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Oregon growers now allowed to ship frozen berries to China

Oregon growers now allowed to ship frozen berries to China

Thanks to a collaborative effort between a Curry County cranberry harvester and government officials at the county, state and national levels, farmers of cranberries, blueberries and strawberries in Curry and Coos counties now have a chance to make greater profits when exporting their product to China.

That’s because of a regulatory change approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, which now allows the federal agency to issue the phytosanitary certificate that’s required when shipping frozen fruit to the Asian country.

Previously, the USDA would issue the clean plant certificate for fresh produce but not for frozen, which posed considerable problems for cranberry farmers like Curry County’s Robert McKenzie of Wild Rivers Fruit who at times struggled to meet the 15- to 30-day shipping deadline imposed by the certificate. McKenzie, who has shipped cranberries to China for several years, dealt with the fact that at any time a container of fruit could be seized and quarantined by Chinese customs, which in turn would hold up the process and potentially cost him thousands of dollars. And like so many other independent harvesters, McKenzie has been forced to compete with international corporations like Ocean Spray, which has the advantage of shipping its Canadian product to China through Canada, a country whose government had no qualms issuing the certificate.

Now, the changes mean the process is as simple as an inspector from Medford writing the inspection for a nominal fee.

McKenzie said that because of the huge surplus and current depressed market, cranberries have become a less valued crop, but these changes in restrictions could help an independent farmer like himself increase profits by as much as 300 percent.

Source: theworldlink.com

Publication date: 10/29/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Difficult for Hawaii pineapples to ship to mainland

Difficult for Hawaii pineapples to ship to mainland

Pineapple sales in Hawaii remain stable-year round as demands are high, however, the pineapple market on mainland America, particularly the west coast is not so dependable. “The mainland market demand depends on the pineapples America has imported from Central America and Mexico,” states Darren Strand from Maui Gold, “Right now prices are stable, but in a week or two they can change depending on the amount imported.”

Most of the domestically grown pineapple remains in Hawaii, but it is not unusual for growers to ship outside America to Asia. Hawaiian growers are at a disadvantage when shipping within America. “We are eight to twelve days away from America if we ship by boat. South American countries can ship to Los Angeles within three or four days, so they save on length of travel and cost.”

Maui Gold grows pineapples in its 1300 acres of plantation. Despite the fluctuating mainland market, the pineapples are unique through their growing condition. “We are a little further away from the equator than our Central America competitors,” explains Strand, “Along with our fertile volcanic soil, Hawaii’s natural climate of cool nights and hot days help to grow great pineapples.”  

For more information:
Darren Strand
Maui Gold
Phone: (808) 877-3805
[email protected]

Publication date: 10/22/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Improving how companies use technology to ship fresh produce

A University of Florida-led research team’s development of a tracking system could change the way companies ship fresh fruits and vegetables, letting them know which produce is closest to expiration and providing consumers the freshest products available.

Jeffrey Brecht, director of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Center for Food Distribution and Retailing, studied strawberries beginning with their harvesting from fields in Florida and California to their delivery to stores in Illinois, Washington, Alabama and South Carolina.

Colleagues from the University of South Florida, Georgia Tech and industry partners collaborated on the project, funded by a $ 155,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. Brecht delivered a presentation this week on his findings at the International Horticultural Congress in Brisbane, Australia.

The researchers placed two radio frequency identification (RFID) devices into each pallet of strawberries as they were picked. The devices allowed them to track the strawberries’ temperature from the field, through pre-cooling and into trucks (which can hold 28 pallets), to distribution centers and then on to stores.

Their theory is that if you know the quality of the produce and the temperatures to which it has been exposed, you will know which produce to deliver first to stores.

They specifically researched the theory of “first in — first out,” known as FIFO in the food distribution industry. And they found that “first expired-first out,” or FEFO, was a better way to distribute delicate fruits and vegetables.

Companies normally measure only the temperature of an entire truck. But Brecht explained that individual pallets can vary greatly in temperature, depending on what time of the day berries were picked and even their placement on the truck. Strawberries picked in the cool of the morning and placed on a refrigerated truck would stay fresher longer than strawberries picked in the afternoon heat.

Brecht said under perfect conditions, strawberries can maintain a good quality, based on researchers’ scale of what’s acceptable, for up to 14 days. Less than perfect conditions, mainly due to a lack of temperature control, drastically reduce the berries’ postharvest life. It can take as long as four days to go from field to store, but that would be for a cross-country trip, such as from California to South Carolina.

