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School lunch compromise good news to fresh fruit, vegetable suppliers

WASHINGTON — Fruit and vegetable companies will continue to sell to schools that must meet improved nutrition standards thanks to a deal cut in the FY 2015 omnibus spending bill signed Dec. 16 by President Obama.

The appropriations bill that funds U.S. Department of Agriculture programs hit a roadblock when an amendment passed that would have allowed schools struggling to meet the strict standards to be granted a waiver. 

“Although well-intended, some of USDA’s rules went too far, too fast, and ended up driving students away from healthy school meals while unnecessarily driving up costs for schools,” said School Nutrition Association CEO Patricia Montague, who backed the waiver.

A coalition of groups, including the United Fresh Produce Association, urged Congress not to allow schools to opt out of all the new provisions, and this month lawmakers agreed to a compromise that allowed schools flexibility in meeting the whole grain and sodium standards.

“Congress agreed that rolling back the very modest requirement that kids get one-half cup of fruits and vegetables in their lunch would not be good policy and would have been detrimental to achieving our shared public health goal, which is to help children learn to make half-their-plate fruits and vegetables,” said Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of United Fresh. “The modest half-a-cup requirement is one step toward a lifetime of better health for today’s kids, and lower long-term healthcare costs for our country.”

The agreement also sets the stage for next year’s reauthorization of child nutrition programs, which expire in 2015.

“Schools need help in modernizing and streamlining procurement processes, updating refrigeration and cafeteria equipment, and financial resources to support healthy meals,” Stenzel said. “The solution contained in the omnibus passed today resolves a past debate, and sets all of us on a positive course where we can work together to serve our nation’s children.”

On a related note, a draft report from the committee developing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reported this week the U.S. population has made few dietary changes from 2001-2010, with fruit intake low but stable and vegetable intake declining.

The committee, which recommends changes to the guidelines every five years, is set to recommend U.S. consumers follow a diet high in vegetable, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts, and low in red and processed meat, added sugars and refined grains.

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

Western winter vegetable supplies — late, light and expensive

It appears as if the winter vegetable deal from the California and Arizona desert may be one for the ages. Decreased production in the shoulder deal from Huron in California’s San Joaquin Valley promises to get the winter deal off to a fast start in terms of pricing. Throw in weather issues that have generally decreased winter vegetable volume across the board and “demand exceeds supply” could well be the mantra for the next couple of months.

Salinas, CA-based Tanimura & Antle, one of the nation’s leading vegetable suppliers, puts out a newsletter every few weeks forecasting supplies for the following three weeks. The firm’s forecast for the three weeks prior to Thanksgiving succinctly echoes the comments that are being uttered by growers and shippers throughout the West.

broccoli-side1Cauliflower, broccoli and celery are some of the myriad of winter desert vegetables grown in California and Arizona each year.“Salinas is melting and rain is forecasted for this weekend,” said the newsletter released on the last day of October. “Shippers expecting their desert deals to come in early and save the day will be quickly disappointed.”

There were several late summer storms that came roaring up from the Pacific Ocean through Baja California and into the California and Arizona deserts. These heavy rains during the planting season have caused the winter deal to be a bit late and with lighter supplies than usual. The T&A newsletter warns that “customers are going to have to be flexible and accept less than perfect product or run the risk of being short this Thanksgiving season.”

Mike Aiton, marketing manager for Prime Time Sales in Coachella, CA, which has winter deals in Baja California, mainland Mexico and Coachella, confirmed that supplies of the company’s top product — colored peppers — as well as tomatoes and a number of vegetable items are going to be short throughout November and even deep into December.

While he expected green Bell peppers to reach normal supply levels in early December, Aiton said the colored peppers and the popular minis won’t see volume return until early January.

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

“Salinas is about finished. Yields from Huron are off and Yuma is late. Strap on your boots and fasten your seat belts,” he said, indicating that a wild ride is in the works.

Schaefer said the August and September rains in Arizona greatly affected planting schedules and threw everyone off. “It’s all because of H20.”

T&A had a similar assessment.

“The California drought is a reality and we are only starting to see the challenges associated with it,” reported the T&A Straight Talk newsletter. “Whether it is the lack of water or the quality of water is diminished, our sizing and plant population in Huron is subpar, but at least we have a deal there.”

