February Newsletter: Food Industry Insights & a Look Behind the Scenes

A Diet with More Fruits, Vegetables, & Grains

Healthy food is becoming important internationally.

There were also 16 ounce plastic bags of pulp of many kinds of fruit.

The trend continues. If you visit the supermarkets, you’ll see more products and more varieties than ever before – in the vegetable stands, in the frozen foods sections, and in the processed foods sections.  It is interesting to see the response of food suppliers and merchandisers with new products.

This trend seems to have spread to international markets as well.  We recently visited a supermarket in South America and were overwhelmed by the variety of foods.  Dairy products of all sorts; the vegetable section was full of healthy products, green freshly shelled peas, beans and vegetable corn.  The fruit stands were full of exotic fruits.  In the dry goods section, what attracted my attention was the variety of packaged milled grain products and the flour mixtures formulated to improve the nutritional content.

One may think that this would be of no interest to a busy society short on time and looking for more ready to eat or cooked foods.  The reality is that the food markets are reacting in response to the needs of the consumer and the market is responding to the interest of a new generation of consumers interested on nutrition and health.

In the dairy section of the South American supermarket were five shelves about 50 feet long of nothing but yogurt! There were gallons of it!

Specialty bread featuring heirloom wheat with polenta. This was found at a farmers market in Vermont.

Frozen fruit pulp is sold in a per serving packet. This is for making smoothies. This bag contains individual servings of strawberry, black raspberry, guava and a tropical fruit called guanabana.



Ducks in a Row

It’s time to finalize your plans and implement your ideas. Plans for the coming season are all well advanced by this late date. The time of ordering seed is nearing an end.

The uncertainty of the farm economy in 2017 has held back some farmers in formulating their final plans. The rumble from the field is that there are still farmers that have not made the final decisions on seed and fertilizers. The main constraint here seems to be prices and this seems to mostly apply to decision-making on traited seed.

When the margins are low, decisions taken make a difference between profit and loss. Every farmer knows that in a tight economy the principal considerations are to maximize results and reduce cost. Once a decision is made on seed, the rest is to finalize your agronomic plan and get everything ready for planting.

Seed Production Plans & Activity Behind the Scenes

Seed production plans are formulated well in advance of planting. The amount of seed to be produced varies by hybrid and by type. Hybrids in high demand deplete inventories much faster than hybrids that have to compete in the same maturity groups with other choices available in the market. Specialty hybrids are tied to specific markets and special needs. Seed production has to be projected one or two years in advance to ensure a good availability of seed.

Developing a Hybrid
Before formulating plans for seed production, a hybrid has to be developed, tested in multi location trials. Then the parents of the hybrid need to be increased in isolated fields to have enough parent seed to make the amount of hybrid seed projected.  Specialty hybrids require an extra layer of purity verification on the breeder seed before it is used to be increased as parent seed.  Isolations and purity verification is a must.

When a specialty hybrid is produced, it has to carry the specific trait that makes this hybrid unique in its class; a high lysine corn hybrid has to carry the high lysine gene in both parents. So it goes for the other genetically controlled specialties.  New hybrids are decided on the basis of hybrid performance and market needs.  Large companies produce their own hybrid seed.  Small companies produce seed under contract with producers that specialize in seed production.  Contracts are usually made well in advance of planting.  Producers allocate their isolation fields and contracts are made.

A late comer might not find isolations available to suit their needs and seed production might have to be put off for another year or be considered for winter production. This is usually very expensive for a seed company. A good supply of seed is ensured by an orderly seed demand. Late sales of seed in the season are not too helpful for the seed company because it disrupts the production cycle and delays the availability of seed for the coming year.

What Other Products are in the Specialty Corns Pipeline?

There is an ongoing effort in the development of a white corn endosperm type with special cooking qualities. We are also working on new high anthocyanin corns modeled after harder endosperm types.

We are happy to see GEI 9717 and GEI 2318 going into commercial fields this year to produce grain for milling try outs in the fall.  We are also making plans to promote the use of the high carotene hybrid GEI 2318 in formulation and use of chicken feeds to take advantage of the high levels of provitamin A, Zeaxanthin and high protein and oil content.

Recipe: Cheesy Polenta

3 cups water

2 Tablespoons zesty Italian dressing

3/4 cup cornmeal

2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine water and dressing in medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Gradually add cornmeal, stirring constantly until well blended. Return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook 12 to 14 minutes or until cornmeal mixture pulls away from side of pan, stirring constantly.

Add cheese; stir until melted.

From: Kraft Food

GEI Seed Sales
Phone: 515-865-8834