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First Californian avocados land in China

First Californian avocados land in China © Mission Produce

© Mission Produce


Mission Produce and Mr. Avocado have sent the first-ever shipment of avocados to China from California. The market access was granted for avocados from California following years of negotiation and planning between the California Avocado Commission, the USDA and the government of China.

Steve Barnard, CEO and founder of Mission Produce, said: “Mission was the first  to send avocados to China from Peru, Chile and Colombia – and now we’re the first to send from California. Our goal is to provide a year-round supply of the world’s finest avocados, and now we’re doing so with more volumes and availability than before.”

John Wang, CEO of Mr. Avocado, said: “Sourcing from the premium source of California will open more opportunity for Chinese retailers to capitalise on the lucrative and healthy avocado. California avocados are  high  quality in late  winter to early spring, which hits the market in perfect time to allow consumers the ability to enjoy a great tasting piece of fruit year round.”

Transit time from California to China takes 14-16 days by sea. California avocados in China are expected to be available at Ole, Rainbow Supermarket, Aldi China,, Seven Fresh and Pagoda stores.

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Are virtual events the future?

Are virtual events the future? © yanalya, Freepik
 © yanalya –


With many of the sector’s events going virtual this year due to the pandemic, marketers have had to be creative to keep their communications global and effective. Speaking to Fruitnet, The California Prune Board is one such body. Esther Ritson-Elliott, director of international marketing and communications, said: “Over the last 12 months we have pivoted our approach and how we network with the trade. Previously we would have attended events like the INC Congress and Food Matters Live in person, arranging face-to-face meetings with food industry professionals and showcasing the versatility of our premium prunes with chef demonstrations and sampling. Now we are tapping into the use of virtual exhibition stands to highlight the merits of California Prunes.”

As Ritson-Elliott and her team have been unable to travel to Dubai for last week’s Gulfood event, the Board used locally based representatives at its dedicated CPB stand, which is situated in the US pavilion in the Dubai World Trade Centre. Organisers have strict health and safety protocols in place, and the Board has adapted to fit the necessary measures by using video as a way to demonstrate the industry’s heritage and methods, as well as the nutritional benefits and versatility of California Prunes.

In contrast, the CPB’s participation in the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC) conference last November was completely virtual, with over 500 attendees from around the world meeting online for the first time in the event’s history. In lieu of being there ‘in person’, the Board hosted a virtual 3D exhibition area, in which visitors could browse and connect online with CPB representatives. 

More recently the California Prune Board held a virtual trade and media seminar for over 60 participants from across China and Hong Kong. Following the postponement of a planned grower visit to China last year, it was an opportunity for the Board to build and develop relationships with buyers by highlighting the California Prune industry and the benefits of prunes for Chinese consumers.

Looking ahead to 2021, Ritson-Elliott believes that some of the adaptations the industry has made to their marketing strategies will remain, thanks to the success of video conferencing, home working and virtual networking. She said: “I think it will take a year or so before ‘in-person’ trade shows return to the same scale they were pre-pandemic, and we are expecting to use virtual platforms into 2022. Even then there are certainly elements that will become the norm, with many companies globally acknowledging the business and personal benefits of allowing employees the flexibility of working from home and the virtual meeting culture remaining as a way to reduce time spent travelling.”

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Bright summer in store for Californian grapes

Bright summer in store for Californian grapes © Eurofresh Distribution
© Eurofresh Distribution


California’s organic table grape harvest is expected to be decent this year, with steady volumes predicted throughout the season. With Mexico’s volume winding down quickly, organic production from the San Joaquin Valley is expected to begin by mid-July, resulting in promotable supplies of organic table grapes throughout the summer. Although it is not expected to a bumper year for Coachella grapes due to delays caused by weather issues, things are expected to pick up by July.  The unseasonably cool temperatures in March and April will lead to a longer and lighter season.  

Last year was very different, with huge volumes of both organic and conventional table grapes arriving from Mexico, especially in June, which caused very low prices for all table grapes. This has not been the case this year, with a strong end to the season expected.

On June 23, the National Specialty Crops Organic Summary noted that all three colours of organic table grapes from Coachella were in the $35 range for an 18-pound box.

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The 2020 California Organic Produce Summit cancelled due to pandemic

Organic Produce Summit to feature new consumer data and analysis

Scheduled for July 8-9 in Monterey, California, the much-awaited 2020 California Organic Produce Summit has been cancelled in light of the impact of COVID-19. In a press release, Susan Canales, conference president, said: “Based on the ongoing monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the governor of California related to large gatherings, we have determined in order to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of all Organic Produce Summit attendees, that we cancel this year’s event.” The next conference will take place on July 14-15, 2021, in Monterey.

The fifth annual summit was scheduled to feature 152 organic produce growers, shippers and processors exhibiting products to more than 250 retailers and buyers. Exhibitors, sponsors and attendees have the option of rolling over their participation in the show to the new 2021 date or requesting a refund.

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Roadmap to save California agriculture

Roadmap to save California agriculture

A new project outlines how organic and more sustainable farming practices can offer a means to save California, which is currently facing a climate crisis, with rising temperatures, frequent heat waves and wildfires. Years of drought have created limited water supplies and the disruption of normal ecosystems. California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) has released the second part of a research project that investigates how organic farming can represent a solution to some of the gravest issues facing California and the world today. The Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report posits that organic agriculture is a solution to the changing climate, economic insecurity and health inequities. By building healthy soils that store carbon and water, by creating jobs and reinvesting dollars into local economies, and by providing healthy food and protecting the environment, the Roadmap concludes that organic is critical to securing California’s future.

The Roadmap outlines tangible policy recommendations such as integrating organic into California’s climate strategy by building healthy soils, investing in water efficiency programmes to secure California’s water supply, investing more in organic research and technical assistance to build farm resilience, and conserving California’s dwindling farmland to maximise carbon capture.

The Roadmap also offers social recommendations, such as supporting organic farmers to comply with regulations and maintain viability, investing in farmworker housing, transportation and pathways to citizenship, integrating organic agriculture and business into economic development planning, and cultivating the next generation of organic farmers with access to capital, land tenure education, financial and legal services.

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Open season for California’s organic navel oranges 


California’s organic navel campaign is starting earlier each year, with the new season having got underway at the start of November. Producers are predicting a good campaign, with sales set to peak around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Reports suggest the crop is 15% less than average, but sizes are significantly larger and should peak at 72 to 88 size. While, there was a time when no fruits would be available before Christmas, new treatment protocols allow for ripe and well-coloured organic oranges to be ready for Thanksgiving.


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Driscoll’s takes CBC to court for alleged patent infringement

Driscoll’s takes CBC to court for alleged patent infringement

On March 20, berry specialist Driscoll’s has sued California Berry Cultivars (CBC) and its co-founder Douglas Shaw for alleged patent infringement and conversion of its proprietary strawberry varieties. This case follows a previous complaint made by UC Davis against California Berry Cultivars (CBC) in May 2017, when a jury found CBC guilty of “wilful patent infringement”. Following the outcome of this trial, CBC breeding records were made public, allegedly revealing that CBC had been breeding with several of Driscoll’s varieties.

The complaint was filed in the Sacramento Division of the Eastern District of California.


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Heatwave leads to 48% drop in California avocado crop

Heatwave leads to 48% drop in California avocado crop

California expects its lowest avocado harvest in a decade due to last year’s intense heat wave across the state. According to California Avocado Committee estimates, this year’s crop will be 79,000 tons – 48% lower than last year’s 153,000 tons. The state’s crop fluctuates greatly on an annual basis, with its record harvest being recorded in 2010, when total production volumes reached 242,445 tons. Peru and South Africa also expect declines in their avocado crop this year. The president of the California Avocado Committee, Tom Bellamore, said, “There are areas that should have had a much better production, but were really affected by temperatures that exceeded 38°C, some places recorded 46 or 47°C for a short period of time, and unfortunately that affected the trees and fruit production.” The low temperatures in the previous months and forest fires may also have contributed to the low forecast.

The good news is that heavy winter rains have led to more robust trees, which could result in larger sizes. The season will be shorter than last year’s and is expected to offer maximum volumes between the end of March and July. The season usually extends until September.


