Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Aramark Transitions to 100% Sustainably Sourced Tuna

Aramark announced with the press release copied below their transition to 100% sustainably sourced tuna.  Rema Foods is proud to be the exclusive supplier of Aramark’s sustainable tuna program.  We believe sustainability is vitally important for the future and offer multiple sustainable tuna options including Free School/FAD free, Pole & Line, and MSC certified utilizing Rema's audited MSC chain of custody program (Rema Foods chain of custody audit completed August 2015).



       Aramark Transitions to 100% Sustainably Sourced Tuna


PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 15, 2015) – Aramark (NYSE:ARMK), the $15 billion global provider of food, facilities management, and uniforms, announced today that it will transition to 100% sustainably sourced canned skipjack and albacore tuna in the U.S. by April 1, 2016. Sustainably sourced tuna minimizes by-catch levels and helps maintain fish populations.


“The Marine Stewardship Council congratulates Aramark on its commitment to source from MSC certified tuna fisheries. In making certified sustainable seafood available to its customers, Aramark is helping to raise consumer awareness about the importance of ensuring wild fish supplies for generations to come,” added Brian Perkins, MSC Regional Director, Americas.


Aramark’s approach was developed in consultation from both the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). When the transition is complete in April 2016, Aramark will have converted an estimated 2.5 million pounds of tuna to sustainably sourced product.


“Aramark is committed to providing our consumers with safe, high-quality, nutritious food that is sourced responsibly,” said Scott Barnhart, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Procurement, Aramark. “By transitioning to 100% sustainable canned tuna, we are strengthening our responsible sourcing practices, while delivering on our mission to enrich and nourish lives.”


All contracted canned tuna products Aramark purchases in the U.S. will meet green “Best Choice” or yellow “Good Alternative” by Seafood Watch® recommendations: all skipjack canned tuna products will come from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries; and all albacore canned tuna products will be pole-and-line caught or from MSC certified fisheries, whenever available.


"Aramark’s commitment is helping to transform the marketplace,” said Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Seafood Watch®. “By creating more demand for seafood from ocean-friendly sources that protect sea life and habitats.


This transition is the next significant step in Aramark’s sustainable seafood commitment. The company has already transitioned half of its total seafood purchases to sustainable sources. As of October 2014, 99% of frozen fin fish purchases met the Seafood Watch® “Best Choice” and “Good Alternative” recommendations.


Seafood Watch® produces science-based, peer-reviewed recommendations that are widely recognized and respected. The Marine Stewardship Council certification serves as an independent third party verification system that evaluates the sustainability of fisheries.

To read more about Aramark’s responsible sourcing practices, visit our environmental sustainability page.


About Marine Stewardship Council

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is recognized as the world’s leading certification program for sustainable, wild-caught seafood. In collaboration with fisheries scientists and marine experts, the MSC has developed two global, science-based standards. The MSC Fishery Standard evaluates the sustainability of fisheries and the MSC Chain of Custody Standard ensures that any seafood carrying the blue MSC ecolabel is traceable to a certified fishery.


About the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program empowers consumers and businesses to choose seafood that's fished or farmed using responsible methods that protect sea life and habitats, now and for future generations. Seafood Watch’s widely recognized and respected science-based recommendations, indicating which seafood items are "Best Choices" or "Good Alternatives," and which ones to "Avoid," serve as the foundation of the North American sustainable seafood movement.


About Aramark

Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) is in the customer service business across food, facilities and uniforms, wherever people work, learn, recover, and play. United by a passion to serve, our approximately 270,000 employees deliver experiences that enrich and nourish the lives of millions of people in 21 countries around the world every day. Aramark is recognized among the Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE and the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Learn more at www.aramark.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


After a two year gap, new GSP legislation was finally passed and signed by the President. U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories. The newly signed legislation will extend the GSP benefits through December 31, 2017.

Greece Crisis: packers in Greece are operating and planning to export despite the financial crisis. Ironically, when Greek packers were in town for the fancy food show in NYC, they were forced to use cash as Greek credit cards shut down after the Greek emergency banking measure’s daily EUR60 currency withdrawal limit was reached.

CURRENCY: even with the Greek turmoil in Europe, the dollar/euro rate has been relatively stable over the past month.

TUNA: The Western Pacific FAD ban began on July 1st and will last through October. Skipjack prices have been firming from a low of $1000-1100/mton earlier this year to July trades made at $1380-1450/mton. Two months ago, the fishermen publically stated their desire to drive prices over $1500, and now they are offering $1500-1600/mton for August arrival in Bangkok. Yellowfin was last at $1700/mton but has been following the upward trend of skipjack. Tongol, now out of season, is scarce until the season restarts in October. Albacore was steady at about $3100 for a while but raw material has recently jumped to about $3300/MT+, and shortages loom on large size fish used for solid packs.

PINEAPPLE: Thailand’s raw material shortage continues and pineapple is now trading at 12-13 baht/kg, the highest levels ever recorded since tracking began 70 years ago. In a normal year, raw material is 3-4.5 baht/kg. Drought linked to El Nino will further reduce output by delaying the upcoming winter crop by six to nine weeks. High prices are prompting farmers to harvest fruits early - before the nitrate fertilizers have been fully processed by the fruit – resulting in detinning. In response, Thai packers have been forced to severely reduce the quantities they can export of natural juice packs. Indonesia is falling far behind in shipments as Thailand’s shortfall increases demand for their production. Thai exports have so far plunged by almost 20% in the first half of this year.

OLIVES/OLIVE OIL: The new crop olive harvest was initially forecasted to run close to the average of 534,000 mtons, but scorching hot weather and firm olive oil pricing is causing unexpected problems. At this point, packers are forecasting that Hojiblancas, normally used for ripe table olives and olive oil production will be shorter than last year. Gordal, the variety sold as queen olives, are expected to be average in volume (after several short years). Manzanillas, are also expected to be about average in volume. Unfortunately, this seemingly decent crop will not necessarily mean better prices for olives as the current tight olive oil situation is bringing strong demand for raw material. At present, it is being reported only about 400,000 mtons of carryover olive oil stocks remain. Given monthly consumption estimated at 100,000 mtons, carryover stocks will run out before new crop is available in December, causing immense price pressure early in the harvest. Extra Virgin olive oil prices which remained below 3.00 euro/kg most of last year have been on a steady upward trend since the end 2014, and are currently up over 25% to 3.80 euro/kg. Given that Italian production dropped over 35% last season, Greek exports into Italy rose by 569% in the first quarter of this year. Forbes magazine has also reported that olive trees in Central America and Europe are being killed by a new strain of Xylella fastidiosa that is spread by the common spittle bug. Combined with a 20% decrease in global average yields over the past 50 years, many analysts predict spiraling costs for olives and olive oil in the coming years. Finally, California, which is expecting a crop possibly 40% below average is expected to make up the shortfall by importing from Spain.

MUSHROOMS: European countries (Holland, Spain and France) continue to be the main source of mushrooms for the US. The stronger dollar and more efficient growing & processing capabilities are making them more competitive than China. After a long respite from most Chinese packers, a couple of smaller packers are trying to make a come-back into the US market; however, higher costs and strong domestic Chinese demand is keeping their prices from being competitive here.

PEACHES: China’s crop has started and packers are reporting a normal crop so far. Fruit size is on the large side which is favorable, but is also increasing demand from the domestic bakery market. In Greece, early expectation was for a good crop until 40% of the early variety (Catherina) peaches have been deemed unsuitable for canning. After the first week of production, raw material is at euro 280/mton for class A peaches, a 15% increase over the amount paid for early and mid-season varieties last season. Packers have been assuring the trade that the on-going financial crisis in Greece will not affect their capability to supply, but this situation is causing problems for even the large companies. California's 2015 peach crop was set at 566,000 tons, representing an 8% decrease from last year and the smallest harvest in over a decade, according to USDA. The drop affected both the freestone and clingstone peach harvests.

CHERRIES: This year’s crop is being affected by bad weather, higher labor cost and strong market demand. In Oregon, a major growing area experienced frost before the trees went into dormancy, causing a drop of about 35% in output. In California, the crop is down 40% due to warmer winter temperatures and the severe drought. In Michigan, a spring frost in April damaged about 65% of the sweet cherry varieties. To make matters worse, processors are reporting a 40% shortage in labor. Some growers are leaving their orchards unattended as they are not able to staff pickers. Packing house labor throughout the Northwest is scarce, driving costs up and production down as there are not enough workers to staff a second shift.

