Zanobini noted that a dip in production often follows a year with good yields, though a reduction in acreage is also responsible for less production this year.

“We did lose a significant piece of production with land that was sold and trees removed,” explained Zanobini. “About seven percent of the state’s acreage was affected.” Current acreage is between 13,000 and 14,000 acres.

At the end of last week, prices for a carton of apple pears 12s were between $ 13.85 and $ 16.85, 14s ranged from $ 12.85 and $ 15.85, and 16s were between $ 12.85 and $ 14.85.

For more information:

Chris Zanobini

California Pear Advisory Board

+1 916 441 0432

FreshPlaza.com

Strikes in Belgium shut down Delhaize stores: Reports

More than 100 stores owned by Delhaize in Belgium were unable to open Friday after employees at the company called a wildcat strike to protest the retailer’s proposed restructuring, reports said.

Warehouse workers walked off the job Thursday after union representatives received word of a proposal from Delhaize that would save jobs but eliminate pay for worker breaks and reduce leave, reports said.

The proposal was revised from a June restructuring plan that would have eliminated around 2,500 jobs and close 14 stores.

Delhaize officials have said the company is beset by a higher cost structure than its peers in Belgium, as detailed in this slide at right presented at the retailer’s most recent financial conference call in August.

Striking workers reportedly have blocked the entrance to two Belgium warehouses.

The below Tweet from a Belgian news site shows a photograph of striking workers wearing a sign that translates to “We are all on sale.”

Delhaize officials were not immediately available for comment Friday. One newspaper said a spokesman said the disruption “will have huge economic repercussions for the company.”

Supermarket News

Strikes in Belgium shut down Delhaize stores: Reports

More than 100 stores owned by Delhaize in Belgium were unable to open Friday after employees at the company called a wildcat strike to protest the retailer’s proposed restructuring, reports said.

Warehouse workers walked off the job Thursday after union representatives received word of a proposal from Delhaize that would save jobs but eliminate pay for worker breaks and reduce leave, reports said.

The proposal was revised from a June restructuring plan that would have eliminated around 2,500 jobs and close 14 stores.

Delhaize officials have said the company is beset by a higher cost structure than its peers in Belgium, as detailed in this slide at right presented at the retailer’s most recent financial conference call in August.

Striking workers reportedly have blocked the entrance to two Belgium warehouses.

The below Tweet from a Belgian news site shows a photograph of striking workers wearing a sign that translates to “We are all on sale.”

Delhaize officials were not immediately available for comment Friday. One newspaper said a spokesman said the disruption “will have huge economic repercussions for the company.”

Supermarket News

Strikes in Belgium shut down Delhaize stores: Reports

More than 100 stores owned by Delhaize in Belgium were unable to open Friday after employees at the company called a wildcat strike to protest the retailer’s proposed restructuring, reports said.

Warehouse workers walked off the job Thursday after union representatives received word of a proposal from Delhaize that would save jobs but eliminate pay for worker breaks and reduce leave, reports said.

The proposal was revised from a June restructuring plan that would have eliminated around 2,500 jobs and close 14 stores.

Delhaize officials have said the company is beset by a higher cost structure than its peers in Belgium, as detailed in this slide at right presented at the retailer’s most recent financial conference call in August.

Striking workers reportedly have blocked the entrance to two Belgium warehouses.

The below Tweet from a Belgian news site shows a photograph of striking workers wearing a sign that translates to “We are all on sale.”

Delhaize officials were not immediately available for comment Friday. One newspaper said a spokesman said the disruption “will have huge economic repercussions for the company.”

Supermarket News

President and CEO of Foster Farms to Step Down

Ron Foster, the president and CEO of California-based Foster Farms, announced Thursday that he will step down from those positions within the poultry company, according to the Modesto Bee. However, he will remain an owner and board member.

Foster, 56, has served for 11 years as head of the company that his grandparents founded 75 years ago. He will remain as president and CEO until a replacement is named.

Beginning in early 2013, Foster led the company through two high-profile Salmonella Heidelberg outbreaks. The first sickened at least 134 people, primarily in Washington and Oregon, while the second sickened at least 634 people, including 490 Californians.

At the same time, under Foster’s leadership, the company has been celebrated by public figures, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for becoming an industry leader in lowering Salmonella contamination. In July, the city council of Livingston, CA, where Foster Farms is headquartered, presented Foster with a key to the city.

