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Stemilt’s Kyle Mathison orchestrates cherry harvest under a full moon


In the life of a cherry grower, it’s not every day that everything aligns just as you would want them to. However, for fourth-generation Stemilt cherry grower Kyle Mathison and his high-altitude Moon cherries, this year’s harvest is shaping up exactly the way he would prefer if he could have scripted it.

That’s because July 18 will have a full moon. This is the lunar phase that Mathison prefers to harvest his cherries under, as he finds the extra gravitational pull from the moon boosts his cherry trees’ ability to deliver energy to the growing fruits in the form of carbohydrates. The result is jumbo-sized cherries with higher sugars, acids, and aromatics to deliver a memorable dessert eating experience.

“There’s no better time to harvest cherries than around a full moon,” Mathison, who has been farming cherries on Stemilt Hill in Wenatchee, WA, for more than four decades, said in a press release. “A full moon brings energy with it, and that energy pulls nutrients from the roots of cherry trees right into the fruit. The result is large and firm cherries that are truly world famous. Each cherry explodes with flavor when you bite into it.”Stemilt-Moon-Cherries--pouch-bag

Mathison just started harvesting cherries from his unique Amigos Orchards in Wenatchee, located 2,640 feet above sea level and higher, or literally a half mile closer to the moon. These cherries are the latest freshly harvested cherries in Washington state, and though coming off the tree earlier than they typically do, will still take Stemilt’s cherry harvest into early August. In a normal year where Washington cherries start in June, cherry harvest at Amigos would go into September.

The start of harvest at Amigos also signals the start of Stemilt’s A Half Mile Closer to the Moon cherry program, where premium cherries from high-altitudes are packed into specially marked pouch bags to offer retailers with a unique story to share with shoppers, and a grand finale to cherry season. This is the fifth year Stemilt has packed “Moon cherries.”

Named after the Spanish word for friends, the Amigos orchards overlook the Columbia River and town of Wenatchee not too far from the family’s original homestead on Stemilt Hill. In the cherry world, any orchard planted above 1,800 feet is considered high-elevation. Having already surpassed that height, Mathison began planting cherries at even higher elevations in 2002 in order to stretch the availability of Stemilt cherries.

New this year, Stemilt has a Moon cherry video to help retailers tell the farm to fork story of these special cherries with their shoppers on social and digital channels. The video features Kyle and West Mathison and the unique geography, farming practices, and unmatched passion Kyle has for growing Moon cherries.

Not only is his 2016 Moon cherry harvest aligning with the ideal lunar cycle, but the growing conditions all summer long have been a dream at Amigos. Mathison’s crop will produce jumbo-sized cherries with high firmness, sugars, acids and true dessert qualities.

“They are going to wow consumers,” Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director, said in the release. “Sweetheart, Skeena and Staccato are the varieties grown by Kyle at Amigos, and all three have benefitted from near-perfect growing conditions this year. Warm but not hot days followed by cool nights and the added benefit of being fueled by Kyle’s prescription natural fertilizer made at his nearby compost farm result in fantastic cherries. We’re excited to deliver consumers with this final and memorable taste of Stemilt cherries through our branded A Half Mile Closer to the Moon program. It’s an exciting way to finish off another great cherry season.”

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

Full Tilt Recalls Most 2014 Dairy-Based Ice Cream Flavors for Listeria Risk

Full Tilt Ice Cream of Seattle is recalling all dairy-based ice-cream flavors (except non-dairy frozen desserts) sold under the Full Tilt brand and produced between Jan. 1 and Dec. 19, 2014, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The Full Tilt dairy-based ice-cream products were distributed in Oregon and Washington through grocery stores and retail scoop shops.

The ice cream was sold in 16-oz. paper containers with a 7-digit code ending in 14x (e.g., 0219142), as well as 1.5-gallon and 3-gallon plastic gallon tubs produced before 12/19/2014. The following table summarizes the affected products:

Name of product size production dates type of packaging
Full Tilt Ice Cream 16-oz. containers 01/01/2014-12/19/2014 paper
Full Tilt Ice Cream 1.5-gallon containers 01/01/2014-12/19/2014 plastic gallon
Full Tilt Ice Cream 3-gallon containers 01/01/2014-12/19/2014 plastic gallon

No illnesses have been reported to date.

