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Produce professionals have eye toward future trade with Cuba

The Dec. 17 announcement of a restoration of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has some produce industry members intrigued with the prospect of future trade with Cuba.

Robert Colescott, president and chief executive officer of Southern Specialties, headquartered in Pompano Beach, FL, said, “As Cuba begins to open for commerce with the U.S. the opportunity will favor the U.S. Exporters supplying Cuba with grains [will] potentially open doors for ports in Louisiana and Houston. I would expect tourism to begin making an impact that will improve the economy and, eventually, create demand for more specialty produce and other traditional fruits and vegetables. It will take several years before we see Cuba become a significant agriculture producer and exporter. Lots of work is necessary on their infrastructure including significant investments in logistics.”

Geno Valdes, vice president of sales and marketing for Southern Specialties, and a second-generation Cuban-American, said, “Fresh produce opportunities will be very exciting if relations with Cuba are truly a reality. Cuban people will want to eat produce they know, such as tomatoes, avocados, mangos and other tropical items.

“Due to its strategic location and rich soil many crops currently grown in Costa Rica and other Central American countries can be grown there,” Valdes continued. “Cuba has experienced farmers, lots of farm land and abundant water. The fact that Cuba has a high literacy rate is also an asset. The port of Miami, currently undergoing a massive drayage and expansion project, is the natural port of entry for Cuban produce. As a company with lots of experience growing and supporting farms in Latin America, Southern Specialties will examine opportunities in Cuba.”

“With both governments now in consideration to open new opportunities for trade, it only makes sense to look at the entire portfolio of products offered,” Craig Uchizono, vice president of Southern Hemisphere for the Giumarra Cos., said.“Everyone will be interested to learn as much as possible for all fresh fruit, vegetable and tropical commodities both countries have to offer.”

Raul Millan, executive vice president and partner of Vision Import Group, headquartered in Los Angeles and a first-generation Cuban-American, said that as a son of Cuban parents, produce trade with Cuba has always been on his mind since beginning his produce career.

“Cuba’s proximity to the U.S. offers an opportunity that cannot be ignored, both in freight savings and transit time,” said Millan. “Cuban farmers have lacked resources for so long that I can only imagine most fruit and vegetable exports will take longer than most want.

“Politics aside, I for one, am looking forward to do business in a country where I will be able to relate so well to the language, culture, food and, of course, the people,” he added.

Jim DiMenna, president of Red Sun Farms a hydroponic vegetable grower and distributor with greenhouses in Canada, Mexico and Dublin, VA, said that true to his and his company’s nature, he looks at all opportunities when it comes to business, adding that as a Canadian, he has always has the freedom to look at Cuba with a keen business eye because the U.S. embargo did not involve Canada.

“Although Canada has always had the opportunity to do business with Cuba, transportation has been a key problem in the past,” DiMenna said. “But if that issue goes away and we can move a ship 90 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, things may change.

“But we also have to do our due diligence,” he added. “Does Cuba have the proper elevation for a highly technical greenhouse facility? Does it have the altitude that will affect crops in any way? We have to assess and analyze all aspects of doing business there. It’s not something we’ll do overnight.”

DiMenna stressed that Red Sun is a progressive company that is cautiously optimistic.

“We continually look for options for developing business,” he added. “But our stringent rules and regulations would apply to doing business with Cuba the same as they do with our business partners in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Everything that we do we do to a stringent stet of standards.

“I am glad, however, that after more than 50 years everyone in North American will be building a relationship with Cuba and its people,” he added.

Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties, added, “The thought of having a potential new client and supplier-base located only hours from our facility is quite exciting. But we need to keep in mind we are in very early stages of opening any real relationships with Cuba. The average yearly income for the 11 million Cubans of $ 6,000 does not make for a strong customer base for every product. Large international companies like Coca-Cola will make initial investments. The Cuban government has made tourism, from countries other than the U.S., its biggest profit center. Opening Cuba to American tourism would be huge and we could expect a large influx of money into the Communist government. It will be interesting to watch this relationship unfold. Perhaps, ultimately, Southern Specialties may play a part in Cuba by expanding its core competencies of growing, importing and processing vegetables grown in Latin America, the U.S., Mexico and Canada.”

