AFI Association of Food Industries

AFI Serving the U.S. Food Import Sector

2023 Nut & Agricultural Products Report

Richard Rosenblatt
Richard Franco Agency

We expect to share – perhaps even before most people read this report – drafts of updates to AFI’s product specifications – cashew kernels, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and dried apricots. The development of these specifications has been one of the greatest contributions by the Nut & Agricultural Products section to the industry.

The AFI specs were needed to address ongoing quality disagreements. The creation of the specifications put an end to many disputes regarding quality because the parameters were in black and white and contracts started to include language referring to the AFI specifications. The specs quickly became the standards against which those products were sold, not only to U.S. buyers but to buyers around the world. Still today, most contracts and/or purchase orders involving those four products include language about meeting the AFI specs.

The standards were adopted after much input from both a scientific and commercial standpoint, consolidating USDA, FDA, Codex and U.S. trade standards into the effective worldwide standard.

A couple of years ago, AFI created task forces to consider updates to the existing AFI standards and to consider creating one for macadamia nuts. It was decided that since the cashew specification likely involved the most updates, it would be done first. ,

After several rounds of revisions, the task force presented the latest cashew specification draft during a recent virtual meeting. It’s important to note that almost all the modifications are not changes to technical parameters; they’re edits to address areas needing clarification The goal of the task force members is to make the standard easier to read by reformatting and rewording any portions of the document with ambiguous wording and to correct some small but conspicuous omissions, such as peroxide value, free fatty acid and shelf life. There were enough changes along those lines that a side-by-side comparison isn’t possible, another reason the task force has shared multiple updates.

During the recent virtual meeting, we received input from several people who hadn’t brought up concerns in the past. So, as I write this, the task force is planning to meet again to review that input and incorporate the suggested changes into what is hoped is a final version of an update.

It’s important to note that no change to an AFI spec is ever made without seeking input from importers and suppliers of the product. The goal is to give all interested parties, including trade associations in producing countries, the opportunity to provide input to ensure the suggested changes are valid and attainable. The final step in the process is a vote by the membership.

All four standards are available on the Resources section of the AFI website: Updated versions will appear on the site as soon they become final.

I encourage all reading this to provide input and vote to approve the amendments if they feel that the amendments represent incremental improvement! Even if a specification has been updated before you read it, we want to hear from you if you think we’ve missed something. We’re not a government agency, so we can make changes more regularly – as the need arises. What’s important to us is that we continue to make progress in clarifying the specifications to most-accurately reflect the understanding and expectations of the market.

Working on industry specifications is something we can control. We know the products. We know what quality parameters are needed. As discussed in other places in this publication, we’ve all been faced and will continue to face for the foreseeable future with things out of our control. It’s important we work together to address things that we can.

My family’s company has a long history of active participation in AFI; it’s helped us create and strengthen relationships and it’s ensured we were aware of and had the chance to provide input on issues impacting our industry and company. I look forward to another year as section chair and continuing to offer mine and my firm’s input. In particular, I’m looking forward to seeing the standard update process continue and hope next year’s version of this report is speaking about a process that’s finished or nearly finished.

2023 U.S. Food Import Industry Annual Report

Chairman's Report - John Sessler

North American Olive Oil Association - Mouna Aissaoui

Processed Foods - Brent Danielson

Nut & Agricultural Products - Richard Rosenblatt

National Honey Packers & Dealers - Andy Sargeantson

Regulatory and Trade Issues

Food Importers Facing New Enforcement Environment

Common FSVP-Related Questions



Association of Food Industries: Serving the U.S. Food Import Trade Since 1906
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