March 5, 2008

In Today's Issue:


United Fresh Nutrition Expert Helps Launch 2009 School Lunch Campaign
“Kids need more fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches, and together, we can make that happen!” That’s the message that Dr. Lorelei DiSogra delivered today to more than 700 school nutrition professionals and Congressional leaders at the first 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Listening Session held at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual Legislative Action Conference in Washington, DC. As United Fresh’s chief nutrition and health expert, Lorelei advocated for increasing the federal government’s reimbursement rate for school meals to allow more fresh fruits and vegetables to be served to children. Recognizing the critical importance of this topic, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and a variety of USDA officials also participated in the session designed to kick-off efforts over the next 18 months to drive healthier and higher-quality school meals consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. For more information please contact Lorelei, 202-303-3403.

Produce Industry Participates in Sustainability Discussion
Last Friday, the produce industry, including representatives from the apple and potato industries, regional produce organizations and United Fresh, participated in the Leonardo Academy’s public forum on developing a national sustainability standard for agriculture.  Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy, attended the meeting on behalf of United Fresh.  “The issue of sustainable agriculture has come to the forefront as a key emerging issue for the produce industry,” said Robert. “United Fresh’s Board of Directors has had a healthy discussion about sustainability and how our industry should approach this important topic.  In April, the United Fresh Government Relations Council will tackle this very question and then make recommendations to the Board.”  The Leonardo Academy is a national standards development organization that has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute to work with agriculture industry stakeholders to develop a national sustainable agriculture standard.  “It is our goal to seek industry consensus that helps define a broader understanding of what sustainability means to the produce industry as well as provide our members with the tools necessary to discuss this issue with their customers,” Robert added.  For more information please contact Robert, 202-303-3409.

McFall Joins United Fresh to Provide More Field Membership Support
United Fresh Produce Association welcomes Marcie McFall as its newest staff member. Marci, United Fresh’s new member services coordinator in the Salinas, CA office, will work directly with Jeff Oberman in all areas of field membership support. United Fresh added this new staff position to further expand association services to its member companies and allied associations. “In addition to working with current members, Marcie will assist other companies in learning about the value of United Fresh membership and participating in our many programs and services, including our United Fresh 2008 convention in Las Vegas, May 4-7,” said Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations. “Jeff has done a great job heading up our field membership services from the West Coast, and we’re delighted that Marcie will now help us expand that effort to ensure we are reaching our members throughout North America as well as globally,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. Marcie previously worked in membership, marketing, meeting planning and accounting for the Monterey County Farm Bureau from 2004-2007, and prior to that held several administrative and accounting positions in the Monterey area and Bakersfield, CA. Join us in welcoming Marci to the United Fresh family!

A personal message from Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, Vice President, Nutrition and Health
Gearing up to provide WIC families with cash-value vouchers of up to $10 every month for fruits and vegetables is a big change for WIC agencies -- and a major challenge to the produce industry to make sure moms and their kids get the fresh produce they want.  After more than a decade of effort, our long-held dream of fruits and vegetables for WIC moms and their kids really starts to come true next week when 200 state and local WIC directors and public health agencies begin planning the logistics of rolling out the new fruit and vegetable vouchers.  I’m so proud that our association has been a partner to the National WIC Association all along the way, and now we’re helping sponsor the WIC Food Package Implementation Summit next week.  WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers are a huge opportunity to improve the health of America’s children, but only if retailers, produce suppliers and our public health partners in WIC agencies across the country join together to make this happen easily for moms.  We know they want to buy fresh produce, and are anxious to begin redeeming their vouchers as soon as possible.  I can’t wait to get to work with our state and local WIC leaders to make this dream finally come true.  If you want to know more about WIC and what you can do to help, just give me a call at 202-303-3403, or send an email to ldisogra@unitedfresh.org.

Foodservice Excellence Takes Center Stage in Las Vegas
In a city increasingly known as one of the dining capitals of the world, United Fresh adds to the culinary scene with its new Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards honoring the best of the best at our Tuesday night Awards Banquet May 6.  This new program is sponsored by Pro*Act LLC to honor chefs and foodservice establishments in each of five business categories: Fine Dining Restaurants, Casual and Family Dining Restaurants, Quick-Serve Restaurants, Business in Industry/Colleges and Hotels/Healthcare Operations.  “Anyone in the industry can nominate foodservice chefs for the award, so I can’t think of a better way to salute one of your best customers,” said United Fresh Vice President Amy Philpott.  So let’s get the honoring underway!  Submit a nomination form, or give me a call at Amy Philpott, 202-303-3425 by March 24.

AMS Proposes to Revise Grade Standards for Table Grapes
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) branch has published a proposed rule to revise the grade standards for table grapes of the European or Vinifera type. The new rule proposes to revise the current voluntary standards by adding a five percent allowance for shattered berries in consumer containers for shipment that are en route or at their destination. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by March 27, 2008. This notice, as well as other Federal Register notices of proposed rules, are available on the United Fresh website.

