February 13, 2008

In Today's Issue:


Global Advisory Council Holds Organizational Meeting
United Fresh’s new Global Advisory Council met in Berlin last week during the Fruit Logistica/FreshConex trade shows to begin setting the association’s agenda in serving members and prospective members around the world. “Ours is clearly a global business today, with similar issues affecting companies no matter where they have their headquarters building,” said Council Chairman David Barney, Bakkavor, United Kingdom. Barney was joined in the meeting by member companies from 15 countries. In addition, Chairman of the Board Emanuel Lazopoulos and Chairman Elect Tom Lovelace welcomed the Council participants and discussed the Board’s overall commitment to global member service. “We’ll be working closely with David, the Council and all of our international members to develop programs and services to best serve their needs,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “I was really struck by the common challenges our members are facing in disjointed food safety protocols and conflicting audits, which will be a priority for us to address,” he said.

Members of the Global Advisory Council include:
David Barney, Bakkavor, United Kingdom
Graham Alexander, Food Technology Noord-Oost Nederland B.V. (FTNON), The Netherlands
Gus Arrigo, Martha's Garden, Inc., Canada
Laurent Beaumont, Florette S.A.S., Germany
Rolf Christian Becker, Bayer CropScience, Germany
Israel Ben-Tzur, StePac T.A. Ltd, Isreal
Ronald Bown, Association de Exportadores de Chile, A.G., Chile
Paddy Callaghan, Nature's Best Limited, Ireland
Charles Ciruli, Ciruli Brothers/Amex Distributing Co., Inc., United States
Yves Clement, SFPAE, France
Ueli Forster, Gastro Star AG, Switzerland
Robert Gotsis, Omega Produce Company, Mexico
Dawn Gray, ENZA International, New Zealand
Klaus Klische, Fresh Factory, Germany
Dan Palmsten, Salico Oy, Sweden
Robin Poynton, One Harvest, Australia
Steve Reinholt, Oneonta Trading Corporation, United States
Jurgen Schwarz, Gartenfrisch Jung GmbH, Germany
Alessandro Turatti, Turatti Srl, Italy
Daniel Whittles, Rosemont Farms Corporation, United States

Welcome New USDA Fruit & Vegetable Advisory Committee!
In my almost 10 years heading up United Fresh’s government relations team, I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing USDA Secretary Ann Veneman appoint the first Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee in 2001, and the pleasure of welcoming members of each subsequent committee to Washington, D.C. during their first meeting. So, it was a pleasure once again to host a reception honoring the new committee at our headquarters last week. It’s easy to forget today that when United Fresh petitioned USDA to form a committee like this, fruit and vegetable issues were often an afterthought in the USDA Secretary’s office. Today, some 75 United Fresh members have served on the four committees organized since that time, and our industry is poised to drive major new investments in this year’s Farm Bill. Next week, our President Tom Stenzel speaks on behalf of our industry to more than 1,500 agricultural leaders gathered at the USDA Outlook Forum, the principal annual gathering of U.S. agricultural leaders since 1923. We’ve come a long way, due in large part to the commitment of industry leaders like those who’ve stepped up to serve on this year’s Advisory Council. We welcome all of you to your United Fresh headquarters office on Pennsylvania Avenue, and to a new stage of industry service. Thank you! Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy

USDA Advisory Committee member Mike Hollister, Driscoll’s, talks with fellow committee member A.G. Kawamura, California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, and lobbyist Dan Haley, Haley and Associates, at a reception in honor of the new committee at United Fresh headquarters in Washington, DC. 

 



The 2008 USDA Fruit and Vegetables Advisory Committee members are:
Danny Arnold, A-W Produce Co.
Gordon Bowman, Bowman Apple Products
Wayne Brandt, Brandt Farms, Inc.
William “Bill” Brim, Lewis Taylor Farms
Fred Caito, Caito Foods, Inc.                            
Chuck Ciruli, Jr., Ciruli Brothers/Amex Distributing Company
Jim Corby, Food Lion
Scott Danner, Liberty Fruit Company
Matthew D’Arrigo, D’Arrigo Brothers
Andrew Deane, Del Monte Foods
Joseph DeVerna, Ocean Spray
Michael Hollister, Driscoll's Inc.
A.G. Kawamura, Calif. Dept. of Agriculture
Helen Masser, Sterman Masser, Inc.
Lisa McNeece, Grimmway Enterprise
John Millwater, Fresh Express
Luis Monterde, B&M Blueberries
Bob Morrissey, National Watermelon Association
Paul Newman, Rainier Fruit Company
Daniel Richey, Riverfront Growers/Riverfront Packing
Mike Stuart, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association
Lisa Strube, Strube Celery and Vegetable Company        
Jennifer Verdelli, Verdelli Farms
Rebecca Wilson, Tom Lange Company
Larry Yonce, J.W. Yonce and Sons