These dairy-based ice-cream products contain ice-cream base produced and recalled by Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream Inc. as an ingredient. Full Tilt has since performed a rigorous sanitation schedule to prevent further contamination.

This recall is being made with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Consumers who have purchased Full Tilt are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (206) 963-5038 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Food Safety News

Gallery: A Market Basket full of news

Update: Demoulas cousins agree to price, but not to deal

The rival cousins negotiating over Demoulas Super Markets appear to have agreed to a price, but not to a deal. That message emerged between a series of barbs traded over the weekend between Arthur T. Demoulas, the ousted president and part-owner seeking to buy the 50.5% of the chain he does not own; majority owners headed by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas; and independent members of the company’s board of directors.

Read the full story

Independent directors of Demoulas Super Markets on Wednesday said they have still received no response to their offer last week to put ousted Market Basket president Arthur T. Demoulas and protesting associates back to work, saying the nearly month-long job action was “a no-win situation.”

Read the full story

Supermarket News

Full speed ahead in fresh foods

Although it was another strong year for the perimeter, retailers need to be in tune with customer trends and tastes to keep increasing fresh sales. “Understanding and catering to consumer preferences and providing value will be key for maintaining upward movement in the space, whether it’s in the form of convenience, health or products with global appeal,” said Sarah Schmansky, director of retail programs at Nielsen Perishables Group. Supermarket dairy aisle dollar …

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Supermarket News

B.C. cherries given full access for export into China

B.C. cherries given full access for export into China

B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick has issued the following statement while touring China with Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz as part of a federally led trade mission with industry and government leaders from B.C. and across Canada:

“Im pleased to report that just a few days into our mission we’re already seeing results. An agreement was signed between the Governments of Canada and China that will lead to full, unimpeded access for fresh B.C. cherries into China. As a result B.C. cherry growers stand to generate millions of dollars a year in new revenue.

“The B.C. government has worked closely with cherry growers, the federal government and Chinese importers to reach this agreement. We look forward to building on this momentum and playing the same role in helping gain access for fresh B.C. blueberries, as well as working to expand the markets for B.C. pork, wine, seafood and other products.

“I’d also like to congratulate the governments of Canada and China on the ongoing progress made on this trade mission towards fresh B.C. blueberries being approved for sale in the Chinese market. B.C. growers could be looking at up to $ 65 million worth of exports a year once the agreement is fully implemented.

“The deals we’re making on this trade mission could easily result in an increase in B.C. agrifood exports of about $ 100 million within a few years. The opportunities in China are huge. We’ve set record agrifood exports to China in each of the last four years, and we want that to grow.”


Publication date: 6/18/2014

Eren Tarim’s Turkish stonefruit season in full swing

Aysel Oguz: “We are always open to new markets”
Eren Tarim’s Turkish stonefruit season in full swing
Most Turkish exporters are specialised in citrus, but Eren Tarim wished to offer a wider range of fruit and vegetables. Deputy export manager Aysel Oguz said: “We believe it is important for a business to remain active throughout the year. Besides citrus, we also sell figs, stonefruit, melons, pomegranates, pears and various vegetables. At the moment we are in the middle of the stonefruit season, which is very important for our company. We supply cherries, apricots and peaches. “The flowering went well, even though a part of the production was affected by frosts and rain. But fortunately Turkey is a big country with many production areas, so we’ll reach our normal volumes.” The products are marketed under its own brand, EREN.

Aysel Oguz during Medfel 2014

Always open to new markets 

Eren Tarim exports to various countries in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, and also sees great potential in Asia. “The mindset in Asian countries is very different than in Europe, but it is a great challenge to discover them and supply them. Currently, many stonefruit shipments are made to these countries by air. We are always open to new markets.” This year, Eren Tarim introduced a new marketing campaign with the motto ‘Will to Live’. The new slogan is part of the campaign which marks the 20-year anniversary of the company. “We find it very important to regularly come up with new themes and to promote them in our markets. The presentation of our company and our products is very important to us.”

Aysel is satisfied with the fair Medfel, in which the company took part from 13 to 15 May. “At this fair it is very easy to see who is coming to your stand and to arrange B2B meetings. It is very effective, and without wasting any precious time. Additionally, it is nice that the fair is so compact. It is an event that either not many people know about, or they are not interested in.”

For more information:
Aysel Oguz
Eren Tarim
Mersin – Turkey
T: +90 – 324 454 14 87-88
F: +90 – 324 454 14 89
[email protected]

Publication date: 5/22/2014
Author: Gertrude Snoei

Legal Trend Pins Full Responsibility for Illnesses on Produce Distributors, Farmers

When the produce distribution company Mike Dill works for began receiving indemnity agreements from corporate customers asking to guarantee that their organic produce was completely free of adulterants, he was hesitant to agree to a statement that was not physically possible to prove.

Dill, the food safety and compliance manager for Oregon-based Organically Grown Company, knew that no fruit and vegetable distributor could guarantee that their products were entirely free from all microbial contamination, however minuscule the risk might be. And yet, that’s exactly what his customers — grocery chains, restaurants, and other produce distributors — were asking his company to do.

Over the past five to 10 years, produce industry professionals have watched these types of guarantees maneuver into the majority of relevant contracts, despite the fact that they can’t be proven. But, by signing them, distributors and farmers effectively agree to take full responsibility for any foodborne illnesses that result from eating their products, even if the illnesses resulted from negligence on the part of the grocery chain or the restaurant.

“[The distributor] guarantees that the products it grows and/or handles are not adulterated …” states one such contract. Another asks that, “[The distributor] guarantees that the products are in full compliance with all the laws of the United States and all laws of any state or local government within the United States.”

Some companies may have cut ties with customers when such language first began appearing in contracts, but soon enough they were being required by most major grocery chains. Now some distributors have adopted the language when buying from other distributors.

“We have millions of pounds of produce going through our warehouse,” Dill said. “I don’t think any company in the produce trade has the ability to guarantee it’s all 100-percent fine.”

The only way a produce company could guarantee their products were completely free of contamination would be to test every square inch of each individual apple or leaf of spinach, said Bill Marler, managing partner of food safety law firm Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News.

“If a company’s lawyers are asking for this assurance, it’s nonsensical,” Marler said.

Such warranties or guarantees allow the purchasing companies to attempt to shift all of the responsibility for food safety on to the distributors and farmers, said Brad Sullivan, managing attorney at L+G LLP, Attorneys at Law, which specializes in agricultural law, food safety compliance and product liability.

What’s more, Sullivan said, these warranties or guarantees, when combined with indemnity agreements, shift the responsibility in such a way that the farmer and distributor can be held responsible even when a food safety issue arises from the customer’s own negligence.

For example, if a grocery chain stores a product at an improper temperature and allows bacteria to propagate and sicken people, the farmer and distributor could still be on the hook to foot the legal bill. The same would apply if a restaurant unintentionally cross-contaminated products in the kitchen.

“Basically, if there’s an outbreak, they’re telling the farmer, ’You have to pay everything and not us — not just for your negligence, but ours, too,’” Sullivan said.

Though illness outbreaks are considered very rare in the U.S. produce industry, it is still impossible to completely prevent contamination. And while most contamination never results in an illness, a few exceedingly rare contamination events lead to outbreaks.

When an E. coli or Salmonella outbreak does occur, every actor in the supply chain — from the farmer to the grocery chain — faces legal responsibility from a personal injury standpoint, Marler said.

When grocery chains or restaurants are sued by victims of foodborne illness outbreaks, they have long had the ability to turn around and sue the farmer or distributor further down the supply chain if the farmer or distributor is found to be at fault. The difference with this new language in the indemnity agreements is that the grocery chains remove the potential for their own culpability.

Another issue arises, however, when the farmer and distributor does not have enough insurance money to cover the cost of litigation, which, in a severe outbreak, is often several orders of magnitude greater than their insurance policy.

Litigation costs against Jensen Farms in the 2011 Listeria outbreak involving cantaloupe, for example, quickly exceeded their $ 4-million insurance policy and put the farm out of business. Nearly three years later, retailers which sold the cantaloupes, including Walmart and Kroger, are still locked in legal discussions regarding how much money to pay out to victims to cover the remaining claims. (Editor’s note: Walmart just settled 23 civil cases related to Jensen Farms cantaloupe.)

The indemnity agreements may also be designed to cover transactions several months to a year in advance. Dill’s company may sign an agreement in January while not even knowing what types of products they’ll be selling come June or July, let alone whether or not the products are completely free of contamination.

