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Walmart, Target report strong online Thanksgiving sales

Big box retailers Walmart and Target reported strong online sales from Thanksgiving and early Black Friday. Target said by 9 a.m. Friday “online sales had already exceeded total sales from the same day last year.”

Walmart said on Friday that its online Thanksgiving sales were record breaking, and second only to its Cyber Monday sales in 2013.

“Throughout the day, we welcomed more than 22 million customers to our stores — that’s more than the number of people who visit Disneyland in an entire year — and our associates served them with pride. During our big events, our cashiers had nearly every register open. And once again, we delivered safer, exciting events for our customers,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart SVP of merchandising, in a statement.

The National Retail Federation said that overall shopper traffic was down 5.2% from last year from Thanksgiving through the weekend.

Cyber Monday sales expected to dip

NRF said that 126.9 million consumers plan to shop on Cyber Monday, down from 131.5 million last year, according to a survey conducted this weekend by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

With good deals extending past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers may not have urgency to buy right away. Target, for instance, is continuing its deep holiday discounts for a week and waiving shipping fees through Dec. 20.

“For today’s shopper, every day is ‘Cyber Monday,’ and consumers want and expect great deals, especially online, throughout the entire holiday season — and they know retailers will deliver,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay, in a statement.

“Retailers will still offer unique deals exclusive to Cyber Monday, but consumers also know shopping on Cyber Monday won’t be their last chance to find low prices and exclusive promotions.”


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According to the Shop.org eHoliday survey, 97.6% of online retailers are offering special Cyber Monday promotions. More than 19% of shoppers will use their mobile devices to shop Cyber Monday, and almost 85% will use their desktop computers.

The Wall Street Journal reported that brick-and-mortar stores have been cutting prices to compete with online retailers like Amazon.

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Walmart, Target report strong Thanksgiving sales

Big box retailers Walmart and Target reported strong sales from Thanksgiving and early Black Friday. Target said by 9a.m. Friday “online sales had already exceeded total sales from the same day last year.”

Walmart said on Friday that its online Thanksgiving sales were record breaking, and second only to its Cyber Monday sales in 2013.

“Throughout the day, we welcomed more than 22 million customers to our stores — that’s more than the number of people who visit Disneyland in an entire year — and our associates served them with pride. During our big events, our cashiers had nearly every register open. And once again, we delivered safer, exciting events for our customers,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president of merchandising, in a statement.

Cyber Monday sales expected to dip

The National Retail Federation said that 126.9 million consumers plan to shop on Cyber Monday, down from 131.5 million last year, according to a survey conducted this weekend by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

With good deals extending past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers may not have urgency to buy right away. Target, for instance, is continuing its deep holiday discounts for a week and waiving shipping fees through Dec. 20.

“For today’s shopper, every day is ‘Cyber Monday,’ and consumers want and expect great deals, especially online, throughout the entire holiday season — and they know retailers will deliver,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a statement.

“Retailers will still offer unique deals exclusive to Cyber Monday, but consumers also know shopping on Cyber Monday won’t be their last chance to find low prices and exclusive promotions.”

According to the Shop.org eHoliday survey, 97.6% of online retailers are offering special Cyber Monday promotions. More than 19% of shoppers will use their mobile devices to shop Cyber Monday, and almost 85% will use their desktop computers.

The Wall Street Journal reported that brick-and-mortar stores have been cutting prices to compete with online retailers like Amazon.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers: Keep Your Family Safe Through the Holidays

For some, the biggest benefit of Thanksgiving is the leftovers. That’s especially true for the cooks of the family, who know that the leftovers from Thursday’s dinner will give them a break from the kitchen on Friday.

But before you dig in to the refrigerated turkey and mashed potatoes, consider some food safety advice from us at Food Safety News.

First, ask yourself a few questions before you heat up those leftovers:

  • Has everything been kept out of the “danger zone”?
  • Was everything cooled rapidly?
  • Was everything stored safely?
  • How can I reheat everything to be sure it’s safe?

The Danger Zone

Hot foods need to be refrigerated within two hours of exposure to room temperature to minimize the amount of time they’re held within the danger zone, the range of temperatures at which bacteria easily grow.

Bacteria grow most easily between 40 and 140 degrees F (4.5 to 60 degrees C). Make sure that all of your leftovers have been taken out of that range within two hours by either refrigerating them or hot-holding them above 140 F. Throw away anything that’s been held at room temperature for more than two hours.

Cool and Store Foods Safely

Once in the fridge, your food needs to cool below 40 degrees F rapidly, and that usually requires dividing food into shallow containers. The smaller the portion size, the faster it will cool in the fridge, and you’ll avoid having the centers of food portions linger in the danger zone for hours.

Pay attention to how long foods have been stored in the fridge and freezer. According to foodsafety.gov’s handy chart for safe storage times, cooked poultry is good for 3-4 days in the fridge and 2-6 months in the freezers.

Reheating and Thawing

You should reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F. When in doubt, stick a food thermometer into the center of the food to check.

Soups, sauces and gravies should be brought to a boil.

When possible, stir foods during the reheating process. Let foods stand for a few minutes after taking them out of the microwave so that heat can continue to redistribute.

Frozen leftovers can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. The refrigerator is the safest way, but it’s also the slowest.

When thawing leftovers in cold water, place them in a leak-proof package or plastic bag and change out the water every 30 minutes to speed up the thawing process.

Find more specific tips in our sidebar on the right-hand side of this article, and enjoy those leftovers.

Food Safety News

Don’t Rinse Your Turkey and Other Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Despite what Julia Child might have told us during the height of her authority on all things related to home cooking, we should not be washing our raw poultry — especially not in the kitchen sink.

To ensure your family enjoys Thanksgiving without any gastrointestinal interruptions, Food Safety News has compiled a guide to Thanksgiving food safety, starting with one of the most important tips of all:

Don’t rinse your turkey

Rinsing raw poultry isn’t a very effective way to clean bacteria from your meal, but it is a great way to spread bacteria around your kitchen. Washing poultry aerosolizes bacteria and splashes it around onto anything within several feet of your sink.

Let the cooking process taking care of the bacteria. Plus, from a cooking perspective, you’ll want the turkey skin dry to be crispy when cooked.

Stay smart about preparing the turkey

Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. If you’ve purchased a frozen turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator or in a pan of cold water, changing out the water as often as every half-hour. Start the thawing process at least 24 hours before you plan to start cooking.

If you bought a fresh turkey, keep it in the fridge until it’s time to cook.

If you decide to cook the turkey while it’s still frozen, you’ll need to cook it for 50 percent longer than the advised time.

Avoid cross-contamination by using a separate cutting board and knife for trimming the turkey. And be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the turkey and before touching anything else in the kitchen.

Turkey cooking times

The bigger the bird, the longer it’ll need to cook. Here are approximate cook times for turkey in an oven at 325 degrees F:

Unstuffed

4 to 6 lb. breast …… 1.5 to 2.5 hours
6 to 8 lb. breast …… 2.5 to 3.5 hours
8 to 12 lbs. ………….. 2.75 to 3 hours
12 to 14 lbs. …………  3 to 3.75 hours
14 to 18 lbs. …………. 3.75 to 4.5 hours
18 to 20 lbs. ………… 4.25 to 4.5 hours
20 to 24 lbs. ………… 4.5 to 5 hours

Stuffed

8 to 12 lbs. …… 3 to 3.5 hours
12 to 14 lbs. …… 3.5 to 4 hours
14 to 18 lbs. …… 4 to 4.5 hours
18 to 20 lbs. …… 4.25 to 4.75 hours
20 to 24 lbs. …… 4.75 to 5.25 hours

You’ll have to check for yourself to ensure that the bird is fully cooked in this amount of time.

Turkey is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature at the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Trust a good thermometer over your eyes. Meat can appear cooked even when it hasn’t reached 165 degrees F, and it can sometimes appear pink well past that temperature.

Cook stuffing just as thoroughly

If you’re stuffing your turkey, combine the ingredients and perform the stuffing just before you plan to stick the bird in the oven. Aim for about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey.

Because it comes into contact with raw poultry, stuffing also needs to be cooked to a minimum 165 degrees F. If the turkey is done but the stuffing isn’t, remove the stuffing and bake it separately in a greased casserole dish.

Store leftovers promptly

Don’t leave dishes sitting at room temperature for more than two hours after taking them out of the oven or refrigerator. Refrigerate any foods made with perishable ingredients such as meat, milk or eggs. This includes pumpkin pie.

When storing leftovers, portion them out into shallow dishes so that they cool rapidly in the refrigerator or freezer. Cut breast meat into smaller pieces. Wings and legs can be left whole.

When thawing frozen leftovers, use the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave, rather than leaving frozen food out on the counter.

Food safety resources

For more information about how to safely handle, serve and store your holiday food, call 1-888-SAFEFOOD (FDA), 1-888-MPHOTLINE (USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline), email [email protected], or visit AskKaren.gov.

For some statistics, history, and FAQs about our native bird, visit the National Turkey Federation website.

Food Safety News

Don’t Rinse Your Turkey and Other Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Despite what Julia Child might have told us during the height of her authority on all things related to home cooking, we should not be washing our raw poultry — especially not in the kitchen sink.

To ensure your family enjoys Thanksgiving without any gastrointestinal interruptions, Food Safety News has compiled a guide to Thanksgiving food safety, starting with one of the most important tips of all:

Don’t rinse your turkey

Rinsing raw poultry isn’t a very effective way to clean bacteria from your meal, but it is a great way to spread bacteria around your kitchen. Washing poultry aerosolizes bacteria and splashes it around onto anything within several feet of your sink.

Let the cooking process taking care of the bacteria. Plus, from a cooking perspective, you’ll want the turkey skin dry to be crispy when cooked.

Stay smart about preparing the turkey

Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. If you’ve purchased a frozen turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator or in a pan of cold water, changing out the water as often as every half-hour. Start the thawing process at least 24 hours before you plan to start cooking.

If you bought a fresh turkey, keep it in the fridge until it’s time to cook.

If you decide to cook the turkey while it’s still frozen, you’ll need to cook it for 50 percent longer than the advised time.

Avoid cross-contamination by using a separate cutting board and knife for trimming the turkey. And be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the turkey and before touching anything else in the kitchen.

Turkey cooking times

The bigger the bird, the longer it’ll need to cook. Here are approximate cook times for turkey in an oven at 325 degrees F:

Unstuffed

4 to 6 lb. breast …… 1.5 to 2.5 hours
6 to 8 lb. breast …… 2.5 to 3.5 hours
8 to 12 lbs. ………….. 2.75 to 3 hours
12 to 14 lbs. …………  3 to 3.75 hours
14 to 18 lbs. …………. 3.75 to 4.5 hours
18 to 20 lbs. ………… 4.25 to 4.5 hours
20 to 24 lbs. ………… 4.5 to 5 hours

Stuffed

8 to 12 lbs. …… 3 to 3.5 hours
12 to 14 lbs. …… 3.5 to 4 hours
14 to 18 lbs. …… 4 to 4.5 hours
18 to 20 lbs. …… 4.25 to 4.75 hours
20 to 24 lbs. …… 4.75 to 5.25 hours

You’ll have to check for yourself to ensure that the bird is fully cooked in this amount of time.

Turkey is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature at the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Trust a good thermometer over your eyes. Meat can appear cooked even when it hasn’t reached 165 degrees F, and it can sometimes appear pink well past that temperature.

Cook stuffing just as thoroughly

If you’re stuffing your turkey, combine the ingredients and perform the stuffing just before you plan to stick the bird in the oven. Aim for about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey.

Because it comes into contact with raw poultry, stuffing also needs to be cooked to a minimum 165 degrees F. If the turkey is done but the stuffing isn’t, remove the stuffing and bake it separately in a greased casserole dish.

Store leftovers promptly

Don’t leave dishes sitting at room temperature for more than two hours after taking them out of the oven or refrigerator. Refrigerate any foods made with perishable ingredients such as meat, milk or eggs. This includes pumpkin pie.

When storing leftovers, portion them out into shallow dishes so that they cool rapidly in the refrigerator or freezer. Cut breast meat into smaller pieces. Wings and legs can be left whole.

When thawing frozen leftovers, use the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave, rather than leaving frozen food out on the counter.

Food safety resources

For more information about how to safely handle, serve and store your holiday food, call 1-888-SAFEFOOD (FDA), 1-888-MPHOTLINE (USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline), email [email protected], or visit AskKaren.gov.

For some statistics, history, and FAQs about our native bird, visit the National Turkey Federation website.

Food Safety News

Consumers Urged to Go Antibiotic-Free With Their Thanksgiving Turkey

Public health advocates are calling on consumers to go antibiotic-free with their traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Earlier this week, the Pew Charitable Trusts posted its three reasons to buy a Thanksgiving turkey raised without antibiotics — the main one being that consumers can influence food producers to curb the overuse of antibiotics in livestock raised for food by “voting with their wallets.”

The concern is not with antibiotic residue — something for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects — but that overuse of antibiotics on farms contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bugs, foodborne and otherwise.

This is not the first year such groups have made the plea. Last November, set against the backdrop of the outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms brand chicken that sickened 634 people, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggested that Americans choose USDA Organic or turkey sold under a “No Antibiotics Administered” label.

This year, healthcare professionals are also taking a stance on antibiotics used on farms. The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the Sharing Antimicrobial Reports for Pediatric Stewardship (SHARPS) group created a pledge for pharmacists and physicians to “Celebrate Thanksgiving this year by purchasing (or encouraging my Thanksgiving host to purchase) a turkey raised without the routine use of antibiotics” and to educate the food service managers at their healthcare facilities about antibiotic stewardship and discuss the importance of purchasing meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

Over the summer, Cargill announced that it would stop using antibiotics for growth promotion in raising its turkeys. While not agreeing to go entirely antibiotic-free — the drugs will still be used for treating illnesses and for disease prevention — the company became the first major U.S. turkey producer to have a USDA Process Verified program for no antibiotics used for growth promotion.

Cargill stated that its Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brand turkeys would be available without the growth-promoting antibiotics this Thanksgiving and that all of the company’s flocks will be raised without growth-promoting antibiotics by the end of 2015.

Some advocates, such as Steven Roach, a senior analyst with Keep Antibiotics Working, have argued that Cargill’s changes aren’t enough. He told Food Safety News this past summer that he wanted the company to show more commitment to reducing overall antibiotic use by tracking the amount used before and after the end of growth promotion.

As with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guidance #213, which phases out the use of the drugs for certain uses, there are concerns that antibiotic use won’t decrease because it will simply be labeled as “disease prevention” in place of “growth promotion.”

Food Safety News

Letter From the Editor: Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thursday, millions of Americans will sit down with family and friends, likely over a large turkey, for the most practiced meal of the year. Our familiarity with it, and the way we pass down the instructions for its preparation, is perhaps what gives the day its generally good food safety record.

The biggest food safety hurdle for this gathering is passed by following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) advice: get a fresh turkey into the oven within two days and to keep it there for five and one-half hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for the typical 20 to 24-pound stuffed turkey. When the preparation time and the cooking time is added up, it still leaves all the time demanded by the National Football League (NFL) or other alternative activities of your choice.

People who, during all the other days of the year, are doing millions of different things, on Thanksgiving do almost exactly the same things. USDA’s National Economic Statistic Service reports that for 2014, Americans will consume 51 million turkeys on Thursday at a cost of about $ 1.15 per pound. It estimates that everyone eats about one and one-half pounds of turkey once the days of leftovers are included. Given the number of traditional side dishes, most households have an easy time preparing some to accommodate their vegan and vegetarian friends and family—about 5 percent of the U.S. population or about 16 million people, according to the Harris Interactive study.