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

Over 50,000 attendees get a peek at a sci-fi future at Pack Expo International in Chicago

CHICAGO — With over 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 2,400 exhibitors, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies Pack Expo International 2014 drew record-breaking crowds of more than 50,000 for the Nov. 2-5 exhibition, here.

With next-level technology on ample display, the floor looked as much like the set of a futuristic science fiction movie as a trade show.PE-3Bob Harandi of Nestle/Dreyer’s and Jeff Grossman of International Paper.

Packing, filling, weighing and processing machines buzzed and whirred non-stop around the floor, while life-size servo motor powered robots battled it out in a Plexiglas boxing ring in one booth and attendees took turns behind the wheel of a hyper-realistic F1 racing simulator in another.

“You’ve got to be careful in that simulator,” said Robert Jenkins of Church and Dwight, owners of the Arm & Hammer brand. “If you spin out, you’ve got mud on your windshield and it’s there for the rest of the race.”

Amid the hubbub, attendees jockeyed for space in 143 educational sessions — and vied for prized tickets to a command performance by comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno at a reception benefiting the K9s for Warriors project and sponsored by International Paper, Bemis, DuPont and ProMach.

PMMI Director of Member Communications Kate Achelpohl noted that the packaging industry grew by 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 and should make a similar leap this year.

“The Pack Expo shows are always tremendous, but the International show is just mind-boggling,” said Don Reggio of Norcross, GA-based RockTenn, which showed off its packaging capabilities and machinery in a booth that dwarfed the company’s display at PMA Fresh Summit just two weeks earlier. “Even better, it’s always a great return on investment.”

The next PMMI show will be the debut of Pack Expo East, scheduled for Feb. 16–18, 2015, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Expo Pack Guadalajara 2015 will be held March 10-12, 2015, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Expo Pack México 2015 will take place June 16-19 in Mexico City, Mexico, and Pack Expo Las Vegas is set for Sept. 28-20.

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

Over 50,000 attendees get a peek at a sci-fi future at Pack Expo International in Chicago

CHICAGO — With over 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 2,400 exhibitors, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies Pack Expo International 2014 drew record-breaking crowds of more than 50,000 for the Nov. 2-5 exhibition, here.

With next-level technology on ample display, the floor looked as much like the set of a futuristic science fiction movie as a trade show.PE-3Bob Harandi of Nestle/Dreyer’s and Jeff Grossman of International Paper.

Packing, filling, weighing and processing machines buzzed and whirred non-stop around the floor, while life-size servo motor powered robots battled it out in a Plexiglas boxing ring in one booth and attendees took turns behind the wheel of a hyper-realistic F1 racing simulator in another.

“You’ve got to be careful in that simulator,” said Robert Jenkins of Church and Dwight, owners of the Arm & Hammer brand. “If you spin out, you’ve got mud on your windshield and it’s there for the rest of the race.”

Amid the hubbub, attendees jockeyed for space in 143 educational sessions — and vied for prized tickets to a command performance by comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno at a reception benefiting the K9s for Warriors project and sponsored by International Paper, Bemis, DuPont and ProMach.

PMMI Director of Member Communications Kate Achelpohl noted that the packaging industry grew by 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 and should make a similar leap this year.

“The Pack Expo shows are always tremendous, but the International show is just mind-boggling,” said Don Reggio of Norcross, GA-based RockTenn, which showed off its packaging capabilities and machinery in a booth that dwarfed the company’s display at PMA Fresh Summit just two weeks earlier. “Even better, it’s always a great return on investment.”

The next PMMI show will be the debut of Pack Expo East, scheduled for Feb. 16–18, 2015, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Expo Pack Guadalajara 2015 will be held March 10-12, 2015, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Expo Pack México 2015 will take place June 16-19 in Mexico City, Mexico, and Pack Expo Las Vegas is set for Sept. 28-20.

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

Over 50,000 attendees get a peek at a sci-fi future at Pack Expo International in Chicago

CHICAGO — With over 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 2,400 exhibitors, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies Pack Expo International 2014 drew record-breaking crowds of more than 50,000 for the Nov. 2-5 exhibition, here.

With next-level technology on ample display, the floor looked as much like the set of a futuristic science fiction movie as a trade show.PE-3Bob Harandi of Nestle/Dreyer’s and Jeff Grossman of International Paper.

