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Watermelon supply outlook: Thin supplies

NOGALES, AZ — A year ago in December there were plenty of watermelons to ship from northern Mexico. But the fall 2014 crop has run short because two August hurricanes struck Mexico’s west coast.

“There will be a gap from now until the deal begins in Jalisco. This is projected for January,” said Chuy Lopez, president of Big Chuy Distributors & Sons Inc.

“I wish we had them now,” he added in a Dec. 9 interview. There was very little watermelon volume available from Hermosillo and Guaymas in December.Big-Chuy-treeMike Gerardo, Alex Lopez and Chuy Lopez stand on a landing in the Nogales, AZ, office of Big Chuy Distributors & Sons Inc.

Lopez expected that the states of Jalisco and Colima will have reduced watermelon production this winter. The watermelon business has not been very good for the last couple of years, he explained.

“In the spring — in mid-March — we will start with decent volume, running through April and May,” he said. By March 1, watermelon production will have moved back to northern Mexico.

Late this year, Big Chuy is marketing Mexican hard squash and yellow and white sweet corn. “We will be busy with those for the next couple of months,” he said. “The markets are holding right now.”

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

Kroger Has Cautious Outlook

CINCINNATI — Kroger Co. last week reported first-quarter earnings that exceeded market expectations but saw its stock tumble anyway after adjusting annual guidance only modestly. The retailer said net earnings in the quarter, which ended May 25, totaled $ 481 million, or 92 cents per share, on sales of $ 30 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 89 cents per share. Kroger subsequently raised its annual earnings guidance to a range of $ 2.73 to $ 2.80 per share, from previous …

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Supermarket News

NZ: Positive outlook on kiwifruit

NZ: Positive outlook on kiwifruit

The kiwifruit industry is seeing positive signs of recovery post Psa with growing optimism on the future of orchards in the region.

Labour MP and Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor visited Te Puke yesterday to see first-hand how the industry is doing.

Damien O’Connor during his visit to EastPack.

“We visited an orchard where there has been visible signs of recovery through grafting and good management, but I’m sure there are some orchards that will still be struggling financially, and to re-establish an orchard with good production. It was a great chance to see what is happening with the kiwifruit industry and see the optimism that is now in the region regarding kiwifruit’s future.”

He says the kiwifruit industry has huge potential.

“This is an industry that has been developing over a long period and now is looking for another period as sunshine returns and prosperity. The fact that Gold varieties can be grown post Psa is a really positive sign and is something the industry should be proud of given the challenges it’s had.”

The Labour MP also stopped off at EastPack and got to see one of the buildings he opened back in 2001.

“It was great to return and see its expansion and it’s continuing to provide valuable opportunities for the region here. There are a large number of employees, who are dependent on that operation and the viability of the kiwifruit industry.”

While in Te Puke, Damien took the time to speak with a number of people to gauge how they were feeling leading to this year’s election.

“There’s a good feeling for Labour. There is certainly optimism locally around the kiwifruit industry, but issues around jobs, minimum wage, and migrant workforce were all discussed. He took the opportunity to remind industry leaders that “we need to look after these workers and not in any way undermine their working conditions, their living conditions or squeeze their rates of pay”.

Damien believes EastPack is a great example of the wise utilisation and support for workers and the benefits that can accrue to both the islands and to our industry.

“These are the workers that come out of the Pacific Islands that come over here on work schemes to work for an employer and most of their money goes back to their home. There is some fairly strict criteria around them coming here. There is wide migrant workforce in the Bay and we have to be mindful that none of these workers are exploited.”

Source: sunlive.co.nz

Publication date: 7/18/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Price outlook poor for limes

Bad weather in Mexico has greatly reduced the spring lime crop, sending the prices for the citrus fruit to never-seen-before highs. “The price has gone completely stupid. They’re the highest prices I’ve seen in 40 years I’ve [been in business],” said Peter Testa, president of Testa Produce, a Chicago wholesaler. “It’s unprecedented,” agreed Alfonso Cano, produce director for Northgate Gonzalez Markets in Southern California. “We’re …

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Supermarket News

Carrot sales continue to climb; supply outlook promising

Though it is considered a staple product and doesn’t generate an extreme amount of excitement, carrot sales have garnered considerable growth during the past year and are actually in the midst of a pretty good five-year run.

Bob Borda, vice president of marketing for Grimmway Farms in Bakersfield, CA, one of the nation’s leading grower-shippers of fresh carrots, revealed in late February that scan data shows a 4 percent increase in sales in the category over the past 52 weeks. He said the overall numbers show that baby carrot sales have been flat, while the value-added category is experiencing high single-digit growth and organic carrots are showing double-digit growth.

