Lawyer Tim Henkel says the USDA was justified in its actions regarding Canadian exporters and PACA.
CHARLESTON, SC — In a game that began and ended with watermelon, the Charleston RiverDogs snapped an eight-game losing streak July 5 at Riley Park here by defeating the Rome, GA, Braves, 9-1 in South Atlantic League action. Watermelon Night, an annual event at “The Joe,” featured the South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture; a representative of the 2014 South Carolina Watermelon Queen; a watermelon-eating contest for youngsters; the ubiquitous RiverDogs mascots, Charlie T. RiverDog and Chelsea; a South Carolina Ghostbusters performance; and watermelon slices for fans. (See more photos here)
The watermelon-bookended game began with Hugh E. Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, throwing (rolling, actually) the first watermelon and ended with free watermelon slices for the crowd of about 4,600 as they left the park after the game. In between innings, a watermelon-eating contest was held with four youngsters competing and Emily Dick, the Watermelon Queen representative, kibitzed with fans.
The South Carolina Watermelon Association, which sponsored Watermelon Night, is promoting watermelon as an alternative to chemically influenced sports drinks, according to Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for watermelon with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. The association had stickers and placards touting the health benefits of watermelon on hand at the tables where fans picked up slices of watermelon as they headed home after the game.
The association will distribute watermelons at preseason football practices at the University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Clemson University and The Citadel. Earlier this year, in a massive undertaking, the group provided a cup of watermelon to each of the 40,000 runners in the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston on April 5, Cornwell told The Produce News.
A team of five workers fell into an accustomed routine and started slicing 200 watermelons during the second inning of the game to have slices on hand for the 4,600 fans as they left the park.
The association noted that watermelon keeps hydration levels high for athletes and adds more lycopene and vitamins A and C antioxidants than provided by a leading sports drink. Other research has been conducted and reports will be issued within a year. In South Carolina, one of the nation’s top 10 watermelon growers, the harvest runs from mid-June to late August, said Ann Bryant, the association’s promotions coordinator.
Spanish strawberries losing market share in the Netherlands and Belgium
According to José Beltrán, manager of the exporting company Hispalco, the weather conditions were not ideal during the previous strawberry campaign and this had a notable impact on the fruit’s production volumes and quality. “This reflected on the bad prices registered during almost the entire campaign, which only started improving by the end, when milder temperatures allowed for an improvement in the fruit’s quality.”
For this year’s campaign, which is only just starting, “the markets so far are responding well in terms of prices. Furthermore, supply and demand are balanced”, he explains.
Premium Hispalco strawberries, sold under the brands Monna Lisa© and Unicorn©, are reaching approximately 3.80 Euro per box and around 1.20 Euro per 250 gram container of the Fortuna variety. The firm will then continue with the Splendor, Candonga and Sabrina varieties and finish the campaign with the Camarosa.
The main destinations for these strawberries are Central European countries, “although we also have large clients in other countries, like the United States or Canada,” affirms Beltrán. “The Russian market and the United Arab Emirates are markets where we are now starting to consolidate.”
The Netherlands and Belgium increasingly preferring to consume their own produce
It is becoming more and more difficult to export Spanish strawberries to the Netherlands and Belgium at the same price levels as a few years ago. These countries have considerably increased their own production volumes; a growing trend which will continue, as greenhouse growers discovered how profitable the crop is. Consequently, many have switched from vegetables to strawberries, which can be produced all year round.
“While production volumes in these countries were low, we were not affected, but now they are managing to cover their own domestic demand. There are importers who prefer to pay more for Belgian and Dutch strawberries, as even though they are not as tasty as Spanish strawberries, they have a longer shelf life. This is a handicap for us, as we often need to lower our prices to be able to sell.”
Regarding the impact of competition from other producers, like Egypt or Morocco, the difference lies heavily in that “their quality and presentation are at a lower standard. Israeli strawberries can compete with Spain’s in terms of quality; however, if Spanish strawberries have been produced with care, they will have the advantage.”
New campaign, new packaging formats
“Within the strawberry sector, we are meant to keep up to date with the new packaging formats launched almost every season. Our brands Monna Lisa© and Unicorn© are always very well presented, and although we don’t invent anything, we keep incorporating new formats. This season we have introduced the K-60 container, in 400 and 500 gram formats; the F-500 container for 500 grams, and a compact recycled cardboard box, to be used with our organic strawberries, with a capacity of 1 kilo.”
Fruit Logistica, the place to showcase its slogan QUALITY IS IN OUR DNA
“Hispalco has attended Fruit Logistica for the past 5 years, always surpassing everyone’s expectations in terms of the stand’s presentation, its commitment to satisfy its clients and suppliers and in the quality of the products presented. For this reason, our slogan remains unchanged: QUALITY IS IN OUR DNA.”
“This year we will introduce our CLASSIC EDITION under the Monna Lisa©, Unicorn© and Hispalco®Bio brands: a vintage presentation for oranges and clementines intended to be sold by retailers and which will be available all year round.”
Hispalco S.A. is a family business which “has been growing steadily year after year and has plenty of potential to continue doing so in the future,” affirms its manager. All Hispalco team members “has an entrepreneurial spirit, and that is at the core of our company’s values.”
Hispalco will welcome all visitors at Hall 11.2, stand B-08 of Fruit Logistica 2014, in Messe Berlin, from 5 to 7 February.
Publication date: 1/27/2014