2016- THIS YEAR’S TOP TEN
10) WATER LABELS – Here we go again. Labeling and inspections services are on a rocket ride straight up. The latest insanity is a products water footprint. How much water was used to grow the produce you buy? They are proposing a point system and label on every piece of produce sold so the customer will be informed.
9) COO NON-LABELING – While the water footprint codes heat up some of the more obvious information the customer wants to know is effectively being hidden. While the Country Of Origin label is no longer required. We think this is important for customers as we also strive to understand where our food comes from. This is also a trend that is going to cost the majority of growers while protecting the few.
8) GMO NON-LABELING- This is a perfect example. Because GMO labeling is not required (which would hurt sales) growers of non-GMO products have to pay the price. Enter the non-GMO commission which for a fee, a percentage, and your second born will approve your product as non-GMO. All we need is one big boy sign on and another wasted 20 billion dollars in certifications creates a new industry. So, traditional farming is being audited out of business while progressive marketing (irradiation, GMO) pays nothing. We no longer designate the unusual; instead we increasingly have to certify the crap out small farmer products. This is political payola and we are being fooled. Our food knowledge is intentionally being stifled while our country is promoting knowing where our food comes from.
7) ORGANIC CONFUSION – It is good for the ground? Is it good for the planet? Is it good? Organics have become more of a marketing joke as certification companies continue to keep their hands in the grower’s wallets, and the prices continuing to rise. Now greenhouse and hydroponic product is fighting to get in the game so ground becomes substrate. All for a label that increases pricing. How does this help the consumer?
6) ORGANIC POWER- In some cases it has really gotten out of hand. A grower in Colorado grew potatoes organically but could not get his certificate because the auditing company did not like a certain fertilizer. This chemical was approved federally and by the state but not by the certifying company who decided to take the law into their own hands. This is now in the courts but you see the direction this insanity is going.
5) MARKETING MAGIC – So last year we struggled with a name and had to change from Midnight Moon to Harvest Moon to avoid infringement with a plum grower in the Pacific Northwest. We sampled it at food shows and customers loved the beautiful smooth purple skin and the brilliant yellow flesh. They also loved the taste. But how do you explain to the customer that the purple potato they are admiring is actually a yellow potato? You sample it for them like we did for the buyers who loved it at the food shows. So, in 2017 the Harvest Moon is going on the road! No trucks wasting energy driving a 4000 pound potato around the country, we will do this one taste bud at a time.
4) FOOD SAFETY- As the world continues to assure its citizens that the food they are eating is safe, there are still problems, complications and fails. The Federal Center for Disease Control reported on September 4th that there were 838 reported illnesses due to Salmonella Poona found in Mexican imported cucumbers. There were also 4 deaths. Most of the illnesses and deaths occurred 3 months earlier. With all the safety features in place, we should be able to move faster than that. What about the unreported illnesses?
3) PRODUCE TREND – So kale, which has been the superfood leader for maybe three years now, is being usurped. Furthermore it is not even being topped by a vegetable in the traditional sense, more of a spice. Move over kale, it’s turmeric time. Most popular for the coloring of mustard, turmeric is a root vegetable that is a rhizome like ginger. It has the latest and greatest healing properties and has been known to remove viruses from computers and spam calls on cell phones. So in the coming year we will see turmeric dressing, turmeric juice, and turmeric salads. Our prediction for the next superfood is water cress. Think we’ve been saying that for two years now. We’ll see.
2) UGLY PRODUCE – We think this is a great thing and one of the most simple and sensible moves our industry can support. Food service has been doing this for a while because of the economic value, but retailers having access to be willing to market fruits and vegetables that are not museum perfect is huge. First and foremost it reduces planetary waste. Second, it allows people you often could not afford the fresh produce to eat healthier. Additionally it educates the customer, and is a huge marketing opportunity for the retailer. Everything about this is good. Hope we don’t find a way to corrupt it.
1) BIOTIC FARMING- There is a lot to be thankful for in our industry. In the largest sense, we are feeding our country. In the simplest view, we are keeping our local customers in business. From a specialty point of view there is the joy of bringing a new product to market. Currently nothing excites more than biotic farming. Organics will eventually be subordinate to biotic farming, “Take care of the soil and the soil will take care of the plants is the tag line. It means compost, less water, less carbon emission, no pesticides and equivalent or greater yields. This is the next big thing or it is already here.
From us and ours to you and yours wishing you a safe, happy and healthy New Year
Call 908-789-4700 –Lisa or Richard– Fax 908-789-4702
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Culinary Specialty Produce, Inc., 2015