Perhaps surprisingly, whole carrots are also in a growth mode. Borda attributes this to the growing “foodie” category of people who love to cook at home and use whole commodities. He added that the juicing craze has also worked in the favor of carrots, as it is an excellent item to juice with good yield and good nutrition.

Carrots just may be one of those items that defies being categorized as it appears to have done well both during the recession, when people were cutting back, and post recession, when people are experimenting again with the foods they eat. Borda confirmed that sales have been good since 2008 when the poor economic times were at their peak and people were hunkering down and staying inside. More home-cooked meals meant an increase in sales for carrots.

Carrots are also a very popular item for school districts trying to meet established rules about increasing the percentage of fruits and vegetables that they serve. For both school lunch programs and moms at home, Borda said, portion-size packs of carrots are very popular. It is a very easy way, he said, for school kids and others to get good-tasting nutrition in an easy pack.

Consumers looking for carrots should have no trouble finding them over the next several months. In late February, Chris Smotherman, a sales representative for Kern Ridge Growers LLC in Arvin, CA, predicted a seamless transition from the San Joaquin Valley to the Imperial Valley, also in California. He said Kern Ridge was in the midst of transitioning its baby carrot operations to the desert that week and Imperial would be providing the bulk of that crop by the first week in March. The whole carrot production team will transition to Imperial a couple of weeks later in mid- to late March, he said.

ike most California crops, carrots follow the sun up and down the state. It is basically a six-month crop from planting to harvest. With the San Joaquin Valley’s winter crop concluding in March, the harvest transitions to Imperial Valley, which will provide most of the state’s carrots until mid-May. In the meantime, the spring crop (May-June harvest) from San Joaquin is mostly in the ground by late February, although there is still some planting to be done.

Smotherman said California’s well-publicized drought should not have a huge effect on this year’s carrot supplies. “Of course, growers are concerned but most of the growers are operating on well water and they will not be impacted by the lack of rain this year. Next year might be a different story.”

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

Frosty outlook marks domestic citrus

Growers in Florida and California are anticipating a drop in citrus production this season. “This year has been extremely difficult for the industry. We had a very early frost snap that’s affected production,” said Joel Nelsen, CEO of the California Citrus Mutual growers association. “In fact, we believe we lost roughly 25% to 30% of the navel orange crop, 40% or so of the remaining mandarin crop — which is the tangerines or clementines, however you wish to …

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Supermarket News

China: Alpha Fruit Packers gives their outlook on the 2013 apple season

China apple production to increase by 10%

The 2013 Fuji crop still one month away from being harvested and Alfa Fruit Packers would like to give you an early idea on this year’s crop based on our information from the Agriculture Department of China as well as surveys, random sampling at the orchards by their employees. This estimate is assuming the weather conditions will be normal from now until the time the fruit being harvested.

Fuji Crop 2013:
Quantity:
The Shaanxi and Gansu regions were heavily hit by a spring frost. These events decreased the amount of apples in these regions, however the total overall Chinese apple production will increase by as much as 10 percent. The increase in production is due to more apples being grown in the Henan and Hebei provinces. They estimate the production in the Yantai region is down by about 10% but the total production in Shandong province as a whole in increase about 5% due to more and more new planting for the past few years.

Quality:
From Alpha’s random sampling in the orchards, they found that the quality is not as good as last season. There are more rustic, mold, rots, and insect bites due to continue rain during the month of July.

Sizes:
In general the fruit size will be smaller than last year. It will be peaking around 100 or even 113′s. Alpha is seeing this smaller size trend in the red generals (early fake fuji variety).

Price:
The prices of early varieties such as Galas and Red general are quite high at the moment. The prices have doubled for Galas, and Red general prices have already surpassed last year’s Fuji prices. This is due to the shortage of apples in the domestic market this time of the year and the anticipated market for mid Autumn Festival  (September 20th).  However early variety prices do not have any indication on what the Fuji prices will be, because the quantity of these early variety is so small.  Normally it is determined by previous market situations and seller’s optimism.  Most apple sellers in China had lost a lot of money, so their optimism is at an all time low which will have an effect on pricing. 

Availability:
Alpha predicts that the Fuji harvest this year is going to be around October 10th. This is about one week, to 10 days later than last season because of late blooming, and farmer’s tendency to keep the fruit on the tree longer in hope that it grows to bigger sizes. The challenge of a late harvest is that we do not have a lot of time before we need to finish the harvesting. On the Chinese calendar, it is marked on October 23rd that temperatures will be below 0 degrees. If any apples are still on the tree at that time, the fruit will not be keep able for long term storage.