The last comment was in reference to the significant decrease in production that has occurred in Huron in recent years, largely because of lack of water. It is this lack of lettuce and other vegetable production during the pre-Thanksgiving period when demand is high that is setting the winter deal up for a very hot market.

On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $ 20 f.o.b. Four days later, the federal Market News report put the Iceberg lettuce price at about $ 25 per carton and heading north. This year, the Thanksgiving demand was expected to kick in around Nov. 11 and last for 10-12 days.

Forecasting that time period, T&A believes Huron will be winding down and Yuma will be just getting under way. The company expects about 90 percent of its budgeted volume. In a very understated way, the newsletter states that the “market will remain strong.”

Mark McBride of Coastline in Salinas called the next couple of months “a very challenging situation.” He acknowledged being “old school” and said he is fearful that short supplies could lead to very high prices that would then choke off demand. But he said the short supply situation on lettuce is not going away until after Thanksgiving and possibly after Christmas.

Some other crops, such as broccoli and cauliflower, appear to be in better shape, but celery is also expected to be in short supply.

Come Thanksgiving, tables will be set and vegetables will be served. So whatever is in relatively good supply with reasonable prices will see big demand, which will also affect the post-Thanksgiving period.

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

Western winter vegetable supplies — late, light and expensive

It appears as if the winter vegetable deal from the California and Arizona desert may be one for the ages. Decreased production in the shoulder deal from Huron in California’s San Joaquin Valley promises to get the winter deal off to a fast start in terms of pricing. Throw in weather issues that have generally decreased winter vegetable volume across the board and “demand exceeds supply” could well be the mantra for the next couple of months.

Salinas, CA-based Tanimura & Antle, one of the nation’s leading vegetable suppliers, puts out a newsletter every few weeks forecasting supplies for the following three weeks. The firm’s forecast for the three weeks prior to Thanksgiving succinctly echoes the comments that are being uttered by growers and shippers throughout the West.

broccoli-side1Cauliflower, broccoli and celery are some of the myriad of winter desert vegetables grown in California and Arizona each year.“Salinas is melting and rain is forecasted for this weekend,” said the newsletter released on the last day of October. “Shippers expecting their desert deals to come in early and save the day will be quickly disappointed.”

There were several late summer storms that came roaring up from the Pacific Ocean through Baja California and into the California and Arizona deserts. These heavy rains during the planting season have caused the winter deal to be a bit late and with lighter supplies than usual. The T&A newsletter warns that “customers are going to have to be flexible and accept less than perfect product or run the risk of being short this Thanksgiving season.”

Mike Aiton, marketing manager for Prime Time Sales in Coachella, CA, which has winter deals in Baja California, mainland Mexico and Coachella, confirmed that supplies of the company’s top product — colored peppers — as well as tomatoes and a number of vegetable items are going to be short throughout November and even deep into December.

While he expected green Bell peppers to reach normal supply levels in early December, Aiton said the colored peppers and the popular minis won’t see volume return until early January.

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

“Salinas is about finished. Yields from Huron are off and Yuma is late. Strap on your boots and fasten your seat belts,” he said, indicating that a wild ride is in the works.

Schaefer said the August and September rains in Arizona greatly affected planting schedules and threw everyone off. “It’s all because of H20.”

T&A had a similar assessment.

“The California drought is a reality and we are only starting to see the challenges associated with it,” reported the T&A Straight Talk newsletter. “Whether it is the lack of water or the quality of water is diminished, our sizing and plant population in Huron is subpar, but at least we have a deal there.”

The last comment was in reference to the significant decrease in production that has occurred in Huron in recent years, largely because of lack of water. It is this lack of lettuce and other vegetable production during the pre-Thanksgiving period when demand is high that is setting the winter deal up for a very hot market.

On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $ 20 f.o.b. Four days later, the federal Market News report put the Iceberg lettuce price at about $ 25 per carton and heading north. This year, the Thanksgiving demand was expected to kick in around Nov. 11 and last for 10-12 days.

Forecasting that time period, T&A believes Huron will be winding down and Yuma will be just getting under way. The company expects about 90 percent of its budgeted volume. In a very understated way, the newsletter states that the “market will remain strong.”

