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Hepatitis A Outbreak Numbers Rise Again: 127 Sick in 8 States

The Hepatitis A outbreak linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey continues to grow. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said five more illnesses have been confirmed as part of the outbreak, bringing the total to 127 ill in 8 states.

According to CDC, all of the confirmed victims became ill after eating Townsend Farms Organic Anti-oxidant Blend, a frozen berry blend sold across the country in Costco stores. Harris Teeter also sold the now recalled product, but so far no illnesses have been linked to the retailer.

The updated case count by state is as follows: Arizona (17), California (64), Colorado (25), Hawaii (7), New Mexico (5), Nevada (5), Utah (2), and Wisconsin (2). [Note: The cases reported from Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California.] Nearly 60 percent of those sickened are women. The ages in the outbreak range from 2 to 84 and include 6 children under the age of 18. CDC said none of the children had been vaccinated. More than half of those ill required hospitalization.

The outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus, belonging to genotype 1B, is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East, according to CDC.

Three weeks ago, Townsend Farms Inc. recalled certain lots of the product linked to the outbreak because it has the potential to be contaminated. This week, Scenic Fruit Company recalled certain lots of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels, also thought to be at risk for contamination. Both companies are based in Oregon.

Food Safety News

Sobeys Sales, Earnings Rise in Q4

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Sobeys posted a sales gain of 5.8% — 2.4% excluding acquisitions — and a 0.6% same-store sales gain in the fiscal fourth quarter, parent company Empire Cos. said Thursday.


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Sobeys accounts for nearly all of Empire’s financial results. The parent company reported quarterly net earnings of $ 102.5 million (U.S.) on sales of $ 4.1 billion. Net earnings increased 16.6% from the same period last year, and sales were up by 5.8%. For the fiscal year, food retail sales increased 8.4% to $ 16.8 billion.

Sales were impacted by the acquisition of 236 gas stations and convenience stores accounting for around $ 1 billion in sales during the year. Excluding those stores, Sobeys sales improved by 2.8% for the fiscal year.

In addition, Empire Cos. on Thursday said it reached agreements to sell its movie theater operations in two separate transactions, saying the deals would allow the company to focus attention on Sobeys and its real estate holdings.

More news: Analysts Watching Sobeys’ ‘Magical’ Safeway Deal

Empire said Cineplex Inc. would acquire 24 theaters in Atlantic Canada and two in Ontario for $ 200 million in cash. In a separate deal, Empire said it would sell 20 theaters in Ontario and Western Canada to Landmark Cinemas for around $ 55 million. Empire said it would retain a stake in the Landmark properties, although Landmark would manage the business and have the right to buy Empire’s stake for $ 19 million.

“The decision to sell the business of Empire Theaters was a difficult one as it had a long history in our company and is a great business with excellent employees who have worked hard over many years to build an attractive entertainment division,” Paul Sobey, chairman of Empire, said in a statement. “The decision, however, aligns with the strategic direction of the company to focus our resources on our food retail business … and on our real estate.”

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Supermarket News

Fig consumption on the rise in Europe

Fig consumption on the rise in Europe

The fig season started 3 weeks ago for the Israeli company Avniv Export, coinciding with the decline of the Turkish campaign. CEO Niva Ben Zion explains that, “during the winter, Israeli figs are in high demand, as they fill the gap between the Turkish and Brazilian seasons. The campaign usually lasts from October to January, depending on the weather.”

This season, the company offers only two varieties, the Brazilian type, called Brown Turkey, and the Cyprus variety, called Autumn Honey. “Both are dark, very tasty, with a better shelf life than during the summer,” says Niva.

According to Niva, consumption tends to increase exponentially before the Christmas holidays in destinations like Scandinavia, the UK or Germany. “I believe it is due to figs being used in high cuisine, for salads, dishes or marmalades. It is an acquired taste, but consumption is on the rise, as people are currently more exposed to ethnic flavours”

In terms of pricing, Avniv Export works with a programme on a fixed price base. “I believe this is good both for me and for my clients; we don’t play with the price. I speak with the grower to find out what he wants and then offer the price to the client, negotiating back with the grower,” states Niva, who also says that “demand is always higher than supply.”

When the firm started exporting figs, in 2009, it first focused on the UK market, which Niva believes to be the most advanced in terms of exotics. “I decided to focus on exotics, because this is something I could have an added value in. I really am passionate about exotics.”