Packing, filling, weighing and processing machines buzzed and whirred non-stop around the floor, while life-size servo motor powered robots battled it out in a Plexiglas boxing ring in one booth and attendees took turns behind the wheel of a hyper-realistic F1 racing simulator in another.

“You’ve got to be careful in that simulator,” said Robert Jenkins of Church and Dwight, owners of the Arm & Hammer brand. “If you spin out, you’ve got mud on your windshield and it’s there for the rest of the race.”

Amid the hubbub, attendees jockeyed for space in 143 educational sessions — and vied for prized tickets to a command performance by comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno at a reception benefiting the K9s for Warriors project and sponsored by International Paper, Bemis, DuPont and ProMach.

PMMI Director of Member Communications Kate Achelpohl noted that the packaging industry grew by 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 and should make a similar leap this year.

“The Pack Expo shows are always tremendous, but the International show is just mind-boggling,” said Don Reggio of Norcross, GA-based RockTenn, which showed off its packaging capabilities and machinery in a booth that dwarfed the company’s display at PMA Fresh Summit just two weeks earlier. “Even better, it’s always a great return on investment.”

The next PMMI show will be the debut of Pack Expo East, scheduled for Feb. 16–18, 2015, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Expo Pack Guadalajara 2015 will be held March 10-12, 2015, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Expo Pack México 2015 will take place June 16-19 in Mexico City, Mexico, and Pack Expo Las Vegas is set for Sept. 28-20.

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

Over 50,000 attendees get a peek at a sci-fi future at Pack Expo International in Chicago

CHICAGO — With over 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 2,400 exhibitors, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies Pack Expo International 2014 drew record-breaking crowds of more than 50,000 for the Nov. 2-5 exhibition, here.

With next-level technology on ample display, the floor looked as much like the set of a futuristic science fiction movie as a trade show.PE-3Bob Harandi of Nestle/Dreyer’s and Jeff Grossman of International Paper.

Packing, filling, weighing and processing machines buzzed and whirred non-stop around the floor, while life-size servo motor powered robots battled it out in a Plexiglas boxing ring in one booth and attendees took turns behind the wheel of a hyper-realistic F1 racing simulator in another.

“You’ve got to be careful in that simulator,” said Robert Jenkins of Church and Dwight, owners of the Arm & Hammer brand. “If you spin out, you’ve got mud on your windshield and it’s there for the rest of the race.”

Amid the hubbub, attendees jockeyed for space in 143 educational sessions — and vied for prized tickets to a command performance by comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno at a reception benefiting the K9s for Warriors project and sponsored by International Paper, Bemis, DuPont and ProMach.

PMMI Director of Member Communications Kate Achelpohl noted that the packaging industry grew by 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 and should make a similar leap this year.

“The Pack Expo shows are always tremendous, but the International show is just mind-boggling,” said Don Reggio of Norcross, GA-based RockTenn, which showed off its packaging capabilities and machinery in a booth that dwarfed the company’s display at PMA Fresh Summit just two weeks earlier. “Even better, it’s always a great return on investment.”

The next PMMI show will be the debut of Pack Expo East, scheduled for Feb. 16–18, 2015, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Expo Pack Guadalajara 2015 will be held March 10-12, 2015, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Expo Pack México 2015 will take place June 16-19 in Mexico City, Mexico, and Pack Expo Las Vegas is set for Sept. 28-20.

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

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

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

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

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

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

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

Election may make Congress more business-friendly, but future of immigration reform unclear

WASHINGTON — Tuesday’s Republican landslide will change the political landscape on Capitol Hill as the produce industry fights for immigration reform, Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, trade access and other legislative reforms in 2015.

While some election results still are not final, Republicans in the House gained at least 13 seats, handing them a historic majority, and took control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats.  

“There were several positive outcomes from the election,” said Matt McInerney, Western Growers executive vice president.
 
“A Republican-led Congress will work with business to strengthen the economy which will help our produce industry. We can now expect action on tax reform and trade such as passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among other business-related issues,”  he said.

One thing for certain is the GOP takeover of the Senate changes the makeup of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stepping aside as chair of the powerful committee next year.

She may be replaced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who narrowly won his reelection bid, though committee leaderships won’t be finalized for a few weeks. There’s also speculation Stabenow may move off the committee altogether and take a seat on the Senate Budget Committee. The committee will further change when three members — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) —  retire and open more spots for Republicans.