TOMATOES: The California Tomato Growers Association (CTGA) has agreed with processors to price this season’s tomato crop at $80/ton. In 2014, the price was $83. In 2013, it was $70.5. In 2012, $69.4.

RAISINS: The report from the Raisin Administrative Committee shows shipments from the 2014/15 season are 6% behind last year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015



GSP: Both the House and Senate have finally introduced bills to renew GSP through December 31, 2017.  GSP last expired July 31, 2013.  We've heard Congressional leaders want the bill passed before May 22.  The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories. 


Pacific Trade Pact:  The leaders of Congress’s tax-writing committees reached agreement last week on legislation to give President Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate an ambitious trade accord with 11 other Pacific nations, beginning what is sure to be one of the toughest legislative battles of his last 19 months in office.  The “trade promotion authority” bill would give Congress the power to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement.  While “fast track” allows a President to more easily negotiate free trade agreements - great for believers in free trade - this particular Pacific Trade Pact is not expected to bring much duty savings for imported food products.


Large Government Penalties: The Department of Justice announced more than $3 million in penalties against three importers accused of evading antidumping and countervailing duties.


West Coast Port Strike:  The long drawn West Coast strike was finally resolved in February but, to date, one to two week delays in unloading arriving vessels are still occurring.  On 04-21-2015, the ports in LA and Long Beach closed for a 24 hours ILWU Stop Work Meeting. Additionally, in order to avoid the gridlock on the West Coast, shipping lines have diverted shipments to Texas and the East Coast which has resulted in  port congestion.  Several weeks ago in Houston, ships collided in the channel causing a backlog of thousands of containers that are now moving.   We have also seen ship diversions to Houston that are spill over from the west coast issues earlier in the year.  In Dallas, the UPRR has started to hold inbound trains short of Dallas and delay the release of new trains at LGB until there are more chassis to offload the cars.  In NJ, the traffic jam outside GCT Bayonne stretched six miles onto the turnpike.  Several terminals in NY/NJ have now implemented “Port Congestion Fee” of $250 on each incoming container. 


ISF:  The final phase of US Customs enforcement on the Importer Security Filing (ISF) will take effect on May 14, 2015.  ISF (commonly known as 10+2) requires the importer to submit certain information to US Customs 48 hours prior to sailing date. Customs has a six year statute of limitation for assessing penalties for ISF violations.   It is expected that Customs will focus on the more severe violations, such as missed or late filing and can assess liquidated damages up to $5000 per violation. 


CURRENCY:  Given the sluggish European economy and the comparative strength in the USA, along with the expectation for increasing interest rates in the USA, the dollar has been strengthening against the euro for a several months and is currently around 1.09. The dollar has also been gaining against the Canadian dollar, now at about 1.23 after trading around parity for a number of years.


TUNA:  Skipjack has reached its lowest levels in years with raw material price hitting as low at $1000-1100/MT.  The drop in price is being attributed to good catches and lower market demand.  Ecuadorian catch have been especially strong.  It has been recently reported that some major fishing companies have stopped fishing in order to force prices up. Yellowfin pricing normally follows skipjack and has been running at $1300-$1400/MT.  Tongol and albacore have remained firm at $1800/MT and $ 3100/MT respectively.


ARTICHOKES:  While the initial expectations from Spain were for a good crop, weather conditions did not quite unfold as expected.  Frost hit a major growing area in Murcia and it was reported that about 40% of the crop was lost.  Then quite suddenly the weather turned and temperatures rose too quickly.  As a result, raw material prices have increased by 30-40% and many packers have withdrawn their offers.  Prices from the few who are offering are about 10-13% higher than last year.  Peru’s season will not start until July/August but over the past few years Peru had decreased its plantations as their higher cost rendered them noncompetitive in the US market (and several firms have closed up or sold their artichoke lines).  Egypt’s crop started early this year and was reported to be short as well.


MANDARIN ORANGES:  The Chinese mandarin packing season ended around mid-February.  Initial expectations were for prices to be lower than last year.  However, due to higher labor cost and higher prices that the domestic fresh market was willing to pay, prices remained firm throughout the season.   Raw material quality was good which meant that there was not enough mandarins being diverted to broken packs, most went for whole mandarin packs.  There has also been a strong demand from juice manufacturers for orange sacs, which meant further reduction in raw material available for broken mandarins.


OLIVE OIL:  Spain, which accounts for 50% of total olive oil world production, reported a 30% decrease in its crop. At the same time, blight affected trees in Puglia, Italy’s main growing region. Italy accounts for 15% of total world production. Prices have been on an upswing from an average of about 2.40 euro/kg in 2014 to a peak of 3.60 euro/kg in early March.  Thankfully, the stronger dollar has tempered the sharp increase in the US market. Indications about the next crop season will not be available until the flower season in May.


OLIVES:  The predicted 20% shortage (vs. 2013) of the hojiblanca variety used for ripe olives has materialized and ripe prices have been steadily inching up.  It is now about 15-20% higher than last year.  As with oil, the stronger dollar is helping to mitigate the increases.


PINEAPPLE:  Thailand’s crop of 2014 was reported to be one of the worst in the recent years and packers continue to report that the raw material situation is still very tight.  Last year’s drought has severely affected the Thai winter crop, causing a drop in output of 15% from the average of 1.9 million tons annually.  This has pushed raw material prices up to 10-11.0 baht/kg (in a normal year, price levels are around 4.50 baht/kg).  This sharp increase in price has prompted farmers to harvest earlier, leading to unripe fruit, high nitrate levels, and de-tinning.  Indonesia is being swamped with orders to make up for Thailand’s shortfall.  The upcoming summer season does not look promising; with no carry-over and packers behind on commitments, they are not expecting significant relief in the upcoming crop.  Indonesia is expecting about 20% lower output for this summer season due to dry weather conditions.  It’s been reported that Del Monte formally withdrew on foodservice pineapple packs. Per their notice, “This action is due to industry wide raw product shortages and seasonal drought conditions that have limited and reduced our pineapple pack.   This withdraw from sale notice will be effective immediately and continue through October 2015.”


MUSHROOMS:  Since India and China’s troubles began several years ago with antidumping and the pesticide carbendazim, main import supply for the US has been coming from Holland, Spain, France and Poland.  In past years, these countries have been unable to compete with China.  The favorable dollar-euro rate has also helped keep them competitive even as costs have increased.  Supply and price have been relatively stable.


ANCHOVIES:  The past two seasons (2013 & 2014) have been quite disastrous for anchovies.  Morocco, a major source of anchovies, reported about 30% lower fish landings.  Peru reported a similar drop.  Packers are reporting that the shortage in raw material has prompted prices to rise by more than 50%.   The new season will start in July and packers are hoping for some relief; however it may take some time and since there’s no carry-over stock, packers will aggressively buy any fish that comes to market during the initial season to serve their long-standing and overdue commitments.


TOMATOES:  Last year, California produced its largest crop in history, at 14 million tons, along with record yields of 48.3 tons/acre and all-time high grower prices of $83/ton.  For 2015, California is predicting 13.9-14.3 million tons.  Export sales have more than doubled over the past six years.  In Italy, the market is expecting for 2015 raw material prices of euro105/MT for plum tomatoes

Monday, January 05, 2015



West Coast Surcharge: After seven months of talks & continuing ILWU slowdowns, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers at America's 29 West Coast ports, has asked for federal mediation in its contract negotiations with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU).  In the meantime, the labor action has caused delays, congestion and increased costs which the steamship lines are trying to pass on per tariff filings they made in 2012 to allow for this charge.  In November, the steamship lines tried to impose a surcharge of $800 per 20’ container and $1000 per 40’ container on arriving shipments.  Amidst protests, the surcharge imposition was suspended.  The lines then tried to impose the surcharge on departing vessels, but finally in the end, this as well did not come to pass.  Now, the lines are trying to impose a Peak Season surcharge.  Pier haulers on the other hand have been successful in increasing pier haul rates on the west coast by an additional $400-600/container.

