Farming for Love?
In January, I trotted from one ag trade show to another. My final outing in January was the Pacific Agriculture show in Abbotsford, British Columbia. While I was behind the booth waiting to greet customers old and new, a rather attractive young woman approached my booth – what a surprise! She then asked if I was single, and now I knew we were trending in the right direction. I swiftly answered “yes,” after which, she handed me a pamphlet about a new Canadian reality TV show for single farmers known as “Farming for Love.” This was not exactly the turn of events I anticipated.
Sadly, I do not reside in British Columbia and, although I work in the ag industry, I am not a farmer. The encounter gave me a good laugh, and it created an opening for some great conversations with my fellow exhibitors.
If you are a single farmer living in British Columbia, you might want to consider applying for a spot on the show. Check it out at https://more.ctv.ca/ctv/farming-for-love-nominate-a-farmer.html. Or, perhaps you know a single farmer looking for a relationship. You can anonymously apply for a friend. We hope to see one of our customers on the air soon.
Amazon Fresh Greenhouses
Amazon has its fingers in everything from prescription drugs, electronics, pantry food, and now: fresh produce? Now, Amazon is selling leafy green lettuce less than two years after investing in climate-tech startup Hippo Harvest.
Backed by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, Hippo Harvest aims to reduce food waste and land use by growing food in greenhouses using robotics. According to Hippo Harvest, its greens are grown using 92% less water and 55% less fertilizer than conventional produce. It farms its lettuce mixes in greenhouses close to the customer base using machine learning and robots.
Currently, only Amazon Fresh customers in the San Francisco market can buy these greens, but Amazon may scale up quickly, and lettuce greens are not the only food Amazon is eyeing, as it looks to the future of farming. Amazon Fresh recently transitioned to selling only cage-free eggs, including through Amazon's brand Happy Belly. Amazon also wants to source pork from farmers who do not use gestation crates with the goal of having it widely available in Amazon grocery stores in 2025.
With such a large customer base, it’s important to keep tabs on Amazon’s actions as they relate to the agricultural industry, especially when Amazon considers adding niche fruit like blueberries and cherries to its offerings.
An Abnormally Short Chilean Blueberry Season
South American growers have overshadowed US dominance in blueberry production in recent years. Today, the world’s largest blueberry producers reside in Peru, Chile, and Mexico. During the North American off-season South American producers are pumping out blueberries in great volume, essentially ensuring that blueberries appear in US grocery stores year-round.
Generally, the Chilean blueberry harvest runs as late as the third week of March, but this year Chile has experienced unprecedented heat. This excess heat led to poor fruit conditions, halting production by 50 percent in some regions and altogether in others. Experts say that the Chilean harvest is almost finished even though it is only late February. This setback for Chilean producers will lower the volume of imported blueberries, which may lead to a temporary price increase.
Chile’s South American peers are doing their best to take advantage of Chile’s short season. Peru and Mexico are expected to have successful harvests through early April, keeping those delicious little berries in our refrigerators before our North American peers begin their 2023 blueberry harvest.