Iceberg Lettuce Pricing Plateauing But Expected To Stay Elevated In The Fall

While general industry supplies of iceberg lettuce are ample, humidity and high temperatures are having an effect on the leafy green. Mark Shaw, VP of Operations for Markon says that the abnormal humidity and persistently high temperatures have caused varying levels of internal burn, growth crack, seeder and salt and pepper that must be trimmed. In turn, this is reducing commodity head size and processor yields. “Mildew and thrip damage are also prevalent due to persistently warm soil temperatures coupled with high humidity,” says Shaw.

Those climate forces of nature continue to be a source of stress for growers. “Water is a huge concern in Western North America. The current drought is taking its toll on the amount of irrigation water available in California’s San Joaquin Valley, as well as the Arizona and California winter vegetable growing districts,” says Shaw.

Currently, the majority of harvesting is taking place in the Salinas Valley with supplements coming from Santa Maria, California. “The summer production areas on the East Coast and Midwest are winding down, pushing further demand to California. Local deals were happening across the U.S. and Canada all summer, but they are largely ending this month,” says Shaw. Harvests will be focused in the Salinas Valley until late October/early November when industry production shifts to Imperial Valley, California and Yuma, Arizona for the winter.



Markon’s John Galvez inspecting iceberg lettuce. Photos: Markon Cooperative.

Higher iceberg demand
In turn, these season-long issues have helped strengthen demand, particularly in Salinas Valley. “Although there are ample supplies being harvested in California, the additional orders that were being filled by East Coast and Midwest supplies are coming to an end and shifting that demand to Salinas and Santa Maria,” says Shaw.

Iceberg also seems to be drafting off of that general strengthening demand for fresh produce. “The two major trends right now are wellness (healthy diners looking for ingredients that carry a health halo) and comfort foods (where things like burgers are a popular indulgence). These trends will keep consumption climbing along with all of the lettuce categories,” says Shaw.

Market crept up
Not surprisingly, prices are higher than a year ago, a time when volume/head weights were also higher and growers weren’t fighting climate issues such as the heat, humidity and multiple soil-borne diseases like they have this year. “The market has been steadily creeping up through August due to the elevated temperatures and quality disruptors like INSV and Sclerotia,” says Shaw. “Although growers can cut away some of these damaged leaves, it lowers head weights.” (Although overall industry iceberg lettuce head weights have fallen, Shaw says that Markon First Crop Premium Iceberg weights have consistently remained three to seven pounds heavier on average than packer labels.)

So for now, iceberg prices look to be plateauing though they are expected to remain elevated until early November when production begins in Yuma, Arizona for fall and winter.

Meanwhile, growers continue to contend with the labor challenges that have persisted since the pandemic and are expected to remain a major issue in the produce, as well as all other industries. “Our grower/partners are using innovation to create solutions, whether it be advanced harvesting machines, robotics or more traditional harvesting approaches. It remains a pain point for everyone,” says Shaw.

From Fresh Plaza

Good Winter Rains In Chile Will Help Coming Table Grape Crop

“Increased input and freight costs together with low prices of the past season a concern”

The last few months saw heavy rain in the North and Central regions of Chile, which bodes well for the coming table grape crop. However, the increased input and freight costs together with prices of the past season that did not cover these costs are a concern for table grape growers, according to Jose Ureta, commercial and quality manager at grape and mandarin growers Exser in Chile.

“The grape market has been very difficult during the last season. The prices of last season in some varieties did not cover the costs, due to the increase in inputs and freight costs. The last months in Chile were good in terms of weather, because we have had huge rains in the North and in the Central region, it will help the production for the coming years. Also the increase in input and freight costs has meant that many growers cannot cover their break-even point. If these costs continue increasing, I think there will be a significant volume adjustments for the coming seasons.”

Exser is located in IV, V and VI regions in Chile. They mainly produce table grapes and mandarins. The company has farms that cover 1 200 ha and owns four cold stores, located in all the regions where they operate. During the season they have around 1 000 workers active in all the regions.

“Last season we exported 3.5 million boxes of table grapes. Our target is to produce a conformed bunch with full colour and green hard stems so it can travel in good condition to every market that we send fruit. The harvest starts in the beginning of January and it ends at mid-April. Our key markets are North America, Europe, Asia.

“The challenge for the future is to have the minimum days of transit time with the difficulties that we have been facing in logistics and we’ll try to minimize our labour and packing costs. Demand looks good, but we will have to make volume decisions once we are aware of input and freight costs for the coming season,” concludes Ureta.

From Fresh Plaza

Kicking Off Fall Onion Season In The Northwest

Syracuse, Utah-based Onions 52 has officially kicked off its fall onion season in Washington state and Utah. With demand for new crop onions exceedingly high, it has been a busy start to the season.

“Harvest is in full swing in Washington state and we will begin storing onions in early September for our robust storage season. Storage onions have a significantly lower water content than summer onions, making them easier to store in climate-controlled sheds from early fall until the following spring. It is not unlikely for September-harvested onions to ship to stores late into May and even early June,” said director of marketing Falon Brawley.

The Onions 52 team out in the field.

“We are a one-stop onion shop with a plethora of options for retail packs, private labeling, foodservice offerings and everything in between for all color onions,” said Shawn Hartley, owner/VP of sales. “We are encouraged with the crop in the Northwest, including Idaho/Eastern Oregon. It has been a crazy start to the growing season in all areas.”

“Partner sheds in Eastern Oregon will start harvesting in late August and early September,” said Tiffany Cruickshank from the newly established Vale, Oregon office. “The crop looks variable due to a dry, cold and windy spring coupled with multiple heat waves during the growing season. Some fields have certainly fared better than others. We are hopeful the growing conditions will allow the onions to put on a bit more size before harvest takes off.”


More of the Onions 52 team.

The Onions 52 farms will supply customers across the country with top-quality red, yellow, white, sweet, USDA-certified organic onions and tearless Sunions® from late August through early June.

From Fresh Plaza

Washington Apple Crop Assessment Still Being Determined

This year’s Washington apple crop is a difficult one to predict. “The initial estimate is for 108 million cartons. That seems to be within the range of what the field staff is thinking,” says Donna Feltrup of L&M Companies Inc. 

The challenge comes following cold weather and snow that happened during bloom earlier this year. As Feltrup notes, on the same tree there is fruit that was pollinated before the freeze/snow and there’s also fruit that bloomed out 10 days later when things warmed up again. “This is going to create some challenges with maturity, picking, etc. In addition to that, we had a cold spring and a hot summer,” she says.

Collectively, this has also pushed back the start of the crop by about two weeks. The combination of warm days and nights has slowed the color development growers look for. “Also, at this point, the fruit looks smaller than normal. However, as we are two weeks behind, all these things may change in the next couple of weeks,” adds Feltrup.

Kyle Mills, packing house manager at Apple King, looks at new crop Gala apples.

Some variety gaps
In terms of varieties, Wildfire Gala apples have just begun being harvested and packed and Premier Honeycrisp will start in another week or so. Regular Gala apples will start, at the earliest, towards the end of next week. “We are also coming off a short crop from last season and with the two-week delay, we are seeing some varieties with gaps– Fuji, Golden and Pink Lady in particular,” she says.

At the same time, on the other side of the country, there are reports that both Michigan and New York states have good apple crops for the 2022-2023 season. “Movement on apples has been very good this month,” says Feltrup. “With the high cost of freight, we will see some buyers shift to these local production areas to keep costs down.”

As for pricing, the gap on some varieties is behind the strong pricing on those particular varieties given there’s currently high demand and little supply.

From Fresh Plaza

California Lemon Acreage Experienced Biggest Increase Of All Citrus Types

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has released its 2022 California Citrus Acreage Report. The report includes detailed data on acreage broken down by bearing and non-bearing, type, variety, location, and year planted.

The overall statewide bearing acreage is up 1.7% or 4,297 acres in 2022 compared to 2020. This is an increase from 251,231 total acres in 2020 to 255,528 in 2022.

Lemon acreage experienced the biggest increase of all citrus types, increasing by 3,765 acres or 8.8%. Acreage in 2020 was 42,929 and has now increased to 46,694 acres. All three citrus districts saw increases in lemon acreage.

Mandarin acreage jumped from 59,422 in 2020 to 63,282 this year, an increase of 3,860 acres or 6%.

Navels and Valencias both decreased in acreage from 2020 to 2022. Navel acreage dropped 2% from 112,592 to 110,509, a decrease of 2,083 acres. In 2020 total Valencia acreage was 26,924 but has since dropped to 25,528. This is a decrease of 1,396 acres or 5%.

From Fresh Plaza

Tomato Prices Likely To Rise

Rain in the Northeast and Southeast U.S. and Mexico has slowed tomato harvests, and water restrictions in California have led to less volume.

Expect prices to rise over the next two weeks.

In a crop update August 25, 2022, Markon Cooperative BB #:123315 noted that markets are rising and should continue to rise until mid-September when early fall production starts.

“Alabama, Tennessee, and the Northeast region have seen significant rain this week, hampering the harvest of round and Roma tomatoes,” the report said.

“Previous heatwaves and rain this season have reduced quality and yields. Virginia is seeing excellent grape tomato quality.”

Demand has remained strong for California tomatoes, but water restrictions led growers to plant fewer Roma and mature green tomatoes this year, Markon said.

“Lower priced Roma tomatoes are an attractive option,” the report said. “Overall quality is good.”

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Roma, cherry, and grape tomatoes are very limited as farmers assess and recover from monsoon rains and flooding last weekend. Trucks dealing with delays and closed roads have posed transportation challenges.

“Quality is good, especially on grape varieties,” Markon said.

From Produce Blue Book

Low Prices Lead To Unharvested Acreage Of California Broccoli and Cauliflower

It hasn’t been an easy season for cauliflower and broccoli out of California. Currently, production is in the Central California region.

Broccoli
Supplies of broccoli are below normal right now compared to supplies in the last several weeks. “This is in response to heat spikes that have affected the quality of the California acreage,” says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms. “Many growers are noting discoloration of bud clusters (heads) and those crowns cannot be packed and sold.” On top of that Mexican production of broccoli crowns is also down, though that’s due to recent rainy weather. Meanwhile, East Coast growers are also currently harvesting.

McBride says broccoli demand and pricing have both been depressed since the start of the deal out of Central California. “Prices have been well below the break-even point and many growers have elected to leave unharvested acreage behind rather than pack more product that they can sell effectively at or above cost. This has been the case for several weeks,” he says.

Cauliflower
Cauliflower has also seen some reduced production thanks to those high temperatures. “Production has exceeded demand for most of the Central California production season and low prices have plagued the season,” says McBride. Like broccoli, poor demand and poor prices have led many shippers to curtail harvest and leave unharvested acres behind.

Generally, both demand for cauliflower and prices have been below expectations for the majority of the deal in this region. “Overall demand has been lackluster more days than not,” says McBride. “However, cauliflower is a very temperature-sensitive crop and we’ve experienced some reduced production. But weeks of excessive production have finally given way to a lighter volume and improved FOBs.”

Looking ahead, McBride notes that the outlook on these two commodities remains uncertain. “This is as we continue into the warmest weather of the Central Coast season. This weather typically results in variable quality, sizing and yield,” he says.

From Fresh Plaza

Many Ports Report Record Volume Numbers In July

Record-setting container volumes continued flowing through some of the nation’s major ports in July, while industry challenges compelled declines at other facilities.

The Port of Los Angeles saw a 5% increase in the number of twenty-foot equivalent containers processed for the month, rising to 935,423 TEUs compared with 890,799 a year ago. Los Angeles has set monthly records in five of seven months in 2022.

“Remarkably, we continue to move record amounts of cargo while working down the backlog of ships almost 90%, a huge accomplishment by all of our partners,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said. He noted these cargo volumes were moving despite continuing challenges with freight railroads that serve the port.

Seroka

The adjacent Port of Long Beach also eked a new record, processing 785,843 TEUs, or 998 more than last year’s 784,845 containers.

Long Beach on Aug. 17 welcomed Pasha Hawaii’s MV George III, the first containership powered by liquefied natural gas to refuel on the West Coast. The ship’s LNG engines are far cleaner than those of a traditional cargo ship. Another LNG-powered ship is set to begin West Coast operations between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland in the fourth quarter.

Cordero

“Reducing ship emissions will have a significant and positive impact on the region’s air quality,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.

While Los Angeles and Long Beach set records, protests over a controversial new California law took a toll on the Port of Oakland. The central California facility saw container volume drop 28% in July to 116,629 loaded TEUs, compared with 162,898 in July 2021. Port officials cited the port’s weeklong shutdown during protests over implementation of the state’s Assembly Bill 5 as the main reason for the decline.

“The port was closed nearly a week last month due to the trucker protests voicing concern over AB 5,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said. “This congestion reduced our overall July volume.” Brandes noted the protests slowed the unloading of inbound ships and delayed imports from leaving the terminals.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which operates facilities in Seattle and Tacoma, reported a 15.9% year-over-year decline in July, processing 260,572 containers compared with 309,722 a year ago. Officials said reduced vessel calls, resulting from vessel delays at other ports and ongoing service suspensions, negatively impacted July volumes.

In Texas, Port Houston reported a 10% year-over-year increase for July, processing 323,823 TEUs compared with 297,621 in 2021, and making it the fourth-busiest month in the port’s history.

“Port Houston continues to build capacity and adjust to the changing market by providing more yard space, more equipment and more hours of service to our customers,” Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther said. The facility recently expanded gate hours, and is encouraging importers and exporters to move freight on Saturdays.

Georgia’s Port of Savannah complex moved an all-time record 530,800 containers in July, up 18% from last year’s 449,916 TEUs. It marked the second-ever time Savannah has topped the 500,000 TEU mark in a month, and helped position the facility to shatter last year’s record of 5.6 million boxes moved.

“The Port of Savannah has clearly become a preferred East Coast gateway for shippers globally, including cargo diverted from the U.S. West Coast,” Executive Director Griff Lynch said.

To better accommodate truck drivers, the port is now opening two hours earlier; gates are now open from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. without interruption.

The Port of Virginia posted an 8.4% year-over-year increase, processing 317,691 containers compared with 293,126 last year. It was the best July performance in the port’s history.

“We’ve brought on 10 new vessel services in the last 12 months — and five of those in the last five months — so our growth is attributable to the reworked and new ship line services that are calling here,” Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen Edwards said.

The South Carolina Port Authority, which operates the Port of Charleston, reported an 11.7% year-over-year decline in July container volume as it processed 216,097 containers, compared with 244,821 last year. However, the port is in growth mode; it recently completed a $500 million upgrade which includes the addition of 15 new ship-to-shore cranes that stand 155 feet above the wharf deck at Wando Welch Terminal. The cranes will permit the complex to handle three 14,000 TEU ships simultaneously.

The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey typically runs one month behind the other ports reporting container figures. In June, the giant East Coast facility processed 14.8% more TEUs than in 2021, moving 859,953 TEUs compared with 749,400 in June 2021.

From Transport Topics

South African Table Grape 2021-22 Season Sees Increases In Production, Exports

The 2021-22 South African table grape season finished with marginal increases in both production and exports, despite numerous challenges.

A total of 77.7 million cartons (4.5kg equivalent) were inspected and passed for export (intakes), a marginal increase of approximately 4 percent, in comparison to last season. 

Good weather conditions during the season as well as new cultivars coming into full production supported a large harvest, according to a recently published South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) report.

Despite numerous challenges, such as difficult market conditions and logistical constraints which impacted the quality of arrivals in export markets, exports have continued to rise. The compound annual growth rate stands at 6 percent since 2017-18 and compared to the 2020-21 season alone, exports have risen by approximately 4 percent. 

Contrastingly, SATI’s latest vine census indicated that national table grape plantings decreased marginally by 1 percent (185 hectares) to 20,379 hectares compared to the previous year. Currently, the six most planted varieties comprise 50 percent of national hectares planted, with the smaller varieties decreasing further.

The top 5 export markets: European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Middle East and South East Asia all saw increases in exports, but the Russian Federation saw significant decreases of 29 percent, which can be attributed to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Some challenges for the industry included shipping delays in the Cape Town port over the December 2021/January 2022 and Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai. Global container shortages and unsustainable increases in shipping costs placed further financial strain on the industry. The combination of these factors resulted in prolonged shipping times.

In addition, Macro-economic factors placed significant downstream pressure on the industry value chain this season. In March 2022, Euro Zone inflation was reported at 7.4 percent – up from 1.3 percent at the same time a year earlier; whilst UK inflation was reported at 7 percent – up from 0.7 percent a year earlier (Trading Economics, 2022).

Moreover, increased production from Southern Hemisphere countries (such as Peru, whose exports increased from approximately 383,000 tons in 2018-19 to 531,000 tons in 2020-21) tightened market competitiveness in our traditional markets. 

Finally, producers faced profitability challenges due to other factors such as rising input costs, maintaining the cold chain, and rolling power outages.

Given the current state of the industry, SATI pointed out that it is expected that going forward emphasis will be placed on cold chain monitoring, applying production practices that will support product longevity during the export journey and ensuring that market access is preserved within current markets.

From Fresh Fruit Portal

Lemon Market In “Dire Straits” While Orange Demand In Europe Improves

Citrus farmers dump fruit as freight and landside costs bite hard

FreshPlaza has seen a video of tonnes of citrus – apparently oranges, lemons, soft citrus – of marginal counts, dumped away from orchards at a designated site between Addo and Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

Above: still from the video where various producers are dumping class 2 and juicing fruit

Lemon juice processors in the Eastern Cape stopped intakes a few weeks ago and it could be, a packhouse manager proposes, that the fruit is dumped to be able to re-use the bins to continue harvesting.

Blame lies with “mad” freight costs
“We pay our lemon growers around a R1,000 [59 euros] per tonne less as a direct result of high freight costs this season,” an Eastern Cape exporter says. He remarks that shipping lines’ “mad” prices have directly led to the dumping and to the suspension of class 2 exports this season.

“These days our average freight costs run to between R25 million [1.47 million euros] to R40 million [2.36 million euros] a week,” he adds. There are many complaints about the high freight costs to specifically Canada.

Demand for oranges in Europe is slightly better since there’s been a significant reduction in exports as a result of initial uncertainty. Meanwhile, for South African oranges to Europe the duty cut off date is 15 October and growers have around two weeks left to load oranges. Exports started slowly given the uncertainty around the cold protocol and there are large amounts of Valencias (and late mandarins) to be packed for Europe in the next two weeks.

Class 2 exports made impossible by logistics costs

The lemon market is in “dire straits”, exporters say. Class 2 lemons exported to Middle East at the moment don’t even cover packing costs, notes an exporter. “It’s not worthwhile packing lemons for the Middle East at the moment.”

“World markets are destroyed. Maybe 20% of the industry will end above breakeven cost,” maintains an exporter.

“The demand in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of rising fuel prices and the inflation rate means the consumer buys flour or bread, instead of soft citrus.”

While demand is weak, South African citrus volumes keep rising after years of widespread and much-heralded expansion. There have, however, been qualms within the industry about the impact of these surging volumes on markets and pricing levels.

From Fresh Plaza

“Things Look Good For Dutch Onions, Thanks To Global Onion Shortage”

The Dutch onion season is off to a promising start. “As soon as the harvest was available, there was demand. We’re already getting requests from the craziest destinations and even have to hold off customers. Otherwise, we’ll run out of product in no time. So, it’s a matter of staying focused on the clients you supply,” says Maarten van Damme of Dacomex.

“There’s a global onion shortage. Southern Europe has had one heat wave after another, and Senegal opened almost five weeks earlier. That says it all. Morocco is currently still supplying onions to African countries, but that will come to an end in a few weeks. We’re already getting demand from destinations that usually only approach us in the spring. I, therefore, see no reason for demand to stagnate.”

“Growers also notice this and are aiming high, which is a good thing. They’ve had to grow onions at almost cost price for the last three years. It’s good that they’re earning a good living. Otherwise, they’d all be growing wheat. Hopefully, it will be a good year for everyone. The quality is also better than last year, when there was more bacterial pressure, especially in the onion sets. But, there are some random fusarium infections,” says Maarten.

“At present, the bale price is around €0.30; something I don’t see falling immediately. More supply is coming off-land, but there are shortages everywhere.” Maarten is not worried that too-high prices will deter customers from buying onions. “I was a few weeks ago, but demand has only increased. Although in some African destinations, onions might become too expensive.”

“Yet, there are no alternatives. China is sometimes mentioned, but it’s not 2018, and container rates are very different. That’s why I don’t consider China true competition. There are generally many more signals on green than red. There are more containers available, but availability is still an issue. Certainly, to Africa, the rates remain steep. To the Far East, there’s a bit more competition among the shipping companies, and those rates have cooled down a bit,” Maarten concludes.

From Fresh Plaza

Concerns In The Fresh Produce Sector On Felixstowe Strike, Possible Disruption In Coming Days.

An 8 day strike at the port of Felixstowe which started 21st August by over 1,900 port workers is expected to affect supply chains throughout Europe. The port handles 48% of the UK’s container trade. The port has a deep sea service for vessels from around the world which bring a wide variety of products including fresh produce and also RO-RO service which has around 15 sailings a week and is a key link to Rotterdam and Europe where a lot of the UK’s fresh produce comes in. 

“The strike will severely disrupt trade, delay vessels and force re-routes”, according to global information technology company, IQAX, which published data about the currently affected container ships.

“About 30% of our business is at Felixstowe, so it’s going to have a huge impact,” Paul Day, managing director of haulage company Turners of Soham told the BBC.

The Cambridgeshire company moves about 500 containers out of the port every day.

“We might be able to keep operating for two or three days but I can’t see how we’ll be able to after that,” he says.

“It will cost us a stack of money, but all I can do is optimise what we can do and try to minimise the damage – but the damage is coming.”

Nigel Jenny said Felixstowe doesn’t handle as much fresh produce as Dover or the Channel Tunnel but is still a key link to Rotterdam and Europe.

“What is on the vessels is irrelevant, customers must be able to get access to their goods, if these are re-directed it will put put stress on other ports. It is a bit early to see what the consequences will be, but we have every confidence that the ports will support their customers. Our greatest concern is that if ports have to extend the operating hours to accommodate more shipments that government officials may not do the same. Goods can’t be unloaded if there are not customs officials operating.

“We have been negotiating for significantly less inspections on goods which should be having an impact. We understand that checks must take place but officials have to recognise that fresh goods cannot be held in port as long as other non-perishables goods and act accordingly. It is important that exports can have confidence when exporting the UK.”

Mark Wright, Senior Commercial Manager at Davis Worldwide said that they import most of their produce through London Gateway and are not seeing any problem at the port yet.

Ben Goodchild from Nationwide Produce said that they have not seen any delays in produce via Holland as yet, but this may change in the coming days. “We use Daily Fresh to bring in produce via Holland and they said they could reduced services from 3 to just 1 sailing per day via Felixstowe, but will increase the use of Harwich.”

The strike will certainly have consequences for the Dutch fruit and vegetable sector, a spokesperson for GroentenFruit Huis said. “Ferries from Vlaardingen have Felixstowe as their destination. Companies will now try to use alternatives such as Harwich, Dover or the Eurotunnel. They must therefore jointly absorb the volume that cannot be transported via Felixstowe. The question is whether the capacity will then be sufficient.”

From Fresh Plaza

Stronger Export Demand For California Grapes

While demand for grapes feels similar to last year at this time, export demand feels particularly good. “I do feel like we have more export demand than last year which is encouraging,” says Jared Lane of Grapeman Farms. “Export demand completely fell off during COVID and now it feels like we have a little bit more.”

Following last year’s logistics issues, has shipping overseas gotten any easier again? “They have added more boats and there’s more room on the boats. But they’re just not as frequent–so maybe not available every week but every three weeks. That’s a little challenging,” says Lane.

Interestingly, consumer trends are also developing within domestic demand. “With inflation, people need more money and things they would cut out are luxury items. They buy whatever fruit’s on sale. It’s becoming more and more that fruit moves when it’s on sale and very stagnant off-sale,” says Lane.

Varietal development
That said, this year’s crop of grapes from California looks robust through to the first of the year with some varieties setting slightly heavier than others. “A lot of the older varieties were taken out due to low productivity,” says Lane, who notes that the newer, younger fields are more heavyset. Grapeman Farms has some new high-flavor varieties that are producing well including the red grape Jack Salutes and the Great Green, a mid-season green grape.

Harvest is well underway and ramping up throughout the next two to three weeks when peak supplies are anticipated to arrive and stay at those peak levels until October. “Stone fruit is starting to finish as are other crops so we’re hoping we can get a good push for the next couple of months. Then we’ll go into our storage program in November and December,” says Lane.