Maintaining good quality, he said, helps consumers buy what is freshest and reduces food waste.

“If you improve the efficiency of postharvest handling, you reduce waste and losses and that improves sustainability,” Brecht said. “Because, of course, if you ship something to market that’s not going to end up being eaten by consumers, every single bit of input in growing it, harvesting, packing, cooling, shipping — everything is wasted.”

Former UF faculty Jean-Pierre Emond, of Georgia Tech, Cecilia Nunes, of USF, and Ismail Uysal, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida who was formerly a UF postdoctoral associate; Jeff Wells, CEO of Franwell, and Jorge Saenz, cold chain director at Hussmann Corp., were part of the research team.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The original article was written by Kimberly Moore Wilmoth. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

PCA Jury Hears About ‘Just Ship It’ Emails During Government’s Opening Statement

The long-awaited Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) trial got underway with opening statements Friday morning in Albany, GA, and it was not long before the jury learned about Stewart Parnell’s three most infamous words: “Just ship it.” That was allegedly his reply when employees wanted to know what to do when laboratory tests came back positive for Salmonella or results were delayed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher made opening statements for the prosecution Friday as the Peanut Corporation of American trial began in Albany, GA. (Artist’s sketch by Richard Millet.)

Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher, speaking for the prosecution team (which also includes Patrick H. Hearn and Mary Englehart), took the 12-member jury and six alternates selected a day earlier through some emails that appear to depict the former PCA president as lacking much concern about food safety.

While fresh to the jury, most of the emails became public more than five years ago during an investigation by Congress of the 2008-09 Salmonella outbreak traced back to PCA peanut butters and paste. That outbreak caused more than 700 illnesses throughout the nation and is blamed for nine deaths.

Dasher told the jury that actions by defendants Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson have affected lives across the United States. He pointed out the four locations from which PCA did business and told the jury the positions of the defendants within the PCA organization.

Dasher called Stewart Parnell, PCA owner as well as president, a “hands-on guy” who claimed that he traveled regularly to all of the locations, including the Blakely, GA, plant, which has been noted as the source of the Salmonella outbreak.

In February 2013, an indictment was unsealed charging former PCA executives with a total of 76 counts, all felonies, including allegations of fraud and conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and causing unbranded and adulterated peanut butter and paste to be placed in interstate commerce. One of those charged, Samuel Lightsey, the former PCA plant manager at Blakely, pleaded guilty before the case went to trial.

Dasher showed the jury an email from March 2007, more than a year before the deadly outbreak, in which a manager in the Blakely plant stated that microbiological test results were not going to be back before a shipment was ready to go out.

“Just ship it,” was Parnell’s response to the manager’s email, Dasher said.

The prosecutor told the jury about a process known as “pre-dipping,” which refers to taking multiple samples from the same product lot and then falsifying the lot numbers. PCA allegedly took four samples from lot 0828 and then claimed them to be lot 0830, 0832, 0836, etc.

Dasher also provided the jury with a copy of a contract of between Kellogg’s and PCA requiring that “all products produced at this facility are grown in the USA unless customers require peanuts that have been produced from a different origin.”

But the prosecutor said that evidence will show 69 percent of the peanut paste delivered to Kellogg’s by PCA was made from either Mexican paste or paste made from Argentine peanuts.

Dasher also introduced some additional emails he intends to use as evidence against the former PCA executives.

One email, from Grey Adams to David Voth (the company’s national sales manager), began with, “They [peanuts] need to be air hosed off because they’re covered in dust and rat crap.” Adams is Stewart Parnell’s daughter, who worked at PCA’s headquarters in Lynchburg, VA.

Dasher also presented an email in which Mary Wilkerson wrote, “We have a problem with Salmonella every other week if not every week.”

He finished up his opening statement by repeating the phrase used in multiple emails about contaminated PCA product: “Just ship it.”

Defense attorney Thomas J. Bondurant Jr., representing Stewart Parnell, began his opening statement by telling the jury about his client and the Parnell family’s long history in the peanut industry.

Bondurant addressed the “pre-dipping” issue but said there is neither a legal requirement for retesting for Salmonella nor any law against it.

Bondurant told the jury that the contract was not between Kellogg’s and PCA but was a contract of P.P. Sales and Kellogg’s. The defense attorney ended his opening statement by asking the jury to keep an open mind throughout the trial.

Edward Tolley, defense attorney for Michael Parnell, and Thomas Ledford, defense attorney for Mary Wilkerson, both chose to hold their opening statements until they present their cases.

