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Latteno Food Issues Update Report on Current Operations
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SANTA ANA, Calif., May 1, 2013
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Category : World News
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SANTA ANA, Calif., May 1, 2013
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SANTA ANA, Calif., April 25, 2013
Category : World News
NEWPORT BEACH, CA–(Marketwire – Dec 26, 2012) – Calling all Ducks, Wildcats, Badgers and the Cardinal! Bluewater Grill restaurants in Southern California and Phoenix are making it easy for students, alumni and fans of the 2013 Rose and Fiesta Bowl teams to enjoy the West’s freshest sustainable seafood before, during or after the big games.
Rising price of oily fish after storms off Peru will lead to spike in Scottish farmed fish, Chinese pigs and Omega 3 tablets
“If you like anchovies on your pizza you’d better be careful,” warns Mark Livingston, investment director of Fidelity Worldwide Investment.
You would not expect the head of a global asset fund managing £138bn of pensions and investments to care about the cost of pizza toppings. But the global nature of the food chain means severe storms off the coast of Peru have led to a dramatic jump in the price of the oily fish – which will in turn lead to a spike in Scottish farmed fish, Chinese pigs and even Omega 3 tablets in Holland & Barratt.
“That’s the nature of today’s food business – everything’s connected,” Livingston says. “If you can catch some anchovies you’ll make some serious money.”
And that’s why Livingston cares about this silvery-coloured fish. Three years ago Fidelity spotted the growing importance of the “forgotten fish” and invested in Copeinca, a Norwegian company that owns a fleet of 30 Peruvian anchovy fishing boats and five processing plants across the country.
Just a few years ago no one outside of the fish oil industry really paid much attention to anchovies and they were lumped together with other unloved fish under the unappetising label “industrial fish”.
“It covers all the stuff we don’t consume directly. We caught 18m tonnes of industrial fish last year, which represents 20% of all fish caught worldwide,” says Gorjan Nikolik, associate director of animal protein at Rabobank.
These fish are caught in massive quantities, dried, minced and ground down into fish meal [a brown powder made mostly from fish bones and fish offal] and fish oil [which is extracted from the tissues of oily fish].
“After two years of declining prices, fish meal and fish oil are becoming expensive again. And people are now paying attention,” says Nikolik from his office in Utrecht, the Netherlands’ fourth city.
He says the price of fish oil has increased from $1,500 (£950) a tonne at the beginning of the year to $2,000 per tonne this month; fish meal has jumped from $1,300 a tonne to a record $1,700.
The price is rising due to the growth in farmed fish [mostly salmon and prawns], which feed on them, and the substitition of fish meal as animal feed because corn has become too expensive: the corn price has hit a record high as a result of the severe drought in the US.
Fish oil has soared even further because a new consumer has emerged: humans. “Direct consumption in the form of Omega 3 pills has increased to 14% [of the global fish oil production] from 2%-3% five years ago,” says Nikolik.
Peruvian anchovy fishermen – and their investors – are the biggest beneficiary of the fish oil spike because, Livingston says, “the Peruvian anchovy is the best fish in the world to produce fish oil as they have the most calories”.
The anchovy price [which is not available separately but calculated from the fish oil price] has increased still further because since 2009 the Peruvian government has imposed quotas on the number of anchovies that can be caught in their waters. “They’ve limited the supply, which will all know lifts the price.”
Additionally, unusually severe Pacific storms have made anchovies much harder to catch. “The strange weather patterns have made the sea more turbulent and less people are willing to go out into the sea – which increases the cost of fishing.”
“And on top of that,” Livingston adds pausing for breath. “There’s this push into organic fertiliser.” Fish meal will pass an approved organic feed, as consumers increasingly demand food that hasn’t been plied with chemical fertiliser.
In any ordinary year the soaring price of fish oil and meal should force up salmon prices, Nikolik says. But this is no ordinary year. This year salmon have been hungry.
“In 2012 the water temperature has been a couple of degrees warmer in the north Atlantic than normal. This has had a big affect on the appetite of salmon, which has led to a record growth rate.”