On the House side, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) steps down under House GOP term-limit rules and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) appears a leading candidate for chairmanship.

The good news is that many of the members the United Fresh Produce Association supported are coming back, although Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), a longtime champion for the produce industry, is battling for his political future in a too-close-to-call race against Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s public policy vice president.

“That’s one member we’d be certainly disappointed if he lost,” he said.

 With the House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, Guenther says it’s time for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“The way I look at it, there’s no more excuses at this point,” he said, referring to complaints the party split between the House and Senate delayed action on immigration reform. United Fresh plans to make immigration reform a top priority in 2015 and hopes the administration and House and Senate leadership can hammer out a compromise.

McInerney agreed:  “As for immigration reform, with all due respect to the president, the speaker and the new Senate majority leader, it’s well past time to rebuild the bridge to compromise.”

“I don’t believe it is impossible to reach a legislative and bipartisan agreement on immigration reform. If border security is the issue that needs to be tackled first, then tackle it,” he said, insisting that border security and immigration reform should not be mutually exclusive.

If President Obama opts to bypass Congress and move on immigration reform through executive action, that could change the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) already warned Obama on Nov. 6 against moving independently. “I believe that if the president continues to act on his own, he is going to poison the well,” Boehner said.  ”When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself, and he’s going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Another legislation priority for 2015 is the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires next summer.

Guenther acknowledges it will incumbent on the produce industry to educate new and existing members of Congress on the importance of a healthy food program for school kids and to the industry in a way to cut through some of the polarized politics on the issue. The produce industry has been busy in recent months trying to beat back attempts led by the School Nutrition Association to delay implementing new nutrition standards in schools.

Other priorities include accelerating trade agreements, fixing highway legislation and enacting tax reforms.

Congress is likely to be watching implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, especially when the final regulations are issued, and could revisit the court-ordered timeline if necessary, Guenther suggested.

Other sources say the new leaders in the Senate may step up oversight of government programs, including FDA.

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

Bright future of organic bananas in the Dominican Republic

Production to increase 20%.
Bright future of organic bananas in the Dominican Republic


Asexban, the Dominican Association of Producers of Bananas for Export, currently cultivates both conventional and organic, fair trade bananas, although it is more focused on the latter. “The project was started in the 1940’s by what currently is Chiquita Banana and currently has access to 30,000 acres plus an additional 20,000, of which 12,000 acres are already in production,” explains Ramón Fana, of Asexban

Fana says that “the country is now one of the largest producers, competing directly with countries like Costa Rica or Ecuador. Asexban has a production of 380,000 boxes of first class bananas, 90% of which are shipped directly to Europe and the other 10% to the United States.”

According to Fana, the Dominican Republic’s climate and hours of sunshine result in one of the world’s sweetest bananas. “The price for our organic bananas is higher, but demand is quite good. 70% of our production is organic and 30% conventional, making the Dominican Republic one of the largest organic banana producers.”

Over the next ten months, Asoxfan expects production to increase by around 20%. As of January 2015, the price of 18.4 kilo boxes is also expected to go up from the current guarantee price of $ 9.60. “There is also increasing interest from multinationals like Chiquita and plenty of support from the Government, which has trust in the bright future of the crop for the country.”

More information:

Asexbam

Ramon Fana

Tel. 829 247 1129

Publication date: 10/6/2014
Author: Pieter Boekhout
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Bright future of organic bananas in the Dominican Republic

Production to increase 20%.
Bright future of organic bananas in the Dominican Republic


Asexban, the Dominican Association of Producers of Bananas for Export, currently cultivates both conventional and organic, fair trade bananas, although it is more focused on the latter. “The project was started in the 1940’s by what currently is Chiquita Banana and currently has access to 30,000 acres plus an additional 20,000, of which 12,000 acres are already in production,” explains Ramón Fana, of Asexban

Fana says that “the country is now one of the largest producers, competing directly with countries like Costa Rica or Ecuador. Asexban has a production of 380,000 boxes of first class bananas, 90% of which are shipped directly to Europe and the other 10% to the United States.”

According to Fana, the Dominican Republic’s climate and hours of sunshine result in one of the world’s sweetest bananas. “The price for our organic bananas is higher, but demand is quite good. 70% of our production is organic and 30% conventional, making the Dominican Republic one of the largest organic banana producers.”

Over the next ten months, Asoxfan expects production to increase by around 20%. As of January 2015, the price of 18.4 kilo boxes is also expected to go up from the current guarantee price of $ 9.60. “There is also increasing interest from multinationals like Chiquita and plenty of support from the Government, which has trust in the bright future of the crop for the country.”

More information:

Asexbam

Ramon Fana

Tel. 829 247 1129

Publication date: 10/6/2014
Author: Pieter Boekhout
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Gallery: Lidl: A taste of the future?

While German-born discounter Aldi continues a successful expansion in the United States, its homeland rival Lidl is planning to make a similar voyage.

Klaus Gehrig, CEO of Lidl parent Schwarz Group, told the German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme this spring that plans for a U.S. expansion were “in full swing” but that stores wouldn’t likely arrive stateside until 2018.

See related story: Lidl CEO confirms U.S. plans, with delay

As reported previously in SN, Lidl has established a U.S. office in Arlington, Va., headed by executives from its division in Ireland. The company had around $ 98 billion in sales in fiscal 2013. Analysts expect that when Lidl does arrive, it would stick to markets where Aldi had proven the limited-assortment, private-brand focused, model could work.

SN recently had the occasion to drop in on a Lidl store in its home country. The store near the Bavarian city of Augsburg, neighbored a rival Aldi in an adjacent shopping center.
 

Supermarket News

Gallery: Lidl: A taste of the future?

While German-born discounter Aldi continues a successful expansion in the United States, its homeland rival Lidl is planning to make a similar voyage.

Klaus Gehrig, CEO of Lidl parent Schwarz Group, told the German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme this spring that plans for a U.S. expansion were “in full swing” but that stores wouldn’t likely arrive stateside until 2018.

See related story: Lidl CEO confirms U.S. plans, with delay

As reported previously in SN, Lidl has established a U.S. office in Arlington, Va., headed by executives from its division in Ireland. The company had around $ 98 billion in sales in fiscal 2013. Analysts expect that when Lidl does arrive, it would stick to markets where Aldi had proven the limited-assortment, private-brand focused, model could work.

SN recently had the occasion to drop in on a Lidl store in its home country. The store near the Bavarian city of Augsburg, neighbored a rival Aldi in an adjacent shopping center.
 

Supermarket News

Gallery: Lidl: A taste of the future?

While German-born discounter Aldi continues a successful expansion in the United States, its homeland rival Lidl is planning to make a similar voyage.

Klaus Gehrig, CEO of Lidl parent Schwarz Group, told the German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme this spring that plans for a U.S. expansion were “in full swing” but that stores wouldn’t likely arrive stateside until 2018.

See related story: Lidl CEO confirms U.S. plans, with delay

As reported previously in SN, Lidl has established a U.S. office in Arlington, Va., headed by executives from its division in Ireland. The company had around $ 98 billion in sales in fiscal 2013. Analysts expect that when Lidl does arrive, it would stick to markets where Aldi had proven the limited-assortment, private-brand focused, model could work.

SN recently had the occasion to drop in on a Lidl store in its home country. The store near the Bavarian city of Augsburg, neighbored a rival Aldi in an adjacent shopping center.
 

Supermarket News

Gallery: Lidl: A taste of the future?

While German-born discounter Aldi continues a successful expansion in the United States, its homeland rival Lidl is planning to make a similar voyage.

Klaus Gehrig, CEO of Lidl parent Schwarz Group, told the German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme this spring that plans for a U.S. expansion were “in full swing” but that stores wouldn’t likely arrive stateside until 2018.

See related story: Lidl CEO confirms U.S. plans, with delay

As reported previously in SN, Lidl has established a U.S. office in Arlington, Va., headed by executives from its division in Ireland. The company had around $ 98 billion in sales in fiscal 2013. Analysts expect that when Lidl does arrive, it would stick to markets where Aldi had proven the limited-assortment, private-brand focused, model could work.

SN recently had the occasion to drop in on a Lidl store in its home country. The store near the Bavarian city of Augsburg, neighbored a rival Aldi in an adjacent shopping center.
 

Supermarket News

Gallery: Lidl: A taste of the future?

While German-born discounter Aldi continues a successful expansion in the United States, its homeland rival Lidl is planning to make a similar voyage.