Anyone who wants to pick up the tab for everybody on Thanksgiving should leave $ 2.375 billion on the table, plus tip, of course. It works out to something like $ 54.18 per household.

This will be the 151st Thanksgiving celebrated by Americans since President Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed the holiday in 1863. The day before that first official Thanksgiving, the Union Army attacked the Confederate Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, at Chattanooga.  Since then, Thanksgiving has become a marker for how much U.S. history has been packed between its observation and the rapidly approaching the end of the year. That year-end feeling of complacency we develop on Thanksgiving Day preceded Pearl Harbor, The Chosin Reservoir, and the Battle of the Bulge.

So enjoy the family and friends. Eat safe. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll have a couple normal days around here before we slack off like the rest of you.  But we won’t become too complacent and neither should you.

Food Safety News

Vegetable supplies expected to be tight through Thanksgiving

With California’s coastal and San Joaquin Valley vegetable deals winding down prior to the volume coming on in the desert deals, many items are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation that could remain in effect through Thanksgiving.

On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $ 20 f.o.b. and there is every indication it could go much higher over the next couple of weeks. While demand was solid the week of Oct. 27-31, it will only increase as the Thanksgiving pull is felt. Thanksgiving demand is expected to pick up around Nov. 11 and supplies are expected to be short.

Mark McBride, who is on the sales desk for Coastline Produce in Salinas, CA, and a longtime veteran in the vegetable business, said warm weather and the California drought have combined to create “a very challenging situation.”

He explained that fields have been running ahead of schedule for the last couple of months because of warm weather.

“We are running out of acres to harvest,” he said Oct. 29.

He further explained that the drought and changing cropping patterns have reduced the fall vegetable deal in Huron in the San Joaquin Valley “to a fraction of what it used to be. Say what you want about Huron, but it played a very important role.”

Today more and more grower-shippers have tried to extend their coastal deals and switch directly from the California coast to desert production in California and Arizona in the fall.

The California drought has also led to decreased San Joaquin Valley acreage causing the October-November time slot occupied by Huron to shrink considerably.

McBride said celery from the Oxnard to Santa Maria corridor appears to be in good shape, as are green onions from Mexico, “but the leaf items, cauliflower and broccoli to some extent, are short and I don’t see that changing until after Thanksgiving.”

Douglas Schaefer, president of EJ’s Produce Sales Inc. in Phoenix, told The Produce News Oct. 29 that a very difficult situation was brewing.  

“Salinas is about finished, yields from Huron are off and Yuma is late,” Schaefer said, noting that late August and early September rains in Arizona greatly affected planting schedules and threw everyone off.  “It’s all because of H20.”  

He said these factors — Arizona getting too much water and California not getting enough — are going to lead to a very short situation for the rest of November.  

In addition, Schaefer said many other crops, including watermelons and tomatoes, are having supply issues leading to high prices.

When asked how high the market could go on lettuce, Schaefer said the sky is the limit. “It’s like a hot air balloon,” he quipped. “How high is it going to go? Until it runs out of oxygen.”

Schaefer added that he is already getting inquiries for the Thanksgiving pull with retailers and wholesalers trying to set up advance sales beginning during the week of Nov. 7.  

“Strap on your boots and fasten your seat belts,” he said, indicating that a wild ride is in the works.

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

Vegetable supplies expected to be tight through Thanksgiving

With California’s coastal and San Joaquin Valley vegetable deals winding down prior to the volume coming on in the desert deals, many items are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation that could remain in effect through Thanksgiving.

On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $ 20 f.o.b. and there is every indication it could go much higher over the next couple of weeks. While demand was solid the week of Oct. 27-31, it will only increase as the Thanksgiving pull is felt. Thanksgiving demand is expected to pick up around Nov. 11 and supplies are expected to be short.

