March 19, 2008

In Today's Issue:

COOL Compliance Guide Now Available
United Fresh has published a new guide for the produce industry on how to comply with the country of origin labeling law (COOL), due to go into effect September 30, 2008.  Associate Counsel Autumn Veazey prepared an analysis of legal requirements likely to go into effect, with advice for every segment of the produce supply chain, from grower-shippers to retailers.  The new White Paper "What You Need To Know Now About Complying With Country of Origin Labeling Rules" is available free of charge to all United Fresh members, and for a minimal fee of $25 to non-members.  The White Paper can be downloaded at www.unitedfresh.org, and here.  For questions, please contact Autumn.

Mexico Plays Host to First International Town Hall Meeting

United Fresh staff Tom Stenzel, Amy Philpott and Jeff Oberman, along with Froylán Gracia of SAGARPA, within the Mexican Embassy, hosted a town hall meeting of regional industry members and key import partners from the United States in Culiacan, Mexico.  “It's very important we know our partners from around the world, and Mexico represents an extremely important region,” said Philpott.  Tom Stenzel added, “We held this event to understand the current Mexican state of industry and share the value United Fresh can provide with events throughout the year, such as the upcoming United Fresh show in Las Vegas."  Key topics of discussion included country of origin labeling, food safety and future trade opportunities.  A special thanks goes to Renee Larrea and Wes Liefer from United Produce Sales for sponsoring the luncheon; Eduardo Leyson from Agricola San Isidro/Ciruli Brothers and Jose Humberto with Rene Produce for hosting the operation tours; and Franciso Obregon of C.H. Robinson Worldwide for coordinating many aspects of this trade mission.  For more information about this event and others, please contact Jeff Oberman, vice president, trade relations at 831-422-0940.


United Fresh Hosts Special Event for Farm Bill Leader
Last Friday, United FreshPAC along with industry colleagues from Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, National Potato Council, Sunkist Growers, U.S. Apple Association, Welch's, and Western Growers, hosted a special political event at the United Fresh headquarters for Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan.  During the event, Senator Stabenow discussed key issues facing the specialty crop industry.  “The Senator is truly fighting for our industry every day on Capitol Hill.  Not only is she deeply involved in the Farm Bill debate, but she is also working hard for Child Nutrition Reauthorization in 2008.  Pro-produce advocates like this deserve our campaign support,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy.  United FreshPAC directly supports Members of Congress who represent the fresh fruit and vegetable industry on issues important to United Fresh and its members.  To learn more about United FreshPAC, click here.

Strike it Rich in Vegas!
The United FreshPAC Advisory Board will hold a special event at United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008: Striking it Rich in Vegas on Sunday, May 4. This event, which will raise funds for the United FreshPAC political action committee, is being held at the famous Las Vegas Lucky Strike Lanes in the Rio Hotel and Casino.  In addition to great bowling, this special event will have something for everyone, including music, food and drink, hourly raffle drawings, and a little exclusive gaming.  We'll also have our first ever United FreshPAC Bowling Tournament, with prizes going to the top teams and individual bowlers.  Doors open at 8:00 p.m., immediately following the Viva Las Vegas Opening Party.  You can put together your own knockout team or sign up individually. Your support at this event will go a long way in raising funds to support congressional candidates who are addressing key policy issues that face the produce industry.  For more information please contact Angela Bezon, or click here.

USDA Announces Availability of Block Grant Funds
This week, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the availability of approximately $8,440,500 in block grant funds to "enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops".  Some examples of enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops include (but are not limited to): research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, “buy local” programs, increased consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental, conservation, and product development programs.  Eligible applicants for the block grants include state departments of agriculture, or other agencies, commissions, or departments of state government responsible for agriculture within the 50 states and the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  To apply for fiscal year 2008 funds, applications must be postmarked no later than March 5, 2009. Details regarding the application process are available on the USDA website.  For additional information, please contact Autumn Veazey, United Fresh legislative director at 202-303-3427.

Food Safety Pavilion Expands; Discover Innovative Solutions
To meet increasing demand, United Fresh has devoted a greater area of the United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008 show floor to food safety and research.  Make sure the suppliers you want to see – including auditors, food safety technical services, and research institutions - showcase their solutions in the new Food Safety & Research Pavilion.  And, when you sign up for the Wednesday Technical Package, you can visit the trade show in the morning to see these cutting edge solutions, tackle key food safety issues at the Food Safety & Technical Seminar in the afternoon, and catch a late flight home! But, sign up soon - next week, registration rates for United Fresh 2008, Las Vegas 2008 will go up by $50.  Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to find solutions and make your business grow - Register today!

What Would You Do With $25,000?
The "Salute to Leadership" Raffle is an annual fundraising event for the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation.  This year's raffle features three spectacular prizes including a $25,000 Grand Prize, $1,000 Best Buy Certificate, and Round Trip Airline Tickets to Las Vegas!  Proceeds from the raffle will help support the activities of the Foundation, which offers research and education programs to enhance the produce industry's effectiveness, develop leadership skills at all levels of the industry, advance produce safety and quality, and increase children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Buy your raffle ticket with our online form, or contact Beth Berman for tickets.  The drawing will take place at the Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet, during United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008.     

New Advertising Opportunity with Progressive Grocer
United Fresh is pleased to share the exciting details of a new show marketing opportunity we have formed with Progressive Grocer, the food industry’s leading source of news and information, which will feature a "United Fresh Focus Special Report" in its May 2008 issue.  Under the guidance of Meg Major, Progressive Grocer’s senior editor and resident perishables industry expert, the United Fresh Focus Special Report will provide retailers and other produce industry members with exclusive coverage and insightful commentary to make the most of the United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008 experience.  With a readership of over 42,000, Progressive Grocer is a proven and valuable medium in both print and electronic forms that provides the grocery and food retailing market.  If you are interested in advertising in this special report, please contact Olivia Wilson, publisher at 646-654-7561.  For more information about United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008 please contact John Toner.

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

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 & Views
More Goods for the Growers
For specialty growers, a victorious boost of funding is expected out of the final Farm Bill - but that does not leave the agriculture industry without vulnerabilities, says U.S. News & World Report.

Increased Consumption
According HealthDay via Yahoo! News, the rise in consumption of leafy greens cannot completely explain the increase in food borne illness outbreaks in the United States.

Fruit Smoothies Join the Mix

Forbes reports on Thomas Financial research that indicates the price of fruit smoothies, muffins, and memory sticks will now be used to calculate UK inflation.
 
Like Fruit Flies
Science Daily shares new research demonstrating that fruit flies and humans have similar responses to sweets because of comparable environments.

FDA and State Interaction
The final day of the Annual Food Safety & Security Summit at the Washington, DC Convention Center will feature a keynote address about the changes and challenges for food supply safety, announces Market Wire.
 
Not So Peachy
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that as peach seasons gets underway, western New York fruit growers here don't know whether they will have a buyer for their crop at harvest time.

Produce Picks
San Jose Mercury News makes their seasonal produce picks.

Dated Deal
Damaged or older does not necessarily mean unsafe, says an Amish grocer, in a statement highlighted by ABC News.