January 30, 2008

In Today's Issue:

Welcome to Inside United Fresh
On behalf of our Board and staff, I’m pleased to welcome you to Inside United Fresh, your new, weekly newsletter from United Fresh Produce Association.  As you can see, Inside United Fresh is about Connecting the Business of Produce.  Every Wednesday, you’ll receive the latest news concerning laws and regulations, business opportunities, education and training, and other United Fresh activities that can help you grow your business.  Food safety, labor regulations, country of origin labeling, leadership development and executive level produce education are just a few of the topics we’ll cover.  United Fresh members have come to Expect More, and Get More from their produce association.  This newsletter is for our members and friends, and we hope you’ll find direct benefits here for your business.  We hope you enjoy this new format, and we welcome your feedback so that we can continue to provide excellent member service.  Please send any comments or suggestions to Amy Philpott, vice president of marketing and industry relations, 202-303-3425.

Product Recall/Crisis Management Course Added in Phoenix
Due to overwhelming demand, the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation has added a new Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course on April 2-4 at the Hilton Phoenix Airport in Arizona.  With the San Francisco course sold out and a long waiting list, we knew we had to add another course to meet industry needs.  Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire is a multi-part course, including a two-day workshop, April 2-3, on how to prevent a product recall from becoming a crisis and a half day of media training on April 4.  The media portion of the course requires a separate registration.  For additional registration and housing information, including group discounts, contact United Fresh Education Manager Beth Berman, 202-303-3405.

Study Shows Fruits and Veggies in WIC to Boost Grower Returns
“With the inclusion of fruits and vegetables now on tap for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) government feeding program, most of us have been focused solely on the consumption increases that will be driven by some $500 million in federal funding,” said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh.  Now, a new economic study by the National Food and Agricultural Policy Project (NFAPP) at Arizona State University projects an additional impact on grower returns, due to the increased market demand.  NFAPP examines one commodity – broccoli – to estimate the impact that adding fruit and vegetable vouchers will have in the marketplace.  NFAPP’s Broccoli Market Watch builds on United Fresh’s estimate of $32 million in increased retail sales for broccoli, but then uses economic modeling to predict how strengthened market demand will boost grower returns as well.  NFAPP estimates that demand will increase 2.2%, leading to a 3.8% increase in retail price, and 2.9% increase in grower price.  That price impact alone would generate $21 million in increased returns to broccoli growers.  For more information about fruits and vegetables in WIC, contact Lorelei, 202-303-3403.

Schafer Takes Office as New Secretary of Agriculture
Former North Dakota governor and businessman Edward Schafer was sworn in as the as the 29th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on Monday.  Members of the Senate Agricultural Committee confirmed Schafer’s nomination by unanimous consent, asking that he begin work immediately to help pass a new Farm Bill.  “We are pleased that the Senate has confirmed a new Secretary of Agriculture, and hope this can get the Administration moving on a compromise to pass the Farm Bill,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh.  “We look forward to working with Secretary Schafer to help him understand the fruit and vegetable industry and the important role USDA can play to enhance the competitiveness of our industry and help increase fresh produce consumption.  It’s critical that Secretary Schafer get engaged in moving forward a Farm Bill compromise now, so we can begin implementing the important programs included in the House and Senate versions of the bill,” he said.  President Bush nominated Schafer in October to replace former Secretary Mike Johanns, who is now running for the Senate from Nebraska.

Free Briefings on Worker Verification Open to Produce Industry
As a member of the Steering Committee of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), United Fresh is pleased to announce a series of briefings to educate employers on immigration related issues such as employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement programs.  Next week, EWIC will host a meeting in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday, February 5, from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.  Another meeting in Atlanta, GA will be held on Friday, February 22, from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.  The briefings are a great opportunity to meet representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Justice to discuss worksite enforcement issues.  The deadline to sign up for the briefing in Santa Monica is this Friday, February 1, and Wednesday, February 20 for the briefing in Atlanta.  For more information, please contact Autumn Veazey, 202-303-3427.

Register for the New European Fresh-Cut Conference
Expand your market reach by sharing best business and technical practices for fresh-cut, value-added produce, at the new FreshConex Congress concurrent with the Fruit Logistica trade show in Berlin.  United Fresh is co-sponsoring the FreshConex Congress with Eurofruit Magazine, and has put together an outstanding educational agenda.  The Congress will be held February 6, the day before the Fruit Logistica show.  This international conference will focus on key issues in the international fresh-cut produce business, including:
  • Consumer Trends
  • Value-added Technologies
  • Foodservice Trends
  • Future Sales Growth Opportunities

“The fresh produce business is truly an international industry, with a strong need to share business and technical information, education on best practices, and knowledge about consumer needs and desires with colleagues around the world,” said United Fresh Board member David Barney, Bakkavor, United Kingdom.  Register today for this new international conference event.

Join Us at Fruit Logistica Reception
This February 6 – 9, join us in Berlin, Germany for the new FreshConex Congress and Fruit Logistica. United Fresh is partnering with EuroFruit Magazine and Messe Berlin to bring world class education and speakers to the FreshConex, a special congress focused on fresh-cut produce and the convenience market.  Register for FreshConex today. In addition, come to our United Fresh booth in Hall 7.25 b, Stand A 05 on Friday February 8 for our international reception.  Everyone is welcome! For more information contact Jerry Welcome at United Fresh.

United Fresh Board Meets To Set Policy, Program Agenda
The United Fresh Board of Directors met this past week in San Jose, Costa Rica to review and establish both policy and program priorities for the year ahead.  “The Board tackled a wide array of issues over its three-day meeting, including food safety, legislative and regulatory policies, new education and training programs, traceability and supply chain logistics, and international programs.  More details on new programs and priorities approved by the Board to serve the membership will be forthcoming over the next several months.  “This was the first Board meeting in recent years set in a major international production area, and it was clear that Board members really valued the tours and interaction with our members producing tropical fruits in the area,” said President Tom Stenzel.  The Board toured pineapple and banana operations hosted by Dole Food Company and Chiquita Brands International, and met with local industry leaders.

U.S. Presidential Election Shaping Up
With “Super Tuesday” featuring more than 20 state election primaries less than a week away, the Presidential election race is shaping up to be a fight between two candidates on each side.  Democrats Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are locked in a tight battle, each hoping to emerge as the Democratic party nominee.  On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain’s victory in Florida yesterday effectively creates a two-man race with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.  But in both cases, the outcome is far from settled and could remain in question for months to come.  United Fresh Senior Vice President Robert Guenther reminds us that in this important election year, produce industry members should get involved and support the candidates that they believe will best serve the country.  United Fresh will host events bringing together Congressional leaders at both the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions this year in order to build awareness of issues important to the fresh produce industry.

Headquarters Visitors
  • Michael Hammond, CEO, Ag-Networks, Inc.

New Members
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • Enza International, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Alexandria University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Packaging Products Corporation, Shawnee Mission, Kansas
  • Sunterra Farms, Inc., Newport Beach, California
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
A Contrasting Stimulus
During the Senate confirmation hearing for the new secretary of agriculture, the implications of the farm bill on human and economic health was discussed as a stimulus, but is nonetheless, still a source of debate over funding.

New Range of Safety Requirements
Restoring consumer confidence in food safety will require new standards of growers on everything from ergonomics to protecting plants and wetlands, reports Yakima Herald-Republic.

A Step-Up for Heinz
The Orlando Sentinel states a call for more nutrients from natural sources prompted Heinz Global Innovation & Quality Center to kick start R&D for such packaged foods and condiments, without sacrificing taste.

A Farmer’s Real Estate
According to The Associated Press, high commodity prices are creating a surplus in demand for farmland.

Folic Acid’s Twist
Folic Acid, proven to prevent birth defects may have unforeseen trade-offs, suggests the Baltimore Sun.

Ethanol from Citrus Peels
The Exchange Morning Post announces a multi-million dollar plant in Central Florida will produce ethanol, to fill cars fuel tanks, from citrus peels.

A Real Threat
Arizona State University shows the fiscal impact of food recalls and agricultural bioterrorism.

Knowing the Enzymes Role
Science Daily reports that University of California, Davis scientists discovered plant wall enzymes make ripe fruit more susceptible to disease and decomposition.

Power Struggle
The struggle over food safety continues with conflict among federal agencies, writes Government Executive.