From Blue Book Services

Did organic produce search interest peak…a decade ago?

May 1, 2019 - Produce with Pamela 

I’ve long been a fan of using Google tools to track food trends, so Steven Lerch’s presentation at Viva Fresh was right in my wheelhouse.

There was one thing about his presentation, however, that gave me pause.

Lerch suggested we need to make sure to keep an eye on trends and validate our efforts. Genetic engineering, for example, isn’t as catchy as it used to be. I can believe that.

He said organic produce was another that peaked more than a decade ago, and I swear you could hear that record scratch noise in the crowd.

Say what? Organic produce isn’t popular, you say?

No stranger to myself, I looked.

And yes. Interest over time for “organic produce” in the Food & Drink segment on Google Trends did peak back in February 2006.

I’ll be darned.

… but is it that simple?

Of course not. We all know just “googling” something doesn’t always show you what you’re looking for.

If you change the search term to “organic” you’ll see a much different trend line that continues to go up.

“Organic fruit” also is gaining, but “organic vegetables” seem to be flat.

The growth of the organic category in sales and production tells me we maybe didn’t need to track it on Google Trends.

Something like elote (street corn), though? I called that one two years ago and it’s still on a huge uptick. I even saw it in the freezer case at Costco last week.

You should consider a promo for Cinco de Mayo this weekend.

Trends like street corn and fad diets are great topics to track on Google Trends, and don’t forget to drill down by region and related searches. All of that data can help you catch on to the next big thing before consumers even know they want it.

Tagged organic produceproduce with pamelastreet corntrends

Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.

China Tariff Discussion

China: Tariffs
Per its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession agreement, China reduced its Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff on fresh table grapes to 13% on January 1, 2004. This is the rate applied on grapes imported from the U.S.

On April 2, 2018, China implemented an additional 15% tariff on U.S. table grape imports. This action served as a retaliation against the U.S. implementing additional tariffs on certain foreign imports, including steel and aluminum imports from China.

A 13% Value-Added Tax (VAT) is applied on all agricultural imports based on duty paid value.

Message on water in CA - 5/31/18

Dear Friends,

The Bureau of Reclamation recently increased the water allocation for south-of-delta users from 40 percent to 45 percent.  

Any additional water in the Central Valley is welcome, and a 45 percent allocation is surely better than the zero allocation we were receiving not long ago. This increase comes amid another positive development, which is that most Valley water agencies and ag groups are now speaking with one voice and have ended the circular firing squad that, for a long time, held back Valley efforts to get more water. 

Still, there is a lot more work to do. The Valley should be getting a 100 percent allocation. Environmental regulations that result in billions of gallons of water being flushed into the ocean, the operation of the pumps at less than capacity, and the lack of adequate storage are crucial problems that diminish our water security. The House of Representatives has passed numerous bills to solve these problems, all of which have been killed by Democratic opposition in the Senate. So long as Senate Democrats refuse to provide Valley communities the full allocation we're entitled to, our fight for water will continue. 



Devin Nunes
Member of Congress

May 2018 - from

Coachella grape season about to start after delay
After a slight delay, the table grape season in Coachella is finally ready to begin. Sporadic weather is to blame for the delayed start, with growers mentioning that the frequent changes in conditions have somewhat confused the vines. As a result, portions of the crop are lighter than others, while overall fruit sizing is smaller than usual. It also means that early grape volumes will be lighter. 

"This year's Coachella season is a little bit later than normal," said Rob Spinelli. "We are expected to start early next week with our conventional Sugarone greens and red flames. Some growers have already started but we're seeing a lot of smaller sized fruit than normal. Because of the sporadic weather, the fruit set is also varied in different spots, with some more advanced than others. Early season grapes look to be lighter in volume, but as we get to our later vineyards in Coachella, it looks to be a more normal yield."


Later start good in context
The later start is set to benefit growers, as it will present a chance to clear out any remaining stock from Chile. This pattern is also set to continue throughout the California season, with each region predicted to start a little later than usual. 

"This will help clear out some of the Chilean crimsons, meaning that we won't be overloaded with stock once volume increases in California," Spinelli observed. "Therefore, we expect to have a smooth transition. The front end of the Mexico deal has also been light and we expect demand, particularly for greens, will be strong."

"Organic reds will start up at the end of next week, followed by greens and blacks during the week of May 21," he added. "It looks like the San Joaquin Valley will also be starting later than it has in the last five years, towards the end of June or early July. This can also be attributed to the hot and cold weather during the past few months. A start date at the end of June or early July is actually closer to the long term average for this region."

Sugarone grapes

Newer varieties to bring different profile
Anthony Vineyards will be launching a few new varieties this season. The IFG varieties will appear later in the season and will stretch for the bulk of the California season. According to Spinelli, these grape varieties have a sweeter flavor profile, quite distinct from traditional varieties.

"Starting July, Anthony Vineyards will see some of the new IFG varieties beginning," he shared. "This includes the Candy Dream and Funny Fingers. Both are black varieties, with the Funny Fingers being elongated. We also have Candy Hearts which is a red variety harvesting into August. These are very sweet grapes and are a category of their own with a different flavor profile. From early August to the end of October, we will also have the Sweet Sapphire available."

HLB article from the Packer

The Packer May 14th, 2018

HLB Fight Lacks Single Silver Bullet, Researchers Say
Ashley Nickle

THE NATIONAL Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has concluded that discovering
a single solution for huanglongbing (HLB) remains unlikely.
That determination came as little surprise in Florida, where growers have been battling HLB for
more than a decade.
The long-term fix is probably genetically resistant trees, but in the meantime companies have
been engaged in developing multi-faceted programs in hopes of mitigating the effects of HLB.
Stephen Futch, a citrus extension agent for the University of Florida, gave several examples.
“Any of those things that you can do to minimize the stresses to the tree, either moisture stress,
nutrient deficiency, those kind of things tend to help the tree be able to survive with the disease a
little bit better,” Futch said.
“People are doing more frequent irrigation of smaller quantities, again a way to minimize
moisture stress to the tree.”
That irrigation option doesn’t require more water, just adjusting by watering for a short time each
day instead of every three or four days for longer durations, he said.
Growers have applied the same logic to nutrition, delivering it through irrigation systems and via
other methods so the trees have a steady supply.
Most growers have adopted new strategies as well as new products like bacteriacides to fight the
disease, Futch said.
With those efforts underway, many companies had hoped to have significantly more fruit for the
2017-18 season — until Hurricane Irma hit the state.
In California, commercial production has not yet been affected by huanglongbing, and the state
has been aggressive in its work to maintain that status.
“It’s a challenge,” said California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen.
“There’s no question about it. We continue to get darn near daily reports, unfortunately, about
backyard trees being discovered with HLB. We’re close to 600 trees being removed in Los
Angeles/Orange County area.”
Homeowners have been cooperative in removing trees that are found to have the disease, but
the overall program has been expensive and extensive.

5/17/2018 The Packer May 14th, 2018

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine put together the 170-page report
at the behest of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, according to a news release.
According to the report, significant steps in the fight against HLB would include culturing the
bacteria in a lab; developing advanced diagnostics for early disease detection; and creating
standardized research methodology so the results of various studies could be easily compared.


Article from Produce News about 2018 Mexico Grapes

HERMOSILLO, SONORA, MEXICO -- Mexico is expected to export 15.85 million boxes of table grapes this spring. This is a decrease by 24 percent, or 5.16 million boxes, from last year’s record crop of 21 million boxes. This year’s total is regarded by the Mexican grape industry as a normal level, with plenty of grapes for retail promotions this spring. Grape quality is regarded as very high.

The main Sonoran grape harvest is to begin in the first days of May. This grape deal will run into early July.

These numbers were released to The Produce News early April 20 as Mexico’s grape industry and its suppliers gathered at Hermosillo’s Los Lagos golf club for the announcement. Juan Laborin, director general of AALPUM, indicated that the estimate was derived from his contact with every grower, asking for last year’s final export numbers. The growers individually provided 2018 estimates for different types of grapes.

AALPUM, the Mexican grape growers association, is based in Hermosillo. AALPUM is an acronym for Asociación Agrícola Local de Productores de Uva de Mesa.

Mid-season green seedless grapes for export are expected to take the largest hit in production in 2018, dropping 30 percent from a total of 4.4 million cases in 2017 to 3.1 million cases this year.

Early green seedless are expected to be down 28 percent to 2.6 million cases. Early green seedless production in 2017 was 3.6 million cases.

Red seedless varieties this year will be down 23 percent from 10.1 million cases last season. The 2018 estimate is for 7.8 million boxes of red seedless table grapes from Mexico.

Red seeded, black and other varieties are each expected to be down 15 percent this spring. Red seeded export production this year is estimated to be 584,000 cases. Black grape volume is anticipated to be 1.1 million boxes. Other varieties should total 713,000 boxes.

Laborin was to offer full comments on the estimate mid-day in Hermosillo, but in recent weeks, he and other industry leaders had stressed that last year's crop had broken all records. Early unofficial guesstimates proved to be highly accurate at 16 million. That volume is regarded a normal. Thus, they stressed retailers will have plenty of promotable volumes and noted the industry will need those promotions to move their healthy crop.

The volume is lower than last year because of unusually high heat in Sonora in December, January and February. In late February, there was frost damage in some districts which lowered productivity. While there are new production areas coming into production in Mexico, those table grape volumes outside of Sonora for 2018 are not yet significant.

A Discussion about Sunriver Harvest of Fresh Produce

Sunriver has a real-time intelligence team that enables us to harvest our fruit at the optimal point of maturity, which matches the fruit to our customers' needs and guarantees a better product for our customers.

We combine this information with our assessment of customer demand to schedule all harvest activities. This allows us to get the best fruit to you when you need it – fresh off the tree or vine. With our diverse portfolio of land throughout California, as well as our dynamic harvesting labor force, we often find areas to pick fruit when others cannot due to poor weather. Once the harvest schedule is determined, our citrus and vine products are handpicked and placed in containers for transport to one of our packing facilities.