January 8, 2008

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Partners with Fruit Logistica/FreshConex; Register Today!
As a cooperating partner in the new FreshConex Congress held in conjunction with Fruit Logistica in Berlin, February 6-9, United Fresh encourages industry members to register here for the new event focused on the fresh-cut and convenience sectors.  The FreshConex Congress takes place on Wednesday, February 6, immediately prior to the Fruit Logistica trade show Thursday through Saturday.  One low registration price of Euro 250 gains admission into the Congress, as well as all three days of the FreshConex and Fruit Logistica trade shows.  United Fresh has worked with Eurofruit Magazine in organizing the conference program, which is focused on key issues in the international fresh-cut produce business, including consumer trends, value-added technologies, foodservice trends and future sales growth opportunities.  In addition to participating in the Congress, all members and friends traveling to Berlin for the show are invited to visit United Fresh at our stand in the FreshConex trade show.  Plus, join Board, staff and other volunteer leaders at a United Fresh Reception on Friday evening.  For more information, please contact Jerry Welcome at 202-303-3404.

Only One More Week Left to Nominate Produce Managers for Industry Award
The deadline to nominate store-level retail produce managers for the 2008 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program is just one week away!  Next Tuesday, January 15 is the deadline to submit nominations for this prestigious award sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, Inc.  Now in its fourth year, the 2008 program will honor 25 retail produce managers, their corporate produce directors and their companies at the United Fresh Annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 6 at the Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas.  The award winners and their corporate produce directors will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and admittance to North America’s leading food marketing event – featuring United Fresh Marketplace and United FreshTech, co-located with FMI and Marketechnics®.  To attend the banquet and the expos, purchase the All-Access Pass when you register at www.unitedfreshshows.com.  For more information, please contact Ginny Pugh, 202-303-3413.

Specialty Crop Coalition Gears Up for Farm Bill Conference
With both the House and Senate having now passed their own versions of the Farm Bill, members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) met twice this week at United Fresh headquarters to develop priorities for the final bill which will be developed by conferees in coming weeks.  “Combing through more than 1,500 pages of legislation in the House and Senate bills is both tedious and tremendously important,? said United Fresh Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther, who also serves as the SCFBA’s secretariat.  “Our side-by-side analysis of the two bills helps us focus on which specific provisions we prefer from the House and Senate, and shapes where the Alliance will make our final push down the stretch on the Farm Bill,? Robert said.  Key fruit and vegetable industry priorities, including national expansion of the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program, increased funding of Specialty Crop Competitiveness projects, and new investments in food safety research and in combating invasive plant pests and diseases, are among the major programs United Fresh and the Alliance will fight for in the final bill.  For more information, contact United Fresh Director of Legislative Affairs and Associate Counsel Autumn Veazey, 202-303-3427.

DHS Creates New Position to Protect U.S. Agriculture
Even before final passage of the Farm Bill, one key objective of the SCFBA is being achieved administratively.  This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the establishment of a new Deputy Executive Director position for Agriculture Operational Oversight, aimed at improving the DHS/Customs and Border Protection Agency’s agricultural mission.  “The detection and prevention of invasive pests and disease is vital to the competitiveness, growth and sustainability of our industry, and we’ve fought for reform in all of our Farm Bill efforts,? said United Fresh’s Robert Guenther.  “Special thanks to Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) who fought so hard on this issue, winning support from DHS Secretary Chertoff to create this new position charged with ensuring a more consistent application of agriculture inspection policy across all U.S. ports of entry.?  The position will be filled by Kevin Harriger, who has 26 years experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Customs and Border Protection Agency.  “Mr. Harriger has a solid background and significant experience in this field and we look forward to working with him in the future,? Robert said.  For more information, contact Robert Guenther, 202-303-3409.

Sundlof Named New CFSAN Director
Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof has been named director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), effective January 7.  Formerly the director of FDA’Dr. Sundlofs Center for Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sundlof is a noted scientist in the field of toxicology and has been invested in the safety of food and feed throughout his career.  Dr. David Acheson, who has been splitting his time between his regular duties as Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection and as Acting Director of CFSAN during the search for a permanent director, will now assume his permanent post at the FDA as the Associate Commissioner for Foods.  “We look forward to working with Dr. Sundlof toward a common goal of ensuring food safety and protecting pubic health,? said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh.

United Fresh Board Member Makes Impact in Iowa Caucuses
Last night, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates asked the voters of Iowa to kick off their bids to become the next president of the United States.  Hats off to United Fresh Board member Brendan Comito, Capital City Fruit Co., for his work helping launch Sen. Barack Obama to victory in Iowa’s 70th Precinct.  Brendan’s work was featured this morning in a front page Washington Post article about the Obama upset in Iowa, as well as on CNN.  “While I can’t say that everyone in our industry is ready to hop on the Obama bandwagon just yet, we congratulate Brendan on his leadership in the caucuses,? said United President Tom Stenzel.  “Of course, to many of us, Brendan’s strong political efforts come as no surprise as he and his family were awarded United Fresh’s first Produce Industry Advocate of the Year award in 2002 for their tireless efforts to share the views of the fruit and vegetable industry with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  And, coincidentally, this year’s winner of the Advocate Award Jim Allen, New York Apple Association, is rumored to be on his way to New Hampshire campaigning for a fellow New Yorker,? Tom said.  “No matter who you support in the political arena, the dedication of industry leaders like Brendan and Jim will serve our cause well in the years ahead,? he said.

Registration Open for June and September Inspection Training Courses
Produce industry members interested in learning about the fundamentals of the USDA produce quality inspection process should register now for the Produce Inspection Training Program. Presented by the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation in partnership with the USDA, the Produce Inspection Training Program offers a comprehensive overview of USDA inspection procedures and standards through lab training courses, classroom lectures and discussion sessions with USDA trainers. The weeklong program is developed into two specialized courses: Introduction to Produce Inspection and Advanced Produce Inspection.  Two more courses will be held this year: June 2-6, and September 22-26. Class size is limited and available on a first-come, first-served registration basis. Register online, download a registration form, or contact Beth Berman, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3405.

Meet a Member: Emanuel Lazopoulos, Del Monte Fresh Produce
United Fresh Chairman of the Board Emanuel Lazopoulos is Senior Vice President, North America, Sales, Marketing and Product Management, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, FL.  Emanuel started his career in the produce industry in 1979 with Castle & Cooke, now Dole Food Company, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business from the University of Delaware.  His progression through the company culminated in the position of Vice President of Sales for Dole Fresh Vegetables.  He then moved to Salyer American Fresh Foods as Vice President of Sales and executive committee member.  He subsequently worked for DNA Plant Technology before becoming one of three Managing Directors who founded and co-owned NewStar Fresh Foods, LLC in Salinas, CA.  In June 2003, Emanuel joined Del Monte as Vice President of Fresh-Cut and after two years was promoted to his current position.  In his present capacity, he oversees North American sales and marketing programs, as well as management of all Del Monte’s products imported or grown in North America.  Emanuel is also one of the founders in the Pessagno Wine Group in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County.  Emanuel will serve as United Fresh Chairman of Board through May 6, 2008.

Meet Your Staff: Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President of Public Policy
Robert Guenther leads United Fresh’s public policy staff in representing the association’s member companies before the U.S. Congress, Administration, regulatory agencies and media.  He also currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the produce industry’s North American Dispute Resolution Corporation and is Treasurer of the Minor Crop Farm Alliance.  He began his career in Washington as an Environmental Protection Specialist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and then moved on to become Policy Coordinator/Subcommittee consultant for House Agriculture Committee Member Rep. Gary Condit (CA-18), and then a Congressional Aide for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture.  Before joining United Fresh, Robert worked for the Florida Sugar Cane League as Director of Government Relations.  He has also served as a member of the Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee and the Agriculture Trade Advisory Committee for Fruits and Vegetables under U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Zoellick, respectively.  Robert holds a bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and a master’s of science degree in Public Administration from the University of Maryland.  He and his wife Jacqueline live in Ellicot City, Maryland with their three children, Roman Joel, Daria Kathryn, and George Lewis.  When Robert isn’t on Capitol Hill, he is coaching his childrens’ soccer teams. Robert, can be reached at 202-303-3409.

New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement in Sacramento, CA
United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the association and the produce industry. Please let us know whenever we can be of service to you. For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman.

News and Views
Expanded Delivery
Isabella Shipping Co. Ltd will join Fresh Del Monte Produce in importing tropical fruits and vegetable to Port Manatee expects to deliver tropical fruits and vegetables, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Fox News announces a new Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer for Apio, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Landec cut vegetable products.

Funding for Farmers Against Hunger
The press of Atlantic City reveals expirations of past grants and cutoffs for current grants could cause a Funding for Farmers Against Hunger shutdown this year.

Corporate Farming  
Times of India reports plans of one Textile company to include the cultivation of organic produce alongside its organic cotton project.

Majority in the Middle
The majority of American voters are not one-sided when it comes to immigration; they are ambivalent, wanting a solution, according to a Dallas Morning News Op-Ed.