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Agreement opens opportunities for US fruit in Japan

The US-Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA) came into force on January 1, 2020. Once USJTA is fully implemented, up to 90% of all US food and agricultural products imported into Japan will be duty free or receive preferential tariff access. Japan is a key trading partner for the US. In 2018, the US exported $318 million of fresh fruit to Japan, making Japan the 4th largest overseas market for US fresh fruit. The US was the source of one third of Japan’s fresh fruit imports and the leading supplier of fresh oranges, lemons, grapes and cherries. Japan will apply a seasonal US-specific safeguard for oranges starting at 26,435 tons. The safeguard only applies to products imported between December 1 and March 31. If the safeguard volume is exceeded, tariffs on US orange exports will increase for the remainder of that period. The safeguard tariff is 28% in Years 1-3 and 20% in Years 4-6.  The safeguard will be eliminated in Year 7 (2025).

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JBT introduces Bin Scrubber System

TECHNO JBT BinScrubber

With increasing scrutiny on food safety, JBT FoodTech introduces a patented Bin Scrubber System aimed at better cleaning of field bins. JBT’s Bin Scrubber System is unique in its ability to really scrub bins, with a brush. “With our technology it takes as little as 15 seconds to clean a bin, so this is faster and cleaner than other systems, even those done by hand or by other competing machines that only use high pressure water,” said manager Hassan Khan. The system is 100% programmable and designed for use on plastic and wood bins. Field bins are delivered to the scrubber on an automatic line which recycles the water. A cradle elevates and tips the bin onto a brush head that spins and scrubs hard to reach surfaces and corners while high pressure nozzles spray the exterior of the bin clean. The result is consistently cleaner bins and long-term utility cost savings because the system uses recycled chlorinated water and low horsepower motor to reduce energy costs.

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Costco’s arrival as America’s top organic grocer

Costco sees a big future in selling organic produce – if it can source enough of it.

Costco sees a big future in selling organic produce – if it can source enough of it.

The warehouse giant now ranks number one for organic sales among America’s retailers, besting even Whole Foods.

With annual sales already topping $4 billion, it anticipates exceeding $10 billion a year by 2020 thanks to the double-digit growth it expects every year until then. “We cannot get enough organics to stay in business day in and day out,” CEO Craig Jelinek told investors at a Costco shareholder meeting.

Indeed, organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture.

According to Forbes, organic food sales have generated double digit growth annually in the US for the past few years and the Organic Trade Association predicts sales will rise by 12-15% annually for the next three years. “While high demand without sufficient supply can lead to increase in prices of these products, Costco’s efforts should enable the company to sell organic food products at competitive prices in its warehouses by focusing on increases in supply, without impacting its margins,” Forbes said.

Now a major player in the field, one of Costco’s priorities is indeed to ensure a greater supply of organic foods at a time when demand is soaring but supply has not kept up, reports the Seattle Times.

An example of how it is pursuing this is Costco’s loan to San Diego-based Andrew and Williamson (A&W) Fresh Produce so it could buy equipment and land in Baja California, Mexico. Costco will have first dibs on organic food produced there.

Costco’s senior vice president of fresh foods Jeff Lyons is quoted as saying that Costco also gave A&W a loan for equipment to grow organic raspberries on other land in Mexico. “By helping them with financing, we got access to and purchased about 145,000 cases of organic raspberries that we normally would not have access to,” he said. Costco is considering doing something similar with other companies, including a large group with operations in Chile and Mexico, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, it has this year started stocking organic strawberries that are grown on Equitable Food Initiative-certified farms in Watsonville, California, and sold under A&W’s new GoodFarms brand.

Item focused – no organic section

Why has Costco embraced organic food? At the United Fresh show in Chicago in June, Frank Padilla, a Costco vice president and general merchandise manager for produce and meat, listed these reasons:

• it resonates with Costco’s members

• it’s seen as a lifestyle, not a trend

• consumers want to eat healthy

• there are concerns about harmful pesticides & GMOs

• belief in sustainable farming

• similar patterns have been seen in other departments with concerns over antibiotics and added hormones.

Costco approaches organics a little differently to its key rivals. As Padilla stressed, it does not have an ‘organic’ section. As an ‘item’ business, it is selective in what it carries, with a limited number of SKUs, and does not ‘double merchandise’. Costco buyers look for items that complement its food sales mix, which for the 2015 fiscal year was 75% conventional, 14% organic and 11% hot house-grown.

“The danger is that it (an organic product) could be the only choice. If you don’t have the right quality, the right specifications, the right shelf life and value, you are going to turn the non-organic consumers off,” Padilla was quoted by Growing magazine as saying. “We also face the danger that if it’s not available at the time, you may not have that item to sell.”

In his presentation at the show, Padilla said other key facets of Costco’s organic principles are that there must be a reasonable premium to conventional and suppliers must be held to the same food safety and audit protocol.

And he outlined Costco’s strategy in organic food as follows:

• find great growers

• partner & commit to grower

• study the item

• learn the intricacies of certified organic

• develop a specification

• work on supply

• strive for efficiency & consistent supplies.

It is achieving success in the latter that remains’ one of Costco’s biggest challenges going forward as America’s new retail powerhouse in organics.

Costco
Sales in 2015: $116 billion
Headquarters: Issaquah, Washington state
715 warehouses worldwide
501 – US & Puerto Rico
91 – Canada
36 – Mexico
28 – UK
25 – Japan
12 – Korea
12 – Taiwan
8 – Australia
2- Spain
(as at end of 2016 fiscal year)

Images: presentation by Frank Padilla, a Costco vice president and general merchandise manager for produce and meat, at the United Fresh show in Chicago in June 2016.

JB

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Global Green Team exports peppers to China

After years of preparations, the first Dutch peppers will be exported to China mid July, said Paul Schriel, sales manager at Global Green Team, a Dutch fruit and vegetable trading company that operates worldwide.

After years of preparations, the first Dutch peppers will be exported to China mid July, said Paul Schriel, sales manager at Global Green Team, a Dutch fruit and vegetable trading company that operates worldwide. “We are accessing a market with a huge potential where we can distinguish ourselves by guaranteeing healthy and safe products,” Schriel said.

The exports are the end result of the lengthy process of the development of a protocol with both the Dutch and Chinese authorities and joint inspections. Many of the precautions revolve around preventing the presence of unwanted flies and strict compliance to the protocol.

“The current exports are meant to optimise routing, registration and inspections and after evaluation will lead to the possibility of China opening to pepper exports in 2017.

“That could open up the way for a follow-up with for instance tomatoes,”Schriel said. It leads him to conclude that the opening of new markets in the Far East is a healthy development.

Global Green Team local production in North America

Besides the Far and Middle East, Global Green Team has a focus on North America, where it sells the majority of its tomatoes and peppers grown in the Netherlands and locally.

Food miles are an issue that Global Green Team addresses by setting up local production.

“If you can show that your products are produced locally, you have an advantage,“ Schriel said.

The transfer of knowledge and quality assurance play a role in that process.

”The Dutch law has a very sharp focus on quality and that is a good indicator of the product that Global Green Team offers. We are strict on the quality we want to deliver and our quality team monitors that. Also we provide guidance to our growers,” he said.

Schriel sees growing demand for organic fresh produce, especially in the US and Canada. He said organic production is intensifying and production yields improving. This is the outcome of an increasingly better understanding of organic production and selection of varieties, he said.

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Trends driving America’s produce category

It’s an exciting time for the produce department, but Nielsen Perishables Group says many staple categories are on the wane while on-trend ones are on the rise.

The recent wave of consumer interest and demand for health and wellness products has been great for the fresh produce business in the United States.

However, winning in produce requires more than just resting on the inherent health aspects of fruit and vegetables, warns the Nielsen Perishables Group.

Director of client services Jennifer Campuzano (pictured) told ED that in the US grocery retail sector, the average produce department dollar sales CAGR from 2011 to 2015 was 3.7%. And what’s more, it’s well-positioned to continue its steady growth, “as a widely purchased department that brings higher overall basket rings than those trips that don’t include produce,” she said.

Produce is the second-largest fresh department behind meat in US supermarkets, and rang in a total of $47 billion in the US in 2015.

But while it’s an exciting time for the produce department, Campuzano emphasised that the steady growth of the department over the past few years is being driven by trendy products – those that have adapted to contemporary consumer demands, such as convenience – while many staple categories are declining.

“Additionally, organics, innovative convenience products and differentiated assortment are becoming more common outside of high-end grocery, even within value retailers.

“And although a shifting retail environment and increasingly choosy consumers can and do present challenges, they also offer exciting new avenues for growth.

“Retailers and suppliers can now embrace a variety of opportunities within the store – think product innovation, merchandising across departments for more holistic consumer solutions etc. – and outside of the store (meal and grocery delivery, partnering with local suppliers) in order to win,” Campuzano said.

Simply relying on the health benefits of produce and trusting consumers to know and understand those benefits is not enough, however, to continue to drive growth within the department, she stressed.

“In fact, traditional staple categories like whole apples and bananas had flat or declining sales in 2015 (down 4.2% and 0.6% compared to the previous year), and products like value-added fruits and vegetables and mandarins, that offer additional benefit for consumers in terms of convenience, bold flavour, and snack-ability, are driving growth.

Organic outpaces conventional in sales growth

Produce is also well-positioned to take advantage of what we call ‘21st century health concerns’, Campuzano said.

“Twentieth century health concerns were all about reducing and removing – reduced/non fat, low sodium and sugar.

Today, 21st century health and wellness concerns are more benefit focused (high protein, grains and natural heart healthy foods) and how the food is sourced. Is it organic? Local? Gmo-free? 21st century health and wellness devotees want to know where their food comes from and what it’s doing for them.

“The perceived benefits of organic produce (free of pesticides, healthier, fresher) fall in line with these “new” 21st century health priorities, and help explain why sales of organic produce grew at nearly four times the rate of conventional produce in 2015,” she said.

JB

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Health & organic food trends driving US sector

The US is a net fruit importer and among fresh fruit imports, bananas claim over half the volume. This fruit ranks number one in US per capita fresh fruit consumption, followed by apples and oranges, and is mainly imported from Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Honduras.

Demand for high-quality health foods is expected to help boost the otherwise stagnant consumption rate of fresh fruit and vegetables in the US, a market with a widening trade deficit in fresh vegetables.

Per capita fruit and vegetable consumption is set to remain relatively constant in the United States over 2015-20, just as was the case in the last five years, says IBISWorld. However, thanks to the population most likely increasing at an annualised rate of 0.8% over this period, slow growth in overall fruit and vegetable consumption can be expected between now and 2020, it forecasts. Also, rising consumer interest in organic and locally grown produce should keep helping the industry remain resilient. “Fresh produce consumption will continue to be impacted by general economic and demographic trends, including rising disposable income levels for households, and particularly millennials.” However, consumer demand for high quality health foods will remain a primary factor in the overall increase of fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, the business intelligence publisher says.

Health trend favours frozen fruit

But the benefits of the health trend shouldn’t be over-rated, warns Euromonitor International. The market research provider said frozen fruit sales benefitted more than fresh fruit from the trends towards healthier diets which influenced the fresh food market in the US last year. It said that while Americans are increasingly eschewing heavily processed foods for fresh and natural offerings, something that would seem an incredible boon to the fresh food market, “what has resulted instead is high growth in minimally (but still) processed food rather than in fresh food.” “What fresh food lacks is the element of convenience – nor does it have an adequate shelf life for many consumers. Americans are convinced of the health benefits of a whole food diet, but are unwilling to commit the time and effort to a diet comprised primarily of fresh rather than processed food,” it said. However, on the plus side, fresh foods that are humanely and sustainably produced are expected to record unequivocal increases in the future, it predicts.

Less head lettuce, more leafy greens

When it comes to vegetables, the health trend was perhaps a reason that over the 15 years to the end of last year, per capita use of head lettuce decreased 44%, something the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) said “in part, is attributed to consumers switching to dark-green and leafy products like collard greens, kale, and romaine lettuce.” Over the same period, per capita use of potatoes (for both fresh and processing uses) fell 17%, from 138 pounds in 2000 to 114 in 2015.

Total per capita use of vegetables and pulses in the US last year averaged 375 pounds – down 3% on 2014 and 12% from a peak in 2000. More specifically, per capita use of fresh vegetables (including potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms) averaged 181 pounds in 2015 – down 1% from 2014, but fairly steady since 2009-11. In 2015, per-capita use increased for many fresh market crops – such as sweet corn, bell peppers, cauliflower and romaine lettuce – while that of asparagus, cabbage, leafy greens, and head lettuce, among others, declined. In terms of share, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, all lettuce, and bell peppers accounted for a 60% share of fresh vegetables available for consumption in 2015, the ERS said.

Retail channels increasingly offer fresh food

Euromonitor says that over 2010-15, American retail channels have changed the way fresh food is sold, with “an increasing prevalence of packaged fresh food sold via retail. For example, grocers have encouraged volume sales of fruit and vegetables by cutting and packaging the items in-store. Such practices increase retail profits, as these minimally processed products are sold at much higher margins. Retail is also benefiting from the popularity of internet retailers, which are increasingly successful at fast delivery in order to maintain product freshness,” it said.

2014 top food retailers/ wholesalers in US
1. Walmart
2. Kroger
3. Costco Wholesale
4. Target
5. Safeway
source: PMA/Supermarket news 2014 top 75 food retailers & wholesalers in the US & Canada

US vegetable production remains flat

Potatoes (44 billion pounds), tomatoes (32 billion pounds) and lettuce (8.1 billion pounds) were the three leading vegetable crops grown last year in the US and together accounted for about two-thirds of its production of commercial vegetables and dry pulses (including mushrooms, sweet potatoes and potatoes). In total, the US produced 127 billion pounds in 2015 in this category – largely unchanged from a year earlier – with a value of $20 billion (up 6% on 2014 due to robust domestic prices for most fresh market crops) and from a harvested area of about 6.9 million acres, according to the ERS.

As for fresh market vegetables (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes and mushrooms), in 2015, the US produced 34.8 billion pounds, down 3% yoy as the area harvested declined. Despite entering its fourth year of drought, California still lead the country in fresh market production, accounting for 54% of the country’s annual fresh market vegetable output. Florida regained its position as the second largest source of fresh market vegetables, with 3% of output, and Arizona, which ranked second in terms of production volume last year, saw production drop 10% in 2015.

The three largest crops in this category – delivering 40% of the total production – were onions, head lettuce, and sweet corn.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

Potato production fell slightly from last year to 44 billion pounds, with Idaho (30% of production output), Washington (23%), and Wisconsin (6%) still the top producing states in 2015. The production value fell 2% to $3.8 billion. Sweet potato production last year was up 5% to 3.1 billion pounds off a harvested area of 153,100 acres (+13%). The top grower States were North Carolina (50% of total production), California (20%) and Mississippi (12%).

Rising vegetable trade deficit

The US trade deficit in fresh vegetables widened in 2015. In terms of volume, fresh vegetable imports rose 1% to 14 billion pounds while exports fell 4% to 4.4 billion pounds, probably due to a strong US dollar and weak global demand. Last year, about 22% of vegetables consumed domestically was imported while 13% was exported to foreign destinations. In the fresh vegetables category (including potatoes and mushrooms) – in which the value of imports rose 4% on 2014 to $7 billion – about a quarter of the produce used in the US in 2015 was imported, up from 9% in the early 1990s, while 20% of processed vegetables and 21% of the dry pulse markets were supplied by imports. Mexico accounted for 69% of import value in 2015, followed by Canada (17%), Peru (5%) and China (1%). The import volume from Mexico expanded while that from Canada declined.

Vegetable exports down

Fresh vegetable exports, as a share of supply, remained relatively steady at about 7% last year but their value fell 6% to $2.2 billion due to shrinking market shares in Japan and Mexico. Exports to the US’s top foreign destinations – Canada, Mexico, and Japan – dropped 8% to $87 million as Mexico alone decreased 17% to $1.9 billion. Canada now accounts for 77% of US fresh vegetable export value. Fresh exports have a discernible seasonal pattern, with volume peaking during May-July and reaching lows during September and February. Besides the weather, demand from Canada – the leading foreign market for US exports of fresh vegetables – influences this pattern, according to the USDA. Canada’s vegetable imports are lowest during their summer growing season and peak in the spring when supplies of storage-type vegetables are exhausted and before their own growing season has begun.

Among fresh vegetables, lettuce (all types) is the largest fresh export ($431 million in 2008), but lettuce also enjoys relatively strong domestic demand. The same is true for tomatoes, the second-largest fresh export ($208 million in 2008). Exports account for 9% of domestic supply of all lettuce and 6% of fresh tomatoes. This percentage has slowly drifted lower over the past three decades, as growth in domestic consumption has exceeded that of export volume.

Bananas the top fresh fruit import

The US is a net fruit importer and among fresh fruit imports, bananas claim over half the volume. This fruit ranks number one in US per capita fresh fruit consumption, followed by apples and oranges, and is mainly imported from Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Honduras. Mexico is the largest supplier of fresh and frozen fruit to the US, accounting for over 30% percent of both the volume and value of fresh and frozen fruit imports (excluding bananas), reports the ERS. Mexico ships mostly limes, tangerines, mangoes, grapes, pineapples, papayas, avocados and strawberries. Geographic proximity and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) give Mexico a competitive advantage over other exporting countries. Chile is also a major supplier of fresh fruit, with a 20% share of the US import market, and boasts the advantage of counter-seasonal production, meaning it can offer fresh fruit at times when the US grows little, particularly over November to March. The US is the world’s largest importer of watermelons, taking a fifth of the global import volume, with its main sources being Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. These five nations also account for nearly all US cantaloupe imports.

Top fruit exports: apples, grapes, oranges

US exports of fresh market fruit account for about 15% of available supplies. In value terms, fresh market fruit exports (excluding melons) amounted to over $3 billion each year during 2008-10, capturing more than half of total fruit exports (excluding tree nuts).

The leading fresh fruit exports are apples, grapes, and oranges (including tangerines), with combined sales averaging over $1.5 billion annually, or about half the value of fresh fruit exports. Apples and grapes averaged over $700 million and over $600 million, respectively, in annual export sales during 2008-10, and oranges, over $500 million. Export sales of fresh berries, led by strawberries, more than tripled between 2000 and 2010 for a combined value of over $500 million.

Canada is the leading destination for US fresh fruit, generally accounting for over one-third of all fresh fruit exports. Other major markets are Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Melons a major export

The US is among the top melon exporters in the world, ranked third in watermelon exports next to Mexico and Spain and fourth in cantaloupe and other melon exports after Spain, Guatemala, and Brazil. Melon exports increased slightly in share of US melon supplies, from 3-4% in the 1970s and 1980s to an average 7% during the 2000s. Watermelons accounted for more than half of US melon export volume in recent years, averaging over 300 million pounds, nearly one-tenth of the world’s total. An overwhelming majority of watermelon export volume goes to Canada, but Mexico and Japan are also relatively important markets for the US watermelon industry. Canada is also the primary destination for US cantaloupe exports, with Mexico serving as a distant second.

JB

Sources: IBISWorld, USDA ERS, Euromonitor

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US opens to Ecuador’s blackberries, raspberries

As of May 9, fresh Andean blackberries and raspberries can be imported from Ecuador into the continental United States under what is known as a systems approach.

As of May 9, fresh Andean blackberries and raspberries can be imported from Ecuador into the continental United States under what is known as a systems approach.

Designed to protect against the introduction of quarantine pests into the US, in this case the systems approach would include requirements for commercial consignments of the berries to come from a pest free production site within a certified low pest prevalence area for fruit flies, and pest monitoring and trapping.

The fruit – fresh Andean blackberry (Rubus glaucus Benth) and raspberry (Rubus idaeus Linnaeus) – would also have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization of Ecuador bearing an additional declaration stating that the consignment was produced and prepared for export in accordance with the requirements of the systems approach.

The three plant pests seen as having the highest pest risk potential in regard to the blackberry and raspberry fruit imports from Ecuador into the continental US are Anastrepha fraterculus (South American fruit fly), Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly), and Copitarsia decolora, a moth.

APHIS – the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – published the final rule allowing for the imports on April 8 and it will be effective as of May 9.

Ecuador’s berry exports

According to APHIS documents, in 2005, Ecuador had approximately 4,275 ha of Andean blackberry and raspberry crops with a potential annual production of 6,840 tons of fruit. Its exports of fresh Andean raspberries and blackberries averaged 13 tons per year for 2000-06, but by 2007 had reached 90 tons.