United Fresh President To Visit Northern California Industry
United Fresh President Tom Stenzel will be the guest speaker next Tuesday, February 19, at the Fresh Produce and Floral Council’s Northern California luncheon. The event will be held from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Castlewood Country Club, in Pleasanton, CA. Reservations are available by calling the FPFC at 714-739-0177. In addition to the luncheon, Tom and Vice President, Membership Jeff Oberman will visit the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market on Tuesday morning from 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m., and the South San Francisco Golden Gate Produce Terminal on Wednesday morning from 6:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m. “I’m really looking forward to meeting with our members at the FPFC luncheon, and walking the markets each morning in San Francisco,” Tom said. “Please call Jeff at 831-422-0940 if you’d like to arrange a specific meeting at the market, or look out for us bright and early!”

Global Industry Meets United Fresh Up Close and Personal
After a long day doing business on the trade show floor, exhibitors and attendees at Fruit Logistica and FreshConex took a moment to relax with United Fresh leaders at our International Reception Friday evening. Hosted by Chairman Emanuel Lazopoulos and fellow Board members, the reception provided a great introduction to United Fresh for produce companies and allied suppliers from around the world.


The Friday night reception at the United Fresh booth was a big hit with all who attended.

 



Alan Heinzen, Heinzen Manufacturing International; Gregor Shanks, Weyerhaeuser; Joe Goodwin, Agriworld Exchange.


John Toner, United Fresh; Ed Savigny, Ag Pack; J. Pepper, Gillenkirch.

Joe McGee, L&M Produce; Emanuel Lazopoulos, DelMonte Fresh Produce; Tom Lovelace, McEntire Produce.

Bill Murray, Agrimax International; Xavier Ripoll, A-1 Cold Storage & Handling; Jeff Oberman, United Fresh.

Chuck Ciruli Jr., Ciruli Brothers/Amex Distributing Co., Inc.; Jim Lemke, C.H. Robinson; Alan Campbell, CCFRA.

Negotiations on the Farm Bill Heat up This Week
Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson (D-MN) met with the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance on Monday and provided us with a brief outline of his plans to move towards finalizing the 2007 Farm Bill that the President could sign. He indicated to the group that the Senate has not agreed to this but he feels strongly it may be the best deal we are all going to get at this point with the Administration. For us in produce, it is important a bill be signed into law and we do not get caught in extending the current Farm Bill, which was passed in 2002. However, any bill that is agreed to must include our top policy priorities related to pest and disease, research, specialty crop block grants and the fruit and vegetable snack program. The next couple of days will be critical in this discussion to see if a deal on the Farm Bill can be realized. For more information contact Robert Guenther, 202-303-3409.

Leadership Alumni Organization Hosts Inaugural Retreat in Vegas
The United Fresh Leadership Alumni Organization, which includes graduates of the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program from 1995-2007, held their first business retreat in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Focusing on professional development and service to the industry, this week’s retreat kicked off on Tuesday afternoon with an in-depth program on how to effectively manage the challenges of change, followed by today’s customized course that explores the advanced notions of leadership and examines traits of extraordinary leaders.  The Alumni also took part in a peer-to-peer executive coaching session to examine real life leadership dilemmas. "The industry is ever-changing and the skills we need to be effective leaders are constantly evolving," said Leadership Alumni Organization Chairman, Sheri Mierau, president of California Tree Fruit Agreement. "The Alumni Organization is an excellent opportunity for leadership graduates to keep their skills fresh and build bonds with graduates from other classes." For more information on the Leadership Alumni Organization or the Produce Industry Leadership Program, contact Victoria Backer, senior vice president, member services, foundation, 202-303-3408.

New FDA Draft Guidance on Listeria Control
Last week, FDA released two draft documents for public comment that will affect most fresh-cut processors and other produce operations.  The first draft, Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Refrigerated or Frozen Ready-to-Eat Foods, describes ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, including “most vegetables and non-acidic fruit,” that FDA considers at risk for contamination with L. monocytogenes and the sometimes fatal foodborne illness listeriosis.  This first document also provides testing recommendations that a facility should consider for detecting and preventing contamination.  The second draft, Compliance Policy Guide Section 555.320 Listeria monocytogenes, guides FDA’s enforcement staff on when to take regulatory action.  Both documents are open for public comment until April 7, 2008.  The United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council is in the process of convening a working group to review the documents and provide comments to FDA.  Those wanting to participate in the working group should contact Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president food safety & technology at United Fresh, 202-303-3411.

