Blog Archives

Letter From The Editor: The Lost Art of Smoking

It’s occurred to me that maybe this is all about the demise of smoking skills.

It use to be that even those of us who did not smoke cigarettes knew how to do it. Learning  to smoke was just one of those necessary social skills you picked up  in about the sixth grade even if you had no intention of making it a habit.

It is why Bill Clinton made us all laugh when he said he’d tried marijuana, but did not inhale. But with the historic drop in cigarette smoking—from about half the population after World War II to less than 18 percent today, it is totally believable that someone does not know how to inhale. It’s a learned skill that’s no longer being encouraged or even taught.

And it may explain why there’s been such a boom in the popularity of foods infused with marijuana in Colorado—almost half of the legal pot sales being rung up are not for something you smoke, but something you eat. Many people don’t know how to smoke anymore, and that’s a good thing,

The lack of smoking skills is likely a contributing factor to the popularity of edible marijuana, which  accounts for 47.5 percent of Colorado’s newly legal pot sales. The state’s powerful Marijuana industry Group—think of that one as the chamber of commerce for recreational pot—says Colorado’s existing strong medical marijuana sales dating back to 2009 are also driving consumer choices.

In a few days, Colorado will become the first state in modern history to complete an entire year’s worth of legal marijuana sales. It’s been an experience unprecedented since Prohibition ended.  It’s not all coming out as predicted—the state cut its estimate for total marijuana tax collections by about $ 20 million.

But as an economic development tool, legal marijuana is hitting its mark and that high percentage of edibles is the main driver.  About 90 new or fairly new food manufacturing companies, mostly based in Denver, are turning out around 300 edible marijuana products.

Marijuana is infused in foods by turning it into the hash oil concentrate and mixing with other more typical ingredients. It’s a creative industry that’s getting pretty expansive. No one is making marijuana infused baby food yet, but just about everything else is on the list.

Everybody expects candy, cookies, cakes, browns, and snacks, but how about sauces for pizza or that next order of take-out wings? Thirsty? How about some marijuana infused root beer or maybe a cappuccino? Or maybe some grape, cherry, lemonade, or fruit punch in powdered form to take camping?

The recipe combinations are only limited by imagination. And there are no limits or testing on potency either. It’s not only buyer beware on strength but there’s also been no testing for contaminants (i.e. pathogens), pesticides, molds etc.

It’s left some of these infused products with potencies greater than advertised, making over-dosing possible, and some (consumer fraud?) weaker. “It’s like buying a bottle of whisky and ending up with a wine cooler,” a Denver TV station said after doing independent testing with the newspaper, USA Today.

This leaves Colorado with some questions at the end of year one. What about the children? And, where’s the state and local health departments? With so many infused marijuana products and with such iffy doses, these are the problems being dumped into the legislative hopper next month.

An industry-dominated stakeholder’s group could not come to agreement on how the 89 edible manufacturers could mark their products in a uniform manner so everyone would know they are not for children, or to how they might achieve more uniform results. As suppliers to 292 retail marijuana stores in the state accounting for almost half the revenue coming in, the industry fears messing with the edible manufacturers.

State and local health departments were cut out of their normal food safety roles by the voter initiative that placed all regulatory power over marijuana in the state Department of Revenue. It’s a joke to have the same regulatory agency that is promoting —you might even say marketing—marijuana also be charged with the safety of its food products. And the pot growers pay these  ”all purpose”  state regulators via fees.

Colorado’s health regulators have been relegated to being just another group of stakeholders when the Department of Revenue decides to invite them to the party. If there are any bright lights in the Colorado Legislature, they will start by correcting that little situation.  Child proofing the edibles will be easy after that one.

Food Safety News

Spain: Around 30% of pomegranate harvest lost

José María Martínez, of Cambayas: “Lower production compensates for loss of Russian market”
Spain: Around 30% of pomegranate harvest lost

The pomegranate season of the Valencia variety, which started in mid-August, is almost finished and the markets are awaiting the arrival of the Mollar from Elche on 30 September, which is the flagship of the Spanish campaign.

“So far, the Valencia pomegranate season has been characterised by a reduction of about 25% in production volumes; a similar percentage to what we expect for the Mollar variety,” says José María Martínez, head of the cooperative Cambayas, one of the largest pomegranate producers and marketers, based in Elche, Alicante.

This decline, mainly due to problems in the settling of the flowers due to the lack of rain during the spring and summer in the eastern region, “has so far not had an impact on the average prices, which have been under pressure due to the Russian veto,” said the executive. 

Therefore, as regards the Mollar campaign, which will start in a few days, the similar drop in production could compensate for the volumes of this variety that will not be shipped to the Russian market,” explains Martínez. Taking into account both direct and indirect exports, Russia accounted for around 30% of the exports; more than 13,000 tonnes. 