The document says the quantity of Andean blackberry and raspberry expected to be imported into the US from Ecuador yearly is less than 180 metric tons, though the amount per species is not yet known.

(This estimate is based on the fact that the sea shipping containers typically used for estimating the volume of fresh fruit shipments are 40 feet long and hold approximately 40,000 pounds or 18.18 metric tons of fruit. According to an estimate given to APHIS by Ecuador’s government, the maximum quantity of fresh Andean blackberry and raspberry that Ecuador is expected to export annually to the US is less than 10 shipping containers per year, or less than 181.8 tons.)

Economic impact on US berry growers

Before the rule’s approval, APHIS analysed data to check the move would not have a significant economic impact on small domestic growers in the US.

It said that over 2008-12, the US imported 37.22 million pounds of fresh raspberries and over 2011-13 imported 63 million pounds of fresh blackberries.

Comparing the volume level of these imports with the expected annual imports from Ecuador of less than 180 tons, the Ecuadorian import share would be less than 0.4% of the U.S. import share for these fruits and not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, it said.

In the 5 years to 2012, US raspberry and blackberry production for the fresh market averaged about 96 million pounds and 4 million pounds a year, respectively, for a total of about 100 million pounds, or about 45,372 tons.

(Because the Andean blackberry is more closely comparable to the loganberry (a blackberry-raspberry hybrid) than it is to the common blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), APHIS said it based its analysis on aggregate quantities of Rubus species commercially produced by the US.)

US raspberry production

According to APHIS, raspberries and blackberries are grown in at least 37 US states but just three – Oregon, Washington, and California – account for nearly all US commercial production of raspberries, blackberries and loganberries. The majority of red raspberry production occurs in California and Washington and Oregon grows more than 98% of US blackberries and nearly all of the nation’s commercial loganberries and boysenberries.

Raspberries rank third as the most popular berry in the US, coming after strawberries and blueberries.In 2013, California produced 94.1 million pounds of raspberries, valued at $239 million, and Washington, 68.1 million pounds valued at nearly $57.3 million (tables 2 and 3).

Over the five-year period, 2008-2012, the value of US raspberry production averaged $312 million. However, a significant portion of the US raspberry crop is processed; on average over the five-year period, about 56% (96 million pounds of 171 million pounds) were sold fresh.

The US is a net exporter of raspberry, and yet still imports a significant quantity, APHIS said.

Over the five years, 2008-2012, US raspberry imports averaged over 37 million pounds, supplying 48% of domestic fresh raspberry consumption

Mexico is the major source, supplying over 90% of US fresh raspberry and blackberry imports, followed by Guatemala with 4%, Canada with 2% and Chile with 1%.

US blackberry production

In 2013, 51 million pounds of blackberries were produced on 7,300 acres, of which 4 million pounds were sold as fresh berries and the remaining 47 million pounds sold as processed product, including frozen. The value of US blackberry production, 2008-2012, averaged $37 million dollars.

sources:

APHIS:
Analysis in Support of Certification that the Rule will not have a Significant Economic Impact on a Substantial Number of Small Entities
Importation of Fresh Andean Blackberry and Raspberry Fruit From Ecuador Into the Continental United States

 

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Health trend favours frozen over fresh fruit

Euromonitor says last year the health trend saw Americans flock to frozen fruit for their smoothies, which is only slightly processed and arguably just as healthy as fresh fruit.

Frozen fruit sales benefitted more than fresh fruit from the trends towards healthier diets which influenced the fresh food market in the United States last year.

According to Euromonitor, Americans are increasingly “counting ingredients, not calories” and eschewing heavily processed foods for fresh and natural offerings.

But in a summary of its latest Fresh Fresh Food in the US report, the market research provider says that while these trends seem like they would be an incredible boon to the fresh food market, “what has resulted instead is high growth in minimally (but still) processed food rather than in fresh food.”

“For example, in 2015 Americans flocked towards frozen fruit for their smoothies, which is only slightly processed and arguably just as healthy as fresh fruit.

“What fresh food lacks is the element of convenience – nor does it have an adequate shelf life for many consumers. Americans are convinced of the health benefits of a whole food diet, but are unwilling to commit the time and effort to a diet comprised primarily of fresh rather than processed food,” Euromonitor said.

Pulses lead the way

Also, while sales of fresh food increased by 1% in total volume terms over 2010-15 – with pulses recording by far the highest growth (8%) – eggs and fruit saw declines due to disease and poor conditions affecting yields. The drought in California, a key producer of fruit, vegetables and nuts, was one of the most significant factors affecting fresh food in the US in 2015, Euromonitor said.

Fresh food is expected to achieve a 1% total volume CAGR for the five years to 2020, with pulses again growing at the fastest rate.

Sustainable production key to growth

Euromonitor said the erratic weather, disease and legislative moves seen in the US in recent years have contributed to declines in some categories.

“In the future, the categories that are expected to record unequivocal increases are those with fresh food that is humanely and sustainably produced. These categories will thus not be party to restrictive legislation, which could thwart their sales growth, and their food is grown in a way that is tolerant of erratic weather; moreover, such food is not wholly dependent on international trade.

“Fulfilling these criteria makes a product more likely to be trusted by the public, and not be sensitive to external factors in terms of price. Pulses, as well as some starches such as sweet potatoes, for example, fulfil these requirements and are expected to continue the success they have had in past years.”

Retail channels increasingly offer fresh food

Over 2010-15, retail channels changed the way fresh food is sold. “There is an increasing prevalence of packaged fresh food sold via retail. For example, grocers have encouraged volume sales of fruits and vegetables by cutting and packaging the items in-store. Such practices increase retail profits, as these minimally processed products are sold at much higher margins.

Retail is also benefiting from the popularity of internet retailers, which are increasingly successful at fast delivery in order to maintain product freshness,” Euromonitor said.

Euromonitor’s full report is available for purchase here.
Photo by Devin Rajaram via Unsplash.com.

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Trends in Americans’ fruit and veg choices

Other fruits and vegetables have gained a larger following, reflecting the popularity of ethnic cuisines (avocados and chili peppers), interest in foods tagged as 'super foods' (blueberries and kale), and other diet and lifestyle trends.

Americans are eating less potatoes and whole head lettuce, and more avocados, chili peppers, blueberries and kale, than they did a decade ago.

Analysis of the USDA Economic Research Service’s loss-adjusted food availability data for the ten years to 2013 shows Americans’ annual consumption of total fruits and vegetables has dropped 27 pounds to 272 lb per person.

According to What’s Trending in Americans’ Fruit and Vegetable Choices, 22 lb of this decline relates to reduced consumption of orange juice, potatoes and head lettuce.

“Declining consumption of individual commodities may be due to falling demand and more variety of competing fruits (fresh grapefruit), production issues not fully offset by imports (orange juice), or greater interest in fresh produce (canned corn).

“Other fruits and vegetables have gained a larger following, reflecting the popularity of ethnic cuisines (avocados and chili peppers), interest in foods tagged as ‘super foods’ (blueberries and kale), and other diet and lifestyle trends.”

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US exhibitors report $6.8 million in projected sales from Asia Fruit Logistica

13 U.S. exhibitors reported over $1 million in onsite sales and $6.8 million in projected sales following a successful Asia Fruit Logistica 2015 in Hong Kong.

Over $1 million in onsite sales and $6.8 million in projected sales have been reported by the 13 US exhibitors at this year’s Asia Fruit Logistica, held September 2-4 in Hong Kong.

The USDA said the event, a USDA-endorsed show, is Hong Kong’s largest specialised trade show for agricultural produce. “This year, more than 570 companies from 40 countries/regions exhibited products to over 9,200 Hong Kong based and regional buyers.”

Among the support provided to leverage US exhibitors’ market opportunities, the US Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) Hong Kong organised a market tour, provided a market briefing and hosted a trade reception for more than 80 invitees . “As a result, U.S. exhibitors secured excellent export opportunities, achieving on-site sales of over US$1 million and projected sales in the next 12 months of over US$6.8 million,” the USDA has reported.

In 2014, the US was the largest supplier of fruit, vegetable and tree nut products to Hong Kong, with exports valued over $485 million, $30 million and $889 million, respectively. Hong Kong also serves as a gateway for the flow of products to regional markets with strong logistical access to Asian-based buyers and markets, it said.

Image of Hong Kong night skyline by Base64, retouched by CarolSpears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons