Produce Update-May 20 2015
Randy: Several news items this week that warm the soul and prove that change is happening.
The USDA, in a move that is totally unexpected, has developed a government certification and labelling program for food products that are GMO free. Apparently, at the request of a “major” food provider in the US, the program will be voluntary, and companies will have to pay for audits.
Although it is unlikely to pass the US Congress or Senate, a San Diego congressman (Juan Vargas, who happens to be the child of immigrant field workers) has presented a new bill that would require that any company with annual sales over $1 Billion (which would include the likes of Wal Mart and many other major retail chains) would have to have mandatory audits to ensure their entire supply chain and all products offered have not been produced using child or forced labour. And yes, it will probably go nowhere, but the fact that this will be actually debated in the US Congress is astounding.
The PMA (Produce Marketing Associationn) which is a global organization, had a trade show and convention last week in Mexico. Lead speaker, PMA CEO Bryan Silbermann sad that the produce industry has reached a tipping point in social responsibility. He said that while this isn’t really on the radar of the majority of supermarkets, he said that times were changing rapidly, because until very recently consumers haven’t expressed a lot of interest in the sustainability, the social responsibility of produce.” He noted major retail chains, including Starbucks have drawn attention to social responsibility through a focus on fair trade, and warned the industry to basically get moving. “I do think consumers are becoming far more demanding. They want to know what’s in their food, where it was grown, who grew it, and I think web-based tools have altered the balance of power in terms of communication.”
Jodi: We’re right at the end of the biggest part of the citrus season. Lemon prices are going up, navels are completely done and valencias have just a few weeks left. Limes are stable in price and supply, and grapefruit supply is good, but it’s pretty slim pickings out there folks! Thankfully California stone fruit is on now so we’re not without tasty sweet stuff! California new crop spuds are coming in and lookin’ good. We have lots of tasty fingerlings and red and yellow bulk and bags.