Year overview - October

TTP Trade deal, worker strikes and record soft fruit production

Hailstorm causes loss of 10,500 tonnes of table grapes in Murcia
Last Sunday, heavy storms accompanied by hail in the region of Murcia took a significant toll on the agricultural sector, mainly affecting table grapes, pears and peaches, as well as wine grapes and olive trees. The damage to infrastructure, however, is the most severe.

The storm heavily hit areas of Jumilla, Yecla, Albarán, Murcia, Archena and Blanca, with up to 42 litres per square metres in a few minutes. There were also two fires caused by lightning.

Hoogstraten expects record strawberry volume of 33 million kilo
Veiling Hoogstraten is expecting a record of 33 million kilo of strawberries this year. In 2014, the volume amounted to 31 million kilos, so that's an increase of more than 2 million kilos. "Still, the volume is not a goal in itself," says Jan Engelen. "Our main goal is to offer large shipments with excellent and homogeneous quality."

TPP trade deal: "The devil will be in the detail"
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has been struck between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim economies, marking the largest trade deal signed in two decades.

The trade deal must still pass through Congress debates, but if agreed to, the accord will remove import trade tariffs, tie East-Asian economies to global labour laws, protect corporate intellectual property and deal with environmental and trafficking abuses in participating nations.

Worker strike continues at CFG
The dispute between Ceres Fruit Growers and employees over the annual wage negotiations is still unresolved after five weeks.

Ceres Fruit Growers Managing Director Francois Malan said that the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) is not acting in good faith as their wage demands are up and down like a seesaw.

Rotterdam Cool Port gets underway
Kloosterboer and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are investing in the start of a new cold storage cluster on the City Terminal site in the Waalhaven/Eemhaven: Rotterdam Cool Port. Kloosterboer is setting up a new cold store, specialised in the storage and handling of refrigerated and frozen cargo in reefer containers. The accompanying services, such as empty depots and food inspection, will also be set up here in the future.

San Miguel celebrates 60 years at Anuga

San Miguel, a multinational company and a leader in citrus production, is at Anuga 2015 which takes place on October 10-14 in Cologne, Germany.
Last Sunday night, San Miguel celebrated 60 years of experience, while hosting an exclusive event for 100 guests, including the key players of the sector. On the 28th floor of KölnSky building, with an amazing city view, Romain Corneille (San Miguel’s CEO) shared with the audience the company’s plans for the next years.

Total Produce move to Cool Port
On October 9, Total Produce signed an agreement with Kloosterboer. This set in motion a process that will lead to the organization's eventual move to Cool Port, planned for the first half year of 2017.

Fusarium ruins Dutch lettuce production
Lately, a persistent soil fungus has gained ground in the Dutch greenhouses: Fusarium. This disease is found in many open-field crops, and has already caused a lot of damage in Italy, Japan and the United States.

Record blossoms point to bumper NZ apple crop
Hawke’s Bay’s apple orchards are experiencing some of the best blossoms on record setting New Zealand up for a bumper apple crop.

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower Bostock New Zealand says the hot, sunny weather this season has provided the perfect conditions for pollination.

UK: Investigation launched into worker exploitation at Kent farm
A recent undercover investigation carried out by UK TV Channel 4, claims to have discovered some shocking revelations on the worker's conditions at a farm in Kent which grows and packs fruit for most of the UK's top retailers.

"At Nickle Farm in Kent, we found a small army of largely Romanian workers - lured here by a network of Romanian employment agencies who pass them on to one here in Britain called Pro-force," stated the Channel 4 reporter.

UK: "Pumpkin yields will be about 50% of planned crop"
It has been an early growing start to the pumpkin season in the UK. Jon Barfoot, Commercial Director at Barfoots said there are lots of bigger-sized pumpkins coming through, but the wettest August in Met Office history has meant that those self-same fruits have spent the last month sitting about on heavy and wet soil.

S.Africa: Promising stonefruit season expected
Initial expectations are looking promising for the new SA stonefruit season. Good winter and spring conditions contributed to overall good quality, size and sugar levels. Possible water shortages in certain production areas is a cause of concern for later varieties and water and irrigation management will be crucial to ensure that the crop’s potential is realised.

Freaky Fruits highlight tropicals for Halloween

Halloween is not often thought of as an event for fresh produce. It's candy that grabs the attention, and if there are fruits and vegetables that are involved, it's usually limited to carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples. But with the Freaky Fruits campaign, Melissa's Produce wants to use Halloween to introduce to consumers often-overlooked tropical items.

Snowfall in Ontario apple country
On October 19, the province of Ontario witnessed the first snowfall of the season while part of the apple crop still needs to be picked. “Fortunately, the snow melted very fast and no damage is anticipated at this time,” says Sarah Burroughsford with Gambles Produce. “Apples can take some cold weather, usually minus single digits Celsius, without issues.”

PMA Fresh Summit draws large crowds
The annual PMA Fresh Summit tradeshow and conference took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta this past weekend. A total of 1,060 exhibitors from close to 30 countries were showcasing their products and new product launches. The event drew a record-breaking attendance of 19,332 attendees from 63 countries at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

For the second consecutive year, #FreshSummit was a top trend on Twitter – meaning it was one of the most popular social media conversations around the world, all on one day.

Click here for the photo report and innovations

Hurricane Patricia spares Mexico
Hurricane Patricia reached the shores of Mexico this weekend. The hurricane entered as a category 5, but diminished in strength as it reached land. For many growers the predominant sentiment was relief.

Nevertheless, the storm did leave its mark. Jalapeños and cucumbers are reported to have some light damage, but other greenhouse vegetables don't. Respectively, the damage for both products amounts to a loss of around 8% and 11%, one grower and exporter says. These products will then be sold as B quality.

South Africa to significantly increase grape export volumes
The South African 2014/15 grape season experienced a steep rise in production volumes. The industry witnessed a 9.36% increase in the total hectares (ha) planted as compared to the 2013/14 season. This growth of 2728 ha. over the past three years means that production volumes will increase significantly over the next 2-5 year period. Looking at the 2014/15 season as an indicator, it is clear that the South African crop has passed the average 55 million 4.5 kg equivalent carton mark and the average will now shift to 60+ million 4.5 equivalent cartons

Fresh produce escapes earthquake damage
Rescue efforts are being stepped up to help those affected by the magnitude-7.5 earthquake which hit remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday. There were also reports of aftershocks being felt in Quetta, Pakistan late Tuesday morning.

More than 300 people are known to have died, most of them in Pakistan, and at least 2,000 were injured.

2014 difficult year for Fyffes on British market
2014 was not the best year for multinationals Fyffes on the British market. Revenue fell by 4.8%, the cost of sales fell by 5.3% and operational expenses rose by 4.1%; which all led to a decline in profits. These figures, which only account for the UK in 2014, can be found in reports that were made public by the UK's Companies House.

Rail could strengthen ‘New Silk Road’
A recent Rabobank report has highlighted that China's growing demand for fresh food offers huge opportunities for European food industry imports. The demand for fresh produce is expected to increase by 17% between 2015 and 2025, and it is vital to invest in the cold chain infrastructure to sustain this growth.

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