Farm Food Facts

Neal Carter, Seed Choices, Produce Category Spike

December 17, 2019 Episode 55
Farm Food Facts
Neal Carter, Seed Choices, Produce Category Spike
Chapters
Farm Food Facts
Neal Carter, Seed Choices, Produce Category Spike
Dec 17, 2019 Episode 55
USFRA

Today we talk with Neal Carter, President and founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF) and creator of the nonbrowning Arctic® Apple.

The stories you need to know:
• 2019’s Field Days are reflective of the Difficult Growing Season
• Farmers consider their Seed Choices after a Tough Growing Season
• Retailers expect certain Produce categories to spike in January

Show Notes Transcript

Today we talk with Neal Carter, President and founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF) and creator of the nonbrowning Arctic® Apple.

The stories you need to know:
• 2019’s Field Days are reflective of the Difficult Growing Season
• Farmers consider their Seed Choices after a Tough Growing Season
• Retailers expect certain Produce categories to spike in January

Speaker 1:
0:01
Farm food facts where every farmer, every acre and every voice matter. Welcome to farm food facts for December 18 2019 I'm your host Phil Lempert. Remember to watch the new short film from USF FRA 30 harvest to see just how farmers provide a source of healthy food while addressing environmental concern for current and future generations. Go to U S farmers and ranchers.org to view this impactful and Hartville film. Today we're talking with Neil Carter, the founder and president of okay specialty fruits. You may also know him as the innovator behind the non Browning Arctic Apple. Neil, welcome to farm food facts. Oh, thank you for having me. So Neil, your background is a bio resource engineer. Talk to me about what that background does for you as a frankly an Apple grower.
Speaker 2:
0:58
Yeah, well, so via our resource engineer is really kind of a glorified term for an agricultural engineer. So you know what? Us man is a be more than just an Apple grower. Over my career where we started doing whole range of things like single cell fermentation around fertilizer plant and then I got into international agricultural development. Really spend a lot, a lot of my career working overseas on development projects in agriculture or wanes your things kind of from that. The only thing the farming and the Apple workers has always been my background. It's kind of a family background as well as something my wife and I do and we always wanted to get back to it. So we found a way to do both starting in the mid nineties
Speaker 1:
1:40
so what you did was, you know, earth shattering if you would for the Apple industry and developed a non Browning Apple. Talk to us a little bit about that technology and why it's so important.
Speaker 2:
1:56
As Apple growers we identified that know one of our biggest challenges was bruising, whether it was for the picker or bruising the Apple or the do you enter the bag or the packing line or ultimately the retail store. So we basically identified technology that's using biotechnology and genetic engineering. Two turn off the enzyme that drives the Browning reaction. And this was really in the early, let's say, early to mid nineties. So it was the early stage of ag biotech and in my career overseas and doing engineering work, I've been following, you know, like biotechnology and the company's doing this and, and all of my work would always be in the insert of new technology introduction. So I was pretty fascinated by it. Bye. Biotech and what it offered ultimately, you know, we were able to kind of marry the technology and technology introduction for ourselves in our own business as one of the many technologies that I think I can quote there's going to need in the future. So, you know, what it does essentially allow us, gives us an Apple that we can cut and Bruce White and um, value added process and which without having to use a lot of the antioxidant chemicals are used in competing products.
Speaker 1:
3:09
So let's talk about the future. How do you think technology can address sustainability that goes beyond, you know, the individual products but really looks at agriculture as a whole?
Speaker 2:
3:22
Yeah, well, you know, I guess I have always believed that every tool in the toolbox and in agriculture today, no sustainability alone is probably is I think a challenge as well. Her face as, you know, you lose lamb, Salem, ization droughts and you know, uh, all sorts of climate change changes, things that are happening. So technology is going to prove to be extremely important and all types of technology, whether that's, you know, like cultural, bio technology, DNA editing and molecular tools like that. Or if it's more in that traditional fashion of, of better ways of the farming, uh, you know, improvements to the farming's just, um, better data that allows people to farm smarter and a whole host of things. And you know, what that means from a sustainability point of view is securing our food supply, but also doing it better with, to the less environmental impact and, and, uh, you know, managing to keeping it affordable so that, you know, our global population as it, it's a nine plus million, a billion and climbing, you know, continue to have the food it needs to survive and, and thrive.
Speaker 1:
4:27
So if you had to isolate one technology including, you know, biotechnology and farming, what do you think is the most promising on the horizon?
Speaker 2:
4:37
That's a really tough question. Um, cause it all, they're all, they're all, I, I actually do believe that biotech or what will be the outcomes of, let's call it modern molecular biology is going to be the biggest tool that will be at our, in our toolbox to address sustainability. And I say that because, you know, they just look at what's happened over the last 20 years that we've been active in the field and next generation sequencing, interested in understanding it, the plant genome and the things we're going to be able to do to it. [inaudible] crops, more trope tolerant crops, you know, 16, 19 nitrogen, Salem. So nerdy tolerance, a whole host of tools that I just don't see how we're going to do it otherwise. Um, in all the sort of, uh, sensor technology and precision ag technology will be important, but it's really going to be, it's going to be secondary to make it to genetics. I read just recently how, you know, plant genetics just going to be the critical element of the next decade. And I truly believe that,
Speaker 1:
5:45
you know, a lot of, a lot of our listeners also are supermarket operators. What would you like supermarket operators to understand about agriculture today and in the,
