WEGMANS OFFERS EU ORGANIC SALMON
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In response to an increase in shopper requests for organic seafood, Wegmans Food Markets here has begun offering a new line of farmed salmon that carries European Union Organic Certification. “This supplier controls its product from day one. They raise their own juvenile stock on [Ireland's] Coomhola River using a diet of sustainable natural and organic ingredients,” Carl Salamone, vice president of seafood for Wegmans, explained in a release. “The smolts are then moved to the pens in the Bantry Bay where their number is strictly limited in each pen for a near-to-natural growing environment with massive water movement; this is great for the fish and less stressful on the environment.” The fish are harvested, cleaned and flown to Wegmans' processor in Rochester, N.Y., all within 24 hours. Each weekly shipment arrives at all stores on Thursdays and must be sold by Sunday. The $17.99 per pound price point is more than regular farm-raised salmon, but less than wild-caught salmon, the release notes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board has been working through a tangled debate about organic seafood standards for much of the past decade. However, the agency has not yet established guidelines that would allow wild-caught seafood or seafood raised in U.S. aquaculture operations to bear the USDA Organic seal.
INDUSTRY GROUPS PROTEST SAFETY FEES
WASHINGTON — A coalition of food industry groups is urging Congress to reject any efforts to impose new food safety fees that would help fund the Food Safety Modernization Act. In a letter to Congress, the groups describe the proposed fees as “a new food tax on consumers and food companies,” and argue that Congress already rejected these types of fees when FSMA was being debated. “As you know, [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's] 2012 budget proposal released on Feb. 14 targets raising revenue from new fees starting in 2013 to assist FDA [implementation of] the Food Safety Modernization Act. While the administration has yet to detail the exact nature of the fees it seeks, Congress already rejected such fees during congressional consideration of the FSMA,” the letter states. The letter goes on to express food producers' continued support of FSMA, but argues that any shortfall in funds required to implement the bill should be paid for from the federal budget, and that any new fees imposed on food companies would lead to higher food prices for U.S. consumers. The letter was sent to Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Development, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies subcommittee on appropriation, and the subcommittee's ranking member, Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif. Co-signers of the letter included the American Meat Institute, the Produce Marketers Association, the United Fresh Produce Association, the National Chicken Council and the American Bakers Association, among other groups.
USDA RAISES CITRUS CROP FORECAST
LAKELAND, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture this month raised its orange crop forecast for the 2010-2011 season by 4 million boxes, to 142 million total boxes. “This should put us closer to the final season number, but the crop estimate is an ongoing process,” Michael Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, explained in a release. Orange juice futures fell on the commodity markets after the announcement, but shoppers and retailers will still likely see higher juice prices this year. Tropicana, for example, announced earlier this month that it will have to raise prices on some of its juices by 4% to 8%, citing two severe freezes in Florida this winter, and smaller-than-expected crops for a second straight year.