Take the Next Step with the Produce Industry Leadership Program
The United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry.  The program, providing members with professional development and service to the industry focuses on the following core areas: leadership development; business relationships; government and public affairs; and media and public and communication.  Each class is limited to twelve participants to help maximize class interaction, learning and camaraderie among participants.  Interested in applying for the leadership program?  Applications for the 2008-2009 Produce Industry Leadership Program are being accepted until March 17, 2008.  Click here to apply!

Produce Trade Associations Discuss Food Safety Issues
United Fresh hosted an informal conference call this week among a number of produce trade associations to discuss food safety issues and various legislative developments in Congress this year. “It’s really important for all our associations to keep an active dialogue on these food safety matters,” said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at United Fresh. “Both Robert Guenther and Tom Stenzel are getting a lot of questions these days on Capitol Hill about potential food safety legislation, and we want to make sure that the produce industry is prepared to shape our own agenda politically rather than have to respond to others with different agendas. Robert told me a saying this week that’s really true – ‘if you’re not at the table, you’re likely going to be on the menu.’” Produce associations participating in the dialogue included American Mushroom Institute, California Citrus Quality Council, California Grape & Tree Fruit League, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, California Strawberry Commission, California Table Grape Commission, California Tomato Farmers, California Tree Fruit Agreement, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, Idaho Grower Shippers Association, National Potato Council, National Watermelon Association, Northwest Horticultural Council, Produce Marketing Association, U.S. Apple Association and Western Growers.

National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance Steering Committee Meets
Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh, meets again today by conference call with colleagues on the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance Steering Committee.  The Alliance holds monthly conference calls bringing together leaders from the Centers for Disease Control, USDA, National Cancer Institute, Produce for Better Health Foundation, state nutrition officials, public health groups and private industry to focus on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.  “We talk each month about different areas such as retail marketing, public health programs at the state level, and more,” Lorelei said.  “Today, we’re talking about federal nutrition and health policies, a topic near and dear to my heart.  The changes we’re making at the federal level, such as the inclusion of fruits and vegetables in WIC and the expansion of the school fresh fruit and vegetable snack program truly help launch the next generation of kids on a lifetime of healthy eating,” she said.
European Short Course in Cordoba, Spain
United Fresh Produce Association is a co-sponsor of the European Short Course, “Quality & Innovation of Fresh-Cut Produce,” scheduled for March 10 – 12, 2008 in Cordoba, Spain.  United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety & Technology Dr. David Gombas and other distinguished scientists from around the world will present at the three-day course.  The program is designed for all individuals from the fresh and processed fruit and vegetable industries and will be of special interest to food engineers, food scientists, quality assurance personnel and new product development staff. The course is also valuable to representatives from research institutions, the restaurant and institutional food industries, and packaging and ingredient suppliers.  United Fresh members receive a discount registration rate. Cost for the program is €400 and €300 for United Fresh members.  For additional information visit www.uco.es/fresh-cut.  


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

United Fresh thanks all 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 contasct Jeff Oberman.

News & Views
Immigration Reform Must Be a Top Priority
The Salt Lake Tribune reports while human need and the law of supply and demand reinforce some Utah employers hiring undocumented workers that federal officials must enforce the law.

H2A Program
Some farms oppose the Bush Administrations proposed solution to the nation’s shortage of agricultural workers, according to Houston Chronicle.

Initial Public Offering
Philippine Daily Inquirer says to expand the capacity of farming operations, FRUIT exporter Agrinurture Inc. is considering an initial public offering.

Less Than Expected

Although there is less of the Florida citrus crop this year, it is still a good-sized crop for the Florida industry, writes TCPalm.

Continued Drop
Chattanooga Times Free Press suspects a U.S. Department of Agriculture  survey will likely report a decrease in the number of farms and income due to freezes and droughts

Satisfying Customers’ Concerns

Beginning April 1, Trader Joe’s will phase out single-ingredient Chinese imports from its stores because of their consumer’s perceptions of food safety, states USA Today.

Standards
Wal-Mart now requires suppliers of its private label and other food products to have their factories certified against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative standards, announces Foodproductiondaily.com.

Cox's Mexicali Farm
Reuters writes of a California vegetable grower  who has taken his farm to Mexico, where immigration raids and environmental regulations are not increasing his costs.