Speaker 2:
5:58
that's a good question. Because, you know, grocery stores and particularly the produce section, they're fantastic places. You know, they're big, they're beautiful, they're well laid out, they're well organized and yet, and yet the consumer is so disconnected from where it all comes from. And, um, you know, they don't need to know where it comes from. It comes from the grocery store. And so I, you know, and I, and I know that, uh, grocery retailers make a big effort to try to make that connection, you know, by, you know, bring sponsored events and have farmers and growers in their retail chains and things like that periodically. But I think that that's, that's where the grocery retailer has a challenge. And I really like to see them rise to that challenge to, to be able to continue to educate the consumer as to why their food's important and always teach you and just number of food fads in these world.
Speaker 2:
6:54
And you know, I don't want to judge people and everybody's choices what it's all about. But I think that, uh, what we really want people to understand is the effort that goes into the food they eat. You know, what the who facts are around health and nutrition and, and, you know, for people to make healthy choices. And one of the things retail stores have done is, uh, many of them aged retail dietitians to advise them to work in their stores. And I think that's a huge step. I think that's great because that's the connection between the consumer should be eating and other store can position their products in a way that people will understand what the healthy eating choices are. And you know, so I think that's about as much as I can see on that as he exhausted my knowledge on them.
Speaker 1:
7:42
Okay. Well, Neil, thank you. Thank you so much for bringing us the Arctic Apple on nine Browning Apple and joining us today on farm food facts.
Speaker 2:
7:52
Well, thank you
Speaker 1:
7:55
and now for the news you need to know 2019 field days are reflective of the difficult growing season. This year's wet growing season cost challenges for many farms including Iowa state universities, research and demonstration farms, and because they faced various soggy season issues, most of the 13 research farms decided to include weather related topics for their field days. These topics include delayed and prevented planting weed in nutrient management and cover crops and harvest considerations. Several of the research firms experienced delayed planting, but by the end of summer, the state of bio received an extensive dry period, which was then followed by another wave of heavy rain. As a result, when the fall season arrived, the field days were focusing on how to deal with crops in different stages of maturity from one field to another because the farms are spread across the state. They give producers in each region a realistic look at how an idea might work on their own farm.
Speaker 1:
8:54
Over 100 Iowa faculty members use these farms for teaching research and extension. The research farms also attracted several hundred high school students during their youth oriented field days and these students were exposed to the science and technology of agriculture field days or important as they provide a way to reach out to nontraditional audiences including our youth so the farms can provide maximum learning opportunities for the public and another news related to this year's wet weather and harvest challenges. Farmers consider their seed choices after a tough growing season. Late harvests are likely to cause delayed decisions on seed purchases for some farmers. However, retailers are not experiencing reduced sales. Rather they're just seeing some hesitancy in making final variety decisions. We're not really seeing any delays. Said cliff Chevette of short seats in Illinois. We are seeing more guys use conventional corn seed. Retailers also acknowledged that the tight farm economy, which is characterized by sluggish grain prices and export uncertainties may give some farmers pause when considering more costly hybrids and varieties.
Speaker 1:
10:03
Scott Nelson, who markets see for Beck's hybrids in Southwest Iowa says, whenever commodity prices are reduced, there's a lot more scrutiny to where every penny goes. It puts a lot of pressure on prices. It also affects crop rotation. To some extent. Guys are less willing to spend more money for the newest hybrid. Some people are after the old genetics with less trades to save every penny that they can. Many retailers also acknowledge that the challenge growing season in the corn belt this year, including a wet spring and late planting, help growers appreciate the improvement in corn hybrids and soybean cultivars over the past few decades. And as we begin to transition from 2019 into 2020 what can we anticipate for agriculture in the new year? Retailers expect certain produce categories to spike in January. Traditionally, new year's resolutions often include commitments to healthier eating habits. So the folks that produce retailers survey 10 protos retail pros asking which vegetables and fruits they expect.
Speaker 1:
11:05
We'll take a leap in the first weeks of 2020 Vic seven ELO or regional vice president for produce was fart. Nash said you should see an increased across the fresh department, but standouts are obviously salads with an emphasis on organic salads, items like cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots. We'll all see a spike as store guests look to create new habits and start eating healthier. Data from Nielsen indicates the same thing. In the first week of January. This year, prepackaged salad sales grew nearly 20% that equates to $93 million for one week and the following week sales jumped another 10% to 103 million for the week. Retailers also expect January shopping cart to be filled with items that can be used for juicing. Jeff caddy, director of produce for tops friendly markets, notes that plant-based continue to grow in popularity year after year and Michael shut a produce merchant for Railey's States. Although some new year's resolutions don't make it to see February. The one single category that continues to thrive beyond then is value added. Bagged salads. Merchandisers agree that early weeks of January are the perfect time to introduce shoppers to less familiar items in particular in the bulk greens category. Thanks for listening to today's podcast episode. For more information on all things, food and agriculture, please visit us@usfarmersandranchers.org also, be sure to look for us on Facebook at us farmers and ranchers or on Twitter at USF, RA. Until next time.
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