For more information:
Niva Ben Zion
Tel: +972-2-9941047
Mobile:+972-52-4399800
Email:
Skype: niva.ben.zion
www.avniv.com

Publication date: 11/12/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

The rise of ‘discountvenience’

Channel blurring has been a feature of grocery retailing for many years, but has become even more prominent in recent times. Shoppers have increased the number of channels they’ve been using, and retailers have been developing new formats that cross traditional channel boundaries in response to this.

One of the most widespread examples has been the development of hybrid formats which bridge the divide between discount and convenience, a global phenomenon in grocery retailing that we’ve dubbed “discountvenience.”

Aeon’s convenience format My Basket has assimilated several discount features.This has been driven by both convenience and discount stores adapting their offers. Convenience stores have become more focused on delivering a stronger “value” offer, seeking to break down perceptions that they are more expensive than larger store formats. Meanwhile, discount store operators have been maximizing their small format stores and convenient locations to tap into shopper demand for quicker-to-shop solutions, seeking to meet a broader range of shopper needs, including food-for-now and food-for-later.

In Japan, Aeon’s My Basket urban convenience format has adopted many of the elements that underpin the success of discount retailing. The goal was to build a compelling value-oriented offer that meets the differing needs of residents, commuters and workers in city locations. These elements include a low-pricing strategy to build appeal with price sensitive Japanese shoppers, with many items priced below 100 yen (about $ 1). Its TopValu private label range also features heavily throughout the store, while wheeled units and sliding shelves enable quick and easy replenishment, supporting the in-store efficiencies which discounters are so famed for.

The shift from discount to convenience is brought to life by one of Aldi’s latest stores in London. The 8,000-square-foot store offers the full 1,600-strong product range typically associated with the hard-discount operator, plus around 200 convenience-oriented products. These include a new “Lunch for Less” section, with a range of sandwiches that brings the retailer into direct competition with convenience and food-to-go operators, and an in-store bakery offering a choice of competitively priced items baked in-store throughout the day.

This is an area where I expect to see even more innovation in the future. Discounters will focus on strengthening impulse and food-to-go ranges, while convenience retailers will look to simplify their offers and reduce operational complexities in order to support a stronger value oriented approach. And hitting the sweet spot could result in something very unique; just take a look at Trader Joe’s, a retailer that effectively meets shoppers’ convenience and value needs.


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In the U.S. we have already seen a number of retailers emerge with hybrid formats, particularly those combining elements of traditional supermarkets and farmers’ markets, while drugstore operators have also been broadening their offers to include wider fresh food ranges. As the battle for traffic and shopper loyalty intensifies, we can expect to see retailers develop more creative formats to gain a greater share of their customers’ grocery spending.

How are you seeing traditional retailers adapt to the “discountvenience” trend? What new elements are they incorporating into their stores?

Supermarket News

Safeway net income drops, sales rise for Q3

As Safeway nears the completion of its merger with Albertsons, the company said net income fell as a result of a series of one-time charges while sales increased for the third quarter and 36 weeks ended Sept. 6.

Net income dropped 85.6% to $ 9.5 million for the 12-week quarter and 96.2% to $ 7.4 million for the year to date, while sales increased 2.6% to $ 8.3 billion for the quarter and 1.7% to $ 24.7 billion for the 36-week period.

The company said the earnings decline resulted from a loss on continuing operations of $ 21.2 million, plus three one-time items that totaled $ 99.4 million: $ 84.4 million from early extinguishment of debt; $ 11.2 million from merger-related expenses; and $ 3.8 million from a loss on foreign exchange rates from Canada.


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The financial results were contained in Safeway’s 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said it is “hopeful” the merger will be completed by the end of the calendar year, though no specific target date has been announced.

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Supermarket News

USDA predicts rise in fruit prices

USDA predicts rise in fruit prices

The USDA expects the cost of fresh fruit to rise between 5% and 6% this year, much higher than the 3.5% to 4.5% increase forecast last month. The agency blamed the faster-than-anticipated spread of the citrus greening disease for the new estimate.

The agency also warned of fast-rising prices for other crops as the effects of California’s drought continue to spread. Among the foods most vulnerable to price jumps are lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, and rice.
 
These gloom-and-doom forecasts by the USDA are becoming so frequent, particularly for the disease-riddled citrus crop, that it’s easy to grow discouraged.

And adding further complications, it’s increasingly likely that when this long and difficult year ends we’ll have an El Nino. And that will mean all-new problems for food production.