From Fresh Plaza

U.S. Apple Analysis Of USDA Data Reveals A Slightly Larger Apple Crop

The U.S. apple crop for 2022 is projected at 10.7 billion pounds or 255 million bushels, 2.7% higher compared with last year’s production, but 3.5% less than the five-year average.

Those are the numbers from a U.S. Apple Association analysis of USDA data, according to a news release.

U.S. Apple’s report on the apple industry outlook was authored by Chris Gerlach, U.S. Apple director of industry analytics. The group also unveiled “Newton,” an industry database and dashboard that provides a one-stop-shop for apple-related statistics.

 Gerlach noted that these figures are more comprehensive than USDA data, which only look at the top seven apple-producing states. “We’ve analyzed the production from states outside of the top seven and added that back to USDA’s figure,” Gerlach said in the release.

Varieties 

At the varietal level, U.S. Apple said gala is expected to retain the top spot, with almost 46 million bushels produced, accounting for around 18% of the U.S. apple market. Rounding out the top five are red delicious (34 million bushels), fuji (26 million bushels), Honeycrisp (25 million bushels) and granny smith (24 million bushels).

In general, the varieties on the rise include Honeycrisp, Pink Lady/cripps pink and Cosmic Crisp, according to the release. Fuji, granny smith and rome varieties have remained relatively consistent compared to 2017-2018 production volumes. Varieties on the decline include golden delicious, gala and red delicious, according to the release.

“On the positive side, Honeycrisp production has increased by 48%, or 8 million bushels, in the past five years,” Gerlach said in the release. “Conversely, red delicious decreased by 41%, or 24 million bushels, during the same period.”


 
Trade
 
The U.S. still retains a healthy positive trade balance for apples, according to the release.

 In the 2021-2022 July to June period, the U.S. exported more than 38.5 million bushels of fresh apples, while only importing around 6.3 million bushels. 

“On a year-over-year basis, the balance of trade has declined with respect to both quantity and value,” Gerlach said in the release.

“On the quantity side, imports have increased by 20% over 2020-2021 calendar year levels, while exports have declined. On the value side, exports have increased marginally, but imports are up almost 30%. This means that, in the 2021-2022 [calendar year], the U.S. was bringing in a greater amount of more-expensive fruit and sending out a smaller amount of slightly more-expensive fresh apples.”


 
Newton Database
 
Gerlach also introduced the Newton Database & Dashboard. Several years in the making, Newton is a one-stop shop for apple-related statistics. Newton gives users the ability to view preset reports or create custom queries for download. Newton’s dashboard also keeps users up to date on the latest trends in apple prices and trade, according to the release.



 “We are extremely excited to launch this unique U.S. Apple member benefit,” Gerlach said in the release. “Newton consolidates data from U.S. Apple and multiple USDA sources into one place, giving users up-to-date information on apple production, utilization, trade, prices, storages, movement, economic impacts and more.”

From The Packer

Production Dip For Washington Apples

The Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s (WSTFA) 2022 apple forecast has projected a packout of 108.7m cartons (18kg).

If the estimate holds true, it would be an 11 per cent decrease from the 122.3m cartons packed in 2021.

“We are pleased with the size of the harvest, particularly in the face of a long, cold spring,” said Jon DeVaney, WSTFA president.

“Growing seasons are never the same, and currently many WSTFA members are still evaluating the impact of prolonged cold weather and ongoing crop development. Weather is always a factor, and some varieties still have several months of growth ahead.

“However, our members are to be congratulated for once again managing this uncertainty to deliver a strong harvest for the benefit of our state, country, and ultimately the world.”

The WSTFA estimate shows that five varieties make up the majority of the Washington crop.

Gala leads production at 20 per cent, followed by Red Delicious and Honeycrisp at 14 per cent. Granny Smith makes up 13.4 per cent, while Fuji is at 12.7 per cent.

Cosmic Crisp is predicted to make up 4.6 per cent of the harvest, up from 3.2 per cent last year.

DeVaney said proprietary varieties like Cosmic Crisp continue to grow their share of the overall crop, reflecting increased consumer preference.

“The strong harvest estimate for these varieties, which have been popular with domestic and international consumers, is good news,” said DeVaney. “Apples are synonymous with Washington state, and our members are set to deliver another year of high-quality and delicious fruit.”

Washington also leads the US in the production of organic apples, making up over 90 per cent of the country’s output. The organic forecast for 2022, is 14.4m cartons, or 13 per cent of the total harvest.

The WSTFA estimate is based on a survey of its members and represents the best forecast of the total volume of apples that will eventually be packed and sold on the fresh market, excluding product sent to processors.

From Fruitnet

“Peru Will Have 42 – 45,000 Hectares Of Avocado At The End Of 2022”

Peru’s avocado production’s growing trend continues year after year thanks to the constant increase in growing areas in the country. Peru has gone from having 18,718 hectares of avocado in 2017 to 38,242 hectares in 2021, and expectations are that it will have 42,000 to 45,000 hectares of avocado for export by the end of 2022, stated the president of the Inform@cción consulting firm, Fernando Cilloniz Benavides.

La Libertad leads the area in the country and went from having 7,871 hectares devoted to avocado in 2017 to 12,826 hectares in 2021. It is followed by Lambayeque, which went from having 2,382 hectares in 2017 to 7,538 hectares in 2021. Lima ranked third and went from 3,268 hectares in 2017 to 5,635 hectares in 2021.

It is followed by Ica, which went from 3,209 hectares in 2017 to 5,428 hectares in 2021; Ancash, with 559 hectares in 2017 and 2,593 hectares in 2021; Ayacucho, with 108 hectares in 2017 and 1,189 hectares in 2021; Arequipa, with 644 hectares in 2017 and 804 hectares in 2021; and Huancavelica, with 83 hectares in 2017 and 544 hectares in 2021.

The president of Inform@cción stressed that the Hass variety is the most produced variety in the country, accounting for 94.2% of all the avocado plants, followed by the Fuerte, Zutano, Etinger, and Maluma varieties, among others. The area of Hass avocado in Peru increased from 18,482 hectares in 2017 to 36,038 hectares in 2021.

It is followed by the Fuerte variety, which went from 144 hectares in 2017 to 959 hectares in 2021; the Zutano avocado, which increased from 47 hectares in 2017 to 71 hectares in 2018, 122 hectares in 2019, 159 hectares in 2020, and 465 hectares in 2021.

The Etinger variety went from 25 hectares in 2017 to 337 hectares in 2021, and the Maluma variety went from 2 hectares in 2017 to 275 hectares in 2021; among others.

From Fresh Plaza

Tentative Agreement Reached Between PMA And ILWU On Health Benefits

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced that they have reached a tentative agreement on health benefits terms, subject to agreement on the other issues in the negotiations.

It should be noted that the maintenance of health benefits (MOB) is an important part of the contract negotiated between the employers represented by the PMA and the workers represented by the ILWU.

The contract, which is still being negotiated, covers more than 22,000 longshore workers at 29 US West Coast ports.

The previous agreement expired on the first day of July.

Talks started on May 10 and are continuing on other issues.

The terms of this tentative agreement will not be discussed as negotiations continue.

From Container News

Southern Hemisphere Table Grapes Achieve New Export Record

In the 2021-22 table grape season, countries in the Southern Hemisphere achieved a new export record of 1.5 million tons, an increase of 0.3 million tons in a decade.

Of the total Southern table grape exports, 40 percent were from Chile, 35 percent from Peru, 23 percent from South Africa and 4 percent from Brazil, according to a report by TopInfo.

Chile

This season Chile managed to recover from a sharp decline in 2020-21 thanks to better weather and new plantations which entered into production. Exports stood at 600,000 tons, which although far from its glory years when exports reached 800,000 tons, is similar to 2019-20 numbers.

The trend towards red and patented varieties continues with 43 percent of grapes exported being red seedless. White grapes amounted to 24 percent of exports and black grapes, mainly seedless, 12 percent. Red Globe continues to contribute 20 percent of Chilean exports, being sent to Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Export destinations remain stable with just over half of the shipments going to North America, 22 percent to Asia, 16 percent to Europe and 7 percent to Latin America.

South Africa

On the other hand, South Africa has been recording steady progress in its table grape industry for years. Thanks to its 5 diverse growing regions and wide supply period, exports this year reached 350,000 tons for the first time, 50 percent more than 10 years ago.

Currently, two thirds of exports are made up of new varieties, with pink varieties such as, Scarlotta, Tawny, Sweet Celebration etc., dominating in particular. Patented pinks, along with the classic Crimson and Flame account for half of exports, white varieties, one third and black varieties, 15 percent.

South Africa continues to be heavily dependent on the European market, which received 76% of exports in 2021/22. Efforts are being made to diversify export destinations, particularly in Asia which received 12 percent of exports.

Peru

Unlike neighboring Chile, Peru’s export volumes have increased fivefold, jumping from 150,000 tons exported 10 years ago to 530,000 tons this season.

While 10 years ago 75 percent of Peru’s exports were Red Globe, in the last season it barely reached 24 percent of the total, being overtaken by new seedless varieties. Now, patented varieties account for half of the shipments, with Sweet Globe standing out. In contrast to Chile and South Africa, where patented rosés predominate, in Peru whites are most popular.

Moreover, there has been a strong shift towards the U.S., with 45 percent destined for North America this season compared to 26 percent in 2011. Europe reduced its share to around 25 percent, while Asia’s increased to around 15 percent.

Brazil

Brazil has been regaining exports with 63,000 tons being exported in 2021-22, a volume that doubles the low values reached between 2014-15 and 2016-17. Again, there has been an increasing move towards proprietary varieties. From the strong predominance of traditional whites, there is a shift to patented whites and rosés. 

Europe continues to be by far the main destination, although its dependence has decreased in recent years. In the last season Europe received 78 percent, 15 percent North America and 7 percent Latin America.

From Fresh Fruit Portal

Trucker Protests Shut Down Operations At Port Of Oakland

Trucker protests that started Monday, 18 July, over the implementation of AB5 law have shut down operations at shipping terminals at the Port of Oakland. The shutdown is expected to further exacerbate the container congestion at the West Coast port, with port officials highlighting the need for terminal operations to resume.

“We understand the frustration expressed by the protestors at California ports,” said Danny Wan, executive director of the Port of Oakland. “But, prolonged stoppage of port operations in California for any reason will damage all the businesses operating at the ports and cause California ports to further suffer market share losses to competing ports.”

The trucker’s issue is the AB5 law. Truckers claim that the law makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits such as workers’ compensation, overtime and sick pay.

A federal appeals court ruled that the law applies to about 70,000 truck drivers.

The California Trucking Association sued over the law, arguing that it could make it harder for independent drivers who own their own trucks and work their own hours to make a living by forcing them to be classified as employees.

AB5 is a state law adopted in 2018 that the courts have affirmed when the United States Supreme Court denied review of the law.

The Port of Oakland said that the State is now offering resources to help truckers comply with the law.

“Truckers are vital to keeping goods moving,” noted Wan, adding, “We trust that implementation of AB5 can be accomplished in a way that accommodates the needs of this vital part of the supply chain.”

From Container News

Port Of Oakland Urges Truckers To End AB5 Protest

Truckers gear up for fourth day of protests, bringing port operations to standstill

Port of Oakland officials are urging truckers to end their protest over AB5 as the independent contractors prepare to block the terminals for the fourth day on Thursday, bringing container movement at California’s third-largest port to a standstill.

Ahead of Thursday’s demonstration, the three main terminals at the port — Oakland International Container Terminal, also known as SSA, TraPac and Everport — closed operations for both shifts.

Truckers initially planned a three-day protest in Oakland but are digging in after receiving no response Wednesday from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed AB5 — a controversial statute that seeks to limit the use of independent contractors and largely classify them as employee drivers — into law nearly three years ago. 

The protesters held signs directed at Newsom on Wednesday reading, “The cargo won’t flow until AB5 goes.” 

“Since the beginning of the trucker protests on Monday, port staff have been providing federal and state officials regular informational updates about the operational status of our port,” Roberto Bernardo, director of communications for the Port of Oakland, told FreightWaves in an email Thursday. 

In a statement late Wednesday, the port confirmed the trucker protests that started Monday over the implementation of AB5 “have effectively shut down operations at shipping terminals at the Port of Oakland.”

“We understand the frustration expressed by the protesters at California ports,” said Danny Wan, executive director of the Port of Oakland. “But prolonged stoppage of port operations in California for any reason will damage all the businesses operating at the ports and cause California ports to further suffer market-share losses to competing ports.” 

Legal challenges prevented the law from going into effect in January 2020. 

That all changed when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the California Trucking Association’s challenge to AB5 in late June, returning the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Truckers want Newsom and the California legislature to exempt independent contractors from AB5 as they have done for other industries, including lawyers, real estate agents and accountants. 

Proposition 22, which passed in November 2020, exempted app-based, ride-share companies Uber and Lyft from AB5.

Port truckers carried signs reading, “We demand an exemption now. We deserve respect for keeping the world economy and the USA rolling.”

Independent drivers contend clarification is needed about how AB5 will be enforced and how to ensure independent contractors comply with the law. 

Truckers have dug in for the fourth day of protesting California’s controversial independent contractor law that affects 70,000 drivers. (Photo: Clarissa Hawes/FreightWaves)

The independent contractor law not only affects California truckers but millions of freelance writers, translators, artists and consultants in the state. Many are supporting the truckers’ protest on social media, urging Newsom and the legislature to repeal AB5 or exempt them as well.  

Despite the three terminal closures at Oakland and port officials calling for an end to the AB5 protests, an estimated 800 truckers still plan to show up Thursday “to show they are not relenting.”

“The truckers want an exemption and they’re not stopping until they get it,” Kimberly Sulsar-Campos, vice president of Oakland-based Iraheta Bros. Trucking, told FreightWaves.

Late Wednesday, Bobby Olvera Jr., vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, issued a statement about its position on AB5. 

“The ILWU believes collective bargaining is fundamental to workplace fairness and safety, as well as a foundation of democratic society,” Olvera’s statement read. “That’s why we support AB5: It aims to stop employers from misclassifying workers in order to stop these workers from forming unions and improving their lives.”

Farless Dailey III, president of ILWU Local 10, also released a statement Wednesday addressing the incident at the SSA terminal after 100 members refused to cross the protest line as truckers showed up early to block the gates.

“The workers stood by on health and safety, as is permitted in our contract when conditions at the terminals present a risk,” Dailey said.

Nearly 22,000 ILWU dockworkers have been without a contract since July 1. FreightWaves interviewed some of them as they headed to their cars Tuesday.

“We are working without a contract right now, so we support the owner-operators and understand what they are trying to do,” said George, a nine-year ILWU member, who didn’t want to give his last name.

ILWU 10 covers San Francisco, Oakland and other Bay Area ports.

Wan said the state is now offering resources to help truckers comply with the law but didn’t provide any details.  

“Truckers are vital to keeping goods moving,” Wan said. “We trust that implementation of AB5 can be accomplished in a way that accommodates the needs of this vital part of the supply chain.” 

From FreightWaves

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