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FDA Must Complete FSMA Rules by Mid-2015, Judge Says

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must publish all of the regulations required under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act by June 30, 2015, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the U.S. District Court of Northern California rejected FDA’s proposed timeline for completion of the regulations, which outlined “target timelines” of 2015 through 2016 for the publishing of all final rules.

“The court finds defendant’s ‘target timeframes’ to be an inadequate response to the request that the parties submit a proposal regarding deadlines that can form the basis of an injunction,” wrote Hamilton in her decision.

The ruling marked the latest, and possibly last, phase in the suit brought by the Center for Food Safety against FDA for the agency’s failure to meet several deadlines for the writing of FSMA-mandated rules. In a petition filed August 29, 2012, CFS asked the court to order the completion of the delayed rules.

Since that time, FDA has released three of the seven key rules that CFS sited as overdue in its filing, including the proposed rule for produce safety, the proposed rule for preventive controls across the food supply and new requirements for food facility registration.  Three other rules have been submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which must approve the proposed rules before they are released. These include new standards for foreign food suppliers, preventive controls for animal feed and standards ensuring the neutrality of third-party audits.

A regulation ensuring the safe transport of food, also mandated by FSMA, has yet to be submitted to OMB.

On April 13 of this year, Judge Hamilton issued a motion for summary judgment, requesting the parties to submit remedy proposals for new deadlines.

While the Court found the deadlines submitted by FDA to be too fluid, it also acknowledged the complexity of FDA’s task and did not require the agency to publish all of its final rules by May 1, 2014, the amended deadline that CFS had proposed. The Court said this date was “overly restrictive” and could also lead to the curtailing of the public comment periods for the rules, a situation the Court wished to avoid.

“This is a critical victory for consumers, farmers, and the public health,” said George Kimbrell, CFS senior attorney in a statement. “The Court’s decision will ensure FDA cannot unduly delay these life-saving measures any longer, while also ensuring all interested parties have a meaningful say in their outcome.”

Food Safety News

Retail View: Supermarkets must adapt to survive

Recently, publicly traded Safeway Stores put itself up for sale and found a suitor. Many looked at the sale and opined that the mega-supermarket format has passed it prime, with the firm being worth more to investors if it is sold and broken into pieces than if it continues to operate as one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains.

A couple of supermarket experts weighed in on the subject and agreed that adapting and changing to the current set of circumstances in the United States is the key to success in the retail food industry.Lempert1Phil Lempert

“Through history and for many years, people have decried the death of the supermarket format,” said food industry consultant Frank Dell, president of Dellmart & Co., a Connecticut-based firm. “But they have survived. What is dead is what I call the 8-80 marketing concept.”

He explained that supermarkets were founded on the concept of being everything to everybody. They were there to fill the shopping needs of everybody from 8 to 80.

“That concept has been outdated for 20 years,” Dell said.

Yet some retailers continue to cling to the idea and they have trouble surviving. But many others do not. They find their niche and prosper.

“Unless you are the only store in town, the 8-80 marketing concept doesn’t work,” he said.

He said there are many different formats serving consumers today including high-end stores, limited-assortment formats, discounts stores, dollar stores, super centers and general merchandise stores. Even convenience stores and drug stores have gotten into the business of providing milk, coffee, cereal and other grocery essentials. No format has a corner on the market.

To survive, he said food retailers have to do two things.

“You have to understand your customer and know who you want your customer to be,” he said. “And you have to quit complaining about your losses. You can’t be all things to all people. Figure out what you do best and do that.”

Another longtime observer of the supermarket industry is Phil Lempert, who bills himself the “Supermarket Guru” and writes under that moniker. He has a harsher assessment of the mega-supermarket chain, but his opinions are very similar to Dell’s.

