Monday, August 27, 2007

US: Almond wait causes strain

A proposed delay in the launch of a mandatory pasteurization program for California almonds is not sitting well with nut processors gearing up for the expected Sept. 1 start.The Almond Board of California has requested that the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture postpone the start of the program for six months, until March 1, to ensure the industry has met all the pasteurization steps required under the new law.Richard Waycott, president of the Modesto-based Almond Board of California, said the industry wasn't completely ready when it surveyed its members in August."We don't want the public to think we are stalling," Waycott said. "This is just taking us longer than we would like."The industry began the pasteurization effort several years ago after being rocked by two cases of salmonella contamination in the past five years. Both cases of salmonella outbreaks were linked to raw almonds.But some companies that have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in pasteurization equipment designed to kill harmful bacteria say the delay is too long. Those companies would pasteurize the almonds as a service for growers."It is going to hurt us," said George Tavernas of California Nut Co., near Turlock. "We have a big investment in this. We expected to make $300,000 to $400,000, and now we won't have that."Others face a similar dilemma.Dale and Sheri Alquist of Going Nuts in Madera said getting their pasteurization plant ready has taken them a year and nearly $1 million. And they said they can't afford to have it sit idle until March."We could go bankrupt if this delay takes place," Sheri Alquist said. "This was going to be our business, and now we have no business."Alquist said she is hoping the USDA rules against the almond board and forces a Sept. 1 start date.That remains to be seen. A federal agricultural official said Monday said that the agency expects to hear the request in the coming weeks."The concern we are hearing is that as they gear up, there is an issue of readiness," said Michael Durando, administrative branch chief for the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in Washington, D.C.Waycott said the process to validate the pasteurization program for the industry has been time-consuming and complex.A technical-review panel was created to make sure that the processes used by the industry comply with the law's requirements for minimum safety levels.Source:
Vietnam: Cashew nut exports total 92.000 tonnes in eight months
Viet Nam exported 92,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in the first eight months of this year, fetching 375 million USD, completing almost 66 percent of this year's plan in volume and 67 percent in export value.The US remained the biggest market of Vietnamese cashew nut, which imported almost 21,000 tonnes, worth more than 86 million USD, or about 33 percent of Viet Nam 's total cashew nut export in the first eight months of 2007. It was followed by China with 11,630 tonnes, worth nearly 43 million USD.The price of cashew nut is expected to increase to 4,100 USD per tonne from 3,950 USD last year, according to the Viet Nam Cashew Association.The Ministry of Industry and Trade, revealed that about 164 businesses nationwide are involved in cashew nut export, including 26 major businesses with annual export turnovers of more than 5 million USD.In an effort to promote export in the remaining four months of this year, the Cashew Association plans to renew processing equipment and production organisation and import about 50,000 tonnes of raw cashew nut to be processed for export.
I do not agree with this info but i decided to post it anyways

Hello all,

As many of you are aware, the USDA turned down the request by the California Almond Board to delay implementation of new regulations that will require all "raw" almonds to be "pasteurized" (treated a toxic fumigant or steam heating)…. if this regulation is allowed to go into effect there will be no such thing as truly raw almonds grown and marketed in this country … and possibly no longer domestic organic almonds. And one of the most egregious aspects of this new rule is that even after pasteurizing almonds with a gas considered as a possible carcinogen, or steam heating, the almonds will still be labeled as …. raw!

The Almond Board had asked for the delay because adequate production capacity was not in place to meet the September 1 deadline – an argument rejected by the USDA in their rush forward with this rule. We still question whether there is sufficient capacity to treat almonds with steam heat, rather than the only other approved alternative; the toxic fumigant propylene oxide.

We are in the midst of an aggressive campaign to pressure the USDA Secretary to suspend this rule’s implementation until the public has had a chance to have a say. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to visit the Cornucopia website ( and click on the "Authentic Almond Project" navigation button for full campaign information including a comprehensive fact sheet on the issue. Please forward a link to your staff, customers or members.

Our next step is to get public interest groups and industry professionals (growers, handlers, processors who use almonds in their products and retailers) to sign–on to the letter below.

Please click back to us with your authorization, by 5 p.m. Monday, to add your name/organization as a signatory to this important communication to the USDA Secretary. Our goal is to release this letter to the USDA next Tuesday, August 28, so we need your authorization before this to add your name to the list of signatories to the letter. This letter will not be going out under Cornucopia letterhead. It is intended to reflect the broad diversity of stakeholders engaged in and concerned with this issue. Signatories will be listed alphabetically. And if you are a farmer, please indicate so with your message authorizing us to sign you on and if you're farmer please indicate so with your message authorizing us to sign you on.

Not only is this campaign important to those who depend on raw almonds as an important and nutritious component to their diet, and those whose livelihoods depend in part by meeting these consumers expectations, this could very well be a watershed event.

We need to draw the line in the sand right here and right now. If the almond industry is successful in implementing this new "pasteurization" requirement we could very well be starting the proverbial trip down a very slippery slope — what will be the next fresh and nutritious food that will require some kind of pasteurization or even irradiation to be considered safe?

Sincerely yours,

Will Fantle
Research Director
The Cornucopia Institute


August 28, 2007

Secretary Mike JohannsUnited States Department of Agriculture1400 Independence Ave SWWhitten Building Suite 200AWashington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Johanns –

As stakeholders in the domestic almond industry, we are concerned and alarmed by the potential ramifications of the USDA’s pasteurization mandate for all domestically grown raw almonds sold in the United States. We would like to take this opportunity to share our concerns with you regarding this important new regulation.

These are matters we would have preferred to raise with you and the USDA during the comment period earlier this year when the draft rule was published for review. Unfortunately, the majority of the undersigned were unaware of the proposed regulations. Almost none of us were the generous recipients of a private mailing to handlers and processors from the Almond Board of California alerting us to the draft regulation and inviting our comments. Perhaps this accounted for the incredibly anemic 18 public comments that were submitted on the draft regulation. Nonetheless, our concerns are legitimate, and we believe they should be addressed by the USDA.

One thing we can all agree on is that California almonds are the industry’s gold standard; they are clearly the superior-quality product available in the marketplace. What is at stake, however, is the future structure and shape of domestic almond production and the continued consumption and use of California almonds in this country.

As you certainly understand, the almond is not an inherently risky food. Salmonella contamination, from fecal material, occurs when it is introduced during the handling and processing of almonds. We believe it makes sense to minimize those practices that contribute to contamination risks.

However, the preferred plan of mandatory pasteurization selected by USDA is being rushed forward and has yet to be carefully vetted by all industry stakeholders. In particular, the following aspects still need to be publicly addressed:

American almond farmers are being placed at a distinct economic disadvantage. The fact that imported raw almonds sold in the U.S. do not require pasteurization harms domestic producers and is already shifting some domestic markets to foreign sources as retailers and manufacturers of products formerly containing California almonds make the switch. These savvy marketers understand that their consumers want truly raw almonds. The foreign raw almond treatment loophole is totally illogical and at odds with the rule’s rationalization of public safety and may very well not stand a court test.

This rule will impose financial burdens on small-scale and organic farmers. The costs of the chemicals and heat treatments, in addition to the costs of extra transportation and reporting, will be disproportionably taxing on smaller producers and handlers. This is unfair since none of the reported Salmonella cases in 2001 or 2004 were traced to small-scale or organic farms. We know that the Almond Board of California performed a cursory economic analysis of the treatment impacts. The lot size for treatment, used in the macro analysis, does not take into account the realities of organic and small-scale production.

§ The least expensive option approved for "pasteurization" is treatment with propylene oxide. This substance is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Propylene oxide treatment of foods is banned in the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and many other countries. We assume you know this, as almonds exported from this country will not require pasteurization. The need to segregate exported almonds will add a significant economic burden for many producers/handlers.

