your-news image

Back in the 1970s, I was driving along a freeway near Columbus, OH, in midwinter. The highway was covered with several inches of snow and the pavement under the snow was icy, so it was good to see a salt truck and snowplow working ahead of me on the road.

The only problem was that the salt truck was in front and the plow in back. Perhaps the city was testing the effects of higher levels of sodium chloride on the grass along the freeways in the spring. Similar questions arise in my mind as I see the debate on the continuance of the Andean Trade Preference & Drug Eradication Act, which expires June 30.

Ecuador now stands alone in the program: Colombia and Peru now have Free Trade Agreements in effect with the United States and Bolivia was already eliminated.

As a U.S. citizen who has lived in Ecuador for nearly 25 years, and been involved in the floral industry there when it was only 4 percent of its present size, I am concerned that just as the salt that could have been so useful was plowed off the road, a program that has yielded tremendous benefits at a low cost to the United States may meet a similar fate.

Why should ATPDEA be continued (or at least replaced by the General System of Preferences for roses)? There are three key reasons:

• It works. The United States at its peak never reached 500 acres of greenhouse roses but Ecuador alone has 5,500 acres today and only supplies about 25 percent of the cut roses imported into the United States. Less than 25 percent of the farm price stays in Ecuador; the vast majority of value added is added in the United States.  

Without the volume and competition these flowers provide in the market, supply would shrink and prices would climb, putting further pressure on mass market and other retail floral sales. Estimates are that each cut-flower industry job in Ecuador and Colombia creates one U.S. cut-flower job. That means employment has grown here. The ATPDEA has curbed drug smuggling and illegal immigration from Ecuador.

• ATPDEA is not a gift from the United States; it is part of a bilateral or multilateral trade relationship between countries. I work in part for the only remaining greenhouse rose breeders in the United States. We can import duty-free into Ecuador our mother plants, test codes, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, plastics, etc. Although it is not a two-way agreement at the present time, there are parallel agreements providing reciprocal benefits.

• Domestic production cannot meet the gap. There are now fewer than 185 acres of greenhouse roses in all 50 states (mainly in California) and they supply less than three percent of the market. Production cost and variety differences, head size and stem length limit U.S. greenhouse rose growers to niche markets, which they can continue to fill.

California produces more than five times as many non-tropical flower species as Ecuador, and Ecuador cannot compete in the production of most of these species.

Although work continues on ATPDEA renovation, prospects seem dim. The alternative, the Generalized System of Preferences, is a more complicated and general program, but may be the most viable option now. I hope voices of reason will prevail for the good of the entire flower industry in the United States and Ecuador. Let’s not plow our salt — and profits — to the side of the road.

Dean E. Rule is general manager of Conectiflor in Quito, Ecuador, representing International Rose Breeders, Terra Nigra and Jan Spek Rozen. He has been involved in the cut-flower industry in Ecuador and the United States for 25 years. He can be reached at drule@conectiflor.com.

C&S Wholesale Grocers has appointed Christopher Brown as senior vice president of independent sales, effective Sept. 29. According to the company, this appointment underscores C&S’s commitment to its independent customers and reflects its plans to continue to grow its independent business. “It is incredibly exciting to be joining a company like C&S... Read more
POM Wonderful launches new Antioxidant Super Teas
POM Wonderful, a leading premium refrigerated juice company and purveyor of pomegranates, is powering up the produce aisle with new Antioxidant Super Teas. The new line includes Pomegranate Lemonade Tea, Pomegranate Sweet Tea and Pomegranate Honey Green Tea. POM's top-selling Pomegranate Peach Passion White Tea will join the new Antioxidant Super Teas with a... Read more
Tarheel 2014 sweet potato harvest will be back to normal
BENSON, NC — North Carolina's sweet potato harvest, still in full swing at mid-September, is back to normal, and none too soon. After two years in a row of below-average acreage planted due to weather, the 2014 crop is growing on 66,000 acres. That's the USDA estimate cited by Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission,... Read more
Veg-Fresh Farms expands portfolio, launched Crystal Cove Berry Farms label
Following the recent opening of its new distribution facility and the addition of a long-time fresh berry expert, Veg-Fresh Farms announced the expansion of its business and the launch of the new consumer label, Crystal Cove Berry Farms. Sourcing strawberries from throughout Mexico and California's fertile berry-growing regions, Crystal Cove Berry Farms will... Read more
If conditions remain as expected, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. believes the 2014 global industry cranberry crop will be between 11.2-11.6 million barrels, down from the 2013 global industry record crop of 12 million barrels. The company expects its grower-owners to deliver 6.6-7 million barrels, which is down from the 7.2 million barrels delivered in 2013. Ocean... Read more
Hot summer brings full flavor to Sunlight’s fall harvest
It’s a non-stop harvest in the vineyards as Jakov P. Dulcich & Sons’ Green and Red Emerald, Scarlet Royal, Autumn Royal, Autumn King, Luisco, Crimson, Vintage and Red Globe grape varieties are being picked and packed. Due to the hot summer, the brix are up, the crunch is strong and the taste is exceptional. “Overall, the grape eating quality is at premium... Read more
NMB announces Mango Mania Display Contest winners
The National Mango Board has announced the winners of the Mango Mania Display Contest and reports an increase of 138 percent mango volume among participating stores compared to the same time last year. The contest is designed to help stores boost mango sales, while showcasing creativity and educating shoppers about mangos. This year, for the first time, the... Read more
Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Fyffes plc have approved a revised agreement for the proposed combination of the companies. Under the terms of the amended agreement, Chiquita shareholders are expected to own approximately 59.6 percent of ChiquitaFyffes, an increase from 50.7 percent under the previous agreement. The companies have also increased the termination... Read more
Snack it Forward to launch Sunkist Fruit 2.0 at PMA Fresh Summit
Snack it Forward LLC announced the launch of Sunkist Fruit 2.0, a new line of natural and healthy freeze-dried fruit that will be unveiled by Snack it Forward under license from Sunkist Growers Inc. at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Oct. 17–19 in Anaheim, CA. Following Fresh Summit, Fruit 2.0 will be rolling out to grocery, convenience and... Read more
Caramel Naturel Dates 2014 fresh harvest under way
Atlas Produce and Distribution Inc., a shipper of 100 percent natural strictly California-grown dates, announced that the 2014 date harvest is under way. "The quality once again is looking excellent," Robert Dobrzanski, president of Atlas Produce, said in a press release. The California drought condition is a major concern for all of the agricultural community,... Read more
Crunch Pak to debut new products at PMA Fresh Summit
Crunch Pak, a sliced apples specialist, will debut several items at the 2014 PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim. Crunch Pak’s booth (No. 3084) will highlight the variety and scope of the company’s products available and feature its newest items, including the NBA Fit Snacker, which will be sold in Walmart stores this basketball season. NBA Fit Snackers contain sliced... Read more
Avocados from Mexico set to unveil 'Made with Love' campaign at PMA Fresh Summit
Avocados from Mexico will be sharing the love at the upcoming Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, CA. With over 1 billion pounds of imports in the United States and 70 percent market share, AFM will be unveiling its "Made with Love" campaign, which showcases the love and dedication that goes into carefully... Read more
Procacci Bros. expands tropical import program, launches new label
Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. announced the expansion of its tropical and ethnic produce program and the launch of its new "Feliz" premium brand of items. The company said it is seeking to increase its growth in the category in response to the changing demographics and demands of consumers in the United States. Procacci's operation will now include a strategic... Read more
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association. "Helping families... Read more
Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop. Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern... Read more
Southern Roots holds reception at SEPC fall conference
YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council launched its new leadership program for women in produce with a reception Friday afternoon, Sept. 26, during the council's annual fall conference, Sept. 25-27 at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here in the scenic mountains of north Georgia. The program, called Southern Roots, was announced June 30 by the council... Read more
Former UFFVA president Bernie Imming dies at 94
Bernard Joseph Imming, the former president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, which is now known as the United Fresh Produce Association, died Sept. 23 at the age of 94. In April 1948, Mr. Imming was employed by the United Merchandising Institute in Kansas City, MO, as an instructor in retail merchandising. He... Read more
Fresh Solutions Network takes fresh approach to potato and onion sales
Potatoes and onions are seen as classic commodity crops by many growers, who place too much emphasis on growing and harvesting their products as inexpensively as possible so that they can sell at lower prices. While that approach may work for some, Fresh Solutions Network sees the equation differently. FSN feels that only focusing on squeezing down costs can... Read more
Wonderful pomegranate harvest begins
California pomegranate growers have confirmed that the popular Wonderful variety has now achieved the deep red color and high sugar for which it is justly famous. Tom Rouse at PomWonderful said that he has been patiently waiting for the Wonderful variety to reach maturity. "We expect promotable quantities in a full range of sizes, by Oct. 8-10," he said in... Read more
'Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You': Frieda's brings jackfruit to PMA Fresh Summit
A longtime PMA Fresh Summit exhibitor, Frieda's Specialty Produce challenges this year's attendees to "Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You," and to try jackfruit, the scary-looking fruit that smells and tastes amazing. Samples of jackfruit will be available at Frieda's booth (No. 2830) both days of the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, on Oct. 18-19. "Jackfruit... Read more