April 9, 2008

In Today's Issue:

Council Tackles Produce Policy Issues in Nation’s Capitol
Yesterday marked the start of the 2008 spring Government Relations Council meeting, with 30 industry members and produce association executives convening in Washington, DC.  During the meeting, members of the Council discussed with congressional representatives and administration officials some of the industry’s most pressing policy priorities, including the 2007 Farm Bill, food safety legislation, strategic immigration reform, and national roll-out of the new WIC regulation.  “This meeting is a great opportunity for our elected officials and national leaders to speak with produce industry leaders from every region of the country about what is at stake in some of the most important policy issues our industry faces,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh.  

The Council also had in-depth discussions on emerging policy questions such as how to establish an appropriate sustainability policy for the produce industry and what type of regulatory framework would ensure a workable country of origin labeling.  After the meeting on Tuesday, the Council was joined by the chief congressional architects of our farm bill efforts, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representative Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) for an enjoyable dinner and casual conversation among industry allies. 

Today, the Council will spend the afternoon on Capitol Hill talking with Members of Congress and Senators about these key policy issues that face the industry. “The impact that these visits have cannot be overstated,” said Robert.  “It is so important that members periodically call or visit their congressional delegates so that these elected officials hear about our issues from their constituents.” Visit our website for more information on how you can be a grassroots advocate, or contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3416, abezon@unitedfresh.org.

Wisconsin is a Friend in the Fight to Increase Fresh Produce in Schools
Tomorrow, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra will head to the Wisconsin Dietetic Association’s (WDA) 2008 Annual Conference.  In her presentation, “Nutrition Policy Strategies for Improving Child Nutrition,” Lorelei will highlight policy priorities for increasing fruits and vegetables in school meals and encourage WDA members to become actively engaged in this effort. After seeing the benefits of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program for the past two years, Wisconsin health and education officials want to play an active role in the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation, under which the school snack program is funded. “Wisconsin’s strength in nutrition advocacy is legendary. Organized by the Wisconsin Heart Association, their grassroots advocacy can deliver more than 1500 phone calls to Congressional leadership in just two days!” says Lorelei. “When I ask them to weigh in they always come thru.  This is an opportunity to recognize Wisconsin’s advocacy accomplishments and promote early involvement in strategies to improve the healthfulness of school meals.”   For more information, please contact Lorelei DiSogra.

In Response to FDA Draft Guidance on Control of Listeria
“A broad brush approach of applying these guidelines to all FDA-regulated ready-to-eat processed foods will have dire and, we assume, unconsidered consequences to fresh-cut produce” was among the opening comments submitted by United Fresh in response to the FDA Draft Guidance for Industry: Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Refrigerated and Frozen Ready-To-Eat Processed Foods.  The United Fresh comments, developed by a working group of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council, emphasized the lack of any epidemiology linking listeriosis to commercially packed or processed fresh produce in over 25 years, and the apparent low incidence of detection of L. monocytogenes in fruits and vegetables at levels likely to cause illness.  United Fresh also noted that the pathogen has never been reported in a significant number of fresh-cut products, even without the extensive ingredient testing and environmental controls recommended in the Guidance.  For additional information about the FDA Guidance or our comments, please contact David Gombas, senior vice president food safety and technology.

Winners of Produce Foodservice Award to Be Honored In Las Vegas
United Fresh Research & Education Foundation announced today the winners of the 2008 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award, all of whom will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 6 at the United Fresh Las Vegas convention.  The chefs will also participate in United Fresh’s convention education program and share their views on produce trends in foodservice during the “Produce Marketing Track - Foodservice Trends to Explode Produce Sales” on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at Bally’s.  The five winners were selected on how each nominee incorporated fresh produce into menu development; used protocols for correct storage and handling of produce and created an overall positive dining experience featuring fresh produce.  Both the chefs and their corporate produce executives in each of five business categories will receive complimentary airfare, two nights of hotel accommodations and registrations to the United Fresh show, May 5-7 in Las Vegas. 

