2018 trade statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are now available.

Here is coverage of avocado import volume in 2018. Look for more coverage of trade statistics in the days ahead.

Check out the FDA’s web post  "Paving the Road to Produce Safety Rule Inspections," a comprehensive look at what is to come for growers.

The USDA just published a report on the Canadian foodservice industry. From the report:
 

"The changing demographics of a graying population, along with the rise of health conscious millennials and boomers, have given rise to increased demand for food products addressing the health and wellness of Canadians. Food service operators are increasingly looking for products that offer cleaner, simpler ingredient lists as well as organic fruits and vegetables. Operators continue to seek products that save time and money, including peeled garlic and peeled potatoes in institutional packaging."

 


In LinkedIn, I shared a story by The Washington Post called “Farms aren’t tossing perfectly good produce. You are.” 

While consumer waste is perhaps the overlooked element of the problem, Paul Manfre, general manager at  Top Katz LLC, commented that the supply chain also has a role.


Showing an image of dumped roma tomatoes, Manfre said:

"This is a picture of PERFECT roma tomatoes being dumped in Mexico 2 years ago. A better solution to help growers and help consumers is to sell “perfect Produce” when it is in abundance which translates into lower prices. This helps farmers and consumers.  Unfortunately the large retail chains keep their retail prices inflated in search for higher margins and at a cost to farmers and consumers. They can do better and better for themselves, change the paradigm."

 

Also in LinkedIn, members of the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group have been weighing in on produce packaging. 

Ashely Nickle recently published the “Power of Produce: Attitudes toward packaged fruits and vegetables

The FMI Power of Produce consumer research, unveiled at SEPC Southern Exposure, revealed that while 37% of survey respondents prefer picking their own items, 27% prefer all items to be packaged, while 36% said it depends on the item.

Would consumers love produce just as well without all the packaging?

 

Thomas Yawman, owner of International Produce Training asked this in the discussion group:

"Has anyone encountered issues with PACA when asked to produce USDA inspection certificates for disputed loads of produce?  In some cases getting USDA inspections is nearly impossible.   The last inspector in the state of Virginia retired last month.  No more inspectors in Denver, Indianapolis, and Salt Lake City.  No inspectors in Maine any longer.  What are receivers of produce supposed to do?"

Eight comments so far, but no perfect answers.

 

On a related note, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a rule that modifies regulations relating to fruit and vegetable quality inspections. The rule modifies language to “ensure consistency” between the regulations and standards for fresh and processed fruits and vegetables and ditches the power of attorney provision.

“Power of Attorney is an outdated, cumbersome tool that increases the cost and record retention requirements for stakeholders when conducting business,” the USDA said in the rule, effective March 11. “We are making these changes to eliminate these requirements. This will allow us to provide services to our customers faster and without the financial and record retention burden. The functions of the Power of Attorney are currently done by a Supervisor or “inspector in charge”.

Online grocery insight This Produce Retailer story talks about fresh produce as a share of the basket for Walmart’s online orders.

 

More links:

The quest to grow produce consumption Marshall University’s program’s mission: Broaden students’ palates

Biggest story on The Packer right now: Retailers discuss ways to grow sales in Power of Produce session

Biggest story on The Packer this date a year ago: Florida spring vegetables off to a strong start

Biggest story on The Packer this date two years ago: Taylor Farms, Future Citizens Foundation open learning center

 
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