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WTRMLN WTR, the pioneer in cold-pressed juiced watermelon, unveiled its all-natural LMNADE at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition, held Oct. 14-16 in Orlando, FL.

WTRMLN WTR’s LMNADE combines the fresh taste of cold-pressed watermelon with organic lemon juice for a healthy, nutrient-dense hydration beverage.

WTRMLN-WTR LMN-Bottle WTRMLN LMNADE is the brand’s first offshoot of it signature WTRMLN WTR. It touts the same functional benefits and super clean nutritional label as the original. And, like the original, it uses only three simple ingredients: watermelon flesh, watermelon rind and organic lemon. It is also rich in watermelon’s naturally occurring potassium, lycopene and the amino acid L-Citrulline. No sugar or water is ever added. Each bottle of the 12-ounce beverage has 90 calories and 825 milligrams of potassium (electrolytes), which far surpasses any artificially flavored, sugar-filled sports drink or traditional lemonade.

The watermelons pressed to make WTRMLN WTR are gathered from family-owned farms across the United States, and are primarily made from watermelons that cannot be marketed due to superficial flaws such as blemishes, sunburns or odd shapes.

In May 2016, WTRMLN WTR announced an investment from pop superstar Beyoncé, who recently released an album titled Lemonade.

“I invested in WTRMLN WTR because it’s the future of clean, natural hydration,” said Beyoncé. “As partners, we share a simple mission to deliver accessible wellness to the world. This is more than an investment in a brand, it’s an investment in female leaders, fitness, American farmers and the health of people and our planet.”

WTRMLN WTR LMNADE comes in a 12-ounce bottle and retails for $3.99. For more information, visit

ORLANDO, FL — Produce exports are critically important to Mexico, according to José Calzada, the country’s secretary of agriculture.

Calzada heads SAGARPA, which is the national secretariat for agriculture, ranching, rural development, fish and nutrition. In 2015, Mexico had $26.6 billion in agricultural exports. Of that, $22.9 billion were sales to the U.S. market.  

Calzada is working to build export sales not only to the United States but also to many other customers around the world.

On Oct. 15, at the PMA Fresh Summit, Calzada sat with The Produce News to discuss the development of this program.

Jose-Calzada-PMAJosé Calzada, Mexico’s secretary of agriculture, in SAGARPA’s booth at the PMA Fresh Summit.“I always tell the Mexicans that we have to move from volume to value,” he said. “We used to be concerned with traditional crops, but we are moving to more innovative, technologically advanced producing systems.”

The exports of fruits and vegetables has advanced a great deal “because we have good producers” who use innovation and technology. “We have got to stay on that path.”

Calzada is a strong supporter of the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which he describes as “a better NAFTA” because it involves more nations and more producers. Forty percent of the world’s gross domestic product is represented in the TPP discussions, he noted.

Calzada said Mexico and the United States “have a relationship that is very good,” noting that he works closely with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Two current matters under way are to admit shipments of avocados from the Mexican state of Jalisco and a deal with swine trade.

In early November, Calzada will lead a weeklong trade tour to Argentina and Chile “to look for what we can sell. We want an exchange of information.”

In mid-May, Calzada and Raúl Urteaga, SAGARPA’s general coordinator for international affairs, led 46 Mexican food exporters on a trade tour to the Arabic Peninsula. This involved meetings in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates Kuwait and Qatar. Among the Mexican products to catch a boost in export business from this trip were avocados, beef and honey, Calzada said.

Mexican food exports to Canada and China are established and “also, we have new markets in Europe, especially for fruits,” he said.

In 2014, Mexico exported agricultural products worth $2.5 million to the new Chinese market. That figure is expected to reach $100 million in five years, he said. Japan and South Korea are other key and growing export markets.

SAGARPA is hosting a major food export fair in Mexico City Dec. 8-10, 2016.

Baldor Specialty Foods announced this week that its in-store, digital kiosk called The Baldor Forager — which makes the company’s selection of unique culinary items available to home cooks — is now available to shoppers at the newly-opened Whole Foods Market at 2101 Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia, PA.

The Baldor Forager kiosk was first introduced at the Whole Foods Market in Williamsburg, NY, in July. The Philadelphia installation follows as the first in the company’s expansion plan. This kiosk, that allows customers to order one-of-a-kind produce items, is tailored to the needs of an increasingly sophisticated consumer.

Despite surging interest, specialty ingredients are rarely available through brick-and-mortar retailers. The inaccessibility of these items is reflected in search results, where two of the terms most commonly associated with a wide array of specialty ingredients are “where to buy” and “substitute”. The Baldor Forager satisfies the growing demand for wild mushrooms, heirloom produce and other items that were once the secret of the metro area’s top chefs. The Baldor Forager’s digital interface encourages exploration, discovery and a retail experience focused on customization. Shoppers are able to place their orders conveniently at The Baldor Forager kiosk and return for in-store pick-up in a day or two on average.

Baldor curates items available on the kiosk based on uniqueness, seasonality and popularity with celebrated restaurants. Current offerings include fresh, water-grown wasabi root, salsify and an unusual variety of lavender-hued mushroom from France called a Bluefoot.

“High-quality, specialty produce has always been the core of our business," said Baldor CEO TJ Murphy. "We’re really passionate about the items available through The Baldor Forager and can’t wait to share them with a new audience in Philadelphia.”

“At Whole Foods Markets, we’re all about constantly improving the customer experience” said Matt Lamoreaux, Whole Foods Mid Atlantic produce coordinator. “We know our customers want to try new, special and exotic ingredients, however, it has been a challenge for us to stock fresh, unique produce items that are very fragile and have a short shelf-life.  We’re thrilled to welcome Baldor’s unique in-store kiosk to our new store in Philadelphia. Now, our customers have the ability to order a gourmet item and have it delivered directly to the store, retaining the integrity of the product.”

As Baloian Farms celebrated its 40th leaf and wet veg season in Fresno, CA, the third week of October, it was set to begin harvest on its winter leaf program. 

Baloian-Farms-Butter-Lettuce “The conditions in Fresno this time of year are optimal for growing premium quality leaf and wet veg crops,” said Tim Baloian. “Over the years, we have built a reputation for servicing the industry by providing a reliable leaf crop during the transitional period between the end of the Salinas season and the beginning of Yuma.” 

In early December, Baloian Farms will transition to Coachella, CA, which will carry its winter leaf program through March.  “By strategically scheduling the start of our leaf program and the transition to Coachella, we are able to fulfill our customers’ needs for premium quality wet veg during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” said Baloian. 

Baloian Farms offerings include Romaine, Romaine hearts, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Butter lettuce, spinach, celery, cauliflower, Napa cabbage, Bok Choy and Daikon. In addition to its winter leaf program, Baloian Farms will simultaneously continue with their year-round offerings of green and red Bell peppers, eggplant, sweet mini peppers and squash in Coachella and Nogales through spring 2017, which will mark its 100th anniversary.

Though the shipping of Mexican avocados began in a big way in mid-October after about a two-week supply stoppage over in-the-grove prices, there was still a lot of uncertainty as U.S. distributors discussed the situation within several days of the resumption of picking and shipments.

In early October, growers and others in a handful of Michoacán avocado growing districts ceased picking and also prevented others from picking and/or shipping avocados. As a result, supplies dwindled and the market went through the roof with many quotes in the $70 per carton range and a terminal price soaring to $100 and above. Chilean exporters began air-freighting containers to the United States making a profit even though the freight was around $28 per carton.   But even at close to eight million pounds in a given week that was a drop in the bucket in the U.S. market which has gotten use to consuming 40-45 million pounds each week. Crews were back in the groves on Saturday, Oct. 15, and the following week in huge numbers. There were reportedly 900 crews picking on that Saturday and 1,000 crews on the following Monday.

APEAM, the trade association representing Mexico’s avocado producers and exporters, predicted that 40 million pounds would be picked, packed and shipped out of Mexico to the United States during the first week after the work stoppage. A spokesman said that at that level, a normal marketing situation should return soon. Of course, a normal marketing situation means a price to retailers that allows them to promote avocados, which moves them at the 40-50 million pounds per week level.

U.S. importers are not so sure that there will be a quick return to normalization. Off the record, several discussed potential issues. One California distributor said that once the crews returned to the field “I heard a rumor…just a rumor…that the workers themselves weren’t too happy. That might be the next issue.”

Another shipper said that the stoppage ended with a very high market and growers getting about $1.50 per pound in the grove for their fruit. That is an excellent price but not sustainable. “The grove price has to come down and come down quickly,” he said. “What’s going to happen then.”

Those issues aside, and prior to the supply stoppage, this appeared to be another record-breaking year for Avocados From Mexico.   Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., said the latest estimate for Mexico’s crop this year predicted about a 5 percent increase in supplies. Considering California’s crop is expected to be down by as much as 40 percent, it does appear that it will be difficult for total supplies to keep up with demand, which has been growing at about 15 percent per year. Chile has significantly increased its volume to the U.S. markets because of the high October prices, and Peru is expected to do the same next summer because of California’s limited crop. Still, total volume does not appear that it could keep up with a 15 percent increase in demand.

Wedin did point out that the supply stoppage put Mexican shipments about 60 million pounds behind the previous year. He does not expect that will be difficult to make up as those gains can gradually occur over the next 10 months.

Wedin told The Produce News on Oct. 19 that he expects it to take about six weeks before there is total normalization of the supply and demand curve. He noted that it will take about three weeks to fill the pipeline, which will take the industry into the heavy-demand Thanksgiving holiday. Normalization could occur for a couple of weeks after that but then the Christmas pull will take over, followed by the demand caused by the Super Bowl, one of the top two avocado consumption days of the year.

Speaking a couple of days earlier, just after picking had resumed, Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing for West Pak Avocado Inc., Murietta, CA, laid out the same scenario of marketing events and predicted it would be after the Super Bowl before normalization. And then he added that’s only if you factor in a “new normal.” Because of the annual increase in demand, Meyer believes that marketers and buyers need to get used to a higher price.

In 2016, there was significant fluctuation in the market with prices below $20 per carton in much of March and April. By June, and then throughout the summer, a very strong marketed persisted, usually above the $40 mark. That could be close to the new norm.

Bob Lucy, president of Del Rey Avocado Co., Fallbrook, CA, was not certain that the volume could return and maintain strong pricing right off the bat.   He was worried that the through-the-roof f.ob. pricing, that led to expensive avocados at retail, would tamp down demand and it would take promotional pricing to create demand anywhere near the 40-45 million pounds per week level. Lucy guessed that there would be several weeks of uncertainty before normalization could even come close to occurring. He did add, however, that underestimating demand in the avocado market has been commonplace recently as this past summer consumers proved they would buy a lot of avocados even at higher prices.

Wedin of Calavo said that one problem is that no one likes to promote or order high volumes of fruit in a falling market. Retailers don’t want to be on ad at $1.69, if a couple of days later $1.29 will be warranted warranted. For this reason, he thought promotions might be slow in coming.

Rankin McDaniel Sr., president of McDaniel Fruit Company, Fallbrook, CA, actually summed up the totality of the many avocado conversations this reporter had in the days following the return to picking. “It has been a very unusual situation,” he said. “I am hopeful that they (APEAM) are correct and supplies continue uninterrupted.”

But he did not want to venture beyond hopeful.