Mark McBride, who is on the sales desk for Coastline Produce in Salinas, CA, and a longtime veteran in the vegetable business, said warm weather and the California drought have combined to create “a very challenging situation.”

He explained that fields have been running ahead of schedule for the last couple of months because of warm weather.

“We are running out of acres to harvest,” he said Oct. 29.

He further explained that the drought and changing cropping patterns have reduced the fall vegetable deal in Huron in the San Joaquin Valley “to a fraction of what it used to be. Say what you want about Huron, but it played a very important role.”

Today more and more grower-shippers have tried to extend their coastal deals and switch directly from the California coast to desert production in California and Arizona in the fall.

The California drought has also led to decreased San Joaquin Valley acreage causing the October-November time slot occupied by Huron to shrink considerably.

McBride said celery from the Oxnard to Santa Maria corridor appears to be in good shape, as are green onions from Mexico, “but the leaf items, cauliflower and broccoli to some extent, are short and I don’t see that changing until after Thanksgiving.”

Douglas Schaefer, president of EJ’s Produce Sales Inc. in Phoenix, told The Produce News Oct. 29 that a very difficult situation was brewing.  

“Salinas is about finished, yields from Huron are off and Yuma is late,” Schaefer said, noting that late August and early September rains in Arizona greatly affected planting schedules and threw everyone off.  “It’s all because of H20.”  

He said these factors — Arizona getting too much water and California not getting enough — are going to lead to a very short situation for the rest of November.  

In addition, Schaefer said many other crops, including watermelons and tomatoes, are having supply issues leading to high prices.

When asked how high the market could go on lettuce, Schaefer said the sky is the limit. “It’s like a hot air balloon,” he quipped. “How high is it going to go? Until it runs out of oxygen.”

Schaefer added that he is already getting inquiries for the Thanksgiving pull with retailers and wholesalers trying to set up advance sales beginning during the week of Nov. 7.  

“Strap on your boots and fasten your seat belts,” he said, indicating that a wild ride is in the works.

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

Vegetable supplies expected to be tight through Thanksgiving

With California’s coastal and San Joaquin Valley vegetable deals winding down prior to the volume coming on in the desert deals, many items are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation that could remain in effect through Thanksgiving.

On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $ 20 f.o.b. and there is every indication it could go much higher over the next couple of weeks. While demand was solid the week of Oct. 27-31, it will only increase as the Thanksgiving pull is felt. Thanksgiving demand is expected to pick up around Nov. 11 and supplies are expected to be short.

Mark McBride, who is on the sales desk for Coastline Produce in Salinas, CA, and a longtime veteran in the vegetable business, said warm weather and the California drought have combined to create “a very challenging situation.”

He explained that fields have been running ahead of schedule for the last couple of months because of warm weather.

“We are running out of acres to harvest,” he said Oct. 29.

He further explained that the drought and changing cropping patterns have reduced the fall vegetable deal in Huron in the San Joaquin Valley “to a fraction of what it used to be. Say what you want about Huron, but it played a very important role.”

Today more and more grower-shippers have tried to extend their coastal deals and switch directly from the California coast to desert production in California and Arizona in the fall.

The California drought has also led to decreased San Joaquin Valley acreage causing the October-November time slot occupied by Huron to shrink considerably.

McBride said celery from the Oxnard to Santa Maria corridor appears to be in good shape, as are green onions from Mexico, “but the leaf items, cauliflower and broccoli to some extent, are short and I don’t see that changing until after Thanksgiving.”

Douglas Schaefer, president of EJ’s Produce Sales Inc. in Phoenix, told The Produce News Oct. 29 that a very difficult situation was brewing.  

“Salinas is about finished, yields from Huron are off and Yuma is late,” Schaefer said, noting that late August and early September rains in Arizona greatly affected planting schedules and threw everyone off.  “It’s all because of H20.”  

He said these factors — Arizona getting too much water and California not getting enough — are going to lead to a very short situation for the rest of November.  

In addition, Schaefer said many other crops, including watermelons and tomatoes, are having supply issues leading to high prices.

