October 15, 2008

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Forms New Supply Chain Technology and Logistics Program
Container ShipThe United Fresh Research & Education Foundation’s Center for Business Management is pleased to announce that it has established a new program to address the growing needs of our supply chain and logistics members. The new Supply Chain Technology & Logistics Program will address all areas of supply chain management, including transportation, cold chain quality control, information technologies and systems for traceability, facilities management, packing and packaging needs and related areas. United Fresh will develop education programs and tools to assist industry members with the rising cost and complexity of transportation. The program will also include an increased focus on transportation and logistics solutions at the United Fresh convention April 22-24, 2009 in Las Vegas. In conjunction with the new program, United Fresh will launch a new legislative and regulatory initiative related to policy issues in transportation and distribution. United’s new Vice President of Legislative and Government Affairs Kam Quarles will bring a specific focus to transportation policy issues.

United Fresh will hire a new full-time staff expert to lead the Supply Chain Technology & Logistics Program. Qualified candidates will have knowledge of supply chain management with industry experience in transportation, distribution, cold-chain management, IT, logistics or other related elements. Anyone interested in applying for this position should contact Tom Stenzel at 202-303-3400. The new Supply Chain Technology & Logistics Program is made possible through a generous grant from C.H. Robinson.

Foodservice Distributors Focus on Produce Traceability
IFDA LogoUnited Fresh President Tom Stenzel met with the Board of Directors of the International Foodservice Distributors Association to discuss the industry’s the new Produce Traceability Initiative and ways foodservice distributors can adopt the best practices recommended. “The IFDA Board really represents forward-thinking leaders throughout foodservice distribution, whether in small family businesses or large corporations,” he said. “I was struck with the challenges that these companies will face in moving to electronic scanning of all incoming and outgoing produce cases, but also their recognition of the need to move ahead in this direction. Even in these tough economic times, companies can make plans for their own internal systems and business process changes needed, even before making large capital expenditures.” With United’s announcement of its major new focus on supply chain management and distribution, the Association will be working closely with foodservice distributors in the coming months to help them enhance their produce operations.

United Fresh Submits Comments to USDA on Upcoming Child Nutrition Legislation
Anitoch School, CAThis week, United Fresh submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child Nutrition Division stating the importance of increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and including such policies in the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR). “Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in school meals is a top policy priority for United Fresh and this bill (CNR) provides an opportunity to increase the availability of fresh produce in school meals, improve children’s eating habits and promote good health,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health. By law, the School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program must be consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, school meals currently contain fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended. It is also important that schools serve fruits and vegetables in simple kid-friendly ways in order to increase consumption. United Fresh has developed a list of priorities for the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, which include enacting a national “salad bar in every school” policy, urging USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service to significantly expand its commodity purchases of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables for schools, and providing $10 million per year for non-food assistance grants to purchase needed equipment, such as refrigeration and salad bars so schools can more easily serve fresh fruits and vegetables. A full list of United Fresh’s CNR policy priorities can be viewed here. For more information, please contact Lorelei at 202-303-3400 ext 403.

FDA To Hold First Produce Traceability Meeting Tomorrow
FDA LogoTomorrow, United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther will make a statement at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) first meeting on produce traceability in College Park, Md. In his remarks, Robert will stress that “the industry is committed to full compliance with (the Bioterrorism Act), and urges FDA to rigorously enforce the requirements of this law. Without widespread and effective enforcement of the current law, we oppose any additional mandatory legislative or regulatory requirements for traceability as premature and unwarranted.” Robert will also mention the recently announced industry-wide Produce Traceability Initiative aimed at enhancing produce traceability through the use of a common language. FDA will hold a second traceability meeting in Oakland, Calif. before end of the year. The FDA is holding these meetings in order to address concerns about the scope of traceability, the costs, benefits and logistics of standardization and FDA's role in enhancing produce traceability. If you would like to attend the second FDA traceability meeting, happening November 13 in Oakland, you must register on the FDA website. Questions about registration, requests to make an oral presentation and submission of written material for the presentation should be directed to Deborah Harris, EDJ Associates.