Just 10 days Left to Apply for The Produce Leadership Program

In its fourteenth year, the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program takes professionals to the next step in their leadership journey by providing promising leaders with professional development in servicing the industry. Whether touring production fields in California, viewing citrus groves from a bus in Florida or working through demonstrations in a lab, class participants learn aspects of the produce industry beyond their daily business, and from each other.  Thanks to a special grant from the program sponsor, DuPont Crop Protection, this is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry. United Fresh members are welcome to apply for the 2008 Leadership Program; applications will be accepted until March 17, 2008.  Interested candidates can find more information here, or contact Beth Berman, 202-303-3405.


Washington State Leadership Class Gets a Taste of Produce Politics
Last week, Dr. Lorelei Disogra, vice president, nutrition and health, and Autumn Veazey, director of legislative affairs, gave the “2007 Washington State Agriculture and Forestry Leadership Class 30 Program” a few things to think about. Lorelei and Autumn spoke to the group about United Fresh’s agriculture, immigration and nutrition policy priorities and challenged them to secure agriculture’s future by staying involved. Diane Coates of US Apple Association and Craig Regglebrugge of American Nursery and Landscape Association and Autumn participated in a two hour panel discussion, in which Autumn discussed the importance of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, the produce industry’s prospects of negotiating the final 2007 Farm Bill and alternatives to addressing immigration reform. Meanwhile, Lorelei briefed the leadership class on United Fresh’s nutrition policy, highlighting the Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program and the new changes to the WIC program. The Washington State AgForestry Leadership Program is organized by the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation.





Members Dive Into Product Recall/Crisis Management Training
Think about a cross-functional team of quality control experts, marketing and sales, media communications and your legal department being forced together to handle a crisis product recall with little warning.  That’s the scenario that more than 40 produce industry members dove into last week in San Francisco at the latest United Fresh Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire two-day seminar.  Listen to one participant’s take-away –“it’s not too often that I attend a seminar and have tools I can immediately implement into our program here at our company.  This program was the exception – well worth the time and registration fee.”  More than a dozen members also were tested under fire in media training provided the day after the seminar.  A waiting list is available for the next Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course in Phoenix, AZ, April 2-4, which is currently sold out.  Look for additional courses to be announced in the coming weeks.

Convention Committee Puts Las Vegas Show on the Road to Success
The United Fresh Convention Committee met via web cast yesterday to take note of the progress for the upcoming United Fresh Shows 2008, Las Vegas.  John Toner, director of convention sales and services, reported that the expo is 90 percent sold out with 25 percent first-time exhibitors.  The top exhibitor categories are organic products, fruits/vegetables, grower/shipper services, processing equipment, packaging materials and containers, and the food safety pavilion.  Committee Co-Chair Ron Anderson, Spartan Stores, remarked “There is a piqued interest in the United Fresh convention among the Spartan Stores’ perishables team.  We are hearing great things from the industry about the United Fresh convention this year.”  Incoming United Fresh Chairman Tom Lovelace, McEntire Produce, commented on the web cast, “Everything looks good.  We are looking forward to a great show in Las Vegas.”  Call John at 202-303-3424 or email him at jtoner@unitedfresh.org, if you have questions about convention or how to get your company involved in what is shaping up to be a convention to remember.

Be a Winner with an All Access Pass
Ely Trujillo of U.S. Foodservice, recently won an All Access Pass to United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008. Valued at $895, the All Access Pass includes all keynote general sessions, leading education, workshops and seminars; business networking, special receptions and admission into four leading food expos. Go to www.unitedfreshshows.com to enter to win your All Access Pass.





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

Headquarters Visitors
  • Eric Lauritzen, Agricultural Commissioner/ Sealer, County of Monterey California
  • David R. Whitmer, Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer, County of Napa California
  • Gary W. Kunkel, Agricultural Commissioner/ Sealer,  County of Tulare California
  • Robert G. Atkins, Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer, County of San Diego California
  • Marcy L. Martin, California Grape & Tree Fruit League

News & Views
Plastic is Fine
Fox Business breaks news that Graham Packaging released a one-of-a-kind multilayer plastic jar, suitable for hot-packed food products and fruit, and highly sustainable.

Enviro-Networking
The Los Angeles Times reports the unique twists of green website and neighborhoods wanting you to be their friend.

Food Safety Police
After recalls of fresh produce, peanut butter pet food and meat, one Baltimore Sun reports says that industry cannot police itself.

Juicy
According to PR News, fruit and vegetable juices are one of the most competitive and profitable segments in the beverage industry primarily due to the increasing target audience focusing on health and nutritional issues.

Beverage Giants
The Coca-Cola Company and others are taking a slice of the Chinese pure fruit juice market pie, reports Beverage World.

Farmers’ Choice
Dallas Morning News reports the demand for fruits and vegetables is at an all-time high, but the subsidy program limits what farms grown and subsequently supply.

The Food Movement
It has never been a better time to be vegetable, says Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as they report on history, nutritional value and recopies of vegetables.