§ Neither the USDA nor the Almond Board of California has released the scientific research publicly justifying the selection of propylene oxide treatment. We need the opportunity to review why it makes sense for U.S. customers to eat almonds gassed with a substance that most of the world questions the safety of. Only the Almond Board of California and its constituents have researched the pasteurization of almonds, reporting that there is no significant reduction in their quality or nutrition. Serious questions remain unanswered.

§ Organic growers and handlers that we have collaborated with indicate that there is a shortage of facilities able to provide the high-temperature or steam treatment of raw almonds. Since the propylene oxide process is not allowed under the National Organic Program Standards, this presents a difficult situation for California’s organic almond producers. This issue must be resolved before mandated pasteurization begins. Unless you intervene, domestically produced organic almonds may become unavailable after September 1. In addition, no research has been released for public review that assesses potential nutritional and compositional changes that occur in the steam-treated nuts. The public needs to see this research and have the opportunity to review and comment on it prior to this rule going into effect.

§ It is misleading and deceptive to label pasteurized almonds as “raw.” Many consumers wish to purchase truly raw, unprocessed almonds, for health, religious, or other personal reasons. In fact for some consumers with serious health issues, raw almonds may comprise as much as 30% of their dietary intake following their personal processing of the nut into various food forms. One reasonable alternative to the new rule would be to provide an unpasteurized almond option with a label clearly identifying the almond as unpasteurized. Another option would allow exemptions for organic and small-scale growers—there is some evidence that almonds grown in these environments might be inherently less risky in terms of contamination.

If there is an ongoing issue with Salmonella contamination, we need to see the scientific research that identifies it as a systemic problem, and not one that is associated solely with the largest almond farming operations or poor handling practices at the hulling and shelling level. We also want a full review of other treatment alternatives that might be less objectionable to consumers.

The above-noted comments capture many, but not all, of the issues we are concerned with regarding the mandated pasteurization plan.

We are requesting that you take action in the best interests of all almond stakeholders. Therefore, we ask that you suspend the implementation of this new regulation for a minimum of 180 days prior to the September 1 implementation date and then initiate a full review of the almond pasteurization rule with the widely disseminated notice of the opportunity for public input.

Respectfully yours,

(growers, industry participants, retailers and public interest groups are listed in alphabetical order)

Mark A. Kastel
The Cornucopia Institute
608-625-2042 Voice
866-861-2214 Fax

P.O. Box 126
Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827

August 25, 2007
Cashew market was quiet this week but undertone continued to be firm. Price levels were W240 around 2.65, W320 around 2.25, W450 around 2.15 FOB but not much business being done. Although buyers are picking up some quantities at current levels, they are not willing to pay few cents more that large processors are asking
It seems that buyers have covered most of what they need for next 2-3 months shipments and would like to see how things develop in Sep/Oct before buying additional (which they probably will have to do in next few weeks in order to be able to take positions for 2008 deliveries).
Similarly, processors have adequate sales to be shipped in next few months and do not seem to be in hurry to make additional sales (even though current prices are quite attractive compared to levels of last 18-24 months)
Feeling is that market will stabilise around current levels but if demand is strong & kernel prices continue to move up in Sep/Oct, it will impact RCN pricing in Indonesia & East Africa and establish a higher trading range for 2008
Would appreciate your comments on market situation, views on prospects for coming weeks & months and any other news or info
Also, please advise buying interest & we will do our best to put something together

Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai India

Monday, August 20, 2007

Firm expands pecan operations to San Simon
TUCSON (AP) — A farming company that already has more than 100,000 pecan trees south of Tucson is now planting in eastern Cochise County, near the New Mexico state line.
Farmer’s Investment Co. is planting its next generation of trees on more than 2,700 acres it recently bought near the tiny community of Sam Simon, said Nan Stockholm Walden, the company’s vice president and general counsel.
The company, which owns The Green Valley Pecan Co., has already planted some 26,000 pecan trees on about 500 acres and will continue planting over the next five years, Walden said.
Dale Leiendecker, Cochise County assessor, said the land was purchased over the past two years in 31 parcels for just over $6.3 million. The company partly used proceeds from land it sold near Maricopa that was being closed in by development.
Walden said the new trees, which now resemble 2- to 3-foot sticks, painted white to protect against the elements, will take seven years to begin producing any significant amount of pecans. The company will truck the pecans to its plant in Sahuarita south of Tucson.
The company has operated farming or ranching operations in several areas of the state and also owns a warehouse in Las Cruces, N.M., and about 1,000 acres near Albany, Ga.
The acquisition of the land near San Simon is part of the company’s strategy to process more of its own nuts and less from other sources, Walden said. “The more we can grow on our own land, and process, the more competitive we are.”
About 60 percent of the pecans processed at the company’s plant in Sahuarita are grown on company land, and the rest come primarily from New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
The Sahuarita plant processes about 8 million pounds of pecans a year and employs 240 workers.
The company farms more than 100,000 pecan trees on 6,000 acres along the Santa Cruz River in Sahuarita and Green Valley. The trees were planted mainly during the 1960s, but the company was established in 1948 by Keith Walden and is now operated by his son, Richard, who is married to Nan.
“We are agriculturalists,” she said, “and the third generation of our family and our workers are involved now in our operations.”
Cashews Maket Update
August 18, 2007
FOB India prices this week :

W240 US$ 2.70

W320 US$ 2.20 – 2.25

W450 US$ 2.10 – 2.12

SW320 US$ 2.05 – 2.10

SW360 US$ 1.95 – 2.00

SSW US$ 1.90 – 1.95

FS US$ 1.75 – 1.80

FB US$ 1.70

LWP US$ 1.65 (LP 1.45 )

SS/SB US$ 1.55

SP US$ 1.30 – 1.35

Market moved up a few cents this week. Business was done for W240 around 2.70, W320 around 2.20-2.25, W450 around 2.10 with large packers able to sell few cents higher. Fair amount of business has been done in last few weeks from India & Vietnam at all levels

Very little RCN is available in West Africa now but there will continue to be re-sale activity in coming weeks. Next month, India & Vietnam will start looking at Indonesia & East Africa and Brazil will start buying their crop.

RCN prices in Sep/Oct and Brazil kernel offers will have great impact on kernel prices for FH 2008 shipments. Nothing new is expected on supply side – so, the feeling is that in coming weeks, price movement will also depend on demand pull & roasters / traders strategies for FH 2008 purchases.

If shipments in third quarter are good, inventory drawdown will be reduced and upward pressure on prices for nearby shipments will ease.. otherwise spot & prompt demand will keep market firm

At current levels there seems to be reasonable buying interest. It is to be seen whether buyers are willing to pay higher prices or wait for selling interest to emerge to cover their forward requirements – a difficult call to make at any time but more so now, when prices have moved up significantly in a short period after having traded in a narrow range for a long time

Pankaj N. Sampat
Mumbai India

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pecans, pecans everywhere
Overabundance of nutty crops may mean trouble later
By Judith K. McGinnis/Times Record NewsAugust 13, 2007
Burdened with bounty, the pecan trees of North Texas are looking more and more like weeping willows.
After years of drought conditions, this summer's regular rains have brought out a bumper crop of pecans on both home landscape trees and in commercial orchards. The abundance, however, is weighing down limbs, sometimes dangerously, and may compromise the overall quality of the fall harvest.
"It's a limb-breaker crop," said Tim Montz, a commercial grower who tends more than 200 acres of pecans in the Charlie-Thornberry area. "We usually make about 2,000 pounds (of pecans) an acre but this year it could make 5,000 pounds an acre."
While at first glance that might sound like a good thing, Montz said there's a price to be paid when trees overproduce. Over-crowded nut clusters grow smaller, lower quality pecans and drain the tree of vitality it will need for the following year's crop.
"We work for consistent production. If the trees make too many pecans this year, they won't bear as many next year," said Montz. "That's no good for us."
This is why for the past two weeks Montz has brought tree shaking equipment, typically used only during fall harvest, into the orchards to shake some of the excess pecans off now while they are in what growers call the "water stage."
Those who tend the trees around their homes in anticipation of a freezer full of high quality pecans each year can improve their crop in somewhat the same way. Threshing branches gently with a long pole, the technique some use to get the last autumn pecans down, can thin the overage.
If branches are hanging low enough to brush against roofs, block access to driveways or sweep across lawns, a pruning pole can be employed to break off large, heavy clusters.
Just be ready to take cover when the leathery, lime green shucks begin to fall.
Whenever possible, wait to prune limbs and branches until pecan trees are dormant in the winter and early spring.