The government’s first expert witness also took the stand on Friday. To explain to the jury how microbiological testing is conducted for Salmonella and other pathogens, the prosecution called Dr. Darlene Cowart, director of food safety and quality at Birdsong Peanuts.

The University of Georgia-trained biologist previously headed up a privately owned laboratory with multiple locations and now works for Birdsong, one of the state’s best-known peanut shelling companies.

Cowart’s testimony will continue at 8 a.m. on Monday at the C.B. King U.S. Courthouse in Albany.

Food Safety News

Four States Join USDA Program to Ship Inspected Meat and Poultry Across State Lines

Indiana has joined Ohio, North Dakota and Wisconsin in a voluntary meat and poultry shipment program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, funded through the 2008 farm bill, allows small and very small processors the option to ship their products across state lines for the first time.

The processors participating in the program must be state-inspected, and any of their meat and poultry products being transported across state lines must bear the official USDA Mark of Inspection.

According to FSIS officials, the program is designed to expand market opportunities for small meat and poultry producers and processors, strengthen state and local economies, and increase consumer access to safe and locally produced food.

“This program plays an important role in expanding opportunities for local producers and small businesses, while also ensuring that a robust food safety inspection system is maintained to protect consumers,” said Brian Ronholm, USDA Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety.

Any of the state-inspected establishments selected to participate in the program are required to comply with federal standards under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). The facilities receive inspection services from state inspection personnel who have been trained in FMIA and PPIA requirements. The facilities are then allowed to sell and ship their products outside their home states.

In 2011, USDA finalized regulations to allow state employees to administer federal regulations and use the USDA Mark of Inspection at selected establishments.

FSIS works in partnership with other USDA agencies through the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which provides a services to more than 90 percent of the more than 6,200 federally inspected small or very small meat-, poultry- and egg-processing plants.

Food Safety News

Court sides with Bland Farms on ship date for Vidalia onions

Judge Cynthia D. Wright of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit of the Superior Court of Fulton County ruled in favor of Bland Farms’ challenge of the legality of the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s mandatory uniform start date for the shipping of Vidalia sweet onions.

As a result of the ruling, Bland Farms and other licensed Vidalia sweet onion growers will be able to continue shipping Vidalia sweet onions on their traditional timetable.

Delbert Bland, owner and president of Bland Farms, said he is pleased with the decision and feels that a mandate isn’t the best way to determine when the famous sweet onion is ready for shipment.

“Mother Nature will decide when our Vidalia sweet onions are ready to ship, not an arbitrary date on the calendar,” Bland said in a press release. “I’m glad that we’ll be able to ship our onions on the normal timetable and our customers can expect that.”

Bland added that he is pleased with the way this year’s Vidalia sweet onion crop is shaping up.

“It looks great and I feel good about it,” he added in the press release. “The quality looks like it could be excellent and it appears that we are going to have promotable quantities available.”

Customers can expect Vidalia sweet onions to be available around the same time this year as in years past, but there remains the possibility that onions could potentially be available by Easter.

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

Cool weather delays start of Texas deal, new Vidalia ship date could extend season

The Texas onion deal will be a little late out of the gate this season but growers will get some help extending that season with a new later start date for Vidalia onion growers.instead

A cold winter by Texas standards — averaging about 10 degrees cooler than normal — will mean the Texas deal will not begin until about mid-March after harvest a week earlier. Mexico has also been behind this season due to cooler temperatures.

In late 2010, Texas onion growers appeared to be sitting pretty. They were coming off a year where their crop fetched as much as $ 40 a box — roughly a dollar a pound. Consumer demand had grown steadily for several years. Any past problems were squarely in the rearview mirror.

Then, as almost always happens, a few growers decided if some was good, more was better. Overplanting was rampant, production boomed. The predictable result of too much product on the market was a drop in pricing. Two years of struggle followed.

In 2013, growers cut back acreage by 40 percent. Most managed to work out water rights in drought-plagued Texas. The result was a return to solid markets and solid profitability.

Texas growers learned from the struggles of 2011-12, put that knowledge into play in 2013 and will follow the same template for 2014.

They may actually get a boost from an unlikely (and in some cases unwilling) ally as well — Vidalia onion growers. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black earlier this year established a prohibition against early shipping of Vidalia onions. Though there is a court challenge under way, as it stands now, no Vidalia onions can be packed or shipped prior to April 15. Some Georgia growers said they will not even begin that soon this year.

That means Texas will have a wider window of exclusivity for its homegrown product, as much as a six-week window.