2008 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners:
Fine Dining:
Chef Tony Baker, Montrio Bistro, Monterey, CA

Casual & Family Dining:
Chef Reinhard Dorhuber, Elephant Bar Restaurant, La Mirada, CA

Quick Service:
Chef Daniel Coudreaut, Director of Culinary Innovation, McDonald’s USA, Oak Brook, IL

Business in Industry & Colleges:
Chef Jonathan Davey, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Hotels & Healthcare:
Chef JP Hagot, Peconic Landing, Greenport, NY

DiSogra to Share WIC Opportunities with Retailer
This Friday, I will meet with Kroger produce merchandisers in Cincinnati to discuss the opportunity for significant incremental produce sales as a result of added fruits and vegetables to the WIC Program. I am delighted that Reggie (Griffin), Kroger’s Corporate Vice President of Produce and Floral Merchandising and Procurement, invited me to speak to this group.  During the meeting, I will summarize the details of the new WIC rule specific to produce, encourage collaboration with state WIC agencies, and discuss benefits and marketing opportunities.  In total, more than $500 million in new produce sales are anticipated as a result of fruits and vegetables being added to WIC.  The nexus between WIC families and better health is their supermarket’s produce department, and there are many opportunities for retailers to capitalize on this.  Some states will begin to implement the new WIC food package later this year.  For more information, please contact Lorelei.

Tour Retail/Foodservice Operations in Las Vegas!
Tour Retail/Foodservice Operations in Las Vegas!
Join us on Wednesday, May 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for an industry tour. Choose one of our three remaining concurrent produce industry tours:


Whole Foods Tour:
Founded in 1980 as one small store in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market® is now the world's leading retailer of natural and organic foods, with more than 265 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Attendees will tour the store and hear about the business and consumer trends impacting the produce department in this specialty format, high-end retail store.

Smith's Food & Drug Tour:
Smith's Food & Drug is a banner store of the Kroger Company, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the largest grocery retailers in the nation. This tour focuses on produce merchandising and marketing at the consumer retail level. Hear and see how this retailer stays in touch with its Las Vegas customer base and keeps its produce displays fresh and appealing to shoppers.


MGM Grand Hotel, "Back of the House" Foodservice Tour:

The MGM Grand Hotel, located on the Las Vegas Strip, opened in 1993 as a classic Hollywood themed hotel. The emerald green glass hotel has over 5,000 rooms and 42 restaurants and bars on the property. Attendees will follow produce from the purchasing department, to the receiving area, on to the processing area and finally into one of 5,500 recipes on the menu at one of the many MGM Grand Hotel restaurants.

 Select your tour when you register!

Attention all Golfers! You Won’t Want to Miss This…
Mixing fun and business really does happen on the golf course.  So how about a game of golf at one of the premiere Las Vegas golf clubs while networking with fellow produce industry members.  Only a limited number of spaces remain for the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation Golf Tournament taking place Sunday, May 4 at the Revere Golf Club during the upcoming United Fresh Las Vegas convention.  Because of generous sponsorships made by Amcor Flexibles and Next Generation Films, all proceeds from this year’s tournament will go directly towards the programs and services of the Foundation.  So, register you and three of your friends as a team, or just sign up and play as a single; we’ll match you up with other members for a fun round of golf.  For more information go to our website or contact Jerry Welcome at 202-303-3404.

New Member Welcome
Each week, we welcome our newest partners in building a stronger produce industry: 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
Where it’s Really Made
The controversial Product of Canada label on food packaging is under fire because the labeling holds true even if products are imported.  This, so long as 51 percent of the production costs were incurred in Canada, says The Province.

Moving Toward a Solution
In its Mexidata. Info, Frontera Norte Sur Baja California shares Mexican authorities and farm representatives’ point of view that U.S. agribusiness is being further driven into Mexico as a result of a lack of consensus on immigration reform.  

Forecast for More Corn
The Associated Press explains how one farmer prepared for an economic shift amidst the USDA releasing its estimate of how much corn, soybeans and other crops farmers will plant this year.

Health-Promoting Properties
Business Wire Research and Markets introduces an addition to their offering, "Improving The Health-Promoting Properties Of Fruit And Vegetable Products," a study on the bioactives, health effects, processing and overall health-promoting properties of fruits and vegetables.

“Love Food, Hate Waste”
About 4.4 million of uneaten fruits and vegetables being thrown away in Britain each day are creating an equally large amount of landfill waste, a report by United Press International reveals.