USFDA finalized two rules requiring calorie information to be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines to help consumers make informed decisions about meals and snacks.  The rule applies to establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering substantially the same menu items.


CURRENCY:  The dollar has been trading stronger against most major currencies and is now in the 1.19-1.22 range against the euro.


TUNA:  A few months ago, going into the autumn Western and Central Pacific FAD fishing ban with very high pricing, the tuna market actually saw prices fall during the ban period.  In 2015, for the first time, a new FAD ban period will be enforced from January to February 2015 (and also July-Sept 2015).  Going into this ban period with raw material pricing now at very low levels, the expectation is strong that we’re seeing the bottom.  Recent raw material costs for Skipjack have been in the range of $1180-$1250/MT.  Yellowfin has remained steady at $1800/MT and Albacore has been holding at $3150/MT.  Overseas, the European parliament granted the Philippines GSP+, which awards them a zero percent duty trade preference on 6,200 tariff lines, including canned tuna when shipped with qualifying fish.


PINEAPPLE:  This current winter crop in Thailand is being reported as the worst crop ever.  Most Thai packers are still reporting that they are operating at 25-30% of their capacities, with raw material tonnage running at 1800-3800 mtons/day as compared to 7000 mtons/day in Nov 2013.  Coming after an awful summer crop, packers were hoping for some relief during the winter crop but due to lack of rain this never materialized.  Raw material has remained scarce and  prices have increased to around 9.00 – 10.00 baht per kg (compared to a normal level of about 3.00 – 4.00 baht per kg).  Some improvement was seen for a short period in November but this was not sufficient to overcome the earlier crop shortfalls.  Additionally, due to the high prices, farmers are cashing in by harvesting earlier, even if fruits are not yet at optimum ripeness levels.  This is resulting in less availability for choice quality packs.   Indonesia is hard-pressed to cover the strong demand.


OLIVES:  The Spanish olive crop is estimated to finish with 517,000 mtons, 3% below the 5-year average of 534,000. For Manzanillas, there is a 28% increase to 189,000 mtons, however, a sizeable percentage is not suitable for table olives and will be diverted to olive oil production.  For Queens, there will be 24,000 mtons, which is better than last year’s short crop of 11,000 but still far short of a 33,000 average crop.  For Hojiblancas, the variety most commonly used to produce sliced ripe olives, the final expectation is 231,000, 6% below the average crop of 248,000 and a 20% drop from last year’s crop of 288,000 mtons


OLIVE OIL:  Overall world output is expected to be 20% lower than last year.  Spain, which accounts for 35% of total world production, is reporting a harvest of 900,000 mtons vs last year’s 1.6 million.  Italy’s olive crop was affected by heavy rains and a fly infestation, causing a 35% reduction to 302,000 mtons.  Countries in the southern part of Europe produce more than 70% of global olive oil output.  The recent harvest figures have prompted prices to increase by about 25%+ in just the past couple of months. 


PEACHES:  The California Canning Peach Association ratified a 2015 price agreement between the growers and Del Monte Foods. The new price of $460/ton represents a huge increase of 21% from the prior year.  Furthermore, the price is up 58% since 2011 (from $291/ton).  Pullouts since June 1 amount to 1,244 acres, or 6.3% of 2014 bearing acreage.  This year's harvest is expected to be the smallest in half a century.  Imports are making up the shortfall, especially for buyers keen enough to buy during the summer season months when product was plentiful.


RAISINS:  Domestically, California raisin growers and the industry’s packers have agreed on a price for the 2014 crop: $1,775/ton, an increase of 7.5% over the previous year.  Raisin Bargaining Association officials were pushing for a higher price, given that some farmers have estimated the state’s raisin crop may be off by 10-40%.  It’s the opposite situation however overseas, with excellent crops in most markets.  Turkey (the world’s second largest producer after the US) is expecting a bumper crop.  South Africa is expecting a crop of 61,000 mtons, its best in many years.  Overall, the expectation this year is for much lower exports from the US, and greater imports into the US at attractive prices.


MANDARINS:  The weak market of 2013 has reportedly pushed four Chinese mandarin plants into bankruptcy. The new Chinese crop is well underway and while raw material volumes seem to be good, prices are not dropping – in fact shortages of some grade such as broken are actually pushing prices up.  Packers are reporting labor shortages, higher wages and stronger domestic demand for fresh mandarins  as the reasons for firm pricing.  In overseas markets, there has been a strong demand for orange sacs (used as an ingredient in juice drink).  As most packers prefer to produce sacs over broken because they command a better price, a big shortage in broken mandarins has now developed.


ARTICHOKES:  The Spanish crop season started about three weeks later than expected due to warm weather in October-November.  At the moment, raw material prices are high due to the strong holiday demand from the fresh market, and packers are offering at about 10% higher pricing than last year. A minor frost was experienced in some growing areas last week, the effect is not yet clear, but it is being reported that canners may have to temporarily stop production until raw material conditions become more stable.  Peru has so far proven uncompetitive this season, but Spain’s problems have given a slight opening for Peru to come back into the market.  Egypt is expected to begin their crop in January and packers are still waiting to see how the crop develops.


WATER CHESTNUTS:  Last year’s high prices have enticed farmers to increase production.  However, because of increased demand from the Chinese domestic market, prices have remained relatively flat.


TOMATOES:  While the overall crop volume was good, Italian processors are complaining of the lowest factory yields in years due to the low brix of the raw material this season.  World production stands at 39.8 million mtons, with California leading world production with 12.7mm mtons (metric not short tons), China with 6.3mm, Italy with 4.9mm and Spain with 2.7mm mtons. 


DESICCATED COCONUT:  While the crop is finally improving, backlogs have kept the market relatively tight. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

REMA FOODS MARKET FLASH September 28, 2014

According to Federal Maritime Commission Port Chairman Mario Cordero, congestion is still an ongoing issue in the West Coast because of high cargo volume, chassis shortages, driver shortages and port construction.  These issues have caused longer delivery times and increased expenses.  Furthermore, last week a fire caused the temporary closing and evacuation of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
This month USFDA proposed changes to four Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) rules proposed in 2013: Produce Safety, Preventive Controls for Human Food, Preventive Controls for Animal Food, and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs.  FDA says the proposed changes make the original proposals more flexible, practical and targeted and are based on input received during the initial comment period.
CURRENCY:  Due to the weak economy in Europe, the dollar firmed against the euro and recently reached 1.269, its highest level so far this year.
TUNA:  Skipjack raw material reached a peak of about $1850/mtons a few months ago in the lead-up to this year’s FAD ban period (July-October), but due to low demand and good catches, it fell to about $1600/mtons once the ban period was underway.  Now as the FAD ban period comes to a close, with strong catching and weak demand, skipjack recently fell to below $1300/mtons. While still higher than the lowest levels of early 2014 ($1150), it’s capped a year of tremendous volatility.  For the first time, a second FAD ban period will be implemented from January to February 2015.  It remains to be seen how this will affect prices.  Yellowfin is following suit, from a high of $2200/mtons to currently below $2000/mtons.  Albacore which was holding firm at $3200 seems likely to soften a bit too.  Tongol, mainly a local Far East fish, remains stable in the off season.  The Philippines will be granted GSP+ status in Europe which will give Philippine packers duty free access to the EU on many items including tuna.  In Canada, the duty on tuna imports from virtually all countries will be doubling on Jan 1, 2015 from 3.5% to 7%.
PEACHES:  Another complicated year for peaches is unfolding.  California is reporting the smallest crop in 50 years at 12.3 million cases (a 12% decrease from last year’s 14 million cases).  Greece initially expected a great crop this year, but hailstorms and heavy thunderstorms during the crop season led to fruits falling off the trees prematurely. The total Greek crop will come in at 11.5 million cases, down from 13.5 million cases last year.   In China, the crop appears to be normal although fruit sizes were reportedly on the smaller side.
PINEAPPLE:  Thai packers are calling the recently completed summer crop the worst ever after the previous years’ lower prices discouraged farmers from planting.  This coupled with flooding late last year and lower than average temperatures during the first half of the year resulted in low raw material output.  Raw material normally at 4 baht/kg soared to 8.5 baht/kg.  The upcoming winter crop is not expected to alleviate the situation much as most packers have numerous back orders to fill.  Indonesia reported a normal summer crop and is expecting the same for the winter crop, but overall volumes are relatively small given the worldwide shortage.  In a telling sign of the price pressures in the market, the cost of pineapple juice concentrate has climbed by about 50% this year.
OLIVES:  Spain’s crop is underway and they are reporting an estimated production of 517,000 mtons for the upcoming olive crop which is slightly lower than the 5 year average crop of 534,000 mtons.  Queens, which were very short last season at 11,000 mtons (vs average of 32,000 mtons) are expected to recover a little bit and are forecasted to reach 24,000 mtons.  Manzanillas are forecasted to reach 189,000 mtons, which is almost 18% better than average (160,000 mtons); however, olive oil producers are pushing up the price.   Hojiblancas (usually used for ripe olives) are expected to close with 231,000 mtons, about 7% worse than average.  Effective January 1, 2015, the duty on Moroccan olives declines to zero for imports into the USA, completing a 10 year stepped duty reduction since the US-Morocco free trade agreement was signed in 2006.  Here in the USA, the 2014 California table olive forecast is for only 50,000 tons, down 45% from last year’s crop of 91,000 tons.  The causes for the severe shortfall were an initial December freeze, a second freeze during the bloom, and lack of water.  Some growers are claiming they might not even harvest this season due to a lack of sufficient production and/or lack of labor.
OLIVE OIL:  The upcoming crop in Spain is expected to be down from 2013, where they had a record crop of 1.5 M tons (vs average of 1.1 M tons).  This lower crop is mainly due to the dry weather during the flowering period.  Prices of olive oil have firmed up in the past few months amidst speculation from Spanish farmers.  Spain accounts for about 80% of total olive oil production, including much of which is shipped to Italy.  Smaller olive producing countries like Greece, Tunisia and Turkey are reportedly expecting normal crops.
BAMBOO SHOOTS: The new crop of bamboo shoots in Guangdong and Fujian provinces in Southern China started in July. The harvest is normal due to sufficient rainfall in the spring.  The market price of canned bamboo shoots remains similar to last year.
PEPPERONCINI:  In Turkey, the recently concluded crop ended up short, despite early forecasts indicating a good crop. Lack of rain is the main reason for the shortage.  Other producing countries such as Egypt and Greece are still reporting normal crops. 
TOMATOES:  Heavy rains and lower temperature during the harvest season have affected Italy’s tomato crop, delaying the start of production by a few weeks. It is being reported that the fruit quality was also affected with a lower average brix content of 4.61 vs the three year average of 5.03.  Packers are reporting that the lower quality fruit is resulting in a 10% decrease in yield.  In the South of Italy, the producer’s association issued a statement claiming harvest losses in the main growing region of Puglia will reach 30%.  On the other hand, Spain, Greece and Portugal are experiencing excellent seasons this year, but overall outputs there are not significant enough to have an impact in the US market.
RAISINS: This year’s California raisin-type variety grape forecast is 1.95 million tons, down 13% from the 2013 final production, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  The crop struggled with hail in the spring and lack of water.  In Chile, this year’s raisin production is forecasted to decrease due to a heavy frost last September 2013, but 2014/2015 raisin output should increase as grape production is expected to recuperate.
MUSHROOMS:  The US Dept of Commerce published a notice stating that a decision by the US Court of International Trade is “not in harmony” with Commerce’s amended final determination in the antidumping duty review of certain preserved mushrooms from China covering the period February 1, 2009 through January 31, 2010.  As a result, the weighted-average dumping margins for that period have been adjusted retroactively to between 5.76% up to 74.14% depending on the manufacturer.
WATERCHESTNUTS remain short due to limited raw material. Chinese packers are awaiting new crop in November.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


It appears that the much anticipated West Coast port strike might be averted even though no new contract has been signed yet. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced a 72-hour break from negotiations a few days ago during which the parties agreed to extend the previous six-year contract which expired on June 30, 2014.  It is reported that all ocean terminals in Los Angeles currently remain open but there is major congestion and delays due to the rush of containers brought in May/June coupled with a shortage of chassis.

Free trade talks between Thailand and the EU have been put on hold since the military Coup d'état on May 22.

The risks of being importer of record:  FOODNEWS is reporting that an importer in the UAE claims to have been defrauded out of over $1 million.  After paying the funds against a letter of credit to a supposed Chinese supplier of tomato paste, the importer, instead was delivered 53 containers of worthless stones.

CURRENCY: While the dollar had been relatively steady against the euro over the past couple of months, the past few days have brought some strengthening.

TUNA: The FAD (fish aggregating device) ban that began on July 1st along with poor catching have caused a significant spike in skipjack prices.  Skipjack that had reached a low of around $1150/MT months ago has now reportedly jumped to $1850/MT in Thailand.  Yellowfin is following the trend and has leapt from $1600/MT to about $ 2600/MT.  Albacore is now being quoted at $3150/MT, up from $2550/MT.  Most packers are experiencing resistance in the market given the rapid escalation in price.  Meanwhile in European news, the Philippines is close to gaining zero duty access for their tuna exports to the EU.

PINEAPPLE:  Thailand’s summer crop is 30-40% short with raw material pricing reaching close to double of last year’s - from a normal level of 3.50 baht/kg to about 7.50-8.00 baht/kg now.  Most packers were reportedly running only 3 days per week because of the lack of raw material.  While at one point during the season raw material deliveries spiked, it was not enough to cover the shortfall created early in the season.  Indonesia’s crop is reported to be better; however, they are also falling behind in shipments as buyers try to cover their needs.  The shortage is especially apparent with higher grades as only 25-35% of the fruit arriving at Thai factories now can qualify for choice grade.

OLIVE OIL:  After initial weakness, there has been some increase in olive oil pricing over the past two weeks amidst expectations that the next crop will not be as good as the past season.  This is purely speculation at this point and it remains to be seen how the crop will eventually turn out.

WATERCHESTNUTS:  There is an extreme shortage on waterchestnuts as most packers have ended their packing season early due to limited raw material availability.  The new season isn't expected to start until November.

ARTICHOKES:  Spain had a good but short season and is reportedly sold out. In Peru, most packers decided to decrease their plantation acreage this season after last year when the Peruvians, due to their rising costs, were not competitive with Spain.  In Egypt, most packers have reportedly committed most of their crop - new crop won't come until January.

PEPPERS:  Spain is about to start its crop, which is reported to be normal.  Turkey’s crop is also expected to be normal.  On the other hand Peru is expecting the possibility that El Nino (this refers to a band of warm ocean water temperatures that periodically develop off the Pacific coast of South America) will affect their crop and most packers are predicting a 10-30% decrease in output.

PEACHES:  Chinese and Greek peach production seasons are underway and both countries are reporting a good crop. Opening prices are about 5-10% lower than last year’s crop prices.  California however is projecting for 2014 to pack 12.8 million cases, 5% less than the 13.5 million packed last year.  Imports this year are at record levels and up 23% from last year.  Imports from China made up the largest share and are up 43% from last year.

CHERRIES:  Cold weather in Michigan is expected to cause USA tart cherry production to fall about 10% this year.

TOMATOES: According to the California League of Food Processors, the June stock level is down 23% compared to this same time last year.

MUSHROOMS: Two European mushroom plants (one French, one Dutch) were fined $43 million for price fixing in the European market.

DESICCATED COCONUT: Given the super typhoon that hit the Philippines last November, a recent accidental explosion at one of the large plants (killing a worker), the threat of El Nino, and the surging demand for coconut derivatives such as coconut water, the market is understandably short and prices remain firm.

Monday, May 19, 2014


TRADE/POLITICS: Still no progress on GSP renewal and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill.  The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.   GSP, which expired July 31, is a program with lots of Congressional support, so it’s still expected to be renewed.  As for the MTB, this is a huge bill containing duty reductions/eliminations for thousands of items.

The current labor contract between the West Coast Terminals and the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO ends on June 30, 2014.   There is the potential for a strike if a new contract is not agreed to prior to this date.  If history repeats itself, the lockout would last a week and result in losses of at least a billion dollars a day.  If a strike occurs, the steamship lines plan to charge a contingency surcharge of $1,000 per container for "port congestion."

Vermont became the first state to pass a bill requiring food labels to note if contents are produced “with genetic engineering.”  Twenty-nine other states have proposed, but not passed, similar bills on GMO labeling.

Food Safety Modernization Act: the first set of FSMA rules will be published on August 30, 2015.   For any company importing even one container from overseas, it’s urgent to set up the infrastructure to meet the requirements of FSMA.   Most of the burden to prove the safety of the supply chain will rest on the importer and failure to comply with FSMA will be punishable as a criminal act.

CURRENCY:  The dollar has firmed slightly over the past week, erasing some of its losses from the past month.  However, the dollar is still weaker now than it was earlier this year.

TUNA:  It appears the skipjack raw material price has finally bottomed out from its lowest levels of $1150-$1200/mton last month.  With fishing poor and most packers fully committed, fishermen are trying to hold off on their deliveries in anticipation of higher prices.  While the concern not long ago was how low can it go, now the market is gearing up for the exact opposite as we head into the start of the FAD ban period this summer.  Current raw material price levels are now reported to be at: $1350-$1400/mton, but many packers are basing on $1500+ as a sense of panic is starting to set in.   Yellowfin normally follows the pricing trend on skipjack and is now over $2,000.  Albacore has been firming over the past month and is now reported at $3150-3200/mton.  Overall albacore is quite short with some packers fully booked until after the summer.  The Biennial INFOFISH Tuna conference runs from May 21-23 in Bangkok, Thailand.  Major tuna industry players, tuna governing bodies and NGOs will gather to discuss current issues and trends in the industry.  This year’s theme is: “Working Together towards a Sustainable Industry.”

PINEAPPLE:  Thai pineapple prices have continued to increase amidst shortage of supply.  It’s reported raw material prices have now reached 8.00-8.50 baht/kg, while pricing is normally around 3.00-5.00 baht/kg.  Most packers are holding off on offers and are waiting for the outcome of the Thaifex Food show to be held on May 21-25 in Bangkok, Thailand.  Meanwhile, high quality fruit is especially limited because some farmers, tempted by the high prices, are harvesting fruits before they are fully ripened to choice/fancy grade.

MANDARINS:  It seems that the reported raw material shortage in China during the crop season actually transpired and was not just mere speculation.  Final figures show the 2013/2014 crop was 40% short vs 2012/2013.  Since there was a substantial carryover from the 2012/2013 crop so most factories reduced their production.  Additionally, since some overseas markets use orange sacs and are able to pay a higher price, most raw material intended for broken mandarins were diverted to sacs.  Remaining supply of broken mandarins are especially limited.

PEACHES:  The anticipated California peach shortage did not seem to have materialized as badly as the industry predicted and a better crop is expected this season.  In China, last year’s crop was about 20% shorter and prices were about 30% higher than the previous year.   As for this year, so far normal temperature during the flower season (March/April) is expected to bring a normal crop. However, it is still early as harvesting does not begin until end June/early July.

ANCHOVIES: After many years of stability, the annual Moroccan peak fishing season of March through May this year has been a disaster.  While fishermen kept hoping the fish would come, they never did.  Packers are scrambling for fish; raw material costs have firmed dramatically.

ARTICHOKES:  In Spain, despite record high temperatures affecting the Murcia region (the main artichoke growing area in Spain), all has been good for this season and the crop is normal.  In Peru,  due to increasing costs, packers have found it difficult to compete with Spain.  As a result, most packers have decided to reduce their planting areas.

MUSHROOMS:  European mushrooms (Dutch, Spanish and French) have successfully displaced Chinese mushrooms in the US market for now.  Over the past few years, USFDA has been testing imported mushrooms for specific pesticide residues.  Rejections of Chinese mushrooms have discouraged many packers from exporting to the US.  This is further exacerbated by the high anti-dumping rates imposed on most Chinese packers (300%+).  The main Chinese factories have instead opted to supply their local fresh market and other non-US export markets.  While the USA was the top export market for Chinese mushrooms in 2012, it dropped to 19th place for 2014.  Another emerging growing region is Poland, however their prices are still not competitive enough for the US market.

TOMATOES: Globally, processed tomato production is expected to increase by 18% this year to 38.85 million mtons worldwide.  Much of the growth is being driven by China (up 49%) and the EU (up 22%).   US production, the largest worldwide, is forecasted to grow by only 11% but concern is building over how the water shortage in California will affect this year’s crop.  Water reserves are currently at 30% of their usual capacity, and growers are demanding higher prices.

CHERRIES:  It’s being estimated at this time that the 2014 domestic US Northwest cherry crop has the potential to exceed last year’s crop in quantity by 20-25%.

DRIED APRICOTS: The Turkish apricot market is in a state of chaos as frost destroyed almost the entire new crop.  Normally Turkey produces about 150,000 mtons annually; this year the expectation is for less than 15,000.  Carryover is only about 35,000 mtons while annual export demand is normally 100,000 mtons.  Raw material costs overseas have skyrocketed.

Thursday, April 03, 2014


Situation remains ominous re negotiations to avert a July west coast dock strike.  Insiders believe that if a strike occurs, it will not last longer than 7-10 days but would still cause a backup of 350,000-700,000 TEUs of freight.  On the east coast, most of the terminals in NY/NJ last week experienced a one day shutdown for a surprise press conference held on labor relations/hiring.

USFDA proposed new rules to update the nutrition facts label for packaged foods.

Still no progress on GSP renewal and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill.  The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.   GSP, which expired July 31, is a program with lots of Congressional support, so it’s still expected to be renewed.  As for the MTB, this is a huge bill containing duty reductions/eliminations for thousands of items.

According to a World Bank report, overall global food commodity prices have declined 18% from the all-time high set in August 2012.

CURRENCY: The dollar remains weak against the euro, with the euro hovering around 1.38 compared with 1.34 a couple of months ago.

TUNA: Skipjack pricing has continued its decline, now at $1150-1250/MT from about $1285/MT a month ago.  Most packers believe this could finally be the real bottom level for skipjack as it’s at the breakeven point for fishermen and we’re heading into the FAD ban season.  Additionally, reports of increased demand from Egypt and the Middle East have booked some packers' capacities out a few months.  Albacore pricing is clearly firming, now reported at $2900/MT from $ 2750/MT a month ago.  Yellowfin at $1950 and tongol remain steady.

PINEAPPLE: The winter crop in Thailand is winding down and Q1 2014 production has now officially been ranked the worst in 10 years, with raw material deliveries only half of normal levels.  Raw material costs have spiked to 8.00 - 8.50 baht/kg compared to a normal level of about 3.00 – 5.00 baht/kg during the season.   The summer crop, which normally starts around April, is forecasted to start a month late.  Current relatively cool weather in Thailand is affecting the growth of the pineapple plants and therefore, most packers are not expecting a usual summer crop.   Indonesia is also in bad shape with most of their troubles drought related.

PEACHES:  Recent reports forecast California’s peach season to be short again this year with lower acreage at 8,100 hectares, compared to 9,000 in 2012 and 12,800 in 2004.  This is mainly due to plantations switching to walnuts and almonds and other crops that require less labor.  CA processors have agreed to a 2014 base price of $418/ton, up 30% from just three years ago.  On the other hand, Greek farmers enticed by the recent increase in prices, have reportedly planted more peach trees that are expected to produce about 600,000 MT for the 2016/2017 crop, up from a recent average of 440,000.  As California declines, Greece grows.

ARTICHOKES: Having escaped severe weather conditions this winter, Spain’s spring crop is still expected to be a normal one.  Peru, effectively shut-out from the market last year due to high prices, is attempting to make a comeback by matching Spanish prices for prior unsold carryover stocks.  So far for 2014, Peruvian artichoke export sales are down 18%.  Peruvian pepper exports on the other hand are holding steady.

COCONUT:  Typhoon Haiyan’s effects are still being felt as coconut supply remains tight.

TOMATOES: California's processing tomato crop is expected to remain steady this year despite the drought.

MUSHROOMS: US Dept of Commerce has issued a final antidumping duty rate of 308.3% on mushrooms from China covering the period February 1, 2012 through January 31, 2013.   As always with antidumping, any increased duties are assessed retroactively to the importer of record.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


As of this moment, there’s a good possibility of a July west coast dock strike.  The labor contract agreed to in 2008 between the ILWU (West Coast Long Shoremen) and PMA (Pacific Maritime Association) is set to expire on July 1, 2014. The key issues are:  1) New “super” alliances and their impact on terminal use and related labor.  2) Automation Jurisdiction  3) Impact of the Affordable Health Care Act:  The potential increase of healthcare expense will undoubtedly take the lead in the discussion and may likely be the hurdle to cause a labor action by one or both sides. As reported by the PMA, the average earnings for workers who logged 2000+ hours in 2012 were:   General Longshoremen: $132,046,  Marine Clerks: $149,800.

Still no progress on GSP renewal and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill.  The U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.   GSP, which expired July 31, is a program with lots of Congressional support, so it’s still expected to be renewed.  As for the MTB, this is a huge bill containing duty reductions/eliminations for thousands of items.

Food Safety Modernization Act:  A judge has mandated that final rules be published by June 30, 2015. Once the final rules are published, implementation will be phased in over one to two years.  FDA published recently a proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers and carriers who transport food by motor or rail vehicles to take steps to prevent the contamination of human and animal food during transportation. Part of the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005, the proposal marks the seventh and final major rule in the FSMA framework aimed at building preventive measures across the food system.

CURRENCY:  Dollar has been stable against the euro hovering at 1.36-1.37 for the past few weeks.  On the other hand, the Thai baht is about 15% lower (now at 32.87) compared to its strongest level earlier last year.   The Turkish lira has also weakened considerably against the dollar, falling 35% over the past year.

TUNA:  Skipjack pricing has continued its weakening trend, with raw material prices now reported at $1300-1350/mton.  While demand is now picking up, for the first time in many years fishermen are starting to complain about break-even fishing costs and looking to keep boats in port.  Yellowfin remains relatively unchanged at 2,400/mton, much higher than skipjack.   Albacore is starting to firm.

PINEAPPLE:  The Thai winter crop, which started late, is now running quite short.  Total deliveries around this time normally reach about 7,000 to 8,000 mtons daily. Currently, deliveries are peaking at only 4,500 mtons per day.  This situation has pushed raw material to an all-time record high of 7.00 – 7.30 baht/kg vs. a normal level of around 4.00 – 4.50 baht/kg.  The situation is further affected by the shortage of pineapple supply in the Philippines, prompting Dole and Del Monte to source more of their needs from Thailand.

PEACHES:  President Obama’s visit last week to California highlighted the drought conditions there which are expected this year to be the driest on record.  Just recently, the Sacramento area went without rain for 52 days, breaking the previous record of 44 days set during the drought in 1976.

MANDARINS:  Post Chinese New Year (Jan 31), this year’s production has reached its end. Most packers are saying they will not resume packing upon return from the holidays.  Due to the significant carry-over quantities from last year’s crop, factories were not eager to pack at the beginning of the crop.  However, as it became apparent that there is a shortage in raw material for new pack, prices increased sharply.   Current offering levels are about 30% higher than the ending price of last year’s crop just a few months ago.

MUSHROOMS:  The situation has been relatively stable, with European suppliers continuing to dominate the market.  Imports from China in 2013 were down 80% compared to 2012.

TOMATOES:  Even though expected quantities are strong, the California tomato industry set the 2014 raw material price at $83.0/ton, 18% higher than the 2013 price of $70.50/ton.  In 2012, the price was $69.4/ton.  The Northern Italian industry has raised its 2014 raw material price to $124/mton, up $6/mton from last season (as this is metric ton, the equivalent for a US short ton would be $112.70/ton).

Friday, January 03, 2014


TRADE/GOVERNMENT: As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA proposed two weeks ago a rule that would require food producers in the U.S. and abroad to take steps to prevent facilities from being the target of intentional attempts to contaminate the food supply. The rule would require a food facility to have a written food defense plan that addresses significant vulnerabilities in its food production process. Facilities would then have to identify and implement strategies to address these vulnerabilities, establish monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, and ensure that personnel assigned to the vulnerable areas receive appropriate training and maintain certain records. The proposed rule is the sixth issued under FSMA.

CURRENCY: Dollar remains weak against the euro, trading in the 1.36-1.38 range over the past couple of weeks.

MANDARINS: The situation seems to have turned around in China quickly and with a vengeance. Lower priced offers on carry-over quantities in the beginning of the season have dried up as the reality of the crop shortage becomes apparent. Reports indicate the total crop will be 30-40% off from last year.  Raw material prices have increased from a low of RMB 0.60/kg last year to RMB 1.90/kg this year.   As most packers suffered from last year’s glut, about 40% reportedly decided not to pack this season. This, coupled with strong domestic demand, short labor supply and an early Chinese New Year (Jan 31) led the remaining packers to withdraw and wait for the market to stabilize.

TUNA: Market overall remains sluggish, with skipjack dipping below $1600/mton.  Yellowfin is currently at $2450/mt; catching has improved, but the price spread is between skipjack and yellowfin still wide.  It’s always tough to predict a bottom, but there are several factors that should be considered as we start 2014: 1) there’s been a substantial cost decline over the past half year, 2) the holiday season of Christmas to Chinese New Year brings about less fishing, 3) raw material costs are starting to reach possible breakeven cost levels – something not discussed for years, and 4) there is a general pessimism felt in the market (the “reverse-bubble” mentality) which could cause any firming to have a disproportionate effect on the market (think mandarins two months ago).  The fishermen made a lot of money over the past few years and it remains to be seen how much lower raw material can drop before it becomes unprofitable for some fishermen to go out to sea.  On a separate note, while still a minor player in tuna canning, China is increasing its tuna exports into the US.  Exports went from 11,592 tons in 2012 to 14,696 in 2013, up from only 1,708 in 2008.  The US is now China’s largest canned tuna export market.

PINEAPPLE: the Thai winter peak season (initially forecasted for mid November/early December) has not materialized.  Raw material prices remain firm at 6.00-6.50 baht/kg.  Expectations were for prices of around 4.00 baht/kg.  This firm pricing is offset partially by a 14% weakening of the Thai baht, a result of political turmoil in Thailand.  Most packers are maintaining a “wait and see” attitude and are refraining from offering substantial quantities from the winter pack.

ARTICHOKES: Spanish crop is underway and barring any weather related disaster, everything appears to be normal with good prospects for 2014.

PEACHES: Domestic peaches are projected to remain short for years to come.  According to the California Canning Peach Association (CCPA), California’s cling peach bearing acreage will fall to its lowest level in recent memory.  Bearing acreage of 21,200 in 2013 is expected to fall to 19,900 in 2014 and 19400 in 2015.  By contract, it was 30,200 in 2005 and has fallen every year since. Imports will to play a major role in making up the shortfall.

Monday, November 25, 2013


TRADE/GOVERNMENT:  Importers are busy working with FDA and preparing for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  The FDA comment period will soon close.

Duty rates remain higher as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) have both expired.  Post-shutdown Congress is still too busy to pass extensions.

CURRENCY: dollar quiet, trading around 1.35 to the euro.

TUNA:  Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, while a devastating tragedy, has not had any marked effect on the tuna industry.  The FAD ban period is over and fishing remains strong.  Skipjack continues to trade sluggishly, now in the $1700-1750/mton range.    Albacore continues to trade at the low price of $2400-2500.  Yellowfin has resisted the fall; it remains around $2350-2400.

OLIVES:  Major news is still Spanish queens.  New crop has a drastic shortage of over 70%.  Raw material costs have more than doubled.  Packed goods pricing for genuine Spanish queens is up over 50% from last year.  Queen olives from other countries will come into the market at lower prices, but not the same quality level.

PEACHES/COCKTAIL: The bad situation in California is worse than forecasted.  Packers are renegotiating already reduced quantities.  The California Canning Peach Assoc (CCPA) ratified a 2014 price agreement with Seneca, Del Monte and PCP for a base raw material price 8.3% higher than this year.  Imports are helping to make up the shortfall but most available supply is already spoken for.  For the upcoming Southern Hemisphere crop (opposite timing to us in the North), South Africa suffered hail last week that destroyed 5-10% of their crop.

COCONUT:  Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has had a marked impact on the desiccated coconut market.  One manufacturer reports crop damage of 35-50%.  The Philippine industry, one of the world’s largest sources, remains withdrawn at this time.

TOMATOES:  Industry fears a shortage looming for 2014.  California is expected to finish this year at 11 million US tons, about 1 million tons under pre-season expectations, and 4-7% below last year.  Italy’s tomato production has shrunk by 15% this year compared to last.  The serious problem looming ahead is that according to the WPTC, global tomato production is expected to come in at 32.8 tons.  Global consumption is expected to remain stable at 40 tons.  Ouch.

PINEAPPLE:  Far East pineapple processors escaped heavy damage from Super Typhoon Haiyan.  Still, heavy rains did not help an already tightening market, and what damage did occur will likely impact 2014 supplies. Raw material costs remain higher than normal for this time of the year: 5.8-6.1 baht/kilo now vs 5.0 normally, and 4.0 last year.

MANDARINS:  Since mandarins are high acid fruits and don’t “age well” in the can, a substantial Chinese carryover stock may bring a two tiered pricing system this year: cheap old crop vs more expensive new crop.

MUSHROOMS:  China and India are still primarily shut out of the US market. Europe (Holland, Spain, France) continue to make up the difference.

Monday, October 21, 2013


TRADE: As the government reopens, FDA and Customs have started clearing their backlog. Electronically filed customs entries continued relatively smoothly during the shutdown - it was the entries requiring manual intervention that were affected. Non-exempt staff are now back at work to handle these entries although backlogs will need to be cleared before normal service standards will resume.
Port of Baltimore Strike Update: Local 333, the ILA Chapter out on strike at the Port of Baltimore last week, has called off the strike and its members have returned to work while representatives attend arbitration with employers.

CURRENCY: Further weakness for the dollar vs the euro. Latest 1.369.

The Anuga Trade Show, held every two years in Cologne, Germany, just ran from October 5-9. This show, which boasts 7,000 exhibitors from 97 countries and over 150,000 visitors from 185 countries, is considered one of the largest food shows in the world. Major manufacturers and buyers from around the world attend this show. Following is news from the show:
Tuna: Skipjack remains relatively weak at $1800-1900/mton. Albacore trades at $2450-2550. This year’s fish aggregating device (FAD) ban is scheduled to end on October 31. Weak demand in the Middle East and increased production in China are two factors affecting the soft market.

Pineapple: Indonesia’s winter crop is running short but not enough to cause concern. Thailand’s winter crop is starting two weeks late, and raw material costs are still at 5.00 baht/kg (compared to 4.00 baht/kg last year).

Mandarins: After last year’s unfavorable returns for farmers and packers, most are proceeding with caution this year. The crop is expected to run short in terms of overall quantity and duration of the packing season due to the early Chinese New Year (end January 2014; normally it’s in February). It is being reported however, that there is substantial carryover available.

Mushrooms: China is still trying unsuccessfully to recover from its pesticide issue, and no material quantities are making it to the USA. India’s biggest manufacturer is still shut out of the US market, and effectively closed down. Overall, US imports have dropped by about 24%. Most of the supply in the US is now coming from Holland, France and Spain.

Olive Oil: Initial indications are pointing to a good olive oil crop this winter. Spain’s crop is currently estimated at 1.3 to 1.5 million tons with about 250 thousand tons in carryover. Of course much of this oil will find its way to Italy.

Olives: Spanish crop is underway, after a delayed start. Government statistics show a slight volume increase in the hojiblanca crop (usually go for ripe), a slight volume decrease in manzanillas (usually small greens), and a tremendous shortage in queens (large green olives). Queen volume is down 70%. Queen prices are still not announced but some packers are talking prices two to three times what they were last season. Final pricing will undoubtedly settle at more reasonable levels, but expect significantly higher queen prices compared to last year.

Peaches: Chinese exports YTD are running 22% higher than last year, with the USA for the first time overtaking Japan to become the number one destination for Chinese peaches.

Thursday, September 26, 2013



Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The International Trade Commission issued its determination in the five-year review of the antidumping and countervailing duty order on pasta from Italy and Turkey – the orders will be continued for at least another five years.

Some weakness for the US dollar as congress debates the shutdown.  Euro trading at about 1.35

Market is surprisingly steady, especially considering that we’re in the FAD ban period (July 1-Oct 31).

The Spanish government has downgraded its initial forecast for the new crop now underway.  Quick summary of expectations: poor crop for green, good crop for ripe and oil.  In detail, for manzanillas (used primarily for green olives), they forecast a crop to 130 thousand mton, 24% below the average crop size of the past 8 year.  For queens/gordals (large green olives), they forecast under 11, 70% below the average.  For hojiblancas (ripe olives and oil), they forecast 232, 7% above the average.  Overall production including the miscellaneous varieties is forecasted to total 478, 6% below the average.  A detailed chart of all the above, including the government’s initial estimates can be found at: http://foodimportgroup.blogspot.com/

Total world output is expected to come in at 33.4 million mtons, compared with 32.8 last season.  California and China are expecting lower tomato production this year compared to last.  In the EU, production is forecasted to shrink 9%. Italy is expected to produce only 4-4.2 million mtons.

The winter crop has opened to a poor start.  Raw material supply normally peaks at 7,500 mtons per day but is currently running at under 2,000.  Cost is 5.5 to 5.9 Thai baht/kilo.  Winter volume is forecasted to be 20% under 2012 primarily because of farmers switching to more profitable crops such a palms and rubber.  A chart of monthly Thai crop figures for the past eight years can be found at: http://foodimportgroup.blogspot.com/

Chinese packers are primarily sold out. Statistics show Chinese exports are up 22% this year-to-date compared to last.  Greece has limited stocks to offer, but at higher prices.  In California, the situation continues to worsen; deliveries have fallen short of forecasts and according to the California Canning Peach Association, this will be the third smallest crop in 50 years with an expected volume of 364,400 short tons.  In Chile, a frost has erased hopes of help coming from the Southern Hemisphere.

Chesapeake crabbers and scientists stated that 2013 has been one of the worst years in decades for blue crab harvesting, and scientists are attributing the collapse to a murderous biological process - crab cannibalism.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


TRADE: The West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA) announced an 8.1 percent increase in the Traffic Mitigation Fee at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Pedro, effective Aug 19, 2013. The new rates are $66.50 per 20’ container and $133 per 40’.

CURRENCY: Several Asian currencies have weakened recently versus the US dollar. The Thai baht is at its 3 year low, down 10% since May; the Malaysian ringgit has dropped 11% since May, the Philippine peso is 7% lower and the Indonesian rupiah is almost 20% lower.

TUNA: While the FAD ban period (July 1-Oct 31 this year) normally brings about a firming market, tuna raw material costs have remained remarkably stable over the past month. Daily catches have deteriorated 20-25% but slow worldwide demand and the weakened Thai baht have kept raw material costs down in the $1900-1950/mton range. Yellowfin continues to track with skipjack and trades at $2650. Tongol is flat. Albacore, after falling considerably last year, has been holding steady for the past few months at around $2700.

TOMATOES: After a delayed start, the Italian tomato crop is finally underway. Deliveries are still slow and most packers are not yet operating at full capacity due to insufficient raw material. As a result, pricing is quite firm. Packers are hoping the season may extend a bit longer in order for prices to stabilize. Unfavorable weather in Canada has packers there predicting one of the worst crop in recent years.

PINEAPPLE: There has been a decline in exports from major Asian producers in the first half of the year, mainly due to weak demand in Europe. In the USA, imports have actually increased by 11%. Winter crop will be starting soon, and initial expectations are for a normal crop of about 700-800,000 mtons in the next 4 months. The predicted raw material pricing is 5-5.8 baht/kilo with a lower than normal percentage availability of choice/fancy grade. In an ominous sign, the price of pineapple juice concentrate is up 30% since the beginning of the year.