When asked how high the market could go on lettuce, Schaefer said the sky is the limit. “It’s like a hot air balloon,” he quipped. “How high is it going to go? Until it runs out of oxygen.”

Schaefer added that he is already getting inquiries for the Thanksgiving pull with retailers and wholesalers trying to set up advance sales beginning during the week of Nov. 7.  

“Strap on your boots and fasten your seat belts,” he said, indicating that a wild ride is in the works.

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

Vegetable supplies expected to be tight through Thanksgiving

With California’s coastal and San Joaquin Valley vegetable deals winding down prior to the volume coming on in the desert deals, many items are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation that could remain in effect through Thanksgiving.

On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $ 20 f.o.b. and there is every indication it could go much higher over the next couple of weeks. While demand was solid the week of Oct. 27-31, it will only increase as the Thanksgiving pull is felt. Thanksgiving demand is expected to pick up around Nov. 11 and supplies are expected to be short.

Mark McBride, who is on the sales desk for Coastline Produce in Salinas, CA, and a longtime veteran in the vegetable business, said warm weather and the California drought have combined to create “a very challenging situation.”

He explained that fields have been running ahead of schedule for the last couple of months because of warm weather.

“We are running out of acres to harvest,” he said Oct. 29.

He further explained that the drought and changing cropping patterns have reduced the fall vegetable deal in Huron in the San Joaquin Valley “to a fraction of what it used to be. Say what you want about Huron, but it played a very important role.”

Today more and more grower-shippers have tried to extend their coastal deals and switch directly from the California coast to desert production in California and Arizona in the fall.

The California drought has also led to decreased San Joaquin Valley acreage causing the October-November time slot occupied by Huron to shrink considerably.

McBride said celery from the Oxnard to Santa Maria corridor appears to be in good shape, as are green onions from Mexico, “but the leaf items, cauliflower and broccoli to some extent, are short and I don’t see that changing until after Thanksgiving.”

Douglas Schaefer, president of EJ’s Produce Sales Inc. in Phoenix, told The Produce News Oct. 29 that a very difficult situation was brewing.  

“Salinas is about finished, yields from Huron are off and Yuma is late,” Schaefer said, noting that late August and early September rains in Arizona greatly affected planting schedules and threw everyone off.  “It’s all because of H20.”  

He said these factors — Arizona getting too much water and California not getting enough — are going to lead to a very short situation for the rest of November.  

In addition, Schaefer said many other crops, including watermelons and tomatoes, are having supply issues leading to high prices.

When asked how high the market could go on lettuce, Schaefer said the sky is the limit. “It’s like a hot air balloon,” he quipped. “How high is it going to go? Until it runs out of oxygen.”

Schaefer added that he is already getting inquiries for the Thanksgiving pull with retailers and wholesalers trying to set up advance sales beginning during the week of Nov. 7.  

“Strap on your boots and fasten your seat belts,” he said, indicating that a wild ride is in the works.

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

Natural Grocers Donates Thanksgiving Turkeys

BEAVERTON, Ore. — A Natural Grocers store here will donate a 12-pound turkey to the Oregon Food Bank for each customer turkey purchase this holiday season.


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If a whole bird is not needed or recipients prefer a vegetarian option, Natural Grocers will donate $ 30 instead.

“Natural Grocers will be donating high-uality naturally raised turkeys to Oregon families in need,” Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers, said in a press release. “The holidays are a special time of year for families, but can be especially difficult for families with limited resources. This buy-one, give-one-free offer is a simple and effective way for our customers to help out another family in a healthy way.”

More news: Comps Up 10.4% at Natural Grocers

Customers who wish to participate in the program need to preorder their turkeys now.

“These are not hard-frozen birds from factory farms,” said Krysti Weddle, Beaverton store manager. “They are naturally raised without antibiotics or growth promoters, and they are delivered just-in-time. Customers who want to take advantage of the buy-one, give-one-free turkey offer need to reserve a turkey now at the store or on our website. We’ll take care of the rest.”

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