“The days of the 40,000- to 60,000-square-foot supermarket are over,” said Lempert. “We are going to see a lot more butcher shops and specialty stores that offer consumers a food experience.“

Lempert believes smaller, regional chains that can tailor their offerings to the local clientele will prosper, but the national supermarket will have trouble. Those operations are seeing their sales cannibalized from all ends. He said Target and Walmart are taking their price-sensitive shoppers while Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s are taking the customers looking for that food shopping experience.

Though both men said the national chains’ days are numbered, they did express optimism about Kroger’s chances to survive.

“Kroger has brilliant customer data analysis,” said Lempert. “That has kept them alive, but they should be looking at what’s next. In the past 10 years, the conventional supermarket has lost 15 percent of its market share and that is going to continue. That model is broken and is going out of business.”

Dell agreed that Kroger is a very good operation that has invested its profits wisely and continues to innovate. He said it will need to do so to continue to prosper.

Both men also pointed to a new entry to the food shopping game that could be a game changer: home delivery. While home delivery has not done well since it surfaced more than a decade ago, Dell believes it will make inroads with high-end shoppers.

“The trouble is the delivery part,” he said. “It is just very expensive.”

However, he said Amazon is making a run at it and could be successful. “Everyone is all excited about the millennials, but don’t forget the baby boomers. They are still the largest buying block and their driver’s licenses are soon to be taken away [as they age]. Home delivery can be successful, but it is going to be higher-priced.”

Lempert said both Amazon and Google see home delivery of groceries as an area of growth and he wouldn’t bet against them. He believes that is another format that will take sales away from the traditional supermarket.

It is this incremental shaving of supermarket market share that Lempert sees as problematic for that format. Dollar stores grew sales during the recession, he said, and then “got a little lazy and have taken a hit since then.”

But he said they have started to figure out their role. Because of their constantly changing product line, Lempert said “they provide people with an adventure.” He said they need to capitalize on that niche and continue to find innovative items for their shoppers.

He also believes Target is going to make big inroads, especially with its “Archer Farms” brand. He said they have a great opportunity to expand that brand and sell more perishables.

Dell also likes Target’s entry into groceries and believes the retailer will continue to grow that segment of their business.

It is in the area of perishables where Dell sees the more traditional supermarkets making their mark. And he said that’s a good thing, as fresh produce, meat and other perimeter-store sections have higher margins. The center-store items are the main thing offered by alternative formats, and they are least profitable for traditional supermarkets, he said.

If a supermarket can capitalize on the perishables, which they can do better than the general merchandise stores or discounters, he believes they can continue to play an important role for the U.S. consumer.

Both men also had good things to say about the Fresh & Easy format that England’s Tesco couldn’t quite get right.

“I was very disappointed in what Tesco did with Fresh & Easy,” said Dell. “They had a nice small format with great products but their decorations sucked.”

He said the color scheme and layout of the stores were all wrong for U.S. shoppers and they moved much too quickly on their own private label without letting it grow organically. He predicted that someone else will put a better face on the package and will be successful.

Similarly, Lempert likes the size of the Fresh & Easy stores and believes a well-known banner such as Wild Oats could make them very successful.

Speaking of some other formats, Lempert said the problem in declining profits that has been publicized about Whole Foods is all about markup.

While conventional supermarkets survive on 1.5 percent net margin, Whole Foods has had net margins of around 8 percent. That has been very difficult to maintain as competition increases.

He believes the rise of ethnic chains will continue in areas where the demographics warrant it. However, he did warn that ethnic groups tend to acculturate into American eating habits very quickly and are soon looking for many of the same items as their Anglo counterparts.

Dell made the same point, stating that many of the ethnic markets in the Southern California region that he has studied have found that for continued growth they need to carry more traditional items to satisfy their customers, including the Anglos shopping their stores.

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

Prosecution Must Show Parnell Had Knowledge of Crimes Charged

Patrick H. Hearn, one of the trial attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, has turned in the government’s view of the importance of knowledge in the crimes with which Stewart Parnell is charged.

