November 12, 2008

In Today's Issue:

National Vegetable Crop Initiative to Outline 2009 Research Priorities
USDA CSRESSWhen the 2008 Farm Bill allocated $50 million per year for Specialty Crop Research, a unique feature was the requirement of stakeholder involvement in deciding which research is funded. For the past two years, several groups made up of specialty crop industry members and government and academic stakeholders have convened to identify and prioritize necessary research. One of those groups, the National Vegetable Crop Initiative (NVCI), has been assessing the research needs for all specialty crop vegetables. The NVCI mission is “to enhance the sustainability of the U.S. vegetable industry and its capacity to provide a safe supply of high quality, desirable and highly nutritious vegetables that improves the health of all consumers.” United Fresh serves as the secretariat of the NVCI, which includes over 30 stakeholder organizations. Immediate research priorities have been identified in the areas of vegetable crop efficiency, sustainability, consumption, food safety and genetics. These objectives will be used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service to guide researchers to stakeholders’ actual needs. Learn more about NVCI and the 2009 Goals and Objectives, or contact Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology for more information.

Member Relations Task Force Meets at H-E-B Headquarters
H E BThe 2009 United Fresh Member Relations Task Force kicked off its annual campaign last week with a meeting at H-E-B corporate headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. Led by co-chairs Roger Harkrider, director of produce for H-E-B, and Steve Ottum, chief operating officer for Potandon Produce, LLC, alongside David Barney, business development manager at Bakkavor, the group discussed ways to maximize member value and participation, as well as increase member recruitment and retention.

"As members of United Fresh, we know first hand the value our respective staffs can receive from our participation, as well as the association’s efforts on behalf of the entire industry," said Ottum. Harkrider added, "When we consider the goals of the task force in the coming year, we want to ensure that everyone throughout the supply chain is taking advantage of all that United Fresh has to offer."

United Fresh Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman noted, "We extend special thanks to all the members who serve on this important volunteer leadership effort. This diverse group of leaders will play a significant role in helping us identify even more ways we can deliver unparalleled business opportunities to our members."

For more information about the Member Relations Task Force or other United Fresh member services, contact Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940.

United Fresh Members Learn the Ins and Outs of Fresh Produce Inspection Right from the Source

Produce Inspection LabLast week, participants in United’s Produce Inspection Training Program received hands-on experience in the important process of fresh produce inspection at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, Va. Attendees at the sold-out course included representatives from a broad range of companies including A&P Canada Co., A&Z Produce Co., ALDI, American Seaway Foods, Caito Foods Service, Inc., U.S. Department of Defense, Food Lion, Giant Eagle Markets, J. Miller & Co, King Soopers, The Kroger Company/Wesco Foods, Military Produce Group, Produce Packaging, River Ranch Fresh Foods, Save-A-Lot and Target Corporation. In 2009, United Fresh and USDA will continue to instruct industry members on the requirements and intricacies of fresh produce inspection with three more installments of the Produce Inspection Training Program.

Produce Inspection Lab Participants in last week’s Produce Inspection Training Program learn how to inspect produce under the supervision of USDA trainers.

"Employee training is a great benefit to member companies as it increases staff productivity and increases a company’s competitive advantage in today's global marketplace," said United Fresh Education Manager Beth Berman. Trainings in 2009 are scheduled for January 26-30 , June 1-5, or September 21-25. For more information or to register, click here or contact United Fresh staff at 202-303-3400.

United Fresh, University of California-Davis Present Webinar on Key Food Safety Issue
Postharvest Technology UC DavisUnited Fresh, in collaboration with the University of California-Davis Postharvest Technology Research & Information Center and the Center for Produce Safety announced yesterday the first in a new series of 90-minute, distance education webinars designed to help industry members stay current on critical produce issues. Launching November 20, The Fresh Produce Executive Forum Webinar Series: Fresh Produce Microbial Pathogen Testing: Program Components & Considerations is a valuable learning experience providing crucial information to food safety, quality assurance, operations and business management produce executives, as well as key players along all points in the produce supply chain, allowing them to make informed business decisions regarding produce microbial pathogen testing. Featuring Dr. Jim Gorny and Dr. Trevor Suslow, both of UC-Davis, alongside leading food safety attorney Leslie Krasny, Fresh Produce Microbial Pathogen Testing: Program Components & Considerations will include three separate lectures:
  • What Microbial Pathogen Testing Can and Can't Do
  • Key Factors & Considerations in Designing a Produce Pathogen Testing Program
  • Legal & Regulatory Considerations of a Produce Pathogen Testing Program

More detailed information including on-line registration for Fresh Produce Microbial Pathogen Testing: Program Components & Considerations may be found here or by contacting Pam Devine, registration coordinator, at 530-754-4326.

Supply Chain Logistics Program Hits the Ground Running, Co-Sponsoring Roundtable on Transportation
Container ShipAs one of its first projects under the new Supply Chain Logistics Program, United Fresh is co-sponsoring the International Summit on Ag and Food Transportation, December 2-3 in Washington, D.C. at the Fairmont Washington Hotel. United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther will be speaking on Tuesday, December 2nd on New Opportunities for Commercial Agricultural Transporters and Agriculture in the 2007 Energy Bill and 2008 Farm Bill panel session. In addition, the Summit will include workshops and discussions on many hot-button industry issues, such as: Legal Issues Confronting Commercial Agriculture and Transportation; Global Ag Trade & Transportation Opportunities; Food Safety, Defense and Transportation Initiatives; Technology in Ag and Food Transportation; the 2009 Highway Reauthorization Bill; Food Politics and Business Issues; Renewable Fuels; Food vs. Fuel and more. United Fresh members will receive a discounted rate of $175 for the two-day summit, and may register here. For more information, contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots coordinator at 202-303-3407.

United Fresh Reviews Food Safety Research Proposals
UC Davis Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology, joined other members of the Technical Committee of the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) Advisory Board at the University of California-Davis last week in reviewing a number of food safety research proposals for potential funding. "We had previously identified a very specific list of research needs, and I was pleased to see several well-designed proposals that are likely to provide the industry with tools to better understand and manage potential food safety risks," David said. Researchers to be awarded specific grants will be announced by CPS in coming weeks. Look for updates at

Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2009 Supporters
United Fresh's Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas to help grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the Chairman’s Roundtable in 2009:

Chairman's Roundtable
  • Cabbage, Inc., Westlake, Ohio
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn.
  • Columbine Vineyards, Delano, Calif.
  • Four Seasons Produce, Inc., Ephrata, Penn.
  • Heartland Produce Company, Kenosha, Wisc.
  • North Bay Produce, Inc., Traverse City, Mich.
  • Strube Celery & Vegetable Company, Chicago, Ill.
  • Tanimura & Antle, Salinas, Calif.
  • The Nunes Company, Inc., Salinas, Calif.
  • The Tom Lange Company, Inc., Springfield, Ill.

The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United Fresh's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support. For more information on the Chairman’s Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller.

New Member Welcome
Welcome New MembersEach week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • Belrose, Inc., Pullman, Wash.
  • Colo-Pac Produce, Inc., Denver, Colo.
  • Rytec Corporation, Jackson, Wisc.

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 or Miriam Miller.

News & Views
News and Views

Obama vows change, agency by agency

Urban farming catches on in Japan

U.K. agencies step up fight against obesity

Sustainability center receives grant from Wal-Mart Foundation

Recent survey asks consumers to rank their key concerns

Food safety on GAO’s list of top transitional priorities in new administration

British Prime Minister to push for world trade deal before Bush leaves office

Top 10 healthiest supermarkets