Distributors who mainly sell to smaller stores, such as San Francisco-based Veritable Vegetable, have only dealt with such agreements when doing business with major grocery chains, according to Daria Colner, communications director for Veritable Vegetable.

Still, the practice has become increasingly common across the trade.

“The people with all the market power are imposing stricter and stricter indemnity, hold harmless, guarantee, and insurance requirements on people who can’t really give those assurances,” Sullivan said.

Until something changes, Dill said he and other distributors feel stuck in legal limbo.

“I am all for food safety and doing all I can to ensure our growers are providing the safest products possible, but I am seeing a shift in what my position entails,” Dill said. “I’m moving from being an on-farm resource to a bookkeeper who gathers documents to satisfy customers who might feel they will not have any liability in an outbreak if I sign their document.”

Food Safety News

Retailers applaud action on ‘full time’ ACA definition

Food Marketing Institute and National Grocers Association were among the retail groups that said they supported the advancement of a bill to change the definition of “full time” in the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday approved H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act, which would amend the ACA’s definition of full-time to 40 hours per week, rather than 30. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind.


Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.

The next step for this bill is a vote on the House floor, which is expected to occur in the upcoming weeks, NGA said.

“NGA is pleased to see H.R. 2575 continue to advance through Congress,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA, in a statement. “Changing the ACA’s definition of a full-time employee is a top priority for our membership. NGA urges House Leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a bipartisan vote, and we look forward to swift consideration in the Senate.”

Robert Rosado, FMI director of government relations, said, “FMI applauds the Ways and Means Committee’s approval of H.R. 2575 … and we hope to continue broadening support to raise the ACA’s 30-hours-per-week definition as this legislation moves forward. FMI strongly supports this legislation, as well as the Forty Hours Is Full Time Act, H.R. 2988 and S. 1188, respectively, and other efforts by Congress to address the ACA’s full-time employee definition this year.”

Under health care reform, employers must offer health insurance to all full-time workers or face a penalty.

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Supermarket News

Food Lion tailgate sweepstakes offers truck full of groceries to winner

Food Lion is offering customers a chance to win multiple prizes through its Ultimate Tailgate Sweepstakes, including a new truck, a 55-inch television and gaming system, and Food Lion gift cards.

Now through Feb. 4, customers who use their personal MVP card and purchase at least four participating products will automatically be entered for a chance to win. A complete list of participating products is available in stores and online at

During the contest, there will also be daily drawings offering customers a chance to win $ 10 Food Lion gift cards. The grand prize winner will receive a 2014 GMC Sierra Truck, a truckload of groceries and a food donation to a charity of the winner’s choice. Additionally, 10 winners will receive one Game Day Entertainment Pack, complete with a 55-inch television and gaming system.

Salisbury, NC-based Food Lion operates more than 1,100 supermarkets in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, and it employs approximately 57,000 associates.

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

Chinese Asian pear season in full swing at Yex

Xian Huang: “Lower imports due to high cost of fruit in China”
Chinese Asian pear season in full swing at Yex

At Yex, the Asian pear season is in full swing. “High season runs from August to February. We import Asian pears, of the Golden variety, directly from China for the EU market,” said Xian Huang from Yex. The importer explains that German customers particularly enjoy Asian pears, but he expects this will also rise in other countries over the coming years. 

The Asian pear is a round fruit in the shape of a large apple, which is why it is often referred to as the apple-pear. They have the texture and bite like an apple, but the sweetness and taste of a pear. The pear is white on the inside and has a small core. The pear also has thin golden skin. Yex delivers the Asian pears in an open top container of 7kg for the retail trade. According to the importer it is difficult to estimate volumes for the whole season, “Due to the high cost of fruit in China, there has been reduced demand from EU countries this year.

Xian said that the Asian pear can also be grown in The Netherlands, but also that this is still not often done by professional growers. “It is increasingly found in private gardens.” Asian pears have a brix value of around 10-11% with juice, and that distinguishes it from the European pear. The Asian pear is not easy to plant in Europe because during harvest there needs to be a temperature above 30°C lasting for at least 30 days.”