Source: www.fooddive.com

Publication date: 6/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

International demand for Italian grapes on the rise

International demand for Italian grapes on the rise

The UK market is very important for the Italian producer and exporter Giuliano Puglia Fruit, especially for seedless grapes, with clients such as TESCO, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. This is the main reason why the firm attended the first edition of the new London Fresh Show, held between 4 and 6 June.

“We have good quality seedless grapes in Italy and sufficient volumes to supply the British market. The seedless grape market is one in constant growth every year, not only in the UK, but also in countries like Germany, Austria or the Netherlands. The grape season for us starts in early June with the Victoria and ends in December, after Christmas, with the ITALIA, Red Globe and Crimson,” explains Filippo Valenzano, export manager of the company.

According to Filippo, most of the Giuliano Puglia’s clients generally prefer the Italian product and only resort to producers in other countries when the Italian fruit is not up to scratch. “In any case, we always do our best to deliver a great quality produce, facing competitors such as Egypt, Greece, Morocco, Spain, Israel or Turkey.”

Filippo says that the company works with export programmes that fully rely on the quality of the fruit, which in turn strongly depends on the weather conditions. “We agree on pre-programmes with our clients which are flexible to changes, but what is sure is that the volumes demanded increase year after year, as they are always satisfied.”

Prospects for the current season are positive, as “we had a good flowering and fertility with different varieties, as well as dry weather conditions. Over the past two years, sustainability has become a very important part of the production process and a priority for the firm,” concludes the export manager.

Publication date: 6/12/2014
Author: Pieter Boekhout
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

International demand for Italian grapes on the rise

International demand for Italian grapes on the rise

The UK market is very important for the Italian producer and exporter Giuliano Puglia Fruit, especially for seedless grapes, with clients such as TESCO, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. This is the main reason why the firm attended the first edition of the new London Fresh Show, held between 4 and 6 June.

“We have good quality seedless grapes in Italy and sufficient volumes to supply the British market. The seedless grape market is one in constant growth every year, not only in the UK, but also in countries like Germany, Austria or the Netherlands. The grape season for us starts in early June with the Victoria and ends in December, after Christmas, with the ITALIA, Red Globe and Crimson,” explains Filippo Valenzano, export manager of the company.

According to Filippo, most of the Giuliano Puglia’s clients generally prefer the Italian product and only resort to producers in other countries when the Italian fruit is not up to scratch. “In any case, we always do our best to deliver a great quality produce, facing competitors such as Egypt, Greece, Morocco, Spain, Israel or Turkey.”

Filippo says that the company works with export programmes that fully rely on the quality of the fruit, which in turn strongly depends on the weather conditions. “We agree on pre-programmes with our clients which are flexible to changes, but what is sure is that the volumes demanded increase year after year, as they are always satisfied.”

Prospects for the current season are positive, as “we had a good flowering and fertility with different varieties, as well as dry weather conditions. Over the past two years, sustainability has become a very important part of the production process and a priority for the firm,” concludes the export manager.

Publication date: 6/12/2014
Author: Pieter Boekhout
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Fruit distributor Fyffes sees first quarter revenues rise

Fruit distributor Fyffes sees first quarter revenues rise

Fruit distributor Fyffes has recorded total revenues of €306.5 million for the first quarter, up 3.4 per cent on the €296.5 million reported for the same three-month period a year earlier. The company said group revenue, which excludes Fyffes share of joint ventures, was up 5.4 per cent to €256.7 million from €243.4 million. Adjusted profit before tax amounted to €15.8 million, up 18.4 per cent.
 
The deal to create ChiquitaFyffes, according to Fyffes chairman David McCann, came from “tentative discussions over many, many years” between the Irish company and its larger US rival Chiquita.Fyffes share price goes bananas as it extracts the better deal from $ 1 billion merger

Fyffes said sales were higher in each of its product categories, driven mainly by organic growth and partly offset by lower average prices in the banana and pineapple categories.

The group reported that average selling prices were lower in the first quarter, particularly in Continental Europe. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (Ebita) was 14.9 per cent higher at €16 million on the same period last year, which the group attributed to favourable market conditions in the melon category.

Total operating profit for the three months ended March 31st, after exceptional items, amortisation charges and joint ventures tax charges amounted to €9.7million, compared to €13.3 million in the first quarter last year.

Fyffes said adjusted diluted earnings per share amounted to €4.54 cent in the quarter, up 17.9 per cent on the same period last year.

The group said that based on its positive start to the year, it is maintaining its €30m-€35m target Ebita range for the full-year.