“Over the years the Vidalia growers have chipped away at the Texas deal by packing earlier and earlier,” said Marvin Davis of Tex Mex Sales in Weslaco, TX. “They weren’t doing themselves any favors by putting early-season product on the market before it was ready, some of them anyway. If consumers don’t have a good experience early in the season, they’re not going to come back.”

A judge is expected to rule on a court challenge to the Georgia pack-and-ship date some time in March. If the date is upheld, Texas growers will reclaim part of their original exclusivity window. If not, they stand to benefit anyway as some Vidalia growers have said they will not ship earlier onions regardless of the outcome of the judicial proceedings.

Meanwhile, “Sweet onions coming out of Mexico this year have been outstanding and the Texas crop looks even better,” said Delbert Bland of Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, which also has operations in Mexico and the Lone Star State. “With the new highway and bridge in Mexico, the Southwest is becoming more important in the onion deal every day.”

“It’s still early, but the crop looks really good,” added Tex Mex’s Mike Davis.

Lone Star State growers are looking at promising markets — in the low and mid-20s in late February and early March — and decreased production in Mexico this year after similar drops in 2013 bode well for Texas.

Some key growing areas also benefited from several significant rain events over the last few months that helped growers stave off ever-present worries about water supplies.

“Prices should be strong,” said Bret Erickson, president of the Texas International Produce Association. “We still need moisture. But quality looks to be excellent and we will have a good supply of sweet onions out of Texas.”

In 2013 “there was one week in there you could actually call winter and that was it, the first week of January,” said Don Ed Holmes of The Onion House in Weslaco. This year the cooler weather provided a reverse of 2013.

And while the crop is late, Holmes was quick to note that onions are dormant during much of the production cycle, getting most of their growth in the month before harvest, and thus virtually impervious to cooler weather.

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

Cool weather delays start of Texas deal, new Vidalia ship date could extend season

The Texas onion deal will be a little late out of the gate this season but growers will get some help extending that season with a new later start date for Vidalia onion growers.instead

A cold winter by Texas standards — averaging about 10 degrees cooler than normal — will mean the Texas deal will not begin until about mid-March after harvest a week earlier. Mexico has also been behind this season due to cooler temperatures.

In late 2010, Texas onion growers appeared to be sitting pretty. They were coming off a year where their crop fetched as much as $ 40 a box — roughly a dollar a pound. Consumer demand had grown steadily for several years. Any past problems were squarely in the rearview mirror.

Then, as almost always happens, a few growers decided if some was good, more was better. Overplanting was rampant, production boomed. The predictable result of too much product on the market was a drop in pricing. Two years of struggle followed.

In 2013, growers cut back acreage by 40 percent. Most managed to work out water rights in drought-plagued Texas. The result was a return to solid markets and solid profitability.

Texas growers learned from the struggles of 2011-12, put that knowledge into play in 2013 and will follow the same template for 2014.

They may actually get a boost from an unlikely (and in some cases unwilling) ally as well — Vidalia onion growers. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black earlier this year established a prohibition against early shipping of Vidalia onions. Though there is a court challenge under way, as it stands now, no Vidalia onions can be packed or shipped prior to April 15. Some Georgia growers said they will not even begin that soon this year.

That means Texas will have a wider window of exclusivity for its homegrown product, as much as a six-week window.

“Over the years the Vidalia growers have chipped away at the Texas deal by packing earlier and earlier,” said Marvin Davis of Tex Mex Sales in Weslaco, TX. “They weren’t doing themselves any favors by putting early-season product on the market before it was ready, some of them anyway. If consumers don’t have a good experience early in the season, they’re not going to come back.”

A judge is expected to rule on a court challenge to the Georgia pack-and-ship date some time in March. If the date is upheld, Texas growers will reclaim part of their original exclusivity window. If not, they stand to benefit anyway as some Vidalia growers have said they will not ship earlier onions regardless of the outcome of the judicial proceedings.

Meanwhile, “Sweet onions coming out of Mexico this year have been outstanding and the Texas crop looks even better,” said Delbert Bland of Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, which also has operations in Mexico and the Lone Star State. “With the new highway and bridge in Mexico, the Southwest is becoming more important in the onion deal every day.”

“It’s still early, but the crop looks really good,” added Tex Mex’s Mike Davis.

Lone Star State growers are looking at promising markets — in the low and mid-20s in late February and early March — and decreased production in Mexico this year after similar drops in 2013 bode well for Texas.

