Peru’s Efforts to Boost Coffee Sector Stifled by High Costs, Low Prices

Peruvian coffee arabica organic

“Coffee farmers throughout Peru are weighing the relatively high costs of replanting old or diseased trees against low international prices. Such market forces are threatening the country’s already economically delicate coffee sector, according to the latest annual report from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service(FAS).

Peru remains the world’s leading exporter of organic Arabica coffee, with an estimated 90,000 certified hectares in addition to non-certified farms, which in many cases are following organic practices out of necessity due to lack of access to chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides.

According to the FAS report, many smallholder coffee farms throughout Peru have not fully recovered financially from the leaf rust outbreak that peaked in the country in the market year 2013/14, affecting as much as 50% of the country’s total crop production.

While Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture has led an ambitious rust recovery and replanting program in the years since, and the federal government has initiated a sweeping marketing initiative for coffee, total coffee-farmed land in the country is estimated to be 390,000 hectares in 2019, a negligible increase compared to last year. The report further estimates that countrywide production volumes and export volumes will see slight increases over last year’s levels.”

Read more here.

Webster Hall Team Opens New Seneca Avenue Restaurant

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 10.09.34 AM.png

“The family behind New York’s Webster Hall has opened a new organic American eatery on Seneca Avenue. The Seneca combines a coffee shop, restaurant and bar inside the new digs that opened last summer at 582 Seneca Ave., owners said.

The eatery features a full coffee menu, kombucha on tap, a full menu of beers, natural wines and cocktails, and a short menu of elevated bar food. A breakfast sandwich comes with house-made sausage and hot sauce, the chicken club comes on pullman bread and the tacos come with either chorizo, avocado or mushrooms.

The Seneca is open from Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., the kitchen stays open until midnight and happy hour is from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day, according to the eatery’s website.”

See more here.

UNFI completes SUPERVALU acquisition

Image result for unfi“United Natural Foods Inc. closed its $2.9 billion purchase of Supervalu Inc. on Monday, with Supervalu shares disappearing from the New York Stock Exchange as the first sign of the completed takeover.

In coming months, United Natural aims to sell Supervalu’s grocery store chains, including Cub Foods, and narrow its business to wholesale distribution similar to its own.

United Natural Foods (UNFI), based in Providence, R.I., is the nation’s largest distributor of organic and natural foods. With Supervalu, the company will more than double its size and expand its reach into traditional foods and grocery stores.

View more here.

Organic Food Joins the GMO Scuffle

Last week, we discussed the new law that Congress and President Obama passed that would require GMO labeling, and the industry pushback against the bill.  This week, the story continues with organic food producers who are roiled by non-organic but non-GMO packaging claims.

In the United States, “Organic” labeling laws are very strict and can require hefty investments in infrastructure and licensing.  However, “non-GMO” labels–not so much.  For organic food producers, this has become an unsettling situation, because annual sales of the Non-GMO Project-labeled food have skyrocketed from $7 billion two years ago to $16 billion today.  Meanwhile, the Non-GMO Project products tends to cost less than organic.

Thus, organic food companies are beginning to speak out with concerns, even though many of the first companies involved with the Non-GMO Project are in fact organic producers.  The Non-GMO Project started when organic producers wanted to test their foods for GMOs–a step not required by Organic labeling laws.

For the consumer, this creates a dissonance.  Most shoppers aren’t fully aware of the difference in expectations, or that the FDA has repeatedly stated that there is no health benefit to avoiding GMOs. “It’s a little frustrating, to be honest,” says Jesse LaFlamme, CEO and owner of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs. “OK, it’s great that there’s a non-GMO symbol on there. But do you understand that that product might have been produced with pesticides, antibiotics, and with no regard for animal welfare?”

Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, puts it this way: “Non-GMO is agriculture before GMOs were introduced, which is still chemical agriculture.”

To read more, click here.

Major Producers Paying Farmers to Go Organic

With consumer demand for organic foods now outpacing supply, major companies like Kellogg’s and General Mills are now taking the next logical step to meet that demand: paying farmers to go organic. The move makes perfect sense from a profit perspective; organic foods are now at a 47% premium, and their sales grew 11% last year (4 times the growth industry-wide). Experts say this growth would have been even greater, if there had been more organic food to actually sell.

Given enough time, supply should theoretically increase on its own, but the large up-front costs associated with organic certification are a major hurdle for current conventional farmers. Inspection fees for the federally regulated organic label are paid by growers, who also have to cover the higher labor costs associated with organic farming methods when they abandon synthetic pesticides. Yields are also lower, which makes the switch a risky move as well. So Big Food is in some cases bridging the gap, providing start-up funding to help farmers transition and paying a premium for foods during that transitional phase.

To read more, click here.

Organic Food Waste Bill

In efforts to achieve zero waste in landfills by 2030, iStock-9013928_Kitchen-Waste-Composting_s3x4.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.1707Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a bill that would require businesses to separate food waste and regular trash. Hotels, arenas and large-scale restaurants would be required to create systems and comply to this proposal regularly.  The regulation applies to restaurants in hotels with more than 150 rooms, vendors in arenas and stadiums with seating capacity of at least 15,000 people, food manufacturers with a floor area of at least 25,000 square feet and wholesalers with at least 20,000 square feet. Mayor de Blasio believes “The commercial establishments in today’s proposal are already recycling plastics and metals, and by additionally recycling organic material, they will significantly contribute to reducing our city’s waste stream.” Exempt from this regulation are other food businesses like grocery stores, caterers, normal-sized restaurants and fast-food establishments. It is deemed that the sanitation department is set to publish this rule over the summer and is subjected to start after a 6-month grace period for businesses. Businesses will be given the option to arrange for collection by a private carter, transport organic waste themselves, or compost on-site, subject to compliance with the city’s sewer system. Business will be entirely liable for all costs and challenges associated with composting- space, price, arrangement.

For more information on the bill, click here

Whole Foods Announces a Whole New Concept

Popular sustainable grocer Whole Foods announced today that they are currently working on a sister concept that will provide budget friendly option for Millennials. The new concept will offer the same core values of Whole Foods, providing organic, sustainable options but with out the premium price tag. Whole Food’s co- CEO, Walter Robb states that their goal is to create a “uniquely branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace.”

Whole Food’s has often faced criticism for their high prices and have even been teased with the nickname “Whole Paycheck” as many cannot afford to shop there. Additional details about the chain will be released to the public before Labor Day and sources say that the new chain has the potential to be just as big as the original Whole Foods concept.

Trends in the industry show that healthy is what consumers want and companies are willing to do whatever it takes to get customers in the door. As we previously posted earlier in the week Panera Bread joined the vast list of food companies vowing to clean up their menus. Operations are removing artificial ingredients from their menus, sourcing food that is free of GMO’s and introducing healthier options.

To read more about Whole Food’s new concept, click here