For more information:
ABC Westland 120
2685 DB Poeldijk
T: +31 174 214536
F: +31 174 214449
[email protected]

Publication date: 10/23/2013

UK: British Tomato Conference in full swing

Speaking with the UK growers, we got to learn that the TGA put in a great effort over the last years to promote the local British tomato on the domestic market. UK retailers and the growers are now working closely together in the selection of tasty varieties in order to fulfill the customers demand for a product with added value. 
Besides the conference today, the guest also have the possibilities to network and learn the latest from  greenhouse suppliers at a small trade show floor. 

HortiDaily is also present and will report the speaker program in an after event report. A complete photo report from the British Tomato Conference can be found in Friday’s edition of

Full Disclosure: Changes to Poultry Inspections Needed to Protect Public Health

For the past 15 years, USDA conducted a pilot project to inform how we modernize our inspection process – all to ensure that meat and poultry is safe to eat. Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report on the project, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), and how FSIS has relied on it to propose a modernized approach to inspecting poultry.

While an initial scan of the press coverage may lead you to believe that GAO discredits this proposal, that is not the case. GAO gave HIMP a thorough review and made just two recommendations, both of which FSIS is already working to fulfill.

GAO chose not to include some facts that also deserve public disclosure. FSIS put forward this proposal because data shows that a system like HIMP will prevent at least 5,000 more foodborne illnesses annually. The study that FSIS has conducted of HIMP provides an appropriate basis on which to judge the merits of this system. Approximately 10 years ago, FSIS asked an independent group of experts in poultry microbiology, statistical evaluation, poultry food safety and public health to evaluate our study.

These experts supported FSIS’ study design and found that that our approach was valid. But GAO’s report does not mention this food safety conclusion.

GAO’s report also assumes that the basis for moving forward with this proposal is to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. Although it does accomplish both of those things, as FSIS made clear to GAO, this proposal is first and foremost about making food safer. As an agency responsible above all for protecting consumers from foodborne illness, we are obligated to ensure a more modern and better system at hand. In other words GAO did not evaluate this from a public health angle – Rates of illness caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter have been stagnant, even showing occasional rises, in recent years. We must reverse this trend, and if we are to do so, one thing is clear: we cannot continue inspecting poultry the way we have been for over 50 years.

Here is what the data tells us:

  • Under the HIMP, FSIS inspectors complete more inspection tasks “off the line” that verify that the plants they work in continuously satisfy food safety performance standards.
  • Fecal material, the primary avenue for pathogen contamination, appears about half as often in HIMP establishments as it does in non-HIMP establishments. HIMP establishments are also checked four times more often for fecal material by FSIS inspectors as are non HIMP establishments.
  • The average positive rate for Salmonella in HIMP establishments is 20% lower than the average positive rate in non-pilot establishments.

If finalized and implemented broadly, this new inspection system would enable FSIS to better fulfill our food safety mission. Nothing in the GAO’s report contradicts this basic fact.

Food Safety News

Investigation into Van Rijn restart in full progress

Discussions with potential financiers and competitors
Investigation into Van Rijn restart in full progress

Investigations into a possible restart for the Van Rijn Group is in full progress. Since last weekend, under the leadership of administrator Souren, the possibilities of a restart of the group or parts of it have been researched. “There are more discussions with potential financiers and competitors for a restart,” confirms General Director Ron de Greeff. He doesn’t want to say if it contains Dutch or international parties.

According to De Greeff the administrator is willing to make a decision as soon as possible. “Time is of the essence.” Today the employees will be informed about the developments within Van Rijn. In the Netherlands the Van Rijn Group has 200 employees, divided over Poeldijk (140) and Venlo (60).

Publication date: 8/13/2013
Author: Sander Bruins Slot

French Petit Violet artichoke season in full swing

French Petit Violet artichoke season in full swing

Peakvolumes of Prince de Bretagne’s Petit Violet artichokes are now available, and volumes of their other varieties of artichokes will last through the next several months.

The small Petit Violet artichokes are planted during the spring and are harvested in the spring and winter. Volumes coming from this Spring’s harvest are now available, and Prince de Bretagne estimates they are currently harvesting, packing and shipping between 8,000 and 10,000 cartons of the artichokes every day.

Also available from Prince de Bretagne are Castel and Camus artichokes. Summer volumes of those varieties are expected to be available through November.

For more information:
Marc Pavillard
Prince de Bretagne
[email protected]

Publication date: 7/10/2013
Author: Carlos Nunez