Mark McBride of Coastline in Salinas called the next couple of months “a very challenging situation.” He acknowledged being “old school” and said he is fearful that short supplies could lead to very high prices that would then choke off demand. But he said the short supply situation on lettuce is not going away until after Thanksgiving and possibly after Christmas.

Some other crops, such as broccoli and cauliflower, appear to be in better shape, but celery is also expected to be in short supply.

Come Thanksgiving, tables will be set and vegetables will be served. So whatever is in relatively good supply with reasonable prices will see big demand, which will also affect the post-Thanksgiving period.

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

Beachside promoting holiday vegetable lineup

Beachside Produce LLC, a grower-shipper located in Guadalupe, CA, is approaching peak season of production for its California brussels sprouts and celery. The company said quality is outstanding and supplies will be plentiful through the Thanksgiving pull and well into the Christmas holiday season.bsidelogo

All of Beachside’s brussels sprouts are grown domestically in Lompoc and Guadalupe, CA. Product will ship from both the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys. The sprouts are offered in iced 25-pound regular and Jumbo sizes in both carton and RPC packs. In addition, the product lineup will include 18 one-pound packs offered in RPCs as well.

The popular and festive nine-count brussels sprout stalks are also available through the holiday period. The entire stalk can be roasted in an oven and makes a special presentation on a holiday table.

Beachside celery is in full swing as well, with ample supplies predicted from mid-November through January. The Celery will be available in naked packs and sleeves in 24, 30 and 36 sizes. Celery sticks and hearts will be packed weekly for the holiday pull in both retail and club packs.

In addition to brussels sprouts and celery, Beachside Produce also handles broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, mix and head lettuce, kale, cilantro and strawberries.

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

Beachside promoting holiday vegetable lineup

Beachside Produce LLC, a grower-shipper located in Guadalupe, CA, is approaching peak season of production for its California brussels sprouts and celery. The company said quality is outstanding and supplies will be plentiful through the Thanksgiving pull and well into the Christmas holiday season.bsidelogo

All of Beachside’s brussels sprouts are grown domestically in Lompoc and Guadalupe, CA. Product will ship from both the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys. The sprouts are offered in iced 25-pound regular and Jumbo sizes in both carton and RPC packs. In addition, the product lineup will include 18 one-pound packs offered in RPCs as well.

The popular and festive nine-count brussels sprout stalks are also available through the holiday period. The entire stalk can be roasted in an oven and makes a special presentation on a holiday table.

Beachside celery is in full swing as well, with ample supplies predicted from mid-November through January. The Celery will be available in naked packs and sleeves in 24, 30 and 36 sizes. Celery sticks and hearts will be packed weekly for the holiday pull in both retail and club packs.

In addition to brussels sprouts and celery, Beachside Produce also handles broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, mix and head lettuce, kale, cilantro and strawberries.

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

Beachside promoting holiday vegetable lineup

Beachside Produce LLC, a grower-shipper located in Guadalupe, CA, is approaching peak season of production for its California brussels sprouts and celery. The company said quality is outstanding and supplies will be plentiful through the Thanksgiving pull and well into the Christmas holiday season.bsidelogo

All of Beachside’s brussels sprouts are grown domestically in Lompoc and Guadalupe, CA. Product will ship from both the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys. The sprouts are offered in iced 25-pound regular and Jumbo sizes in both carton and RPC packs. In addition, the product lineup will include 18 one-pound packs offered in RPCs as well.

The popular and festive nine-count brussels sprout stalks are also available through the holiday period. The entire stalk can be roasted in an oven and makes a special presentation on a holiday table.

Beachside celery is in full swing as well, with ample supplies predicted from mid-November through January. The Celery will be available in naked packs and sleeves in 24, 30 and 36 sizes. Celery sticks and hearts will be packed weekly for the holiday pull in both retail and club packs.

In addition to brussels sprouts and celery, Beachside Produce also handles broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, mix and head lettuce, kale, cilantro and strawberries.

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

Beachside promoting holiday vegetable lineup

Beachside Produce LLC, a grower-shipper located in Guadalupe, CA, is approaching peak season of production for its California brussels sprouts and celery. The company said quality is outstanding and supplies will be plentiful through the Thanksgiving pull and well into the Christmas holiday season.bsidelogo

All of Beachside’s brussels sprouts are grown domestically in Lompoc and Guadalupe, CA. Product will ship from both the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys. The sprouts are offered in iced 25-pound regular and Jumbo sizes in both carton and RPC packs. In addition, the product lineup will include 18 one-pound packs offered in RPCs as well.