Norway, the world’s biggest salmon farmer ahead of Chile and Scotland, only expected a 5% increase in the salmon crop this year but global salmon production is already up 30% in the first half of the year. Chile’s salmon fisheries are also recovering from a disease that forced them to kill 75% of the stock two years ago.
“This has led to a dramatic price drop of 35-40%,” he says. “Last year salmon was changing hands at 38-43 Norwegian kroner per kilo, it’s crashed to 25 kroner.”
Nikolik says the salmon industry has not been subject to such a steep price change since the fish farming industry took off in the 1970s and 80s.
The price collapse has translated into cheaper prices and promotions in supermarkets across the world.
“It is a great deal for consumers and producers,” he says. “The prices are so low that new people are trying salmon – and if they get hooked producers will have new customers. It’s like a year-long special promotion.”
Nikolik says prices have been so depressed that even hard-pressed consumers have taken to eating more of a once exclusively upmarket fish. European salmon consumption in the first half of the year is up to 419,00 tonnes from 342,000 tonnes last year. “We’ve seen growth in Portugal, Greece, Spain – places where you would expect recession to have reduced demand.”
The fast-developing Bric nations are also increasingly keen on salmon. Industry figures show Russian salmon consumption is up 67% to 75,000 tonnes in the first six months of the year, while Latin Amercia (particularly Brazil) is up 85%, even China which does not have a tradition of eating fish fillets has seen salmon consumption rise by 34%.
While salmon is leaping, its more down-to-earth cousin mackerel is plunging. A diplomatic dispute between Iceland and the Faroe islands against the EU, Ireland and Norway has led to severe overfishing of north Atlantic mackerel stocks.
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s agriculture minister, has accused Iceland of making a “financial killing” from fishing mackerel in defiance of a EU-agreed quota.
Iceland claims that rising sea temperatures have led to a “dramatic change” in mackerel’s migration route into its territorial waters. “We’ve seen 1.1m tonnes of mackerel in Icelandic waters in 2012, 2011 and 2010, compared to very little in 2006 and 2005,” says Friirik Arngrímsson, head of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners. “The mackerel is feeding here and increasing its weight here – we have a right to fish our mackerel.”
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices), which advises governments on fish quotas, has counselled landing not more than 630,000 tonnes of mackerel. Iceland says the EU and Norway have allocated themselves 90% of that catch.
“That leaves 10% to Iceland, the Faroes and Russia – that’s not a fair share,” argues Arngrímsson. “We cannot accept that the EU can decide whether or not we should fish mackerel. They have claimed that it is their fish, but it is also our fish.”
While Arngrímsson admits that until recently Iceland regarded mackerel as only a bycatch to herring, he strongly refutes the suggestion that Iceland has only started to bother catching mackerel since its financial system went into meltdown in 2008. “There is absolutely no link between the Icelandic banks and the mackerel. It is just a coincidence that the mackerel has migrated into Icelandic waters.”
Back on dry land, drought in the US has wiped out 45% of the corn and 35% of the soya bean crop in the worst harvest since 1988. As well as leading to the soaring price of those commodities [corn is up 64% since June] it has also caused a spike in all other cereals and animal feeds, including wheat, hay and fish meal [which is increasingly used to feed China's growing demand for pork].
Many cattle farmers are no longer able to afford to feed their cows and the US herd has shrunk to its smallest since 1973. Cattle prices have risen by 8.5% to $1.35 a pound.
Fast-food chain Wendy’s has already warned it will be forced to raise the price of burgers. The real losers will be the world’s poorest. “If the current food price rises continue it will lead to food inflation, which will be very bad for poor countries,” says Livingston. “It doesn’t matter where prices are rising, it is always the poorest people that suffer most because food makes up a much bigger part of their outgoings. We can afford to absorb the rise … “
He warns that if prices keep going up it will become a food crisis that could match the severity of the 2008 food riots that helped spark the Arab spring.
While most dread the repeat of such a crisis some of the multimillionaires that control the global food market are anticipating the opportunity to make vast profits.
The head of Glencore’s food trading business this week said the food crisis would be “good” for business.
Chris Mahoney, the trader’s director of agricultural products, who owns about £500m of Glencore shares, said: “The environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage [the purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from price differences in different markets] opportunities.
“We will be able to provide the world with solutions… and that should also be good for Glencore.”
Orange juice prices surged 14% this week as a tropical storm is expected to strike Florida, the world’s second-biggest producer after Brazil.
The price of orange juice, which has this year swung from record highs of $2.2 a pound to near-record lows, hit $1.40 this week as tropical storm Isaac was heading directly for the southern US state.
However, Judith Ganes-Chase, president of J. Ganes Consulting, a commodity trading company, warned that the price will fall again as there is falling demand.
Tea prices are also on the up, with some varieties soaring by more than 40% so far this year. William Gorman, chairman of the UK Tea Council, said strong demand from India and China was causing the surge. Climate change is alsoharming some previously excellent tea growing regions.
The oil company that devastated the Gulf of Mexico is positioning itself as gatekeeper to the region’s culture and cuisine
While McDonald’s will remain king of the chips at the London 2012 Olympic Games, BP has charged itself with delivering the culinary “spirit of the Gulf”. The Louisiana Office of Tourism announced this week that the oil company would be hosting a series of events for Team USA that will pair three Gulf coast bands with chefs from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida preparing “the world’s freshest and best-tasting seafood”.
No doubt Team USA will enjoy the New Orleans jazz and Cajun food on offer, but it’s more than a little troubling that, after the 2010 Gulf oil spill, BP has co-opted the phrase “spirit of the Gulf” as a promotional device to position itself as the gatekeeper to the region’s culture and cuisine.
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a “well integrity failure” 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, it led to the worst accidental oil spill in US history. The spread of oil from the leak was vast – BP found around 1,000 miles of oiled coastline, but other figures suggest between 2,900 and 68,000 square miles of ocean was affected – with devastating effects for marine life and the seafood industry.
Dean Blanchard was one of the shrimpers who was hit by the fallout of the spill; his firm used to account for 11% of US shrimp supply, but the oil slick effectively killed off his livelihood. At the time of the spill, he talked to us about his feelings towards BP and its then-chief executive Tony Hayward in a report from the Sand Dollar marina in Grand Isle, Louisiana:
“He took away everything I love most in the world. I am going to hunt that son of a bitch down like a ‘coon,” he said. “He wants his life back after all he has done to us? The hell with him.”
[Blanchard] is equally scathing of BP’s oil clean-up strategy. “I could take two 32oz Big Gulp cups from the 7-Eleven and do more than what they are doing,” he said.
Around the corner from his operations, a family has erected 101 simple white crosses memorialising what has been lost to the spill.
There is sea food industry, with crosses for tuna, shrimp and oyster catches, but also “beach sunrises”, “seafood gumbo”, “redfish rodeo”, “family time”, “porch sitting” and “dog on beach”.
And for all his bluster, Blanchard is overwhelmed by the loss.
“I think I did everything right, and here this idiot came and didn’t know how to run his business and put me out of my business. People used to respect me in this town. Now I wake up in the morning and I don’t know what to do.”
Back in the Olympics PR world, Crystal Ashby, BP’s vice-president of government and public affairs, tells us: “BP is proud to use the power of the London 2012 Olympic Games as another way to promote the Gulf coast, draw new visitors to the region and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the community.”
In the light of the Louisiana memorial’s litany of loss, it’s hard to say exactly how BP has promoted the Gulf Coast. Ravaging ecosystems and destroying community livelihoods, though, probably wouldn’t make the list.
This Olympic marketing move looks, at best, horrifically ironic and, at worst, like rubbing salt (or should I say oil?) in the wound.
Retail giant suspends CJ’s Seafood in Louisiana as activists protest against working conditions in other Walmart suppliers
Walmart has suspended a seafood supplier following complaints from workers at the plant that they were forced to work 24 hours at a time and had threats of violence directed at their families.
In a statement, Walmart said a preliminary investigation uncovered “violations” at CJ’s Seafood in Louisiana, where eight Mexican employees had complained of being mistreated by their bosses.
It follows an independent report which described conditions at Louisiana food processing plant as “rivalling any sweatshop in China or Bangladesh”. It also comes as activists in New York were due to stage a 24-hour fast to protest against unsatisfactory labour conditions at some Walmart suppliers.
On Friday, the National Guestworker Alliance cited 12 other factories in the Walmart supply chain for allegedly violating working conditions.
Over the weekend, members of the pressure group are to join striking employees of CJ’s Seafood at a 24-hour fast outside the Manhattan apartment of Walmart board member Michelle Burns.
The workers say they were locked inside the crawfish processing plant during periods of peak demand for sometimes 24 hours at a time. Their families in Mexico were threatened, according to one worker, while they were warned they faced deportation if they did not acquiesce to their employer’s demands.
Ana Diaz, who had travelled from her home in north-east Mexico to work at the Louisiana seafood plant, told the Guardian earlier this month: “On two occasions they locked the doors so we couldn’t take breaks because they wanted us to produce the crawfish in a shorter time.”
One supervisor told her that if workers took breaks, he would lose a lot of money.
“We were afraid because he knows where many of us live. He knows where our family members live; he has our addresses and information. That’s when we felt the most locked in and the most abused,” Diaz said.
CJ’s Seafood did not respond to requests for comment.
Diaz is one of eight employees currently striking over conditions at CJ’s.
The group, with the support of National Guestworker Alliance, has lodged a complaint with the wage and hour division of the US department of labour, claiming that the company violated the fair labour standards act by failing to pay overtime and failed to keep accurate records as required by the act and by employers of workers on H2-B visas.
Separately, the workers have filed a charge of discrimination with the equal employment opportunity commission – the first step in the process of bringing a discrimination lawsuit against an employer.
The complaint alleges that the eight were discriminated against on the basis of race, colour, national origin and retaliation, stating that Latino workers “are forced to work longer and less desirable hours” than other people of colour, and alleging that the workers were not paid “according to the terms of their contract”.
Walmart said it acted as soon as it heard of the allegations against its suppliers.
Lorenzo Lopez, a spokesman for the retail giant, said officials were on site within a week to conduct a preliminary investigation.
“While we were unable to complete a full investigation at that time, we did uncover violations of some supplier standards.”
Lopez added: “We have suspended CJ’s Seafood as a supplier, pending the outcome of the investigation.”
But Walmart’s actions do not go far enough, according to Stephen Boykewich of the National Guestworkers Alliance.
“We do not need another investigation by Walmart. They need to end the contract with CJ’s and meet with its workers,” he said.
Mexican workers in Louisiana say seafood supplier threatened their families and locked them inside a production plant
Eight seafood plant workers are calling on Walmart to drop a supplier which they say forced them to work up to 24 hours a time and threatened their families with violence.
The workers, who are all from Mexico, were employed to process crawfish by CJ’s Seafood in Louisiana, under conditions which an independent report has described as “rivalling any sweatshop in China or Bangladesh”.
Separately, a group of warehouse workers have filed a complaint against Walmart and a PR firm associated with the supermarket giant, after a public relations officer was found to have posed as a student journalist to interview activists campaigning against working conditions in warehouses supplying big retailers.
The CJ’s Seafood workers say they were locked inside the crawfish processing plant during periods of peak demand. Their families in Mexico were threatened, according to one worker, while they were warned they faced deportation if they did not acquiesce to their employer’s demands.
The eight, with the support of the not-for-profit National Guestworker Alliance, lodged a complaint with the wage and hour division of the department of labour this month, claiming that the company violated the fair labor standards act by failing to pay overtime and failed to keep accurate records as required by the act and by employers of workers on H2-B visas.