“Knowledge is an element of the crimes that defendant Stewart Parnell has been charged with in the indictment,” Hearn wrote in a short statement prosecutors have been allowed to file because they claimed one of Parnell’s defense attorneys had misstated the law.

Parnell’s defense team claims the government is just confused.

Hearn’s statement filed April 28 amounts to the last word in proceedings that have taken about two months to lay the groundwork so that U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands can make a pre-trial ruling about whether an expert witness can testify for Parnell.

Parnell and three other former executives of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America are scheduled for a jury trial later this summer on 76 federal felony counts stemming from the 2008-2009 nationwide Salmonella outbreak that killed nine and sickened at least 700 people.

Defense attorneys for Parnell want to call as an expert witness at trial the neuropsychologist who claims Parnell suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Government attorneys say that Dr. Joseph C. Conley, Jr., does not merit that expert designation. It is up to Sands to make the call.

In his filing on the legal debate, Hearn points out that jury instructions dictated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit require proving that the defendant had knowledge for several of the most important crimes charged. These include conspiracy, interstate shipments fraud, wire fraud, adulteration and misbranding fraud, and obstruction of justice.

In addition to Hearn, DOJ trial attorney Mary M. Englehart and assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia K. Alan Dasher are prosecuting the former peanut company executives.

Food Safety News

EU must take urgent action on invasive species, experts urge

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen’s University Belfast.

The threats posed by these species cost an estimated €12 billion each year across Europe. Professor Jaimie Dick, from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, is calling on the EU to commit long-term investment in a European-wide strategy to manage the problem.

Invasive species are considered to be among the major threats to native biodiversity in Europe. The call to action follows the publication of a paper Tackling Invasive Alien Species in Europe: the Top 20 Issues‘, in the peer-reviewed journal Management of Biological Invasions. The report’s authors say it should inform future EU policy for managing invasive species.

The paper resulted from an international meeting of invasive species experts who gathered in Galway (Ireland) last year to identify the critical issues for tackling invasive species in Europe. The Freshwater Invasives: Networking for Strategy (FINS) conference was led by Inland Fisheries Ireland, Queen’s, and the Institute of Technology, Sligo. It brought together more than 150 scientists, academics, policy makers and politicians with the aim of informing impending EU legislation on alien species.

Professor Dick said: “Alien plant and animal species cause environmental, economic and social damage across Europe, and their rate of invasion is set to increase in the coming years. The EU has formulated a comprehensive plan to address the threats posed by these species, but adequate resourcing by the EU and Member States, in terms of funding, staff and equipment, will be crucial in ensuring this plan is put into action.

“Invasive species cost an estimated €12 billion each year across Europe, including around €261 million on the island of Ireland and £1.7 billion in Great Britain. Their impact ranges from upsetting native ecosystems, to damaging the physical environment and even threatening human and animal health; hence the cost to agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as the expense of control and eradication programmes.

“The existing haphazard, fragmented approach from EU countries, characterised by communication breakdowns and insufficient resources, will not suffice if we are to protect our ecosystems against these invaders. The EU must ensure sufficient funding to achieve its goal of long-term, coherent, sustainable action to manage invasive species. Through the FINS conference, 20 issues that will be critical to the success of any EU strategy have now been identified. It is vital that EU decision-makers consider these issues when formulating their plans and allocating resource.

“Among the 20 issues identified is the need to raise awareness of biosecurity across Europe and the implementation of European-wide legislation for this; the dedication of resources for the long-term management of invasive species; the development of new technology to detect new invasives, and early warning systems to alert EU states to their spread; new European-wide risk assessment methods; emergency powers to eradicate alien species once they become established; and effective communications to raise awareness of invasive species, so the public will know what to look for and how to report it.”

Professor Jaimie Dick and Queen’s PhD student Jenny Barbour were key organisers of the FINS conference, which was called specifically with the aim of assessing the current position regarding invasive alien species in Europe. Experts from the UK and Ireland, and across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia joined forces to prioritise the key issues for the management of invasive species.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen’s University, Belfast. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Unilever: Ecommerce a must

Companies that don’t build an online business could lose some of their brick-and-mortar business.

“Lose online; lose offline,” Doug Straton, Unilever’s director of North American e-Commerce Center of Excellence, said in a Shopper Marketing Summit presentation.

Doug Straton, director of Unilever's North American e-Commerce Center of ExcellenceWhile some consumer packaged goods companies may question whether it pays to address a business that currently represents about 1% of sales, Straton said marketers should focus more on channel migration versus incrementalism.

“If you don’t capture migration, you will lose,” he said.

Straton leads Unilever’s North American eCommerce Center of Excellence, which develops digital capabilities, shopper insights and ecommerce best practices.

Straton acknowledged that some companies may agree to creating ecommerce capabilities on a small level, agreeing to just a part-time position versus an entire team.

“You have to build a case why you need an ecommerce team,” he said. “You have to be convincing.”

Among the ways to sell ecommerce to higher-ups: Highlight the key drivers and effect on the broader landscape; define profits and loss impacts over long time frames; and identify gaps versus the competition, said Straton.

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“Growers must be able to have confidence that their packaging will be in place”

Rick Calcott, Sharpak Aylesham
“Growers must be able to have confidence that their packaging will be in place”

In order to perform effectively for customers, growers in the soft fruit industry must have packaging available to ensure fruit can be sold to the market. In recent years, the peaks in demand have been even more unpredictable which has lead to differing pack weights and footprints being used to move large volumes of fresh fruit.

In addition, consumer trends continue to change, meaning retailer decisions must be immediate in order to effectively respond to these demands. These combined pressures add to the growers’ necessity of being able to supply the right packaging at the right time, without incurring extra, unnecessary packaging costs.

“For many years, Sharpak Aylesham has carried out a pre-season campaign to ensure stock is readily available to better cope with high and often unpredictable levels of demand,” explains Rick Calcott, commercial director at Sharpak Aylesham.  “The main focus of a pre-season programme is to take stock early allowing packers to supply responsively for their customers, ensuring that packaged fruit is readily available to the market.”

As a result, packaging suppliers can help to smooth out the irregular nature of demand during the peaks whilst creating flexibility. This also allows a larger range of packs to be manufactured at short notice, thereby catering for all grower and retailer needs.

“Getting stock out into the marketplace not only helps to reduce the surge in requests, which makes the process more manageable, but also gives those in the sector a strong sense of security and trust. In recent years this has become particularly important as growers continue to be on the receiving end of particularly unusual weather patterns,” said Calcott.

In 2013, the late season resulted in fruit volumes being available over a much shorter period of time. Consequently, growers came under increasing pressure to be more flexible and sell fruit in differing pack formats. “Within a few weeks, Sharpak Aylesham launched the SPL range, providing a packaging format for promotional weights in super quick time in order to meet with the fluctuating demand for strawberries,” Calcott explains.

“Those in the industry understand how important packaging is and how the demand can and will continue to change, suggesting that nothing can be taken for granted. Growers must be able to have confidence that their packaging will be in place, emphasising why a pre-season programme is essential,” concludes Calcott.

For more information:
Naomi Ritchie
Tel: 0044 1454 629 741


Publication date: 3/14/2014
Author: Nichola Watson

Health and wellness must be storewide: retail panel

Retailers interested in pursuing health and wellness programs at their stores must be willing to make a total storewide commitment to the concept, a panel of industry executives said Thursday during a discussion at Supermarket News at Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.


Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.

“Too often companies can be close-minded and keep doing the same old/same old,” Raymond McCall, SVP of pharmacy and HBC for Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass., said. “But there’s been a paradigm shift, with consumers telling us they’d prefer we focus on health and wellness on endcaps, and that’s something we have to educate our category managers and merchandisers about.

“You can’t simply be tactical about it. You must be very strategic.”

Stephanie Steiner, director of sales and marketing for Unified Grocers’ Market Centre, added. “Health and wellness can’t stop with the center store. You can’t be authentic and still sell reheated frozen macaroni and fried chicken that’s become tough in your service deli without also offering leafy greens. That approach is what gets in the way of the kind of health and wellness programs we’re trying to build.”

Read more: SN’s coverage of Natural Products Expo West

During the same session, entitled “Leveraging the Total Store Health Experience,” Thomas Honer, owner of two Harvest Market IGA stores in Northern California — in Mendocino and Fort Bragg — said while it may be difficult to change the attitudes of adults toward healthier eating, it is possible to start with schoolchildren. He said his company started a program with the local school district seven years ago to feature a fruit or vegetable every month that kids can take home — an effort that has helped increase produce sales at his stores.

Supermarket News at Expo West was held just prior to the Natural Products Expo West, sponsored by New Hope. Both SN and New Hope are owned by Penton Media.

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Supermarket News

Farm Bill 2014: FSIS Inspection Must Satisfy FDA Requirements?

I am betting your response to the headline was the same as when I read the news: HUH?

The proposed Farm Bill has finally gathered the bicameral and bipartisan support of a conference committee.

Food Safety News recently reported that the Farm Bill would require that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must “enter into a memorandum of understanding to improve interagency cooperation and prevent duplicative inspection oversight by ensuring that inspections of dual jurisdiction facilities by the FSIS satisfy the requirements of the FDA.”

First, a couple of explanations so we are all on the same page.

  1. Dual jurisdiction plants are those that fall under both FDA and USDA/FSIS regulatory authorities.
  2. FSIS regulates the slaughter and further processing of meat, poultry and egg products and does this by daily, continuous inspection of these establishments as dictated by various statutes passed over the years.
  3. FDA basically is responsible for almost everything else, including seafood, fish, dairy, shell eggs and produce. They rarely inspect a plant and may audit every five to 10 years or so.
  4. There are two glaring exceptions to No. 2 and No. 3 that were created by Congress, not by the agencies. FSIS has catfish inspection but no other seafood or fish. FDA has authority for bison but no other four-legged animals. (In fairness to the bison industry, and so Dave Carter does not call me, bison producers can ask for federal inspection, but they have to pay for it.)

What happens in the dual jurisdiction plants is that some products are produced that contain meat and some do not. The ones with a minimum amount of meat get daily continuous FSIS inspection; those with no meat might be the subject of an every 10 year or so audit.

Vegetarian pizza vs. pepperoni pizza

Pea Soup vs. Chicken Noodle Soup

Gerber carrot baby food vs. Gerber beef baby food

But it is not that simple.

Bagel Dogs vs. Corn Dogs

Closed face, ready-to-eat turkey sandwich vs. open-faced turkey sandwich

Same exact product and risk, yet one gets daily continuous inspection and the other gets none. And Congress wants a memorandum of understanding to prevent duplicative inspection oversight?

It is not duplicative; it is almost all FSIS. You are not going to see FSIS and FDA inspectors hanging around together in these establishments.

And Congress wants to be assured that inspection in dual jurisdiction facilities by FSIS meets the requirements of FDA? What FDA requirements, Congress? Maybe the one that is in the Food Safety Modernization Act and says FDA oversight must be risk-based?

Well, Congress, if that is the FDA requirement you are thinking that FSIS must meet, then you must change a law you passed in 2008 that said FSIS could not spend one more tax dollar developing a risk-based inspection system.

As U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, (R-OK) said in 2011 regarding the dual jurisdiction issue, “First of all, it is stupid. Second of all, it is inefficient.”