Recent Food Safety and Inspection Service data suggest that fewer than 5 percent of Foster Farms chicken parts are contaminated with Salmonella, compared to the industry average of about 20 percent. Despite those numbers, the company has made more headlines for its Salmonella problems than any other in the poultry industry.

“I have greatly enjoyed the past 11 years as your CEO,” Foster said in a letter to employees announcing his resignation. “During this period, we have witnessed some of the most challenging and some of the most rewarding times in our company’s history. I am confident that Foster Farms is positioned to do great things.”

Company executives reportedly told the Modesto Bee that the two recent Salmonella outbreaks led to a 25-percent drop in sales, which have since recovered.

Food Safety News

President and CEO of Foster Farms to Step Down

Ron Foster, the president and CEO of California-based Foster Farms, announced Thursday that he will step down from those positions within the poultry company, according to the Modesto Bee. However, he will remain an owner and board member.

Foster, 56, has served for 11 years as head of the company that his grandparents founded 75 years ago. He will remain as president and CEO until a replacement is named.

Beginning in early 2013, Foster led the company through two high-profile Salmonella Heidelberg outbreaks. The first sickened at least 134 people, primarily in Washington and Oregon, while the second sickened at least 634 people, including 490 Californians.

At the same time, under Foster’s leadership, the company has been celebrated by public figures, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for becoming an industry leader in lowering Salmonella contamination. In July, the city council of Livingston, CA, where Foster Farms is headquartered, presented Foster with a key to the city.

Recent Food Safety and Inspection Service data suggest that fewer than 5 percent of Foster Farms chicken parts are contaminated with Salmonella, compared to the industry average of about 20 percent. Despite those numbers, the company has made more headlines for its Salmonella problems than any other in the poultry industry.

“I have greatly enjoyed the past 11 years as your CEO,” Foster said in a letter to employees announcing his resignation. “During this period, we have witnessed some of the most challenging and some of the most rewarding times in our company’s history. I am confident that Foster Farms is positioned to do great things.”

Company executives reportedly told the Modesto Bee that the two recent Salmonella outbreaks led to a 25-percent drop in sales, which have since recovered.

Food Safety News

US: Mexican mango imports wind down

The volume of mangos imported into the United States from Mexico has been decreasing for the last several weeks as the import season winds down. In the last few weeks, Mexican imports have lagged behind those from a year ago, and the volume of fruit brought in from Mexico this year is less than that from last year.

“We’re toward the end of the mango deal from Mexico right now,” said Gary Clevenger of Freska Produce International. “We’ll probably finish up around mid-September, after that we’ll transition to Brazil and then Ecuador in October.” While volumes of imported fruit usually taper off during this time of the year, total fruit imported from Mexico has been down this season. For the week ending on August 16, 2014, just over 54.6 million boxes of mangos had been imported into the United States from Mexico. By the same point in the season last year, mango imports had reached 64.3 million boxes.

“It’s a combination of things for why there’s less volume from Mexico,” said Clevenger. “I think it’s the combination of weather and off-bearing trees in some regions.” With volumes decreasing, Clevenger noted that prices have risen over the last week and a half. As of August 16, the average price for a box of Kent mangos was $ 4.24 at the Texas entry point and $ 4.13 at the Nogales entry point. Both of those figures are higher than the average prices from the previous week, by 11 percent for the Texas entry point and 14 percent for the Nogales entry point. Similarly, the average price for a box of Keitt mangos was $ 4.15 at the Texas entry point and $ 4.03 at the Nogales entry point – both of which were 11 percent higher than the average price from the previous week.

“Prices have risen over the last week and a half,” said Clevenger. “There haven’t really been spikes in demand, it’s just demand created from low volumes.”

For more information:

Gary Clevenger

Freska Produce International

+1 805 650 1040

FreshPlaza.com

US: Mexican mango imports wind down

The volume of mangos imported into the United States from Mexico has been decreasing for the last several weeks as the import season winds down. In the last few weeks, Mexican imports have lagged behind those from a year ago, and the volume of fruit brought in from Mexico this year is less than that from last year.

“We’re toward the end of the mango deal from Mexico right now,” said Gary Clevenger of Freska Produce International. “We’ll probably finish up around mid-September, after that we’ll transition to Brazil and then Ecuador in October.” While volumes of imported fruit usually taper off during this time of the year, total fruit imported from Mexico has been down this season. For the week ending on August 16, 2014, just over 54.6 million boxes of mangos had been imported into the United States from Mexico. By the same point in the season last year, mango imports had reached 64.3 million boxes.