Alfa will be able start shipping around the third week of October. They look forward to a new and profitable 2013 apple season.

For more information:
Steve Leung, Managing Director
Alfa Fruit Packers Ltd
Tel: 86 535 538 3888
Email: [email protected]

 

Publication date: 9/16/2013


FreshPlaza.com

New Jersey’s fall 2013 produce industry outlook

The 2013 fall produce season is under way and should be highlighted by good quantities of high-quality produce available for wholesale and retail purchase. To understand our fall season, one needs to take a look at the extraordinary weather that our farmers have had to deal with to produce our fall crops. This is the fourth season in a row that extraordinary weather has had a major effect on our season.

Although April and May temperatures and precipitation were close to their long-term averages, cool overnight temperatures didn’t help to raise our soil temperatures enough to hasten the development of spring crops or encourage the early planting of summer crops. These weather conditions helped to create great quality lettuces, greens, asparagus and strawberries, though the slowly warming season put us into a slightly delayed season schedule.

This year had the rainiest June on record, with little time between rainstorms to dry out well. Farmers on heavier soils had a hard time getting into their saturated fields to till or harvest. In the more-southern areas of the state, where most of the commercial industry is located, sandier and better-draining soils predominate and farmers were able to get out into their fields more often to cultivate and harvest. It was especially important that farmers had enough labor to hand harvest or cultivate produce in between raindrops; however, farm labor availability was erratic this season.

There also were some seed, plant and fertilizer washout as well as field disease issues due to all of the June rain. This created supply gaps and variability in quality occurring with greens, lettuces and herbs that were hard to cultivate or harvest due to the weather and sloppy field conditions.

The inability to plant and cultivate some summer crops during June also caused future supply gaps for farmers when their non-sequentially planted crops started to become available.

July was a mixed bag of weather, with periods of high temperatures being interrupted with less frequent but very substantial rain. According to New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson of Rutgers University, July marked yet another in a lengthening sequence of hot mid-summer months across New Jersey. Most notable this year was the frequency of unusually warm nighttime temperatures in July that struggled to drop below 70 degrees.

August saw below-average temperatures and average precipitation levels. The effects of June’s record-breaking rain became very apparent as there were supply gaps due to lost production and non-sequentially planted crops. Tomatoes, peppers and sweet corn were all in much less supply than normal, with corresponding higher costs to consumers for available local produce.

The quality of all of our fruits and vegetables is good right now as seasonal weather has predominated recently. Farmers find themselves between plantings for some items that are normally in late-season supply. All of these affected produce items should start to return with some more volume as temperatures cool off and we get closer to the fall.

New Jersey enjoys a great diversity of fruits and vegetables due to its moderate climate and inherent “Jersey Fresh” qualities. New Jersey’s 11 principal fresh market vegetables are tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, eggplant, escarole, snap beans and asparagus. Our five principal fresh market fruits are strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and cranberries. New Jersey growers are still harvesting declining volumes of excellent quality summer produce. Peaches started normally this year in mid-July and will finish up in mid-September. Warm season herbs, such as basil and mint, are also finishing up. All of these products will be done at frost by mid-October.

New Jersey growers harvest cooler-season vegetables in the spring and fall. The fall season harvests of spinach, escarole/endive, lettuces, turnips, radishes, and white and sweet potatoes are starting in early September. Other vegetables that prefer somewhat cooler temperatures but can survive the summer heat in less quantity are harvesting very well, including cabbage, collards, kale, beets, Swiss chard, pickles, cucumbers, radishes, butternut and acorn squash, and herbs such as parsley, dill, coriander, arugula and cilantro.

New Jersey apples began their harvest in early September, with the Gala, McIntosh, Jonathan and Courtland varieties and were followed by Red Delicious, Empire, Jonagold and McCoun mid- to late in the month. Golden Delicious, Rome, and Stayman Winesap start harvesting in late September or early October. Braeburn, Fuji and Granny Smith will start in mid-October. Almost all New Jersey apples are sold soon after harvest and are not stored over time in controlled-atmosphere conditions like Western apples.

Bill Walker works for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Europe: VOG outlook for the 2013/14 season

Normal harvest volumes and balance between demand and supply. These brief words sum up the prospects for the coming apple-growing season, following a 2012/13 season featuring apple scarcity in Western Europe and fluctuating prices for much of the season.

This is the conviction of Gerhard Dichgans, VOG Consortium Director who – on returning from the 2013 edition of Prognosfruit, the annual event devoted to harvest forecasts, held in Prague from 8 to 10 August – is upbeat about the statistics emerging from the event.

“In 2012 we saw a drop of 9% in European apple production, with peaks – in the case of France – reaching up to minus 30%. Total European production fell below the 10 million ton mark, far less than its real productive capacity. 


For 2013 the forecast is for a return to an “on-tree” total of some 10.8 million tons, with all Western Europe’s apple-growing areas producing a normal harvest, even if featuring smaller average apple dimensions.
Poland, meanwhile, will pass the 3 million ton mark for the second time, confirming its position as top apple producer in Europe 27.

Q: Mr. Dichgans, before talking about the upcoming season, can you make a final comment on the 2012/13 season?

Prices began to rise in early Autumn, as soon as market operators became aware of the reduced offer from many major apple-growing zones, including various areas in France and Italy. Despite the rise in prices, apple consumption actually remained remarkably constant in practically all European countries, with a very slight negative reaction in Italy. Month after month, our group sold a similar amount of apples to the previous season, despite a harvest down by roughly 15%. The season finished early, but we continued to try to give priority to supplying our traditional customers and our strategic markets. At the end of the season, our commercial balance was positive. Unfortunately, this was not true of all sector producers, especially in the areas badly affected by Spring frosts.

Q: What are the detailed forecasts for this year’s South Tyrol harvest?

For the South Tyrol, the estimate for “on-tree” yield is 1,050,000 tons, a rise of 10.7% on last year. This is still a long way from being a return to full harvests such as those of 2009 or 2011.
After the abundant Spring blossom, the wet and humid weather has led to a normal amount of apples developing, but some varieties – such as Red Delicious – have suffered from poor fruit setting performance. Average apple dimension is slightly smaller than in 2012.
We must remember that the estimated on-tree volume will be reduced once the substantial losses caused by mid-July hailstorms have been deducted. Overall, the number of apples sent to storage will be only slightly higher than in 2012.

Q: What should we expect in terms of price trends?

Given the return to “normal” harvest volumes across Europe, prices too will return to normal, encouraging a more regular destocking rate of larger stocks. But I foresee prices staying as they are through the late summer and the first months of Autumn. For example, the first Gala apples of the season – ready for the market nearly ten days late – have immediately met with very lively demand, both from Italy and abroad. A major cause for this was the early end of last season’s Golden stocks, along with the offer from abroad dwindling to a trickle.

Q: New markets and exports: what should we expect from the 2013 season?

In 2012/2013 the Italian market accounted for 40% of our sales. Despite the lower harvest, we respected the quotas committed to major retailing networks, and we intend to do so again in this new season.
Germany – our second largest market – will offer us extremely interesting prospects, especially in the second half of the season, given a national harvest down by 17%… one of the lowest for some years. The Northern European and Scandinavian markets should be favourable too, since our smaller apple sizes are more to their taste.
As far as new target destinations go, we remain extremely interested in the countries of the Mediterranean basin and North Africa, where we have grown robustly in recent years. In Spain, meanwhile, having further raised our sales volume in 2012/2013, our objective now is to consolidate our market share and work harder on quality and brand distribution.

Q: How is VOG’s varietal renewal programme going?

With a stable production area of roughly 10,000 hectares, our consortium’s aim is not to further improve the quantity of our offer, but its quality.
The main goals here are the clonal renewal of classic varieties such as Royal Gala or Red Delicious, and further investments in new varieties offering exceptional and original organoleptic features.
In this context, the two most recent novelties presented on the Italian market are Kanzi® and Jazz®: despite their marked differences, both these varieties are – interestingly – crosses between Gala and Braeburn. Here our harvest is rising, and in 2013/2014 we will be able to intensify our work on distributing them in Italy and in Europe. 

FreshPlaza.com

Europe: VOG outlook for the 2013/14 season

Normal harvest volumes and balance between demand and supply. These brief words sum up the prospects for the coming apple-growing season, following a 2012/13 season featuring apple scarcity in Western Europe and fluctuating prices for much of the season.

This is the conviction of Gerhard Dichgans, VOG Consortium Director who – on returning from the 2013 edition of Prognosfruit, the annual event devoted to harvest forecasts, held in Prague from 8 to 10 August – is upbeat about the statistics emerging from the event.

“In 2012 we saw a drop of 9% in European apple production, with peaks – in the case of France – reaching up to minus 30%. Total European production fell below the 10 million ton mark, far less than its real productive capacity. 


For 2013 the forecast is for a return to an “on-tree” total of some 10.8 million tons, with all Western Europe’s apple-growing areas producing a normal harvest, even if featuring smaller average apple dimensions.
Poland, meanwhile, will pass the 3 million ton mark for the second time, confirming its position as top apple producer in Europe 27.

Q: Mr. Dichgans, before talking about the upcoming season, can you make a final comment on the 2012/13 season?

Prices began to rise in early Autumn, as soon as market operators became aware of the reduced offer from many major apple-growing zones, including various areas in France and Italy. Despite the rise in prices, apple consumption actually remained remarkably constant in practically all European countries, with a very slight negative reaction in Italy. Month after month, our group sold a similar amount of apples to the previous season, despite a harvest down by roughly 15%. The season finished early, but we continued to try to give priority to supplying our traditional customers and our strategic markets. At the end of the season, our commercial balance was positive. Unfortunately, this was not true of all sector producers, especially in the areas badly affected by Spring frosts.

Q: What are the detailed forecasts for this year’s South Tyrol harvest?

For the South Tyrol, the estimate for “on-tree” yield is 1,050,000 tons, a rise of 10.7% on last year. This is still a long way from being a return to full harvests such as those of 2009 or 2011.
After the abundant Spring blossom, the wet and humid weather has led to a normal amount of apples developing, but some varieties – such as Red Delicious – have suffered from poor fruit setting performance. Average apple dimension is slightly smaller than in 2012.
We must remember that the estimated on-tree volume will be reduced once the substantial losses caused by mid-July hailstorms have been deducted. Overall, the number of apples sent to storage will be only slightly higher than in 2012.

Q: What should we expect in terms of price trends?

Given the return to “normal” harvest volumes across Europe, prices too will return to normal, encouraging a more regular destocking rate of larger stocks. But I foresee prices staying as they are through the late summer and the first months of Autumn. For example, the first Gala apples of the season – ready for the market nearly ten days late – have immediately met with very lively demand, both from Italy and abroad. A major cause for this was the early end of last season’s Golden stocks, along with the offer from abroad dwindling to a trickle.

Q: New markets and exports: what should we expect from the 2013 season?

In 2012/2013 the Italian market accounted for 40% of our sales. Despite the lower harvest, we respected the quotas committed to major retailing networks, and we intend to do so again in this new season.
Germany – our second largest market – will offer us extremely interesting prospects, especially in the second half of the season, given a national harvest down by 17%… one of the lowest for some years. The Northern European and Scandinavian markets should be favourable too, since our smaller apple sizes are more to their taste.
As far as new target destinations go, we remain extremely interested in the countries of the Mediterranean basin and North Africa, where we have grown robustly in recent years. In Spain, meanwhile, having further raised our sales volume in 2012/2013, our objective now is to consolidate our market share and work harder on quality and brand distribution.

Q: How is VOG’s varietal renewal programme going?

With a stable production area of roughly 10,000 hectares, our consortium’s aim is not to further improve the quantity of our offer, but its quality.
The main goals here are the clonal renewal of classic varieties such as Royal Gala or Red Delicious, and further investments in new varieties offering exceptional and original organoleptic features.
In this context, the two most recent novelties presented on the Italian market are Kanzi® and Jazz®: despite their marked differences, both these varieties are – interestingly – crosses between Gala and Braeburn. Here our harvest is rising, and in 2013/2014 we will be able to intensify our work on distributing them in Italy and in Europe. 

FreshPlaza.com

Loblaw Raises Outlook After Q2 Gains

BRAMPTON, Ontario — Loblaw Cos. on Wednesday revised its yearly earnings projections upward after reporting sales and earnings increases for the fiscal second quarter.

“We are pleased with our progress this quarter. The investments we have made to advance our customer proposition once again translated into improved same-store sales performance in an intense competitive environment,” Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw, said in a statement. “At the same time, better mix and good expense management delivered improved earnings.”


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For the 12-week second quarter, which ended June 15, Loblaw reported sales of $ 7.3 billion (U.S.), a 2% increase from the same period last year, and a same-store sales improvement of 1.1%. Net earnings in the quarter improved by 14.1% to $ 173 million (U.S.).

The results prompted Loblaw to revise its annual outlook upward. The company said it is now expecting “mid-single digit” improvement in operating income for the year, up from prior calls for a low-single digit growth. Operating income in the second quarter improved by 11%.

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