Year overview: October

More and more news about shipping and logistics emerged in October.

Transnet Port Terminals reported handling 12 percent more export citrus this year after heavy infrastructure investment while the government in India announced it would tackle the container shortage.
Logistics issues on both sea and land impacted mango shipments. And one Turkish exporter of fresh produce says the lack of containers has resulted in gaps or windows that Turkish produce could fill.

In the U.S., October also saw the number of container ships waiting for berthing at Southern California ports reach record before falling slightly. However the Port of Oakland reported seeing increased movement of produce to Southeast Asia. Meanwhile Costco announced it would charter three vessels for Transpacific routes.

And in brighter shipping news, China-U.S. spot freight rates plunged--rates from China to the U.S West Coast saw the highest price cut by nearly half. Yet, container lines made record profits at US $150 billion in 2021.

In commodity news, Brazilian ginger prices were up more than 100 percent in three weeks--one shipper reported there was approximately 50 percent less compared to last year. Meanwhile Indian ginger was penetrating the EU, Russian and U.S. markets aggressively at a competitive price.

Citrus also proved to be a popular topic for October. While Chile still battled the current citrus season, it hoped for a better one next year. At the same time, Southern hemisphere orange exports exceeded 2020 levels--Argentina by +11 percent, South Africa by +3 percent and Chile by +5 percent. Also in South Africa, Clemengold International clamped down on trademark infringements for its widely recognized teardrop-shaped fruit sticker. And shippers wondered: did a collaborative approach save South Africa’s citrus exports to the U.S.? Also Mozambique and Eswatini picked up on bananas as South Africa's bananas made way for citrus, avocados and macadamias.

In the U.S., Fred Gmitter, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences citrus breeder, said he believed the citrus greening disease’s impact in both North Florida and South Georgia citrus growers is inevitable. And in Mexico, different regions saw different sizing on limes which created a two-tier market.

Meanwhile in other citrus developments, AgroFresh introduced SmartCitrus which helps citrus growers to create a produce freshness program.

In other industry news, trade shows and conference took place this month both virtually and in-person. Fruit Attraction was held in Madrid and despite all the COVID difficulties, exhibitors and visitors were very pleased with the event. The 13th edition of the Cool Logistics took place virtually and discussed the fact that congestion, not container shortages, are the major cause of delays and stressed that more communication is vital. And also held virtually was the first ever Haskap Symposium organized by the Canadian Haskap Association.

Weather events are always on watch for both growers and shippers. In Spain, another hailstorm hit 17,200 hectares of crops in Spanish Region of Valencia--the hardest hit were the areas of Casinos, Llíria, Domeño and part of Pedralba, with around 8,000 hectares of damaged persimmons, citrus and almond trees and vegetables ready for harvest. Following a summer of record heatwaves, California growers and shippers were assessing how its recent intense rain would affect commodities. And La Niña emerged across the equatorial Pacific, setting the stage for worsening droughts in California and South America and likely more frigid winters in parts of the U.S. and Japan.

And in industry developments, Viveros Grajera says it is the first in the world to get avocado plants grafted on clonal rootstocks from in vitro culture. Meanwhile Costa Rica presents itself as a boutique fresh produce country

The U.S. blocked imports from two Mexican greenhouses based on information that reasonably indicated the use of forced labor against workers. Also in the U.S., Walmart announced plans to build its largest grocery distribution center to date--the 720,000+ square foot high-tech facility is set to open in 2024 in Spartanburg County, SC. And the new organization that combines PMA and United Fresh reveals its board of directors and its new name: the International Fresh Produce Association.


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