He was right. So why won’t Congress fix it? Three reasons:

  1. The consumer and food safety advocates want FDA products in dual jurisdiction plants to get daily inspection also.
  2. The meat and poultry industry wants to be exempted from daily inspection for things like soup, sandwiches and pizzas containing meat.
  3. The bargaining unit wants nothing that would decrease their numbers.

FDA and FSIS held a joint public conference in Chicago on this issue on Dec. 15, 2005. Bob Brackett and I co-chaired it. In my naiveté, I thought this would be an easy fix. The conference showed me how polarized this issue is.

Hence, Congress is not going to wade into this food fight but instead is telling the two agencies to play nicely together and take their lumps as they most surely will come from all sides.

If I were king for a day and wanted to get rid of this embarrassing inspection situation, here is what I would do. First of all, give FSIS all animals, including fish, seafood, eggs, and, yes, bison. And give them all animal products such as milk and cheese.

Give FDA all products that contain meat or poultry that has already been inspected in the pens, in the slaughter plants and in the further processing plants. After all, you can only inspect chicken meat so many times before you have to say “good to go out the door.”

Adding chicken meat to a pizza crust that contains tomatoes from Mexico, spinach from California, onions from Guatemala and cheese from Wisconsin does not immediately turn that pizza into a killer dish.

I think this would be near budget-neutral, cost no bargaining unit jobs, and make our food safer.

At the very least, it would make the system look less “stupid” and be more “efficient.”

Last shot and I am out of here. Farm Bill 2008 is the statute that actually moved catfish to FSIS with the help of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS). Six years later, and they are still not inspected. Seems the rule-makers are hung up over the definition of catfish.

I would not hold your breath waiting for the mandated memorandum of understanding.

Food Safety News

Sobeys Must Divest 23 Stores: Regulators

OTTAWA, Ontario — Sobeys must sell 23 stores to remedy competition issues related to its acquisition of Safeway Canada, Canada’s Competition Bureau here said Tuesday.


Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.

Sobeys, Stellarton, Nova Scotia, said it was seeking to sell 10 Sobeys stores and 13 Safeway units as part of the agreement. The divestitures would clear the final hurdle hurdle to the $ 5.8 billion deal for Safeway’s 233 stores in Canada, announced by Sobeys and Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway in June.

Stores to be divested are located in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and include five in Winnipeg and four in Edmonton.

Read more: Sobeys Sale-Leaseback Funds Safeway Buy

“I am confident this agreement will ensure that Canadian consumers continue to benefit from competitive prices for a wide selection of grocery products,” John Pecman, commissioner of competition, said in a statement. “I commend the parties for their stellar cooperation with the Bureau throughout our review of the proposed transaction.”

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Fresh Summit 2013: Industry Must Change With the Times

In the State of the Industry brunch on Friday Produce Marketing Association President Bryan Silbermann encouraged attendees to get on board with the changes occurring in and around the produce industry.

More than ever, the consumer is calling the shots and demanding more from their suppliers and retailers.

“Shoppers and diners are seizing control in ways we couldn’t imagine just a few short years ago,” said Silbermann.

Telling the farmer story has moved from just putting a face on produce packaging, Silbermann said. Oprah Winfrey owns her own farm.

“So we’ve gone from the celebrity chef to the celebrity farmer in just a few short years and whether this is driven by media moguls or desire to know how fruits and vegetables are grown, consumer interest in farming shows no sign of waning,” said Silermann.

“It’s up to our industry to create and develop ways to engage consumers.”

Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said there’s growing demand for better nutrition at restaurants, and chefs have been adding more local, artisanal, fruit or vegetable products to menus. (SN’s Liz Webber reports on more foodservice trends from Fresh Summit.)

Fresh Summit speakers also pushed the industry to hire more women to executive roles. 

“We would argue that if you are in an industry that is very complex and very relationship driven like the produce industry, a more feminine style of leadership is actually going to be more successful,” said Elisa van Dam, senior director of executive education and corporate outreach for the Simmons School of Management.

In addition to looking internally at hiring practices, Silberman and president and CEO of Bolthouse Farms Jeff Dunn challenged the produce industry to be as creative with driving demand as the snack food industry.

“You know I hate to pick on junk food, but I can’t help myself. They shouldn’t have all the fun. So we got to find a way to create that much energy around what we sell which has this greater purpose,” said Dunn.

Sam Kass, senior policy advisor on nutrition to the first lady and executive director of Let’s Move, said that the first lady is also comitted to helping the industry market fruits and vegetables more effectively to both children and adult consumers.

More News on the Fresh Summit Landing Page

Supermarket News

Increasing kiwi production in Italy, exports must be strengthened

Expectations and trends analysed by the Cso in Verona
Increasing kiwi production in Italy, exports must be strengthened

Slightly increasing national production (420 thousand tons, +5% with respect to 2012) with bigger grades, whereas cultivated areas decrease (25 thousand hectares, -2% with respect to 2012) because of bacteriosis and because less land is dedicated to kiwi cultivation (except for Southern Italy). In the meantime, exports are getting more important and new markets are being explored, even though a lot of the potential isn’t fully taken advantage of.

These are the main points emerged at the “Kiwi 2013/2014: previsioni produttive e situazione di mercato” conference that took place on Friday 3rd October at the Agri-food centre in Verona.

Bigger room for discussion was dedicated to bacteriosis and kiwi blight, which are affecting the entire province of Verona.

The speakers’ table at the conference. At the centre, Elisa Macchi, director of the Cso.

After the initial greetings of Luigi Frigotto, Councillor for agriculture of the Verona province, and Damiano Berzacola, member of the board of the chamber of Verona, the president of the Consortium Fausto Bertaiola underlined how “the response to the emergency situation was correct, but unfortunately it was not enough. Resources were found thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, the Province and some municipalities that funded two support projects. Producers must collaborate more in order to tackle the situation.”

“People who work at the beginning of the production chain should confront themselves with the Region and the various bodies to improve research and find the funds to compensate all companies affected by the PSA. More data is needed on the extent to which the disease has spread though, as we must know all of the aspects of the problem.” 

Elisa Macchi, director of the Cso, then talked about production estimates, with more detailed data than those presented at Macfrut 2013.

Less cultivated areas, but not in the South
In 2013, 25 thousand hectares will be dedicated to kiwi cultivation in Italy, 2% less than 2012. It is the first year that there is a negative result. 

Lazio cultivates 7,350 hectares (-2% than 2012); Piedmont 5,000 (-5%); Emilia Romagna 4,000 (-5%) and Veneto 3,700 (-6%).

In the South, in Campania but most of all in Calabria, cultivated areas increase.

Production – Piedmont back to standard levels

Piedmont goes back to standard levels after the drop in 2012 caused by freeze: 98 thousand tons are expected, 198% more than the previous year though still -20% than the 2008-2011 average.

Definite drop in production in Veneto – only 70 thousand tons (-30% than 2012). Verona, the leading area in the province, is facing a 30% drop in yields with respect to 2012, which though is only 8% less than the 2008-2011 period.

The same goes for Emilia Romagna, as the expected production is of 70 thousand tons, -2% than 2012. The Ravenna province should end with +2% with respect to the previous year, but -2% than 2008-2011. Forlì-Cesena is similar (-3% than 2012), whereas Bologna will do better.

The situation in Lazio will vary from company to company depending on who took measures against bacteriosis. The yield is expected at 128 thousand tons (-4% than 2012).

As regards the other regions, Friuli downsized – -4% cultivated areas and -15% production. Calabria increased cultivated areas and production, but yields will be lower than last year (-25%) because of wind damage.

Campania also increased cultivated areas by 10%.

At a national level, we are talking about around 420 thousand tons (+5% than 2012) with a higher quality (better grades). 403 thousand tons will be suitable for the market, 7% more than 2012. “We still are below our potential, though,” revealed the director of the Cso.