Experts Discuss Incentives to Increase Produce Consumption for Low Income Families
USDA LogoThis year, United Fresh helped secure $20 million in the Farm Bill for research projects that test methods for incentivizing low-income families to consume more fruits and vegetables. Tomorrow, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will host a Healthy Incentives Pilot Symposium to seek input from stakeholders on how to design, implement and evaluate this research. Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, who will represent United Fresh members at the meeting, believes that the timing is perfect for well designed research in this area and that positive results will enable United Fresh to drive policy changes, creating another potential win-win for families and the produce industry. Preliminary results suggest that financial incentives to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, formerly known as Food Stamp recipients, are effective at increasing their purchase and consumption of fresh produce. Currently the diets of many low-income individuals do not meet federal Dietary Guidelines, including lower-than-recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. To jumpstart this research, Congress commissioned the Government Accountability Office to study the issue in 2007. The recently published GAO report Food Stamp Program: Options for Delivering Financial Incentives to Participants for Purchasing Targeted Foods reviews a variety of approaches and summarizes input from major food retailers on ways to deliver financial incentives at retail. For more information, contact Lorelei at 202-303-3400 ext. 403.

Harvard Executive Session on Food Safety Tackles Outbreak Investigations
Harvard University ShieldHow can government and industry work better together to quickly identify the source of foodborne illness and clear the rest of the industry from unwarranted suspicion? That’s the question being tackled by a group of 15 government, academic and industry leaders working in concert on a project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. United Fresh President Tom Stenzel told the group yesterday that improvements in traceability systems and outbreak investigation management must lead to changes in decision-making by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and others. “We can’t go down a path thinking that collaboration alone is the end goal–it is the means to an end that is only successful if government makes decisions based on the data it has. Looking back at this past summer’s Salmonella outbreak, government now has tracebacks that proved there was no common source of tomatoes involved, plus physical test data linking the illness to jalapeno peppers, yet some still cling to the notion that tomatoes may have been involved. We’ve got to trace outbreaks quicker for sure, but we’ve also got to recognize the facts when the evidence is in,” he said.

Obama and McCain Share Industry Vision and Platforms with United Fresh

Barack Obama          John McCain

With what many Americans see as the most groundbreaking presidential election in history less than a month away, United Fresh has established an online election information center where members and friends of the fresh produce industry can gather information on all things Election 2008. Among the main features of the site is a questionnaire distributed by United Fresh to each campaign. Questions focused on the main issues confronting members of our industry, including immigration, food safety, agriculture policy, energy and taxes. Answers by Senators McCain and Obama reflected each party’s unique stance on these all-important topics. Visitors can register to vote, and will find links to the McCain and Obama campaign websites, the Democratic and Republican rural platforms, information on individual House and Senate races nationwide and opportunities to get involved with United Fresh’s many public policy initiatives, including United FreshPAC and the Produce Power Education Fund.

New Zealand’s Seasonal Employment Scheme Helps Meet Labor Shortages
Kiwi ProcessingIn 2005, the New Zealand government introduced a Seasonal Work Permit scheme that was later replaced by the Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. These programs authorized the horticulture and viticulture sectors to hire temporary workers during peak times. Created to assist employers that are unable to fill the available positions using New Zealand workers, RSE allows businesses to recruit up to 5000 workers from Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops. The scheme has been very successful in the past, and brought in 4,681 workers last year, signaling the first time in years where there were no labor shortages during the apple-harvesting period. RSE will be improved using lessons learned since the program’s inception, and the following changes are being discussed: improvements to pre-departure orientation for workers, allowing workers to change employees, manageable health costs for workers and other items. For more information please see the scheme website.

Meet Your United Fresh Staff: Ginny Pugh

Jack Russell
In lieu of a photo of Ginny, this is Ginny’s Jack Russell Terrier during his unsuccessful bid for Northumberland County 4th District Supervisor

When it comes to the typical work day, United Fresh Membership Manager Ginny Pugh doesn’t really have one. Her primary function is to keep the member roster up-to-date, so some days she spends on the phone checking out contact information and other days she’s inputting dues payments. Originally from Colorado, and a proud grandmother of 3-year-old Lily, Ginny enjoys working with United’s Retail Produce Manager Awards winners. “I enjoy having the records clean, but the excitement of both nominators & winners is always something I look forward to,” she says. In her seventh year with United Fresh, she spends her free time at her waterfront cottage in Lewisetta, Va. with her husband and Jack Russell terrier. Ginny is a resident of Alexandria, Va., loves to cook, and says her favorite vegetables are sweet peas, beets and tomatoes.

News & Views
News and Views

Americans can expect a food safety overhaul in the coming administration

A closer look at recalls and food safety

Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma in an open letter to the President-elect

Migrant workers at the center of Colorado House race

Progress to be reported at GlobalGAP conference in Germany

Louisiana Senator says state is an “agricultural disaster”

New sticker-display food safety system in New Zealand restaurants

Lesser-known produce makes its mark in Toledo

Hong Kong government to introduce comprehensive food safety bill

Researchers discover the “how” of Salmonella contamination