Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Organic outrage and other top headlines for Jan. 29

Luis of the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group links to this UK story about air-freighted produce and the organic lobby. From the piece:

The Soil Association proposed last year to ban suppliers and retailers from putting its certification label on fruit and vegetables that arrived in Britain by air, arguing that air-freighting produce generated 177 times more greenhouse gas than sending the same produce by sea. But the association has retreated after being lobbied by supermarket chains including Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose and Asda, which want to continue selling air-freighted organic food. The decision to approve air freight, which the association posted discreetly on its website, will provoke uproar in the wider organic movement.

TK: The Soil Association is right. There is no justification for this higher standard for air-shipped organic produce.

China turning to the humble potato
China is the largest producer of potato in the world; they produce over 70 million tons of potato. And the Chinese government is looking to increase that to 120 million tons in the next five years to be able to feed their growing population. So yes consumption is increasing in China.

How green is my wallet? Organic food growth slows From Reuters

Typical growth rates of 20 to 30 percent for organic food sales in the United States eased in the second half of 2008 as middle- and upper-income families felt the strain of layoffs and declining investment portfolios, said Tom Pirovano, director of industry insights at market research firm The Nielsen Co.

Sales in December were up 5.6 percent, year on year, against a 25.6 percent rise a year earlier.

Even though growth is slowing, Pirovano noted that most people who purchased organic foods were very committed.

"I'm not convinced that we are going to see big declines in organics any time soon," he said.

Spinach the cure for citrus greening? From The Palm Beach Post

Gore urges action on economy, global warming

Save money at the grocery story Another in the long line of similar stories
Buy fresh produce in season -- citrus fruits in winter, asparagus in spring, tomatoes in summer and apples in fall. While we're fortunate to have access to most fruits and vegetables year-round, in-season produce is typically less expensive and more flavorful.

Choose canned or frozen fruits and vegetables when fresh is too expensive or unavailable. Just be sure to select those without added sugar and salt.

Trimming fat from the food and budget

14 day shelf life for fresh cut fruits and vegetables Hefestus Ltd. to unveil system at Fruit Logistica

Why more matters? Coverage from Great Falls, Montana

Where does agriculture stand in the stimulus package? Good breakdown of funding, based on Congressional Research Service report

2008 Annual Summary - Vegetables
USDA NASS report
Fresh market vegetable and melon production for the 24 selected crops estimated in 2008 totaled 449 million hundredweight, down 2 percent from last year. Harvested area covered 1.73 million acres, down 3 percent from 2007. Value of the 2008 crop is estimated at 10.4 billion dollars, up 4 percent from a year ago. The three largest crops, in terms of production, are onions, head lettuce, and watermelons, which combined to account for 37 percent of the total production. Tomatoes, head lettuce, and onions claim the highest values, accounting for 32 percent of the total value when combined. For the 24 selected vegetables and melons estimated in 2008, California continues to be the leading fresh market State, accounting for 44 percent of the harvested area, 49 percent of production, and 50 percent of the value.

USDA nears decision on food safety chief
Marler apparently not in the mix

Update on Taiwan's organic regulations USDA FAS report

UN chief warns of food shortages in poor countries

Sheeran said that more people are going hungry as remittances to poor countries fall and exports from developing nations slow because importers are buying less. Credit, which is vital to small farmers for buying seeds and fertilizer at the beginning of the season, has become inaccessible for many, she said.

Retail banana price wars bad for workers Coverage from the UK

Avocado commission to meet in Fallbrook
The California Avocado Commission is to meet in Fallbrook Thursday, its first meeting since a state audit uncovered questionable spending practices by staffers and commissioners.

Commission members are likely to get an earful from local growers angry about a California Department of Food and Agriculture report released earlier this month that outlined more than $1.5 million spent on clothes, ball games, home improvements and other dubious expenses.

236,000 foreclosures in Cali last year
In California, the areas that have been hardest hit by foreclosures include the Inland Empire, the Antelope Valley and the Central Valley, where many first-time homeowners flocked to buy new homes.

Feds again push back E-verify deadline
The federal government has agreed to postpone implementing the E-Verify regulation for federal contractors until May 21, 2009 at the earliest, a business group said today. The regulation requires contractors to check with the E-Verify system to ascertain whether workers are legally eligible to work in the United States.

Federal officials agreed to a request by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to postpone enforcement of the regulation so that the rule can be reviewed by the Barack Obama administration, the organization said in a news release.

Activists keep heat on Obama over immigration
Opponents say Obama is unlikely to tackle comprehensive reform until the second or third year of his term. Advocates say he could raise the issue as early as September if a stimulus package currently before Congress succeeds in stemming the economic slide, and if progress meeting other policy goals such as healthcare reform is made.

U.S. consumers will help determine future world growth
Economists say the fiscal-stimulus packages from Washington to Beijing will cushion the downturn but fall short of preventing a world-wide recession. And global growth, when it comes, will still be powered in part by U.S. consumers -- though they'll spend far less than they did in the debt-fueled years of the recent boom.

New global climate change deal urged
Which is it - global warming or climate change?

"This is almost certainly our last chance to get climate change under control before it passes the point of no return,” said EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, who noted that President Obama’s early statements on climate change were “tremendously encouraging”.

Mr Dimas was speaking at the launch of the EU’s draft negotiating position, which the commission has prepared for this year’s Copenhagen climate summit, where countries will gather under the auspices of the UN to agree a successor to Kyoto.

The EU proposal, which must still be approved by EU leaders, calls for the creation of an OECD-wide emissions trading system to enable world powers to trade carbon permits by 2015. “It appears Obama prefers cap and trade,” said Mr Dimas, who added that many states, such as New Zealand, Australia and Japan, were already moving in that direction.

Kroger and Cellfire use of digital coupons expands

The food industry made us fat
Review of the book "Stuffed" A fast food nation-esque book about food manufacturers


Anonymous said...

The Soil Association of the UK are cranks. They have influence with a gullible public and the stars, aristocrats and other celebrities who will always want different food than what the proletariat gets.

What needs to be understood about air freighted produce is that it usually fills up what would be empty space on an aircraft anyway. It does not marginally add flight fuel.

But these kind of arguments do not have any influence with doctrinaire idiots from the Soil Asslociation. They are a lost cause.

Clint Albano, General Manager Tawoos Agricultural Systems Muscat, Oman

Anonymous said...

I find this a little hard to believe. So much produce is shipped by air. It cannot all be just taking up what would be empty space on an aircraft.