The Covid-19 pandemic made America’s food-waste problem worse, dramatically so in some cases, forcing the food sector to adapt and find creative ways to limit waste, according to an online panel discussion Tuesday hosted by ReFED, a nonprofit focused on ending waste across the food system.
Fruit and vegetable growers would be required to conduct annual assessments of their water supplies to identify and mitigate threats of contamination for their crops under a rule proposed by the FDA on Thursday. The assessments would replace a requirement that growers conduct tests of water quality.
With Americans spending more of their food dollars at the supermarket, the specialty crop sector will continue to adapt to the pandemic and the loss of food-service sales in the new year, said agricultural lender CoBank. "Steep financial losses from the loss of food service contracts will ultimately result in the rationalization of some processing assets and production acreage."
The USDA and the FDA have agreed that the USDA can use its authority under the Defense Production Act to tell foodmakers, including fruit and vegetable processors, to operate during a coronavirus outbreak at their facilities. The directions could override decisions by state or local health officials. (No paywall)
The Commerce Department and Mexican tomato growers initialed a new agreement that, beginning on Sept. 19, will control U.S. imports of roughly $2 billion a year worth of fresh tomatoes from Mexico, said officials from both nations on Wednesday.
The smallest fruit and vegetable growers will pay comparatively more than big operators to comply with the so-called Produce Rule from the FDA — as much as 6.8 percent of their sales compared with less than 1 percent for big farmers, said three USDA economists on Wednesday.
Call it the paradox of the organic food industry: Small companies that position themselves as alternatives to mainstream food brands become popular, grow quickly, add employees, and eventually get sold — often to Big Food companies. Now one company is trying to avoid that fate by selling itself to what’s known as a purpose trust. No paywall
Lower prices for tomatoes, potatoes, and apples — three of the four most popular fruits and vegetables sold in America — are helping to hold down food price inflation, according to a government forecast.
With agricultural losses from Hurricane Irma expected to run into billions of dollars, the head of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) says the industry will lobby for federal relief, reports The Packer. "Hurricane Irma left Sunshine State citrus groves with dropped fruit, standing water and dashed hopes," said the trade publication, while tomato, strawberry and vegetable growers "came through the storm in comparatively better shape."
With a shortage of farmworker labor and growing concerns about food safety, one of the largest produce companies in the Salinas Valley of California is turning to mechanized harvesting and robotic processing of its vegetables, forever replacing the workers who once performed these jobs, says the San Francisco Chronicle.
Farm groups were among the first to testify at three days of hearings called by the Trump administration as it decides how to modify the North American Free Trade Agreement. Agriculture has been an overall winner under NAFTA.
The 8,000 free bananas that Amazon hands out every day are disrupting the banana business for local vendors. “The brainchild of CEO Jeff Bezos, there are now two stands on its corporate campus staffed with ‘banistas’ led by ‘bananagers’ who give out bananas to anyone and everyone nearby, whether that’s one banana for breakfast or a dozen,” says Consumerist.com.
The U.S. Department of Labor is charging Santiago Gonzalez, the owner of G Farms in El Mirage, Ariz., with housing roughly 70 Mexican workers in dangerous conditions and paying them below the legal minimum.