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.