In the Northern hemisphere, Europe will produce 590,900 tons in 2013-2014, more or less the same than in 2012-2013. There have been significant drops in France (55 thousand tons, -13%) and Greece, one of our main competitors (102 thousand, -15% due to the weather). Lower productions also in California (less than 24 thousand tons, -23%) and South Korea (11,500 tons, -15%). 

Exports must be strengthened
Foreign countries become more important: during the 2012-2013 campaign, sales abroad increased despite 20% less production, leading to a good average price of €1.12 per kilo. 

The trend of Italian exports. Click here to enlarge the chart.

Exports in European countries decrease (Germany -8%, Spain +1%, France -15% and Poland -30%) and sales in extra-European countries also dropped by 23% (Russia -36%), whereas business is increasing in the Far East and South America.

Macchi added that our kiwis are going all over the world, but there is room for improvement and competition is important as, from 1992 to today, production increased in all producer countries and all of them export.

Publication date: 10/9/2013

To feed the future, we must mine the wealth of the world’s seed banks today, experts argue

July 5, 2013 — With fewer than a dozen flowering plants out of 300,000 species accounting for 80 percent of humanity’s caloric intake, people need to tap unused plants to feed the world in the near future, claims Cornell University plant geneticist Susan McCouch in the Comment feature of the July 4 issue of Nature.

To keep pace with population growth and rising incomes around the world, researchers estimate that food availability must double in the next 25 years. The biodiversity stored in plant gene banks coupled with advances in genetics and plant breeding may hold the keys for meeting the demands of more food in the face of climate change, soil degradation and water and land shortages, according to the paper.

“Gene banks hold hundreds of thousands of seeds and tissue culture materials collected from farmer’s fields and from wild, ancestral populations, providing the raw material that plant breeders need to create crops of the future,” said McCouch.

For example, after screening more than 6,000 varieties from seed banks, plant breeders identified and crossbred a single wild species of rice, Oryza nivara; the result is a variety that has protected against grassy stunt virus disease in almost all tropical rice varieties in Asia for the past 36 years, the paper states. Similarly, by 1997, the value of using crop wild relatives as sources of environmental resilience and resistance to pests and diseases led to an estimated $ 115 billion in annual benefits to the world economy.

Though seeds are readily accessible in 1,700 gene banks throughout the world, “they are not used to their full potential in plant breeding,” McCouch said.

At present, it is difficult for breeders to make use of the wealth of genetic material in seed banks because of a lack of information about the genes in most plants and the traits they confer, she said. Due to the time and effort required to identify and then use wild and unadapted genetic resources, “a breeder must have a good idea about the genetic value of an uncharacterized resource before attempting to use it in a breeding program,” McCouch said.

In the paper, McCouch and colleagues outlined a three-point plan to address these constraints:

  • A massive genetic sequencing effort on seed-bank holdings to document what exists in the collections, to strategically target experiments to evaluate what traits a plant has (called phenotyping) and to begin to predict plant performance.
  • A broad phenotyping initiative, not only of the gene bank holdings, but also of the progeny generated from crossing wild and exotic materials to adapted varieties targeted for local use.
  • An internationally accessible informatics infrastructure to coordinate data that are currently managed independently by gene-bank curators, agronomists and breeders.

The estimated cost for such a systematic, collaborative global effort to help characterize the genetic resources needed to feed the future is about $ 200 million annually, according to McCouch.

“This seems like great value, given that as a society we spend about $ 1 billion each year to run CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, and up to $ 180 million on a single fighter jet,” said McCouch.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

FDA Must Finalize FSMA Rules by 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. — A U.S. District Court has ruled that the Food and Drug Administration must issue all proposed Food Safety Modernization Act Rules by Nov. 30, and publish the final rules by June 30, 2015. CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group, for FDA’s failure to meet the 2012 deadlines dictated by Congress’s 2011 …

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