The popular and festive nine-count brussels sprout stalks are also available through the holiday period. The entire stalk can be roasted in an oven and makes a special presentation on a holiday table.

Beachside celery is in full swing as well, with ample supplies predicted from mid-November through January. The Celery will be available in naked packs and sleeves in 24, 30 and 36 sizes. Celery sticks and hearts will be packed weekly for the holiday pull in both retail and club packs.

In addition to brussels sprouts and celery, Beachside Produce also handles broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, mix and head lettuce, kale, cilantro and strawberries.

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

Beachside promoting holiday vegetable lineup

Beachside Produce LLC, a grower-shipper located in Guadalupe, CA, is approaching peak season of production for its California brussels sprouts and celery. The company said quality is outstanding and supplies will be plentiful through the Thanksgiving pull and well into the Christmas holiday season.bsidelogo

All of Beachside’s brussels sprouts are grown domestically in Lompoc and Guadalupe, CA. Product will ship from both the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys. The sprouts are offered in iced 25-pound regular and Jumbo sizes in both carton and RPC packs. In addition, the product lineup will include 18 one-pound packs offered in RPCs as well.

The popular and festive nine-count brussels sprout stalks are also available through the holiday period. The entire stalk can be roasted in an oven and makes a special presentation on a holiday table.

Beachside celery is in full swing as well, with ample supplies predicted from mid-November through January. The Celery will be available in naked packs and sleeves in 24, 30 and 36 sizes. Celery sticks and hearts will be packed weekly for the holiday pull in both retail and club packs.

In addition to brussels sprouts and celery, Beachside Produce also handles broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, mix and head lettuce, kale, cilantro and strawberries.

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

Beachside promoting holiday vegetable lineup

Beachside Produce LLC, a grower-shipper located in Guadalupe, CA, is approaching peak season of production for its California brussels sprouts and celery. The company said quality is outstanding and supplies will be plentiful through the Thanksgiving pull and well into the Christmas holiday season.bsidelogo

All of Beachside’s brussels sprouts are grown domestically in Lompoc and Guadalupe, CA. Product will ship from both the Lompoc and Santa Maria valleys. The sprouts are offered in iced 25-pound regular and Jumbo sizes in both carton and RPC packs. In addition, the product lineup will include 18 one-pound packs offered in RPCs as well.

The popular and festive nine-count brussels sprout stalks are also available through the holiday period. The entire stalk can be roasted in an oven and makes a special presentation on a holiday table.

Beachside celery is in full swing as well, with ample supplies predicted from mid-November through January. The Celery will be available in naked packs and sleeves in 24, 30 and 36 sizes. Celery sticks and hearts will be packed weekly for the holiday pull in both retail and club packs.

In addition to brussels sprouts and celery, Beachside Produce also handles broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, mix and head lettuce, kale, cilantro and strawberries.

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.

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.

USDA unveils $31.5 million grant to boost fruit, vegetable sales to SNAP recipients

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $ 31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.

News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association.

“Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families’ health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Sept. 29 in Richmond, VA, where he announced the launch of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, a new farm bill program.

Under FINI, applicants may propose small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects that test strategies to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase. Based on the type of project, USDA plans to award grants of $ 100,000 to $ 500,000, and applications are due on Dec. 15.

“We encourage our retail grocery members who operate stores in underserved communities to partner with their state SNAP agency and apply for a FINI grant,” said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh, who added that the projects are likely to inform USDA programs in the future.

With 85 percent of all SNAP benefits redeemed at grocery stores, “we believe that scaling up produce incentives at grocery stores in underserved communities around the country will have the greatest public health reach by increasing access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables year round,” she said, adding that incentives can help SNAP families purchase more fresh produce and increase produce sales.

Stabenow praised the farm bill program she said was modeled after Michigan’s successful “Double up Food Bucks” program, which provides SNAP participants with tokens to purchase to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

“These new programs will not only empower low-income Americans to provide their families with more healthy fruits and vegetables, they will also help strengthen local economies by investing in local food systems and organic agriculture,” Stabenow said.

USDA listed the following project aspects it sees as priorities for funding:

  • Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants.
  • Test strategies that improve understanding how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, which would inform future efforts.
  • Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled.
  • Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing.
  • Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers.
  • Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience.
  • Are located in underserved communities.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will host a webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.

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

Expanded Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference planned for 2015

The Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference returns to Savannah, GA, Jan. 8-11, 2015.  In 2014, the event hosted more than 3,000 produce industry members.secpma

Sponsored by the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the South Carolina Peach Council, the conference will be held at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. The event features three days of educational workshops and seminars, a two-day trade show and several other evening networking opportunities.

During the three-day educational program, more than 85 hours of commodity-specific production training, pest-management information and marketing updates are offered to attendees. Commodities include peaches, vegetables, Vidalia onions, watermelons, muscadines, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

New educational features will be offered at the 2015 event, including a vegetable grafting seminar and a farm tour.  Beth Oleson, director of education for GFVGA, said these new sessions will provide attendees with relevant and valuable information.

“The produce industry continues to evolve, and that creates new educational needs for growers and businesses,” Oleson said in a press release.  “These two additions to the conference program will address the increasingly trendy roadside market and agri-tourism industry, and provide key information on vegetable production.”

The trade show floor will also expand for the 2015 event. In 2014, trade show coordinators added 50 booths to accommodate growing exhibitor numbers.  This year, the trade show floor is making even more space for exhibitors within its nearly 85,000 square feet of exhibit hall.

“Expanding the trade show floor is an exciting process,” Charles Hall, GFVGA executive director, said in the release. “It means our exhibitors are finding it worth their time, and our attendees are enjoying their networking experience on the floor.”

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

Expanded Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference planned for 2015

The Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference returns to Savannah, GA, Jan. 8-11, 2015.  In 2014, the event hosted more than 3,000 produce industry members.secpma

Sponsored by the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the South Carolina Peach Council, the conference will be held at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. The event features three days of educational workshops and seminars, a two-day trade show and several other evening networking opportunities.

During the three-day educational program, more than 85 hours of commodity-specific production training, pest-management information and marketing updates are offered to attendees. Commodities include peaches, vegetables, Vidalia onions, watermelons, muscadines, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

New educational features will be offered at the 2015 event, including a vegetable grafting seminar and a farm tour.  Beth Oleson, director of education for GFVGA, said these new sessions will provide attendees with relevant and valuable information.

“The produce industry continues to evolve, and that creates new educational needs for growers and businesses,” Oleson said in a press release.  “These two additions to the conference program will address the increasingly trendy roadside market and agri-tourism industry, and provide key information on vegetable production.”

The trade show floor will also expand for the 2015 event. In 2014, trade show coordinators added 50 booths to accommodate growing exhibitor numbers.  This year, the trade show floor is making even more space for exhibitors within its nearly 85,000 square feet of exhibit hall.

“Expanding the trade show floor is an exciting process,” Charles Hall, GFVGA executive director, said in the release. “It means our exhibitors are finding it worth their time, and our attendees are enjoying their networking experience on the floor.”

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

Expanded Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference planned for 2015

The Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference returns to Savannah, GA, Jan. 8-11, 2015.  In 2014, the event hosted more than 3,000 produce industry members.secpma

Sponsored by the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the South Carolina Peach Council, the conference will be held at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. The event features three days of educational workshops and seminars, a two-day trade show and several other evening networking opportunities.

During the three-day educational program, more than 85 hours of commodity-specific production training, pest-management information and marketing updates are offered to attendees. Commodities include peaches, vegetables, Vidalia onions, watermelons, muscadines, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

New educational features will be offered at the 2015 event, including a vegetable grafting seminar and a farm tour.  Beth Oleson, director of education for GFVGA, said these new sessions will provide attendees with relevant and valuable information.

“The produce industry continues to evolve, and that creates new educational needs for growers and businesses,” Oleson said in a press release.  “These two additions to the conference program will address the increasingly trendy roadside market and agri-tourism industry, and provide key information on vegetable production.”

The trade show floor will also expand for the 2015 event. In 2014, trade show coordinators added 50 booths to accommodate growing exhibitor numbers.  This year, the trade show floor is making even more space for exhibitors within its nearly 85,000 square feet of exhibit hall.

“Expanding the trade show floor is an exciting process,” Charles Hall, GFVGA executive director, said in the release. “It means our exhibitors are finding it worth their time, and our attendees are enjoying their networking experience on the floor.”

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

Expanded Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference planned for 2015

The Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference returns to Savannah, GA, Jan. 8-11, 2015.  In 2014, the event hosted more than 3,000 produce industry members.secpma

Sponsored by the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the South Carolina Peach Council, the conference will be held at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. The event features three days of educational workshops and seminars, a two-day trade show and several other evening networking opportunities.

During the three-day educational program, more than 85 hours of commodity-specific production training, pest-management information and marketing updates are offered to attendees. Commodities include peaches, vegetables, Vidalia onions, watermelons, muscadines, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

New educational features will be offered at the 2015 event, including a vegetable grafting seminar and a farm tour.  Beth Oleson, director of education for GFVGA, said these new sessions will provide attendees with relevant and valuable information.

“The produce industry continues to evolve, and that creates new educational needs for growers and businesses,” Oleson said in a press release.  “These two additions to the conference program will address the increasingly trendy roadside market and agri-tourism industry, and provide key information on vegetable production.”

The trade show floor will also expand for the 2015 event. In 2014, trade show coordinators added 50 booths to accommodate growing exhibitor numbers.  This year, the trade show floor is making even more space for exhibitors within its nearly 85,000 square feet of exhibit hall.

“Expanding the trade show floor is an exciting process,” Charles Hall, GFVGA executive director, said in the release. “It means our exhibitors are finding it worth their time, and our attendees are enjoying their networking experience on the floor.”

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

Sustainability is one of the key issues to vegetable growers

Martin Kodde, Head of Food Chain Engagement at Syngenta
Sustainability is one of the key issues to vegetable growers

At last week’s PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa, held in Pretoria, South Africa, Martin Kodde, head of Food Chain Engagement at Syngenta, outlined how his company is working to understand the concerns of its customers; “customers who are all growers,” stressed Martin.

“The first challenge is compliance with the regulations, as both import and export companies expect high standards, with the added challenge of certifications; secondly, profitability, as we have to ensure that everyone involved in the production chain obtains its share; lastly, sustainability, which is all about efficiency in resource and environmental management; issues that are easier to identify than they are to solve, to which end accepting innovation is a necessary step.”

According to Mr Kodde, “a successful value chain is one that creates value from farm to fork; it is about efficiency in the supply chain; about understanding consumer needs, and this is something individuals cannot do on their own, as everyone in the value chain has a role to play.”

In order to identify these needs, Syngenta makes use of consumer surveys. “In the one conducted two years ago, which reached 1,800 vegetable consumers, we found that 10% of them could be considered “adventurous eaters”; these are the ones who will buy new products and show them to their friends,” explains Martin.

Meanwhile, 33% fell under “value for money eaters”, the most conservative ones; “convenience eaters”, those who spend little time preparing food, reached 25%; lastly, “involved eaters”, for whom sustainability is the key and regularly buy organic products, accounted for 32%.”

“How does this translate into our activities? In the case of tomatoes, for example, we can look at characteristics such as vitamin content, flavour, shelf life and texture and adapt the breeding programmes to match consumer preferences, while at the same time ensuring that they are built resistant to diseases; a highly complex process which relies on careful gene identification.”

When it comes to growers’ side, sustainability has become the key issue; aspects such as ethical production, food safety, water and soil management and the reduction of waste to ensure a good future for the coming generations, while keeping an eye on the financial side.

“To help growers in this, we have developed practical tools that assist them in the implementation of sustainable practices, such as the Operation Pollinator, an international biodiversity program designed to boost the number of pollinating insects on commercial farms by creating specific habitats, tailored to local conditions and native insects, which has already resulted in increased productivity,” assures Mr Kodde.

“In Europe, we have also developed operational farms where we show how sustainability works by showcasing, among other things, how beneficials and biological control work and we also have residue management programmes in place. All serves to meet Syngenta’s goal, which is to ensure our growers are able to meet all private standards while minimising risks in the food chain.”

Publication date: 8/20/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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