The workers lodged a separate complaint with the occupational safety and health administration (OSHA), claiming the working conditions at CJ’s flouted the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Separately the workers filed a charge of discrimination with the equal employment opportunity commission – the first step in the process of bringing a discrimination lawsuit against an employer.
The complaint alleges that the eight were discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin and retaliation, stating that Latino workers “are forced to work longer and less desireable hours” than other people of colour, and alleging that the workers were not paid “according to the terms of their contract”.
The department of labour confirmed two investigations, by the wage and hour division and the occupational safety and health administration, were ongoing. The EEOC is prohibited from discussing investigations by federal law.
On Tuesday the eight workers delivered a petition with 130,000 signatures to the New York home of Walmart board member Michelle Burns, while they travelled to Washington DC on Wednesday to meet with members of the Senate appropriation committee.
The workers are hoping to pressure Walmart into revoking their contract with CJ’s Seafood as well as launch an investigation into standards at the plant.
Ana Diaz, one of those on strike, said that a supervisor at the plant warned workers that they would not want him as an enemy.
“He said he had contacts with good people and bad people, and that they could find us no matter where we went,” Diaz told the Guardian.
Around 40 Mexicans are employed at CJ’s Seafood, according to the alliance, with the eight campaigners currently on strike against conditions.
Diaz, who travelled to Louisiana from her home in Tamapaulipas, in north-east Mexico, said workers at the plant were involved in either peeling or cooking crawfish. Those peeling were mostly women, who worked from 2am until 5pm. Those cooking the fish tended to be men, who Diaz said were forced to work up to 24 hours at a time.
“On two occasions they locked the doors so we couldn’t take breaks because they wanted us to produce the crawfish in a shorter time. He said that if we took breaks then he would lose a lot of money.”
“We were afraid because he does know where many of us live. He knows where our family members live; he has our addresses and information. That’s when we felt the most locked in and the most abused.”
Neither Walmart nor CJ’s Seafood responded to requests for comment, although Walmart spokeswoman Megan Murphy told the Daily Beast: “Following our investigation, as well as investigations by the department of labour and OSHA, at this time we are unable to substantiate claims of forced labour or human trafficking at CJ Seafood.”
Given the investigations by the department of labour began less than three weeks ago, however, it is likely to be some time before they conclude. A spokesman would not comment on the status of the probes, except to say they were still ongoing.
An independent investigation by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), originally set up by university administrators, students and labour rights campaigners to prevent sweatshops being used to manufacture university clothing but which now also conducts investigations into broader working conditions, found that “the totality of the abuses taking place at this employer constitute forced labour under US law”.
“The conditions at this Walmart supplier are among the worst we have encountered, rivaling any sweatshop in China or Bangladesh,” said WRC’s executive director Scott Nova.
Jacob Horwitz, lead organiser, said the system of bringing temporary workers into the US “really amounts to creating a whole class of workers without access to the same rights as workers who are [already] in the country”.
Some 130,000 people have signed a petition supporting Diaz and her colleagues on Change.org calling on Walmart to sign an agreement to guarantee civil and labour rights for guestworkers in the US, which Diaz and others delivered to Burns’s address in lower Manhattan on Tuesday.
It has been a difficult week for the supermarket giant. Last Thursday a public relations officer working for a firm contracted by Walmart was revealed to have posed as a student journalist to interview a labor group highlighting tough working conditions in warehouses that supply by big retailers.
Stephanie Harnett, a publicist for Mercury Communications, interviewed an activist from Warehouse Workers United (WWU) under the assumed name “Zoe Mitchell”.
On Wednesday WWU filed complaints against both Walmart and Mercury Communications for what it called “illegally spying on workers”.
“Warehouse workers risk retaliation every time we speak to the media and to learn that the company was hiding behind a fake reporter makes me really mad,” said Santos Castaneda, the worker interviewed by Harnett.
The complaint was filed with the regional office of the national labor relations board, which prohibits spying on workers, WWU said.