• It’s an ‘on’ year for most of the crop
• ‘We’re bursting at the limbs’ Central Valley pistachio growers expect a record-breaking crop this season.
Pistachio trees produce larger crops in alternating years, and orchards in most growing regions are in the "on" year of the cycle.
Preseason weather has also encouraged pistachio production and quality.
“We’re bursting at the limbs,” says Craig Colson, Kern County pistachio farm advisor. “I think this is going to be a real good year for pistachios. I’m pretty impressed with what I’m seeing out there.”
Observers say harvest may start a few days early, with an average start date of September 1st.
California orchards produce 95 percent of the pistachios grown in the U.S.
Mr. Colson says researchers are working on early varieties of the popular nut in an effort to extend the season.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Almond Market Report

Dear Friends:

Yesterday the Almond Board released its final position report for the 2006 crop year showing 82 mil in July shipments—a new record. The industry shipped 1.066 billion for the year ending July 31—also a new record, passing the 2003 crop by 42 million. The final crop was 1.117 billion lbs with 1.083 marketable. That means we shipped the entire 2006 crop. In the coming year, we have a crop estimate of 1.330 billion—finally enough to allow market expansion. The big question is how much can it expand at current prices. The last time we had a crop near enough to cover the market without significant price increases was 2002 crop. In that year we shipped 20% more than the prior crop record and ended up with only 160 mil carry out. If we expand the market 5% per year from then to the 2007 crop, we would ship 1.250 billion lbs—17% increase over the 2006 crop. Here is a possible inventory model:
Carry in Aug 1, 2007 130 million lbs
2007 crop 1.330 bil x 97% 1,290
Supply 1,420
Shipments at 15% increase 1,220
Carry out July 31, 2008 200

This would be the largest carry out since the 1994 crop (25%+ carryout of ‘94 crop) but would represent only 15% of the 2007 crop. We have been carrying out about 10% of the crop, which you all know is not enough for a smooth transition. If shipments increase only 10% for the 2007 crop, we will have a carry out of 250 million lbs, nearly 20% of the crop. We have seen unexpected increases in shipments in the past and need to expect a big increase this season because of the available crop. Price fluctuations will probably be smaller this year because of the extra inventory available. Since 1994, inventories have been restrictive and not allowed full potential of market expansion.

Here are the factors that will determine the supply and demand interaction to determine the price for the 2007 crop:
How much will shipments increase over the record 2006 crop year, and will handlers be carrying out 15%, 20% or some other portion? I am concerned that space and cash flow limitations will cause many handlers to plan NOT to carry over this amount and they will put pressure on sales to reduce inventory.
Will the crop exceed or fall short of the 1.033 billion estimate. History leads us to expect more. We’ll have a good idea in Dec.
How will the 2008 pollination look in February? Some growers expect the trees to naturally back off after this big crop load. On the other hand, we will have the largest increase in new bearing acres in years—at least 70,000 acres more—more than a 10% increase.