Chairman David McCann said that in relation to Fyffes proposed merger with rival Chiquita, which was announced in March, a registration statement on Form S-4 has been submitted to the SEC in the US and will be circulated to shareholders once it has been declared effective by them. The two companies recently revised some of the conditions of their proposed $ 1 billion merger to reflect mandatory jurisdiction of the European Commission.

The new merged entity, which will be called ChiquitaFyffes, is to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange but domiciled in Ireland. It will have combined annual revenues of approximately $ 4.6 billion (€3.3 billion).

Source: irishtimes.com

Publication date: 5/14/2014


FreshPlaza.com

As CO2 levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall

Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.

The new findings are reported in the journal Nature. Eight institutions, from Australia, Israel, Japan and the United States, contributed to the analysis.

The researchers looked at multiple varieties of wheat, rice, field peas, soybeans, maize and sorghum grown in fields with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels like those expected in the middle of this century. (Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are currently approaching 400 parts per million, and are expected to rise to 550 ppm by 2050.)

The teams simulated high CO2 levels in open-air fields using a system called Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE), which pumps out, monitors and adjusts ground-level atmospheric CO2 to simulate future conditions. In this study, all other growing conditions (sunlight, soil, water, temperature) were the same for plants grown at high-CO2 and those used as controls.

The experiments revealed that the nutritional quality of a number of the world’s most important crop plants dropped in response to elevated CO2.

The study contributed “more than tenfold more data regarding both the zinc and iron content of the edible portions of crops grown under FACE conditions” than available from previous studies, the team wrote.

“When we take all of the FACE experiments we’ve got around the world, we see that an awful lot of our key crops have lower concentrations of zinc and iron in them (at high CO2),” said University of Illinois plant biology and Institute for Genomic Biology professor Andrew Leakey, an author on the study. “And zinc and iron deficiency is a big global health problem already for at least 2 billion people.”

Zinc and iron went down significantly in wheat, rice, field peas and soybeans. Wheat and rice also saw notable declines in protein content at higher CO2.

“Across a diverse set of environments in a number of countries, we see this decrease in quality,” Leakey said.

Nutrients in sorghum and maize remained relatively stable at higher CO2 levels because these crops use a type of photosynthesis, called C4, which already concentrates carbon dioxide in their leaves, Leakey said.

“C4 is sort of a fuel-injected photosynthesis that maize and sorghum and millet have,” he said. “Our previous work here at Illinois has shown that their photosynthesis rates are not stimulated by being at elevated CO2. They already have high CO2 inside their leaves.”

More research is needed to determine how crops grown in developing regions of the world will respond to higher atmospheric CO2, Leakey said.

“It’s important that we start to do these experiments in tropical climates with tropical soils, because that’s just a terrible gap in our knowledge, given that that’s where food security is already the biggest issue,” he said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

NZ: Logistics group sees 2013 earnings rise 50% on Asian demand for apples

NZ: Logistics group sees 2013 earnings rise 50% on Asian demand for apples

Scales Corp, the fruit and vegetable logistics group controlled by private equity firm Direct Capital, lifted 2013 profit by 50 percent as rising Asian demand for apples helped mitigate the impact of a stronger kiwi dollar.

Net profit rose to $ 20.4 million in calendar 2013, from $ 13.6 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. Sales rose 17 percent to $ 278 million. The Mr Apple unit exported 4 million cartons, of which 2.82 million cartons were grown at its own orchards. Scales didn’t break down earnings for its horticulture, storage and logistics, and food ingredients units.

“We are increasing apple volumes targeted at premium Asian markets,” said Andy Borland, managing director. “Apple prices were strong in most of the company’s key markets which more than offset the impact of a persistently high New Zealand dollar.”

Apples made up a third of New Zealand’s $ 1.55 billion in fruit exports in the year ended March 31, with Thailand the biggest destination in Asia with $ 46 million in annual sales.

Scales launched a new air freight service, Balance Cargo, in the period which it said secured new clients. Sea freight operations benefited from increased volumes of apples, passing on savings to Mr Apple through its competitive rates.

Polarcold, its South Island cold storage operation, and its North Island Whakatu Coldstores unit met expectations and are securing longer term contracts, the company said. It expanded capacity for bulk liquid storage with a new 2,000 tonne tank at Port of Napier.

Source: business.scoop.co.nz

Publication date: 5/7/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $17.5 million

Challenges in Panama Disease and drug trafficking
Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $ 17.5 million

Fresh Del Monte Produce reported on Tuesday a growth in profit for the first quarter, as revenues increased across all segments. Shares of the fruit and vegetable supplier are currently trading up 11 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, following the announcement.

Fresh Del Monte’s first-quarter profit rose to $ 58.6 million or $ 1.04 per share from last year’s $ 41.1 million or $ 0.71 per share.

Comparable net income, which excludes certain charges, was $ 56.5 million or $ 1.00 per share.

Sales for the first quarter improved to $ 982.3 million from $ 918.8 million a year ago, on a broad growth across all the segments.

Sales of Banana, the core segment, increased 8 percent to $ 436.9 million, as pricing and volumes increased. Other fresh produce sales rose 5 percent to 454.3 million, driven by higher sales in pineapple and non-tropical product lines.

“Our results in the first quarter of 2014 demonstrate progress toward our strategic initiatives. We benefited from efforts to hold the line on costs, achieved higher profitability in our offshore melon business and continued growth in our Middle East operations,” said CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh.

Bananas and Tropical Race 4
FreshFruit Portal reported that pricing for the category has been of concern to the company, in large part due to competing pressure between input costs and retailers. Abu-Ghazaleh highlighted this point when asked about the potential impact of Panama Disease, specifically the spread of Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

He said the dangers of the disease are real and have proven themselves through the devastation of farms in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

As input and disease control costs rise, Abu-Ghazaleh described multinational banana companies as “sitting ducks” in a situation in which retailers leverage pricing powers.

The company CEO lamented what he described as poor pricing in North America and even poorer, uncontrolled pricing in Europe.

For now, he said there are no promising alternatives to replace Cavendish, the top commercial banana and a variety that has shown susceptibility to TR4.

Ecuadorian drug trafficking

Abu-Ghazaleh went on to describe what he called disturbing business practices out of the Ecuadorian banana industry. He noted concerning growth in the illicit drug trade, hidden in unchecked banana shipments.

Pineapple sourcing and Banacol
The company acknowledged a possible sourcing agreement with Banacol but said the producer will need about a year of training before it can meet Del Monte’s quality standards.

Source: FresFruitPortal.com and RTT News

Publication date: 4/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $17.5 million

Challenges in Panama Disease and drug trafficking
Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $ 17.5 million

Fresh Del Monte Produce reported on Tuesday a growth in profit for the first quarter, as revenues increased across all segments. Shares of the fruit and vegetable supplier are currently trading up 11 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, following the announcement.

Fresh Del Monte’s first-quarter profit rose to $ 58.6 million or $ 1.04 per share from last year’s $ 41.1 million or $ 0.71 per share.

Comparable net income, which excludes certain charges, was $ 56.5 million or $ 1.00 per share.

Sales for the first quarter improved to $ 982.3 million from $ 918.8 million a year ago, on a broad growth across all the segments.

Sales of Banana, the core segment, increased 8 percent to $ 436.9 million, as pricing and volumes increased. Other fresh produce sales rose 5 percent to 454.3 million, driven by higher sales in pineapple and non-tropical product lines.

“Our results in the first quarter of 2014 demonstrate progress toward our strategic initiatives. We benefited from efforts to hold the line on costs, achieved higher profitability in our offshore melon business and continued growth in our Middle East operations,” said CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh.

Bananas and Tropical Race 4
FreshFruit Portal reported that pricing for the category has been of concern to the company, in large part due to competing pressure between input costs and retailers. Abu-Ghazaleh highlighted this point when asked about the potential impact of Panama Disease, specifically the spread of Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

He said the dangers of the disease are real and have proven themselves through the devastation of farms in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

As input and disease control costs rise, Abu-Ghazaleh described multinational banana companies as “sitting ducks” in a situation in which retailers leverage pricing powers.

The company CEO lamented what he described as poor pricing in North America and even poorer, uncontrolled pricing in Europe.

For now, he said there are no promising alternatives to replace Cavendish, the top commercial banana and a variety that has shown susceptibility to TR4.

Ecuadorian drug trafficking

Abu-Ghazaleh went on to describe what he called disturbing business practices out of the Ecuadorian banana industry. He noted concerning growth in the illicit drug trade, hidden in unchecked banana shipments.

Pineapple sourcing and Banacol
The company acknowledged a possible sourcing agreement with Banacol but said the producer will need about a year of training before it can meet Del Monte’s quality standards.

Source: FresFruitPortal.com and RTT News

Publication date: 4/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $17.5 million

Challenges in Panama Disease and drug trafficking
Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $ 17.5 million

Fresh Del Monte Produce reported on Tuesday a growth in profit for the first quarter, as revenues increased across all segments. Shares of the fruit and vegetable supplier are currently trading up 11 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, following the announcement.

Fresh Del Monte’s first-quarter profit rose to $ 58.6 million or $ 1.04 per share from last year’s $ 41.1 million or $ 0.71 per share.

Comparable net income, which excludes certain charges, was $ 56.5 million or $ 1.00 per share.

Sales for the first quarter improved to $ 982.3 million from $ 918.8 million a year ago, on a broad growth across all the segments.

Sales of Banana, the core segment, increased 8 percent to $ 436.9 million, as pricing and volumes increased. Other fresh produce sales rose 5 percent to 454.3 million, driven by higher sales in pineapple and non-tropical product lines.

“Our results in the first quarter of 2014 demonstrate progress toward our strategic initiatives. We benefited from efforts to hold the line on costs, achieved higher profitability in our offshore melon business and continued growth in our Middle East operations,” said CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh.

Bananas and Tropical Race 4
FreshFruit Portal reported that pricing for the category has been of concern to the company, in large part due to competing pressure between input costs and retailers. Abu-Ghazaleh highlighted this point when asked about the potential impact of Panama Disease, specifically the spread of Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

He said the dangers of the disease are real and have proven themselves through the devastation of farms in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

As input and disease control costs rise, Abu-Ghazaleh described multinational banana companies as “sitting ducks” in a situation in which retailers leverage pricing powers.

The company CEO lamented what he described as poor pricing in North America and even poorer, uncontrolled pricing in Europe.

For now, he said there are no promising alternatives to replace Cavendish, the top commercial banana and a variety that has shown susceptibility to TR4.

Ecuadorian drug trafficking

Abu-Ghazaleh went on to describe what he called disturbing business practices out of the Ecuadorian banana industry. He noted concerning growth in the illicit drug trade, hidden in unchecked banana shipments.

Pineapple sourcing and Banacol
The company acknowledged a possible sourcing agreement with Banacol but said the producer will need about a year of training before it can meet Del Monte’s quality standards.

Source: FresFruitPortal.com and RTT News

Publication date: 4/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $17.5 million

Challenges in Panama Disease and drug trafficking
Fresh Del Monte reports profit rise of $ 17.5 million

Fresh Del Monte Produce reported on Tuesday a growth in profit for the first quarter, as revenues increased across all segments. Shares of the fruit and vegetable supplier are currently trading up 11 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, following the announcement.

Fresh Del Monte’s first-quarter profit rose to $ 58.6 million or $ 1.04 per share from last year’s $ 41.1 million or $ 0.71 per share.

Comparable net income, which excludes certain charges, was $ 56.5 million or $ 1.00 per share.

Sales for the first quarter improved to $ 982.3 million from $ 918.8 million a year ago, on a broad growth across all the segments.

Sales of Banana, the core segment, increased 8 percent to $ 436.9 million, as pricing and volumes increased. Other fresh produce sales rose 5 percent to 454.3 million, driven by higher sales in pineapple and non-tropical product lines.

“Our results in the first quarter of 2014 demonstrate progress toward our strategic initiatives. We benefited from efforts to hold the line on costs, achieved higher profitability in our offshore melon business and continued growth in our Middle East operations,” said CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh.

Bananas and Tropical Race 4
FreshFruit Portal reported that pricing for the category has been of concern to the company, in large part due to competing pressure between input costs and retailers. Abu-Ghazaleh highlighted this point when asked about the potential impact of Panama Disease, specifically the spread of Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

He said the dangers of the disease are real and have proven themselves through the devastation of farms in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

As input and disease control costs rise, Abu-Ghazaleh described multinational banana companies as “sitting ducks” in a situation in which retailers leverage pricing powers.

The company CEO lamented what he described as poor pricing in North America and even poorer, uncontrolled pricing in Europe.

For now, he said there are no promising alternatives to replace Cavendish, the top commercial banana and a variety that has shown susceptibility to TR4.

Ecuadorian drug trafficking

Abu-Ghazaleh went on to describe what he called disturbing business practices out of the Ecuadorian banana industry. He noted concerning growth in the illicit drug trade, hidden in unchecked banana shipments.

Pineapple sourcing and Banacol
The company acknowledged a possible sourcing agreement with Banacol but said the producer will need about a year of training before it can meet Del Monte’s quality standards.

Source: FresFruitPortal.com and RTT News

Publication date: 4/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com