“It’s a combination of things for why there’s less volume from Mexico,” said Clevenger. “I think it’s the combination of weather and off-bearing trees in some regions.” With volumes decreasing, Clevenger noted that prices have risen over the last week and a half. As of August 16, the average price for a box of Kent mangos was $ 4.24 at the Texas entry point and $ 4.13 at the Nogales entry point. Both of those figures are higher than the average prices from the previous week, by 11 percent for the Texas entry point and 14 percent for the Nogales entry point. Similarly, the average price for a box of Keitt mangos was $ 4.15 at the Texas entry point and $ 4.03 at the Nogales entry point – both of which were 11 percent higher than the average price from the previous week.

“Prices have risen over the last week and a half,” said Clevenger. “There haven’t really been spikes in demand, it’s just demand created from low volumes.”

For more information:

Gary Clevenger

Freska Produce International

+1 805 650 1040

FreshPlaza.com

As California avocado crop winds down, Mexico gearing up to fill demand

With a total crop volume at only 60 percent of a year ago, the California avocado season is winding down as Mexico gears up to fill demand.

Ron Araiza, director of sales for Mission Produce Inc. in Oxnard, CA, told The Produce News Aug. 20 that California was expected to send around 6 million cartons of fruit to market this week and reduce its volume by around 1 million cartons per week for the next several weeks. That means California would send around 4 million cartons to market during the Labor Day week of Sept. 1.

That’s a far cry from the typical demand of about 35 million cartons per week.

“During September, we [avocado shippers] are going to be looking to Mexico to provide 25 [million] to 28 million cartons per week,” he said.

The total California crop is expected to come in somewhere around 300 million pounds when all is said and done, which is 40 percent less than last year’s volume of close to 500 million pounds.

Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp. in Escondido, CA, said that by mid-August, California growers were at about 273 million pounds. He anticipated shipments throughout September, albeit at a relatively low level.

“Three hundred million is possible,” he said. “We may get there.”

Like most of the industry, Henry Avocado sources from many different countries of origin and attempts to fill the orders of its customers relatively seamlessly. While there is a market price differential depending upon origin, the key is simply to fill demand.

As August turns into September, there will still be some Peruvian avocados being sold from inventory and Chile is expected to have a very limited volume of avocados for sale within the United States by early September.

Henry said Mexico will supply most of the country, while most shipments of California avocados will stay close to home to fill the Golden State’s cavernous demand for the fruit.

One California area gearing up for that September time slot is the Morro Bay avocado deal from California’s Central Coast, marketed under that name. Over the last couple of years, growers in California’s furthest avocado-producing region have been creating a niche market for their fruit, which they claim has superior taste because climatic conditions require the fruit to stay on the tree almost twice as long as other areas.

Jim Shanley of Shanley Farms in Morro Bay, CA, said a couple of growers are out of the deal this year because of drought issues, but he has added two other growers and should have volume similar to what the deal had last year for the eight-week shipping season. The deal was expected to kick off on Labor Day and last through October.

“It will be similar to last year, but we won’t be able to grow it this year,” he said.

Shanley is expecting get a premium for that fruit in the high $ 30s. In fact, in mid-August California fruit was selling for top dollar in the high $ 30s. Peruvian fruit was at least $ 10 less per carton than that, and Mexican avocados were somewhere in between, with that price dependent on the origin of the fruit.

As September unfolds, Mexican growers will be shipping from several different blooms depending upon the location of the trees where the crop is harvested. By the end of September, the new crop for the new season will be on the market.

Chile, which comes into the U.S. market during the fall months, is expected to have less volume this year than last, according to Henry. He said the Chilean drought is still affecting volume and Chilean shippers have several options for their fruit, including Europe and other South American countries. They are no longer so heavily dependent on the U.S. market.

While promotions from the California avocado industry will wind down after Labor Day, Mexico is increasing its visibility in the marketplace. Its first promotion of the season is sports-themed and designed to kick off the U.S. football season as well as the Mexican avocado season.

 

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

As California avocado crop winds down, Mexico gearing up to fill demand

With a total crop volume at only 60 percent of a year ago, the California avocado season is winding down as Mexico gears up to fill demand.

Ron Araiza, director of sales for Mission Produce Inc. in Oxnard, CA, told The Produce News Aug. 20 that California was expected to send around 6 million cartons of fruit to market this week and reduce its volume by around 1 million cartons per week for the next several weeks. That means California would send around 4 million cartons to market during the Labor Day week of Sept. 1.

That’s a far cry from the typical demand of about 35 million cartons per week.

“During September, we [avocado shippers] are going to be looking to Mexico to provide 25 [million] to 28 million cartons per week,” he said.

The total California crop is expected to come in somewhere around 300 million pounds when all is said and done, which is 40 percent less than last year’s volume of close to 500 million pounds.

Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp. in Escondido, CA, said that by mid-August, California growers were at about 273 million pounds. He anticipated shipments throughout September, albeit at a relatively low level.

“Three hundred million is possible,” he said. “We may get there.”

Like most of the industry, Henry Avocado sources from many different countries of origin and attempts to fill the orders of its customers relatively seamlessly. While there is a market price differential depending upon origin, the key is simply to fill demand.

As August turns into September, there will still be some Peruvian avocados being sold from inventory and Chile is expected to have a very limited volume of avocados for sale within the United States by early September.

Henry said Mexico will supply most of the country, while most shipments of California avocados will stay close to home to fill the Golden State’s cavernous demand for the fruit.

One California area gearing up for that September time slot is the Morro Bay avocado deal from California’s Central Coast, marketed under that name. Over the last couple of years, growers in California’s furthest avocado-producing region have been creating a niche market for their fruit, which they claim has superior taste because climatic conditions require the fruit to stay on the tree almost twice as long as other areas.

Jim Shanley of Shanley Farms in Morro Bay, CA, said a couple of growers are out of the deal this year because of drought issues, but he has added two other growers and should have volume similar to what the deal had last year for the eight-week shipping season. The deal was expected to kick off on Labor Day and last through October.

“It will be similar to last year, but we won’t be able to grow it this year,” he said.

Shanley is expecting get a premium for that fruit in the high $ 30s. In fact, in mid-August California fruit was selling for top dollar in the high $ 30s. Peruvian fruit was at least $ 10 less per carton than that, and Mexican avocados were somewhere in between, with that price dependent on the origin of the fruit.

As September unfolds, Mexican growers will be shipping from several different blooms depending upon the location of the trees where the crop is harvested. By the end of September, the new crop for the new season will be on the market.

Chile, which comes into the U.S. market during the fall months, is expected to have less volume this year than last, according to Henry. He said the Chilean drought is still affecting volume and Chilean shippers have several options for their fruit, including Europe and other South American countries. They are no longer so heavily dependent on the U.S. market.

While promotions from the California avocado industry will wind down after Labor Day, Mexico is increasing its visibility in the marketplace. Its first promotion of the season is sports-themed and designed to kick off the U.S. football season as well as the Mexican avocado season.

 

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

Israeli fruit producers hope conflict quietens down by September

Israeli fruit producers hope conflict quietens down by September

The mango campaign is currently underway in Israel and Oron Ziv, of the Israeli producer and exporter Befresh Europe, is hoping for a successful season, “despite it being also bound to be difficult, as at the moment some clients are not keen to work with Israeli suppliers and there are additionally some problems with oversupply.”

Regarding pomegranates, which are also just starting, Oron affirms that the first container has only just arrived to the market and so far the situation is looking okay, although the season is still at too early a stage to make any accurate estimation.

Regarding the block of European supermarkets to Israeli products, which is gradually affecting not just produce from specific areas, but the country as a whole, Oron hopes “that both the conflict and the market situation will have quieted down by September, with the start of the citrus and avocado campaigns, as right now, for instance, the Scandinavian market is totally blocked.”

On the other side of the coin, the recent Russian ban on EU products could represent an opportunity for Israel to ship more goods directly to Russia. Oron explains that “it will depend on the product and the prices. The pepper shipments, for example, will certainly shift towards Russia, although Russian importers may not be able to pay some of the most expensive products, like the Orri. ”

Oron, in any case, believes that the difficulties have a lot to do with the market situation in general, as many clients are eager to purchase high quality products, even if they come from Israel. “The mango market, for instance, is currently flooded with cheap produce from Brazil. It is always a combination of political and market issues, and thus how it will all evolve is difficult to predict.”

Last year, some Israeli products already had a bad season, namely grapefruits, but other countries, like South Africa, were also affected by these issues. “Demand appears to be going down and Israel produces large volumes of red grapefruit. Producers will likely shift to more profitable citrus varieties, like the Orri, so we’ll see what impact this will have on prices.”

Oron points to the need to develop new varieties, but also to the fact that “this is a long process. It takes some time before new varieties become good commercial varieties; the ones we are currently testing, for example, will likely take a decade before we can claim them to have become a success like the Orri. Growers naturally not only look at the selling price, but also to costs and the average yield over the years.”

For more information:
Oron Ziv
BeFresh Europe
Mobile  +972 52 3252464
Mobile  +31 6 22514987
Office   +972 52 2555135
Fax +972 153 547625599
[email protected]
www.befreshcorp.com

Publication date: 8/13/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Israeli fruit producers hope conflict quietens down by September

Israeli fruit producers hope conflict quietens down by September

The mango campaign is currently underway in Israel and Oron Ziv, of the Israeli producer and exporter Befresh Europe, is hoping for a successful season, “despite it being also bound to be difficult, as at the moment some clients are not keen to work with Israeli suppliers and there are additionally some problems with oversupply.”

Regarding pomegranates, which are also just starting, Oron affirms that the first container has only just arrived to the market and so far the situation is looking okay, although the season is still at too early a stage to make any accurate estimation.

Regarding the block of European supermarkets to Israeli products, which is gradually affecting not just produce from specific areas, but the country as a whole, Oron hopes “that both the conflict and the market situation will have quieted down by September, with the start of the citrus and avocado campaigns, as right now, for instance, the Scandinavian market is totally blocked.”

On the other side of the coin, the recent Russian ban on EU products could represent an opportunity for Israel to ship more goods directly to Russia. Oron explains that “it will depend on the product and the prices. The pepper shipments, for example, will certainly shift towards Russia, although Russian importers may not be able to pay some of the most expensive products, like the Orri. ”

Oron, in any case, believes that the difficulties have a lot to do with the market situation in general, as many clients are eager to purchase high quality products, even if they come from Israel. “The mango market, for instance, is currently flooded with cheap produce from Brazil. It is always a combination of political and market issues, and thus how it will all evolve is difficult to predict.”

Last year, some Israeli products already had a bad season, namely grapefruits, but other countries, like South Africa, were also affected by these issues. “Demand appears to be going down and Israel produces large volumes of red grapefruit. Producers will likely shift to more profitable citrus varieties, like the Orri, so we’ll see what impact this will have on prices.”

Oron points to the need to develop new varieties, but also to the fact that “this is a long process. It takes some time before new varieties become good commercial varieties; the ones we are currently testing, for example, will likely take a decade before we can claim them to have become a success like the Orri. Growers naturally not only look at the selling price, but also to costs and the average yield over the years.”

For more information:
Oron Ziv
BeFresh Europe
Mobile  +972 52 3252464
Mobile  +31 6 22514987
Office   +972 52 2555135
Fax +972 153 547625599
[email protected]
www.befreshcorp.com

Publication date: 8/13/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Food Vendors Shut Down for Health Code Violations at Western Montana Fair

Three food vendors were shut down Friday at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula, MT, after health department inspectors found that “hundreds of pounds of food” the concessionaires were planning to serve had not been properly refrigerated for several days.
Other violations involved improper storage of food, unsanitized dishes, and employees not washing their hands, apparently in one case because not enough water was available.
Although three people reportedly felt ill after eating food served by the vendors, there were no official reports of foodborne illnesses linked to the fair, said Amanda Poston, an infectious disease nurse with the Missoula City-County Health Department.
“I’m the one who gets the reports, and we have not had any confirmed cases,” she told Food Safety News.

The three vendors — Route 66, Delightful Goodies and The Candy Stand — which are all affiliated with North Star Amusements of Cody, WY, will have to prove they can provide safe food or they won’t be allowed into the fair next year, a department official said.
“In order for those vendors to come back to Missoula next year, they are going to need to contact us and let us know how they are going to be able to do it safely next year,” said Environmental Health Specialist Alisha Johnson.
Johnson noted that in the six years she had worked for the department, she had never seen a food vendor be shut down at the fair.
“Really, the responsibility rests on the operator themselves to know what the regulations are, and the put proper food safety protocols in place, and that simply wasn’t happening here,” she said.
Department inspectors had talked to the vendors earlier in the week about the observed food code violations and what needed to be done to remain open, but their advice was not being followed.

“They just couldn’t quite meet those requirements, and we realized that it was irresponsible to continue to let them operate,” Johnson said.

On Monday, a local newspaper slammed the carnival contractor and the fair organizers for the situation, editorializing that, “These folks were clearly, repeatedly, in violation of health regulations that could have sickened their customers.”

Food Safety News