MANDARIN ORANGES: Early reports indicate that drought conditions have affected the trees and could bring about a 30% decrease in 2013/14 output. The real situation will be clearer towards the middle of September. Over the past 5 years, the average annual exports from China were 320-350,000 mtons. The large 2011/12 crop of 430-450k mtons brought about a significant price drop last year. In 2012/13, total production was reduced to about 260-280k m/tons, and it is predicted there will be 50k mtons carryover going into the November 2013/14 crop. Of last year’s reported 337k mtons in exports, the USA market took about 170k; Japan 60k, and Europe 50k.

PEACHES: In Greece, canning will end later this week and pricing is still several dollars higher than from China. In China, the harvest finished on Aug 20 in the main growing area of Dangshan and final yield was about 30% shorter than last crop. The harvest in the second growing area in North China will finish mid-September and is estimated to be off 20%. Due to the short harvest and rising labor costs, the price of raw materials increased by 20%. Last year, China processed 600,000 mtons but the majority was for domestic consumption. The total processing yield this crop is predicted to be 450k m/tons. Exports last year were 132k mtons; 44k to USA, 37k to Japan, and 13k to Russia.

FRUIT COCKTAIL/MIX: Peaches and pears account for the majority of fruit cocktail/mix components; so fruit cocktail/mix pricing is firm. Last year, China exported 57k mtons; the USA took 16.5k; Europe 15k and Canada 7k.

APPLES: The USA is expecting a bumper 2013 apple harvest; the 12th largest in history.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


TRADE: NY/NJ ports remain backlogged.

Many Thai firms were closed last week for the Queen’s birthday. In Europe, many firms are shut down for August vacation and maintenance.

CURRENCY: further weakness for the dollar vs the euro, which now stands at about 1.335.

ASPARAGUS: According to the USDA, Peruvian asparagus production is expected to drop slightly in 2013. Peru’s asparagus production which has been constantly on an upward trend in the last 15 years, seems to have reached its peak. High local costs for fuel and fertilizer have been contributing factors. China seems to be the emerging competitor for asparagus, but is experiencing shortages at the moment.

BALSAMIC VINEGAR: Recently, hailstorms have hit the vineyards in northern Italy where it is estimated that there could be a decrease of up to 40-50% in grape production (grape must is the vital ingredient for balsamic vinegar). Farmers say that a hailstorm at this time of year comes at the worst possible time as it won’t give the plants enough time to recover before the harvest.

TOMATOES: The Italian crop is in the early stages of the harvest season. Initial reports point to inconsistent availability of raw material and a late start. Packers say that normally the season is in full swing by mid-August, but it seems this year, this will not occur until September. Furthermore, many packers are facing severe financial conditions as new laws demand quicker payment to the farmers, but Italian banks are not lending.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


TRADE:   The bill introduced to extend GSP was not approved.  As of Aug 1, GSP-eligible goods are no longer duty free.  Items affected include pickles, baby corn, pepperoncini and capers. There is still hope that a retroactive extension will be passed at a later date.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule defining and setting conditions on the voluntary use of the term “gluten-free.”  This rule will be applicable to both imported and domestically produced foods once effective Aug 5, 2014.  In addition to other requirements, the regulation sets a threshold for gluten of less than 20 parts per million in foods that are labeled "gluten-free," “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten.”

A port strike in Naples which began July 22nd finally ended on July 31st.  Here in the U.S., severe congestion continues throughout the NY/NJ Port.  The situation has been ongoing since early June when Maher Terminals encountered problems with a new terminal operating system.   Truckers are arriving as early as 4:00 AM and waiting as long as 12 hours to pick up from the pier.  Delays have made it difficult to remove import loads before free-time expires and demurrage charges begin. 

Some overseas firms are closed for Ramadan holiday from August 5-10.

CURRENCY: euro/dollar relatively steady at the moment.

PEACHES:  The figures from Greece are not promising;  Greek fruit crop will be down more than 50% compared to last year.  Canned fruit production is expected to be 41% lower.  Raw material price is up 32% compared to last year.

TOMATOES:  Italian tomato crop is set to begin this week (around Aug 8th); it is still believed that the crop will come in about 30% shorter than last year.  

ARTICHOKES:  Peru is set to begin their crop and initial opening prices are higher than the current market in Spanish.   Claiming higher productions costs as a reason, the Peruvians are nevertheless having a hard time concluding bookings.  Time will tell at what level the market settles.

Monday, July 29, 2013


TRADE: The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides duty-free treatment to about 5,000 products imported from more than 100 beneficiary developing countries, is scheduled to expire July 31, 2013.  A bill (H.R. 2709) introduced July 17 would extend GSP through September 2015.   While this is a positive first step, the House will not actually vote until the Senate approves similar legislation. The bill likely will need to pass the Senate by unanimous consent, meaning any one senator can block renewal, as happened in 2010.  Any attempts to amend the bill also jeopardize passage before July 31.  Import foods items that will be affected include pickles, baby corn, pepperoncini, capers.
FDA last week announced the release of two proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act.  The first relates to the Foreign Supplier Verification Program; the second pertains to the accreditation of third-party auditors.  The proposed rules for the first time put the main onus on companies to police the food they import.  Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner at the FDA, said the new rules on imports would cost companies $400 to $500 million.  Large importers are generally in favor of the new rules as most already have similar measures in place.

CURRENCY: The dollar weakened to euro/dollar 1.328, close to its 52 week low and about 4% weaker than just a few weeks ago.

PINEAPPLE: The relatively poor Thai summer pineapple crop is coming to an end and most packers will soon shut down for maintenance as fruit deliveries dwindle.  Raw material prices have leveled off at 5.50 baht/kg this season as compared to 3.00 baht/kg in 2012.  It’s hoped the higher pricing will encourage more farmers to plant and will contribute towards a better supply situation in 2014.

PEACHES -  The Greeks have finally started their season, but initial pricing is several dollars higher than expected just a few months ago before frost and hail hit the crop.

MUSHROOMS –  European suppliers (Holland, France, Spain) have dominated the US mushroom market for the past year, but the recent devaluation in the dollar could push up US pricing if these levels persist. India’s main packer remains shut with no expectation of re-entry into the market.  Chinese packers continue to face pesticide issues and anti-dumping duty rates of over 300%, effectively keeping them out of the market as well.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Based on customer feedback, starting this week the Rema Market Flash is returning to the model of frequent short reports on the week’s highlights.   Expect the straight news direct from our buyers on the week’s major occurrences in the import market.

TRADE: On July 9, 2013, U.S. Customs began implementation of Importer Security Filing (ISF or 10+2) enforcement. Importers may now see penalties of up to USD 5,000 for each instance of incorrect, incomplete or untimely filing.

CURRENCY: Euro/dollar at 1.316, after bouncing around in the 1.29-1.32 range for the past couple of weeks.  Note the 52 week high for the dollar was 1.209; the low 1.344.

PEACHES:  Coming off a short crop last season in the USA, the market remains tight.  The latest California League of Food Processors’ crop estimate for 2013 is 380,917 tons, compared with 367,956 tons last year.  Hot weather has farmers concerned about fruit sizing.  In Greece, severe hailstorms destroyed a good part of the crop; minimal exports are expected.  China still offers hope for the US market.  While some packers report the crop volume is down 40%, the USDA forecasted only a 4% drop for China – the final figure may be somewhere in between.  Quality packers in China however realize they’re the main players that can make up for shortages in the rest of the world, and pricing for high quality third-party audited fruit is firm as a result.

PEARS: In China frost during the flowering season has caused a steep reduction in crop expectation, possibly by as much as 50%.  The season doesn’t start until end August.  

TUNA: After falling the past few weeks, skipjack raw material costs have stabilized at $1900/mton.  The FAD (fish aggregating device) fishing ban started July 1st and seemed to be instrumental in stemming the decline, but so far has not pushed pricing up.  Yellowfin catch is good and market is following skipjack.  After falling steeply at the end of 2012, Albacore has remained relatively stable for the past few months and is currently trading at $2700/mton.

PEPPERS:  The start of the Spanish pepper crop is over a month late, yet farmers still expect the overall volume to approach that of last year.  In Peru, the crop is predicted to be normal and it seems more packers are entering the market this year.   In Turkey, the crop was affected by rain; much of the raw material will go to pepper paste production.  Costs in local currency are expected to run 10% higher this year, but the devaluation of the Turkish Lira may negate the increase in dollar terms.