Following are market prices—not much change from a week ago.
2006 crop August shipment 2007 crop Oct & later
Nonpareil Supreme 23/25 AOL $2.55 per lb. FOB California 2.25
Carmel SSR 23/25 AOL 2.20 1.90
Butte SSR 27/30 AOL 2.05 1.80
Cal Std unsized 5% 1.90 1.70
Nonpareil inshell 70% 1.55
Carmel inshell 60% 1.19
Peerless inshell 35% .75
Blanched Sliced 2.60 2.35

September prices are in between and will change each week as harvest gets going.

Harvest has begun. Shellers and processors are running the early receipts of 2007 crop and complaining about small sizes, which is usually a worry at the beginning of most large crops. Later we expect better sizing but for now most handlers are not willing to offer much larger than 25/27 sizes. Buyers will get what they need but may have to be patient for the offers. I expect to have a size distribution soon and will send it on request.

Please send comments and questions.

Best regards, Ned

Ned T. Ryan
July 27, 2007

The Texas Pecan Growers meeting was held and the two (2) estimates at that meeting were from Kenneth Pape and Kyle Brookshire. They are as follows:

Click to View
Cashews cause worse allergic response than peanuts

Fri Aug 10, 12:51 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Peanuts may be more notorious, but cashews seem to trigger more severe allergic reactions in children. In a study of 141 children with allergies to cashews or peanuts, British researchers found that cashew reactions were generally more serious.

For the study, led by Dr. Andrew T. Clark of Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, 47 children with cashew allergy were matched up one-to-two with 94 children with peanut allergy. Children with cashew reactions were eight times more likely to suffer wheezing, and nearly 14 times more likely to have potentially severe cardiovascular symptoms, like heartbeat disturbances or a drop in blood pressure.
Overall, 10 of the children with cashew allergies had what the researchers defined as a severe reaction -- extreme difficulty breathing and/or loss of consciousness. That compared with just one child with peanut allergy.
The findings appear in the current issue of the journal Allergy.
It's known that tree nuts, such as cashews and walnuts, can trigger serious allergic reactions. However, this is the first study to show that children's allergies to cashews may be more severe than peanut allergies, according to Clark's team.
What's more, studies suggest that cashew allergies are becoming more common, possibly because consumption is on the rise.
Besides being eaten as whole cashews, the nuts are also found in a range of desserts and candies, in many Asian dishes and in commercially prepared pesto sauces, Clark and his colleagues note.
Other potential sources include cereals, granola bars, dressings and sauces, and even shampoos and lotions.
In general, people with an allergy to any tree nut are advised to avoid all tree nuts and peanuts as a precaution. Some people are prescribed injectable epinephrine that they can administer themselves in an emergency.
The current findings, Clark and his colleagues write, suggest that children with cashew allergies are at particular risk of severe reactions requiring epinephrine. They advise doctors to consider this when deciding whether to prescribe the emergency treatment.
SOURCE: Allergy, August 2007.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Delay in the launch of a mandatory pasteurization program for California almonds
A proposed delay in the launch of a mandatory pasteurization program for California almonds is not sitting well with nut processors gearing up for the expected Sept. 1 start.The Almond Board of California has requested that the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture postpone the start of the program for six months, until March 1, to ensure the industry has met all the pasteurization steps required under the new law.Richard Waycott, president of the Modesto-based Almond Board of California, said the industry wasn't completely ready when it surveyed its members in August."We don't want the public to think we are stalling," Waycott said. "This is just taking us longer than we would like."The industry began the pasteurization effort several years ago after being rocked by two cases of salmonella contamination in the past five years. Both cases of salmonella outbreaks were linked to raw almonds.But some companies that have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in pasteurization equipment designed to kill harmful bacteria say the delay is too long. Those companies would pasteurize the almonds as a service for growers."It is going to hurt us,"said George Tavernas of California Nut Co., near Turlock. "We have a big investment in this. We expected to make $300,000 to $400,000, and now we won't have that."Fresno County is one of the state's largest producers of almonds, with 99,300 total acres in 2006 valued at more than $494 million.As an industry, about 70 percent of the crop is exported. The remainder is sold domestically and will be subject to the new pasteurization rule.Source: