Produce Processing

January/February 2021

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26 J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 I N D U S T R Y INSIDER Lettuce tops certified organic production list The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its latest survey of national organic food production in October. The first organic survey was initiated in 2008 and was conducted as part of the Census of Agriculture as a special study. The 2008 and 2014 surveys collected data from certified and exempt organic operations, while all other surveys (including the 2011 and 2019 surveys) collected data only from certified organic operations. The 2019 survey revealed area devoted to fresh and processing vegetables certified as organic has increased 90% since 2011. California (60% of organic area), Washington (7%), Arizona (4%), Oregon (4%) and Wisconsin (3%), were the top five states in terms of organic vegetable area. Lettuce, tomatoes and spinach were the top three certified vegetables in terms of acres harvested. The number of farms producing certified organic vegetables increased 65% between 2011 and 2019 with farm numbers rising in most states. Texas was the only state with at least 1,000 acres in certified organic vegetables to register a reduction in farms. Lettuce (of all types) replaced tomatoes as the top certified organic vegetable in 2019 in terms of both volume and value of sales. Lettuce has been the sales leader among organic vegetables for several years, but tomatoes had long been the volume leader. This largely reflects the enduring popularity of bagged salad mixes which has driven growth in romaine and leaf lettuces in general. About one-tenth of U.S. lettuce area is now sold as certified organic. Organic culture has become an important factor in the spinach industry. Approximately 70,000 acres of spinach is harvested in the U.S. under all forms of crop culture. Based on the 2019 organic survey, about one-third of this acreage is now certified as organic. This compares with about 15% of cauliflower, 11-12% of carrots and celery, 5% of sweet potatoes and 3% of tomato area. Driven by rising interest in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian foods, consumption and production of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) has been trending higher. As a result, over 6,000 acres were reported to be certified organic in 2019. Certified organic garbanzo beans, which were grouped with dry beans in 2011 but are now reported separately, had sales of $7 million in 2019. Taco Bell to bring back potatoes, partner with Beyond Meat In August 2020, Taco Bell opted to eliminate potatoes from its menu in order to reduce SKUs and speed up service for drive-thru MORE ONLINE Get all the latest news and updates online at produceprocessing.net + during the pandemic. Less than six months later, the fast-food giant is walking back on that decision. Citing widespread outcry from consumers, Taco Bell announced in mid-January that it's bringing potatoes, including its popular Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes and Spicy Potato Soft Taco, back to its menu starting March 11. Feedback from consumers included a wave of social media posts and online petitions on sites, such as change.org. Taco Bell's Global Chief Food Innovation Officer Liz Matthews told Business Insider she felt she heard from "everybody in the entire country" regarding the removal of potatoes from the menu. In addition, Taco Bell is teaming with Beyond Meat to create a plant-based protein for further menu options in the future. Triangle debuts new VFFS bagger Triangle Package Machinery Company recently announced its new Delta vertical form fill seal (VFFS) bagger. The Delta bagger is easy to operate and offers quick and easy changeovers of forming tubes, film rolls and sealing jaws. With numerous smart technology features, such as IO Link enabled sensors, it's designed to grow with businesses as technology evolves. The Delta VFFS bagger can run up to 100 bags per minute, including pillow, gusseted, flat bottom, and EZ Stand bags. It's rugged, sanitary design features a stainless steel frame and a pivoting control box that allows access from all sides, making washdown and maintenance simple and efficient. With many end users facing such challenges as a reduced workforce and less skilled operators, the Delta bagging machine includes key features that include: • PLC recipes control sensors and actuators for easy and consistent setup • Optional RFID log-in for controlled access • Rockwell Automation CompactLogix PLC • Pneumatic valves located for visibility during operation and easy access for maintenance • Optional split control box for access to low voltage hardware without disconnecting power • Designed and built in the U.S. The Delta intermittent motion bagger can be integrated with a combination weigher, auger, cup filler or liquid pump. T H E P UL S E N E W S F R O M A R O U N D T H E I N D U S T R Y

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