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Grape polyphenols help offset harm of high fat diet

“The results showed that the high-fat diet combined with grape polyphenols reduced the percentage of body fat, subcutaneous and visceral fat depots, markers of inflammation in the liver and fat depots, and improved glucose tolerance and intestinal barrier function."

Grape polyphenols helped offset some of the adverse health consequences of consuming a high fat diet rich in saturated fat, according to two laboratory studies1,2 conducted at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and published recently in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

According to a press release by the California Table Grape Commission, in the first study, the researchers found that consuming a high butter-fat diet (33% of energy from fat) enriched with 3% grapes for 11 weeks was associated with a lower percentage of overall body fat and reduced subcutaneous fat deposits. These reductions in body fat were positively associated with changes in intestinal microbes and health; e.g., increases in some beneficial bacteria, decreases in some less desirable bacterial strains, increases in microbial diversity, and improved gut barrier function.

In the second study, which ran for 16 weeks, the researchers used an even higher fat diet (44% of energy from fat ) with multiple types of saturated fat, including lard, beef tallow, shortening, and butter similar to some Western-type diets. They investigated the impact of the high fat diet enriched with extracts of either the polyphenol fraction of grapes or the non-polyphenol portion of grapes, as well as the high fat diet plus 5% whole grapes. All the high fat experimental diets were matched for sugar type and amount.

“The results showed that the high-fat diet combined with grape polyphenols reduced the percentage of body fat, subcutaneous and visceral fat depots, markers of inflammation in the liver and fat depots, and improved glucose tolerance and intestinal barrier function. While the 5% whole grape diet did not improve the metabolic profile in this second study, it did improve markers of intestinal health; e.g., increased microbial diversity and decreased abundance of several deleterious bacteria in the intestinal tract,” the commission said.

Obesity affects approximately one-third of the adult population in the U.S. and is associated with inflammatory conditions that disrupt the metabolic process and can lead to metabolic syndrome. Gut microbes are thought to play a role in the development of metabolic syndrome; e.g., obesity is associated with a decrease in microbial diversity and impaired barrier function in the intestinal tract.

“These two studies suggest that grapes and grape polyphenols may help offset a number of the adverse effects of consuming a high fat diet and trigger improvements in intestinal or systemic health,” said Michael McIntosh PhD, lead investigator of the study. “This is an exciting area of health that merits further study.”

1 Baldwin J et al. Table grape consumption reduces adiposity and markers of hepatic lipogenesis and alters gut microbiota in butter fat-fed mice. J Nutr Biochem 27 (2016) 123 – 135.

2 Collins B et al. A polyphenol-rich fraction obtained from table grapes decreases adiposity, insulin resistance and markers of inflammation and impacts gut microbiota in high-fat fed mice. J Nutr Biochem 31 (2016) 150-165.

Source of images: Grapes from California

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Frieda – ready for the veg-olution

“With the Meatless Monday movement continuing to gain popularity and vegetable spiralisers flying off the shelf, it’s easy to see that vegetables are gaining ground as the star players in restaurants as well as at home,” said Karen Caplan.

This year’s food trends lead to the produce department of  Frieda’s Specialty. From the clean-eating movement to a more vegetable-centric menu, this American company promises a great vegetable revolution in 2016.

More and more shoppers in North America are cutting out processed food and artificial ingredients from their diets, switching to more fresh ingredients instead. That´s why American company Frieda takes advantage of this trend and keeps shoppers coming back for more by consistently stocking the produce department with a variety of nutrient-dense vegetables like Sunchokes® and Stokes Purple™ Sweet Potatoes, and flavour boosters like ginger, fresh chilli peppers, along with various onions.  

“With the Meatless Monday movement continuing to gain popularity and vegetable spiralisers flying off the shelf, it’s easy to see that vegetables are gaining ground as the star players in restaurants as well as at home,” said Karen Caplan.

“Coloured carrot and courgette ribbons are nudging out actual pasta, and roasted root vegetables such as celery root and colourful beet varieties are taking over more plate space at dinner time.”
Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 53-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to US supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Sangria Artichokes, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes® and Organic Finger Limes.

Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and run by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, based in Orange County, California.