“This also indicates that, although pomegranates are currently a popular fruit, the market supply is growing faster than demand, not only in Spain, but also in the rest of the world; a trend which it seems will continue for now,” he affirms. 

The acreage devoted to Mollar pomegranates in Elche and the surrounding municipalities is of approximately 3,000 hectares and this year a harvest of about 35,000 tonnes is expected. 

Some of the major destinations right now, besides the domestic market, are the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the Persian Gulf and Asia.

Turkey and Israel will benefit from the Russian ban, as it will allow them to increase their shipments to this destination. “Turkey and Israel will get a larger market share and, even if the veto was to be lifted in the future, it would be difficult to recover that share,” he points out. 

The crop accounts for over 80% of the agricultural production in many municipalities in the south of the province of Alicante and generates more than 3,000 direct jobs and a thousand indirect jobs.

Publication date: 9/29/2014

Over half of cherry harvest lost in France

Over half of cherry harvest lost in France

At the end of June the strong rain damaged Rousoux Plants cherry production in Berloz.  Over half of the harvest has been lost as the cherries full of water exploded.  “We had 60mm of rain within a few hours” says Nicolas Goffin.  

With no way of selling the cherries they are either left on the tree or the ground.  “We must have harvested 30-40% of our total harvest”.  With damaged strawberries they must sort through them at harvest and manual labour is expensive.  “When all is well, depending on their status, a person costs €8-10 an hour and a good picker can do 15kg an hour, so there there is a way of earning a living.  But as soon as they must start selecting, they are twice as slow and pick 2kg an hour, it is no longer possible”.  Following the first small harvest the Goffins have decided to stop picking and to leave the fruits to rot on the trees.  Nicolas Goffin says that “If they are not good, then it is pointless as our reputation is founded on the quality of our products”.  

They could invest in an anti-rain cover, but this costs around €40,000-70,000 /ha.  The Goffins own about 15 ha of sweet and acid cherry orchards, so it would be a heavy investment.  

Publication date: 8/8/2014

India: This mango season is lost, hope that will be lifted for next year

Hopes to lift ban next year
EU ban ruins Indian mango season

An EU-wide ban on mangoes from India which came into force at the beginning of May will stop imports into the EU potentially until December 2015. The ban also includes aubergines, two types of squash, and a type of leaf used in Indian cooking.

Non-European food pests were found in 207 shipments of fruit and vegetables in 2013.

Kaushal Khakhar from Kay Bee Exports feels this ban was unfairly imposed, he explains that companies such as his have invested a lot of time and money into ensuring that all phytosanitary measures are in place and adhered to, “A lot of people who are large exporters like us have suffered a big loss of business, even after complying with regulations, we have never had any problems with shipments to Europe, but there are big differences in exporters some are not as careful.”

Normally Kay Bee would send 400 tons of mangoes by air to the EU each season and India as a whole would send 3,500 tons.

Kay Bee has exported some mangoes to the US and Middle East, but these are emerging markets and do not make up for the EU market. Some exports are very focussed on the EU and if they can’t export there they will not export at all.

The export ban is having a crushing effect on domestic negative returns for farmers with prices around 30% lower than normal.

According to Mr Khakhar the ban will not be reviewed until next year, so this season is lost with only 3-4 weeks remaining, he is hoping for a lifting of the ban in time for next year’s season.

Kaushal Khakhar
Kay Bee Exports
Office: +91 22 41578900
Mobile : + 91 9870405667
Fax: +91 22 25376610
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 5/20/2014
Author: Nichola Watson

Almonds, oranges and grapes could be lost to California drought

Almonds, oranges and grapes could be lost to California drought

The decision affects water supplies for 25 million people as well as irrigation for one million acres of farmland. The announcement was made in order to give farmers more time to determine what crops they will plant this year, and in what quantities.

Farmers and other water users often turn to pumping from underground aquifers without deliveries of surface water. The state has no role in regulating such pumping.

“A zero allocation is catastrophic and woefully inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses,” Ted Page, president the Kern County Water Agency’s board, said in a statement.

“While many areas of the county will continue to rely on ground water to make up at least part of the difference, some areas have exhausted their supply,” he added.
California’s $ 61 billion wine industry is especially vulnerable. While the conditions will not be too damaging on the 2014 crop, it could damage the buds appearing for 2015, as it takes two years for a vine to bear fruit. A drought this year could devastate crops for the following harvest.

“What we really haven’t seen that could happen is, if it’s dry enough, grapevines actually become damaged and start to die, so you don’t get the buds you need for the 2015 season,” viticulture professor Mark Matthews says. “That potentially could become devastating, and it’s not like when you’re growing corn or something when you can just plant again next year. It’s a 30-year commitment.”

Last week’s announcement that the access to the reservoir has been cut off marks the first time officials have had to curtail the supply in the 54-year-history of the State Water Project.

“This is the most serious drought we’ve faced in modern times,” Felicia Marcus, of the State Water Resources Control Board, said. “We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years.”


Publication date: 2/5/2014

Maersk has lost 26 companies

shipping in rough seas till 2016
Maersk has lost 26 companies

The global economy might be on the mend but the boss of shipping giant Maersk expects the sector’s tough times to continue for the next three years. “That’s just the situation we’ll have to learn to live with,” said Mr Nils Andersen, chief executive of AP Moller-Maersk.

The Danish conglomerate controls Maersk Line, the world’s largest operator of container ships, with 15 per cent of global traffic. “We, at the moment, are rather successful in making a profit but of course it is a difficult environment to operate in if you are a smaller player,” he added.

Maersk Line last November said third-quarter net profit rose 11 per cent to US$ 554 million (S$ 702 million), as cost cuts offset the drop in freight rates. Parent company AP Moller-Maersk lifted its full-year forecast as third- quarter net profit rose 28 per cent to US$ 1.2 billion.

Despite this the company has sold of its stake in Dansk Supermarked Group to the Salling Group and the divestment of the supertanker fleet of 15 VLCC’s to Euronav during the past weeks are just the latest examples of A.P. Moeller-Maersk’s divestments, though they also represent the two biggest sales.

The Group has sold a total of 26 companies and stakes in the period from 2007 to 2014, according to a survey by analyst Alphaliner, which has identified a series of more or less known companies that have been divested over the past seven years.

The sale of its 68 percent stake to the Salling Group and the VLCC fleet divestment follow the sale of Maersk Tankers’ VLGC fleet (Very Large Gas Carriers) to BW Group in May 2013, just as Maersk Tankers also sold its 11 Handygas ships to Navigator Gas in November 2012.

In addition to the sale of the company’s 31.3 percent stake in DFDS in September 2013 the list includes a series of industry and transport companies.

The industry’s problem lies squarely with the over-supply of shipping capacity, which in turn depresses freight rates. And with new ships being added to fleets, the problem looks set to stay for the time being. “For the next few years we will have over-capacity. We know the order books for the next three years and the orders are pretty large,” said Mr Andersen. “So we believe there will be over-capacity at least till the end of 2016 – maybe longer, depending on how fast people retire the older ships.”

Demand will grow alongside the global economy but will probably not be able to fully absorb all the new capacity.

“We think the general economy will pick up a bit in 2014, the growth rate will be better,” said Mr Andersen. “But it doesn’t mean we will return to the good times with high growth rates for container shipping, so we maintain our forecast which is a growth of 4 to 6 per cent for global container shipping volumes for 2014.”


Publication date: 1/16/2014

Lost Beef and Pork Sales to Russia Over Ractopamine Costing Just Millions, Not Billions

The ban on U.S. pork and beef exports to Russia over ractopamine is costly for American producers, but not so much as was recently reported by the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told a Moscow business newspaper the year old ban had cost America’s pork and beef industries $ 4 to $ 5 billion.  The ban on the feed additive used in the U.S. has cost American producers about $ 4 to $ 5 million, and Ambassador McFaul quickly acknowledged the mistake without saying how it came about.

Ractopamine is a growth additive that results in more lean meat production. While world regulatory bodies have set safe levels for its use, numerous countries have banned the substance.

McFaul, who grew up in Montana, has been U.S. Ambassador to Russia for two years and is going through a new round of attention from Moscow’s media. In addition explaining the U.S. interest in exporting pork and beef to Russia, the Ambassador has been talking about the need to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and getting cargo into and out of Afghanistan.  McFaul went to Moscow as Ambassador directly from the White House, where he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council.

The international Codex Alimentarius Commission set safe limits for residual ractopamine in meats in July 2012, but Russia went ahead with its December 2012 announcement of the ban. McFaul said U.S. pork and beef actually stopped entering Russia in February 2013. While the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and 27 other regulatory authorities around the world concur with the safe levels for the growth additive that produces leaner meat, China and the European Union have also banned ractopamine.

Food Safety News

Mexico: 300 hectares of melon completely lost due to the rainfall in Coahuila

Mexico: 300 hectares of melon completely lost due to the rainfall in Coahuila

300 hectares of melon were completely lost after the rains, product of hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel, which happened in September, at the Municipality of Viesca, said Francisco Javier Escobedo Rey, mayor of the local area.

He said 184 hectares of melon had been affected due to the overflowing of the Aguanaval River, and specified that the main damage occurred in plots located in the Ejido of Nuevo Reynosa, Gabino Vazquez and El Saucillo.

“After having confirmed the damage to the plots we expect support from Sagarpa via the Natural Disaster Relief (Cadena),” he said.

He also said that, with the help of the state government, they expected to access the funds of Conagua and help farmers who lost all their crops.


Publication date: 10/17/2013