Now posting twitter updates on the blog page with a widget, I’m up to 105 followers now on Twitter and I’m wondering if some of the real time chat capabilities of twitter could eventually be of use for the blog.  I have also created a “twibe.” Go here to join:

Something I learned from a Martha Stewart tweet: 14% of Americans have a Twitter account and 48% of those use it only once a month.
I’ve noted that more and more of The Packer staff has signed up for Twitter. Even though peer pressure can be a powerful thing, I’m certain there will be a few holdouts.  Speaking of holdouts, Jim Prevor, a.k.a. Perishable Pundit, where is your twitter account? I have been searching for it, but to no avail so far…

 Back to the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group(s), both the LinkedIn Group and the Google group continue to grow. The Google group now tops 200 members and the LinkedIn group has been on a torrid pace and now has 179. Current discussion threads on the LinkedIn group include small growers/food safety requirements and continued talk about traceability.  Meanwhile, the Google Group has had a fascinating thread from Luis about the networking of smaller farms under one banner.

You need to join both groups and here is the LinkedIn group and here is the Google Group.

Here are some recent USDA FAS reports of interest:

Argentina citrus:  From the report summary:

Fresh citrus production for CY 2009 is estimated to decrease to 2.63 million metric tons (MT). Lemon production is forecast to increase primarily due to higher yields. Orange and tangerine production is expected to decrease as a result of drought and late frosts. Grapefruit production is also expected to fall as area planted is decreasing. Exports of all four types of citrus are forecast to fall mainly as a consequence of the international financial crisis and lower production (orange and tangerine). Lemon domestic consumption is expected to remain stable. Orange, tangerine, and grapefruit consumption is estimated to decrease primarily due to lower production. The Argentine Government cut in half the export tax on fresh fruits and vegetables for 2009 in an effort to encourage exports.

More:

Post forecasts an increase in fresh lemon production for CY 2009 to a total of 1.45 million MT primarily due to higher yields. Fresh orange production is forecast to fall to 660,000 MT and fresh tangerine production to drop to 290,000 MT as a result of a severe drought and late frosts. Fresh grapefruit production is also expected to decrease to 230,000 MT as area planted to grapefruit is gradually decreasing. Domestic consumption in CY 2009 is estimated to remain stable for lemons and decrease for the other 3 types of citrus due to lower production. Exports of all four types of fruits are forecast to decrease mainly as a result of lower production (orange and tangerine) and the impact of the global economic crisis. Post is increasing its estimated production for CY 2008 lemon, orange, and tangerine production over initial estimates due to revised information from contacts in the industry. Despite the effect of frosts, followed by drought, which affected blossoms in most of the citrus production areas in 2007, production did not fall as much as initially estimated. Grapefruit production is forecast to remain stable. The GOA reduced the export tax on fresh fruits and vegetables by half on December 31, 2008. Fresh deciduous fruit and stone fruit currently pay a 5 percent export tax, while citrus fruit and vegetables pay 2.5 percent. See the Import and Export Regulations section for additional information on the change in the export tax.

TK: Another USDA FAS report: China and tomato products

On China’s fresh tomato trade:

China’s fresh tomato (H.S. code 070200) exports are expected to increase steadily, driven by demand from neighboring countries. China exported 116,675 tons of fresh tomatoes in CY 2008, of which more than 60 percent was shipped to Russia. The northern cities of Harbin and Manzhouli border Russia and also serve as the largest export ports of China’s fresh tomatoes. Considering China produced more than 38 million tons of fresh tomatoes in MY2008/09, exports are relatively small. FAS/China believes this can be attributed to two major factors: residue issues and the lack of a seamless cold chain. Many of China’s producers cannot meet importing country MRL limits for certain pesticide residues on fresh tomatoes. For those producers that can meet import standards, the lack of cold chain and adequate packaging to prevent spoilage remain a challenge. China does not currently grant market access for fresh tomato from any country.

TK: The best for last, the New Zealand Fresh Deciduous Semi-Annual

From the Executive Summary:

At 454,150 tons, New Zealand apple production in MY 2008 is up 3.2% over last year but less than originally forecast. The good quality of this year’s crop means that less fruit is destined for processing, down an estimated 16% from last year to 105,000 tons, but more is destined for export. Based on official Pipfruit New Zealand crop estimates released in February, 2009 and subsequent interviews with industry contacts, exports are forecast to reach 294,250 tons, up nearly 13% from last year.
The variety make up of New Zealand’s apple exports is changing. In CY 2000, the Braeburn variety accounted for 35% of New Zealand’s total apple exports but, by CY 2008, this variety had fallen to 27%. Royal Gala is now the most significant New Zealand export variety accounting for 38% of total exports in CY 2008. Fuji is the third most important variety, however, other varieties are becoming increasingly important including Jazz, Cripps Pink (Pink Lady), and the Pacific series of apples (eg Pacific Beauty, Pacific Queen and Pacific Rose). While there has been a consolidation in the number of growers and marketers in the New Zealand apple industry, there has been an increase in the varieties exported and marketed worldwide. The United Kingdom is still the top export market for New Zealand apples but is declining in importance and now accounts for just 17% of total exports, down from 22% in CY 2006. On the other hand, many Asian markets are growing in importance and, according to Pipfruit NZ, now account for approximately 23% of total exports. By contrast, North America accounts for 15.4%. In MY 2008, approximately 9% of New Zealand’s apple production area was certified organic with an additional 2% in the conversion process. This is up from 8% in MY 2007. An estimated 6% of the export crop is certified organic. New Zealand initiated a WTO case against Australia regarding market access for apples in 2007. The case is proceeding and oral hearings are scheduled to take place June 30–July 2, 2009. The WTO case turns on whether Australia has drawn rational conclusions in relation to the available science, and applied appropriate market access restrictions as a result. The diseases at issue are Fireblight, European Canker and Apple Leaf Curling Midge. The New Zealand submission highlights the shortcomings in what is viewed as a highly politicized process of dealing with the New Zealand application.