Some key growing areas also benefited from several significant rain events over the last few months that helped growers stave off ever-present worries about water supplies.

“Prices should be strong,” said Bret Erickson, president of the Texas International Produce Association. “We still need moisture. But quality looks to be excellent and we will have a good supply of sweet onions out of Texas.”

In 2013 “there was one week in there you could actually call winter and that was it, the first week of January,” said Don Ed Holmes of The Onion House in Weslaco. This year the cooler weather provided a reverse of 2013.

And while the crop is late, Holmes was quick to note that onions are dormant during much of the production cycle, getting most of their growth in the month before harvest, and thus virtually impervious to cooler weather.

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

Ship Philly First brings competitors together to promote the Delaware River region

PHILADELPHIA — The infrastructure along the Delaware River is uniquely positioned to handle imports of international fruits and vegetables. With major facilities from Wilmington, DE, upriver to Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, a network of expediters, transporters, fumigators and cold storage facilities exist that tie a bow on the import package.

Ship Philly First is a three-year-old private marketing organization designed to promote the entire region. POD-1A U.S. Coast Guard vessel makes its way up the Delaware River between Philadelphia and New Jersey, with the Camden water tower and mammoth waterfront cranes in the background, at 8 a.m. on the morning of July 3. (Photo by Chip Carter)While there is nothing unique about that, what does set the Philly crowd apart is the fact that SPF has competitors working arm-in-arm to further all interests.

There are no banquets, no golf outings, no meetings at swanky resorts — instead all dues go straight to marketing and promotion.

“I am extremely proud of this community and it has been an honor to serve as president,” said Fred Sorbello, SPF president, owner of New Jersey’s Mullica Hill Group and himself a peach and apple grower. “I’ve learned a lot. The SPF membership is comprised of some really smart and knowledgeable people with world-class facilities. We’re also good listeners. We want to learn more. We want to know what is it you’re looking for from a port community that would help us work with you. We’re not saying we’ve got everything you need — we’re saying talk to us and tell us what you need. As a result we’ve become probably one of the more powerful organizations in Philadelphia now at a trade level.”

“The ports along the Delaware River are unique and the infrastructure is very entwined,” said Ed Fitzgerald, assistant vice president of import operations for OHL Inc. and SPF treasurer. “There is the business that’s 52 weeks out of the year, like bananas. During certain times of the year there are the mountains that come in — watermelons, cantaloupe — from various countries. That lays a good foundation because it’s consistent. It’s repetition.

“Then we have the deciduous product that’s 12 months out of the year too. Spanish clementines, Preurivan grapes, the Chilean season that runs all the way from December through May. There are smaller niche commodities like summer citrus and chestnuts out of Italy. That’s what makes us unique: In comparison to other ports where it’s seasonal, here it’s year-round. The cold storage facilities and expediters are intertwined. More and more commodities are coming on. The great thing about Philly, it is a backhaul market. And depending on the product, the cold treatment has to be north of the 39th parallel latitude and east of the 104th longitude. That is basically Philadelphia. Of course we’re in direct competition with New York, but New York does not have the cold storage facilities.”

SPF member Larry Antonucci, president of 721 Logistics and its J&K Fresh East division, added, “We started our business here because of the infrastructure. We’re tired, as an ownership group and a company, that Philadelphia is considered a red-headed stepchild. As far as the service providers go and the infrastructure, the Class A railroads and other access we have, it’s very frustrating. The port just needs to be marketed better and if we can do that jointly — publicly, privately, those entities getting together and acting as one to publicize the port — we can certainly handle any kind of commodity form anywhere in the world.”

Even direct competitors are working together to promote the area’s services and benefits.

“Fred Sorbello is a friendly competitor and was the driving force behind Ship Philly First,” said Frank Manfredi of The Manfredi Cos. in Kennet Square, PA. “He asked me to join and then I went to my very first meeting and found myself sitting right next to another competitor, Rusty Lucca (of Lucca Cold Storage in Vineland, NJ). I’ve known Rusty and Fred, but as we talked and got to know each other better, we found our parents all had ag backgrounds, we all worked on farms, it was almost spooky how much we had in common.

“We are friendly competitors. If I lose a deal to Fred or Rusty I’ll have an opportunity to bid on that deal in three years. But if it the deal goes to Baltimore, none of us are getting it. We realized it’s all in our best interests to keep it here — then we’ll fight over it. So we’re not to be perceived as a threat to any other agency out there marketing the Delaware River — we just want to be waving a very big flag at a very important time as everybody’s jockeying for position.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines