Inside this Food Report


May 1, 2018

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Hi Everyone,

Welcome to May! Trees and flowers are blooming in the Pacific Northwest and we are having typical late spring weather of rain and then sun making everything around us green and lovely.

Speaking of green, green peas are fully planted and harvest is expected to commence at the end of the month! Sweet corn plantings are underway (see more in our crop section below). To date it seems plantings and harvestings will progress as normal, unless we experience any unforeseen weather issues.

Some of us just returned from a visit to Japan where we enjoyed visiting all of our clients, meeting new ones and seeing some old friends. For anyone who knows Yoko and I, then you know we both love Italian food and in my opinion Japan has some of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten in. One restaurant in particular got my attention during this recent visit, Elio Locanda Italiana in Tokyo. The owner Elio, as well as all the wait staff, are from the region of Calabria, Italy. The dishes were fantastic and the atmosphere so much fun. Elio himself will come to your table and chat up a storm making the restaurant welcoming and homey. I suggest you visit this restaurant if you find yourself in Tokyo – you’ll love it!

Spring has sprung and a few of us are getting ready to visit processors in Oregon and Washington to contract for peas, corn, beans, carrots, potatoes and fruits. Others will be heading to Mexico soon to assess conditions on broccoli and cauliflower.

As always we want to thank all of Noon International’s suppliers and buyers for your continued support and here’s to a fantastic season ahead!

Best regards,
Betty And The Noon International LLC Team

United States: Northwest green pea plantings are now completed. Harvest is expected to commence last week of May or first week of June depending on the next few weeks of weather.

Sweet corn plantings are approximately 25% completed with harvest expected to commence end of July. Most processors have planted about the same corn acreage as last season however, with some changes in the percentage of super sweet to regular.

Raw material potatoes for processing in the Colombia Basin and Idaho are limited. Processors may be pulling raw material from Canada, however the high cost and limited truck availability could make this difficult. Some processor may have no other choice but to drastically drawn down finished product inventories in order to meet shipments. Plantings are underway and potato harvesting could begin as early as July 5th if the weather cooperates. If climatic conditions delay harvest we suspect that potato shipments in July will be delayed.

Midwest pea and potato plantings are underway, however there have been some delays as some ground is still frozen due to the recent winter weather conditions there.

Mexico: The broccoli season in the Bajio region of Mexico is ending and volumes are declining. The ban in the Bajio Valley will commence May 15th. Processor’s will begin pulling product from the Northern higher elevations in Guanajuato and Puebla where good volume and quality are expected until the rainy season hits in July.

Cost increases, very poor agricultural results during the last year, as well as a stronger than expected peso has resulted in higher prices coming out of Mexico, however most Mexican processors are delivering on time and most have enough inventory built up to cover any gaps through the difficult rainy season.

Guatemala: Broccoli season is now complete in Guatemala and plantings are underway for new season which should begin in July.

Peru: Mango season is now completed and processors will commence to freeze avocado this month. Most contracts are settled but there is still some volume for spot sales. Global demand for Peruvian avocado is strong.

Chile: Corn and Green Bean processing is now completed. I.Q.F. seedless grapes are now being processed and programs for kiwi are being discussed. Kiwi production will commence this month and go through June.

Europe: Numbers out from the North – Western European Potato Growers show harvest figures for 2017 potatoes at an increase of 17.2% compared to last season. The high production has depressed pricing. Due to adverse weather conditions the quality of the potatoes was not ideal with a high percent of low solids. This may result in lower yields which could help draw down raw material inventory.


Zhejiang Province: Sugar Snap Pea harvest has commenced. To date yields and quality are good. Pea Pod acres increased this season and yields are up with prices stable or below last year. Edamame expected to have a bumper crop this season due to stable weather during the flowering and fruiting period. Spring bamboo shoot production began in April. This crop declined by approximately 50% because of high temperatures at the end of March. Prices are estimated to be high.

Fujian Province: Green Bean output in Fujian Province is not high this season, however quality is average. Peapod and sugar snap pea production is underway. Quality is good and prices are stable or lower than last season.

Shandong Province: Peak production for green asparagus is now underway.

New Pathogen Detection Process Promises Faster Response Time

Last month, 206 million eggs were recalled as a precaution after salmonella contamination was discovered. As people nationwide worked to minimize the impact of the outbreak, many likely wondered if there was a better way to test food for contamination.

At University of Georgia, a scientist named Xiangyu Deng believes he may have discovered the key. Deng studies food microbiology and has worked to develop a new, faster way to identify foodborne pathogens.

Under the current testing system, scientists take samples from foods suspected of contamination. Then, they spend the next 24 to 48 hours cultivating a culture that can help them identify the pathogen. After, it can take up to two weeks to identify the pathogen’s specific subtype.

To speed up the process, Deng has created a system (“metagenomics analysis”) that allows scientists to simultaneously detect and identify the subtype of foodborne pathogens. Deng created a device the size of a USB drive that relies on magnetic beads coated in antibodies to extract pathogen cells. The process allows scientists to obtain enough DNA to sequence.

Deng’s process allows scientists to detect and subtype pathogens within 90 minutes--a significantly accelerated timeline.

The new process will help scientists act more quickly to limit the spread of salmonella. The stakes are high; the CDC currently estimates that each year, 1 million people are sickened and 380 die due to nontyphoidal salmonella.

Frozen Meals Are Making a Comeback

The typical American grocery shopper is busy, hungry, and looking for an affordable and healthy meal option--no cooking required. Although frozen meals have previously earned a reputation as either junk food and unhealthly based on the high levels of salt and additives, they are currently making a comeback as consumers embrace newer healthier options.

A recent report from RBC Capital Markets shows that for the first time since 2013, the frozen food market has grown. During the first quarter of 2018, the frozen food market grew approximately 1%.

The report notes that this growth stands in contrast to the meal-kit industry, which has yet to prove that it can be consistently profitable. By contrast, frozen meals are less expensive, faster, and require less effort to prepare.

Health-conscious and busy consumers are optimistic about frozen foods for good reason. In most cases, frozen food is as or more nutritious than fresh options that can lose their nutritional advantage during long periods of transit after they are harvested.

Additionally, frozen meal producers such as Healthy Choice, Morningstar, and Amy’s Organic advertise that they contain natural ingredients without the harsh preservatives and high sodium content previously associated with frozen meals.

Experts are particularly interested in the fact that millennials are among the consumers currently seeking out frozen meals over restaurant take out or meal kit options, as millennials’ behavior suggests several decades of prominent buying power. Millennials want healthy whole foods and frozen meal producers are taking notice.

In addition to the health benefits of choosing natural frozen foods, frozen meals can help reduce food waste. Approximately 40% of food is wasted annually in the US alone, but freezing fresh ingredients can help to extend their shelf life without sacrificing nutrition, a cause Millennials embrace.

Food Delivery and Catering Overtake Restaurant Meals

Across the US, food delivery and catering are becoming more profitable than serving diners in restaurants. A new report by The NPD Group recently found that revenue tied to food delivery rose by 20% since 2013, with the number of deliveries increasing 10%.

The trend toward delivery and catering holds true across all meals. The report found that lunch deliveries rose by 3%, while deliveries of morning meals climbed 13% between 2012 and 2017.

Some restaurants report that delivery has become up to 75% of their total business.

In an interview with USA Today, New York restaurant owner Wesley Wobles has watched delivery trends, including third-party mobile apps, transform his business.

“When we signed up with GrubHub, that changed everything for the business,’’ he told USA Today. “Our first day online, our business tripled.’’

However, not all foods translate easily to delivery services. Delicate foods such as pasta and seared meats can easily steam and overcook inside delivery containers.

To adapt to consumer preferences for meal delivery, some restaurants are tweaking their delivery menus to account for travel time and other conditions. For example, a restaurant might forego pasta dishes for greens or hearty grains, or meats might be prepared differently to avoid a subpar dining experience.

As diners grow accustomed to the convenience of delivery, restaurants will find new ways to reap the benefits of the changing market.

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