Klaus Gehrig, CEO of Lidl parent Schwarz Group, told the German newspaper Heilbronner Stimme this spring that plans for a U.S. expansion were “in full swing” but that stores wouldn’t likely arrive stateside until 2018.

See related story: Lidl CEO confirms U.S. plans, with delay

As reported previously in SN, Lidl has established a U.S. office in Arlington, Va., headed by executives from its division in Ireland. The company had around $ 98 billion in sales in fiscal 2013. Analysts expect that when Lidl does arrive, it would stick to markets where Aldi had proven the limited-assortment, private-brand focused, model could work.

SN recently had the occasion to drop in on a Lidl store in its home country. The store near the Bavarian city of Augsburg, neighbored a rival Aldi in an adjacent shopping center.
 

Supermarket News

Global Format Innovation: What does the future look like?

We had the opportunity to speak on this topic recently at the FMI Energy and Store Design Conference that was held in St. Louis. Our lofty goal, share best practices in innovation from around the world that are changing food retail. A tough job.
In order to make some sense of it all, we developed seven key themes for retailers to be thinking about in the coming years, including:

Hyperlocal. In multiple countries around the world, local has been taken to new extremes, with dedicated formats springing up that focus on procurement from local farms and providers with extreme traceability. Local has become hyper-local and offers great opportunities to talk about freshness and being an integral part of the community.

Foodservice Mashup. New formats are seamlessly blending foodservice components along with their traditional food offerings. Many of these are happening right within the context of a department (An oyster bar near seafood or a wine bar in the wine department).

Experiential Retailing. Retailers continue to up the quotient on using the store as a stage, using visible production areas and stunning visual merchandising to create special moments throughout the store.

Specialization. Stores that sell only fresh produce or treat chocolate or coffee as a artisanal product demonstrate that specialization is alive and well.

Customization and Crowdsourcing. Retailing has become a two way dialogue with the end consumer. Customers can create their own blends of cereal, decorate their own cakes in a bakery or decide which items go on sale (and for how much of a discount) by having a stronger voice in the decision making process.

Small is the New Big. While small stores have been a struggle in the U.S., there is significant evidence of success elsewhere in the world. It is all about setting expectations for the customer and there are great examples of this happening elsewhere and continued efforts underway in the U.S.

New Ways to Reach Consumers. There are multiple innovations in creatively reaching a customer, from food trucks and vending machines to innovative click and collect models.

These are just a few examples of the types of innovations that will ultimately transform food retail. Steve Jobs once said that “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” What innovation is in your pipeline? And is your company a leader or a follower?



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The future of global agriculture may include new land, fewer harvests

Climate change may expand suitable cropland, particularly in the Northern high latitudes, but tropical regions may becoming decreasingly suitable, according to a study published September 17, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Florian Zabel from Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany and colleagues.

Most of the Earth’s accessible agricultural land are already under cultivation. Ecological factors such as climate, soil quality, water supply and topography determine the suitability of land for agriculture. Climate change may impact global agriculture, but some regions may benefit from it. In a new study, researchers focused on the probable impact of climate change on the supply of land suitable for the cultivation of the 16 major food and energy crops worldwide, including staples such as maize, rice, soybeans and wheat. They simulated the impact of climate change on agricultural production over the course of the 21st century and found that two-thirds of all land potentially suitable for agricultural use is already under cultivation.

The results indicate that climate change may expand the supply of cropland in the high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere, including Canada, Russia, China, over the next 100 years. However, in the absence of adaptation measures such as increased irrigation, the simulation projects a significant loss of suitable agricultural land in Mediterranean regions and in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The land suitable for agricultural would be about 54 million km2 — and of this, 91% is already under cultivation. “Much of the additional area is, however, at best only moderately suited to agricultural use, so the proportion of highly fertile land used for crop production will decrease,” says Zabel. Moreover, in the tropical regions of Brazil, Asia and Central Africa, climate change will significantly reduce the chance of obtaining multiple harvests per year.

“In the context of current projections, which predict that the demand for food will double by the year 2050 as the result of population increase, our results are quite alarming. In addition, one must consider the prospect of increased pressure on land resources for the cultivation of forage crops and animal feed owing to rising demand for meat, and the expansion of land use for the production of bioenergy,” says Zabel.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily