November 26, 2008

In Today's Issue:


A Thanksgiving Message from President Tom Stenzel
ThanksgivingAs those of us in the U.S. prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, I want to give thanks that we have the opportunity to be part of the most wonderful business in the world – feeding consumers everywhere with the healthiest foods on the planet. Those of you who grow, pack, ship and sell fresh fruits and vegetables have been working hard to prepare for this big holiday weekend. I hope you enjoy your day tomorrow with those closest to you, knowing that you have helped contribute the millions of potatoes and onions, salads and berries, green beans and broccoli and hundreds of other produce commodities that will be served on tables across the country. Whether your personal traditions call for mangoes or mushrooms, our American Thanksgiving traditions include quite a bit of feasting. But everyone in our industry shares in the tradition and honorable calling of feeding the world with great-tasting, nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. We at United Fresh salute all you do to bring that amazing bounty from farm to table to consumers around the world. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving.

 


Las Vegas Shines for 2009 Convention Committee

VegasThe United Fresh Convention Committee descended on Las Vegas last week to discuss plans for the 2009 convention, happening April 21-24. With this year's focus on "Fresh Meals, Produce Innovation and Technology Solutions," committee members took an in-depth look at the program, expos and networking events and discussed ways to further enhance the show experience for attendees and exhibitors.

Convention Committee Co-Chair Randy Scott of Food Lion kicked off the meeting with a rave review of the show venue. "What a great place to hold the 2009 convention – the Palazzo, Venetian, and Sands MegaCenter – it’s all right here. Customers and suppliers will definitely be able to do business in this great setting."

CommitteeCo-Chairman Mike Celani of Ready Pac Foods added his excitement for the upcoming show. "With everything that's going on in today’s business climate, face-to-face events held in one central venue are more powerful – and more cost effective - than ever."

During the meeting, the committee toured the complex to better understand how the expo floor, convention ballrooms, over 30 restaurants, 8,000 guest rooms and endless shopping opportunities all come together in such close proximity.

CommitteeWrapping up the meeting, Co-Chair Rick Urschel of Urschel Labs added, "This is the best convention we exhibit at all year, and we exhibit at quite a few. Everything we’ve heard and seen here suggests this will be a can’t-miss event."

Co-Chair Phil Muir of Muir Copper Canyon Farms agreed. "With everything that we’ve planned, including the golf tournament, targeted education programs, and a fantastic opening party at Tao Beach, the 2009 show will set the benchmark for future industry conventions."

For information about maximizing your participation at the 2009 show with exhibit space, business suites and sponsorship opportunities, please contact John Toner at (202) 303-3424.


United Fresh Looks to Extend Comment Period on GAPs
FDA LogoIn early September of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested the submission of comments on the produce industry guidance standards that were established by the 1998 Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (GAPs). Given that the original GAPs standards are now a decade old, the FDA is looking to modernize its recommendations "based on current best agricultural practices and conditions used to grow, harvest, pack, cool, and transport fresh produce, as well as risk factors for contamination of fresh produce associated with these practices, and possible measures that FDA could implement that would enhance the safety of fresh produce." The FDA's original deadline for comments is December 31, however in order to better evaluate the standards set forth in the 1998 document and adjust them to today's best practices, United Fresh has requested a 90-day extension of the comment period until March 31, 2009. For questions or feedback regarding United Fresh GAPs comments, please contact Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology at 202-303-3400.

United Fresh Plays Key Role in Transportation Summit
Next week, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy Robert Guenther will be speaking about the challenges and opportunities for the produce industry as part of the International Summit on Ag and Food Transportation at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"The produce industry, with its high-value and highly-perishable products, is at the forefront of these complex supply chain issues. United Fresh intends to be a strong advocate for increased resources and common-sense regulations that make the produce industry more competitive in the domestic and international marketplace," said Robert.

Scheduled for December 2-3, 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. The Summit also brings together key policymakers and industry officials as the new Congress and Administration prepare for an upcoming year that will include efforts to reauthorize the multibillion-dollar Highway Bill and address the critical topics of climate change, economic stimulus and food safety legislation.

United Fresh is proud to co-sponsor the event as one of its first projects under the new Supply Chain Logistics Program. United Fresh members can attend the Summit for a special discounted rate of $175 by clicking here. For more information, contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots coordinator at 202-303-3407.


Town Hall Meeting to be Held at Rutgers Food Innovation Center
Town Hall Meeting President Tom Stenzel discusses local issues at a 2008 Town Hall Meeting in Columbia, S.C.

United Fresh invites current members and friends to join us at a Town Hall Meeting at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, N.J. on Wednesday, December 3 at 11:00 a.m. The Town Hall Meeting will last approximately one hour and will include a networking lunch.

Town Hall Meetings provide a forum for discussion of current issues affecting the produce industry and specific concerns of members in each area. The Meetings also look at how United Fresh can best meet member needs and how our member companies can take advantage of the educational programs, technical support, and opportunities to grow produce sales that United Fresh offers. "Our Meetings over the past two years have been extremely effective in providing two-way dialogue on topics important to our members locally and nationwide," said Jeff Oberman, vice president of membership. "United Fresh looks forward to offering additional Town Hall meetings in the coming months."

If you are interested in participating in the December 3 meeting, or have any questions about upcoming Town Hall meetings, please contact Miriam Miller, director of membership, at 202-303-3410.


Consumer Perception and Purchasing Decisions Explored in Issues Scan 2008
Produce ShoppersThe values and perceptions that our consumers have on a wide range of issues are vital to our industry. How those consumers are affected by political, social and environmental issues can potentially change opinions and purchasing behaviors. United Fresh members and industry partners can now gain a precious window into the consumer mind with United’s first annual installment of United Fresh Issues Scan. The report, sponsored by 3M Microbiology and BASF and containing research conducted by Harris Interactive, creates a basic understanding of issues related to food safety, sustainability, product origin and other areas. Issues Scan 2008 looks at U.S. consumer attitudes and behaviors in five major areas that have gained significant media attention in recent years and explores each in depth. These areas are: Food Safety; Environmental and Social Issues; Product Origin; Comparison of Different Forms of Fruits and Vegetables and Impact of Issues on Purchase Intent and Desire for Information.

"With so much public focus on food safety, environmental issues and sustainability, our members have asked us how these issues are likely to affect the marketplace for fresh produce," said Tom Lovelace, United Fresh Chairman and CEO of McEntire Produce. "Today’s buying decisions are increasingly influenced by a multitude of factors that this research will track to help companies understand how the issues are driving purchasing habits."

United Fresh members may purchase a copy of Issues Scan 2008 online for $125 and non-members may do so for $195. For questions about Issues Scan 2008 or for additional information, contact United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer at 202-303-3408.


Meet Your United Fresh Staff: Sophie Drayton, Receptionist
Hop off the elevator at United's Washington headquarters, and the first face you'll see is Sophie's. Don't let the smile and friendly demeanor fool you, though. Sophie Drayton means business. Having recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with the association, Sophie maintains the delicate balance that is the phone system here at United Fresh. "The phones are usually quiet, until one person calls then its madness as everyone remembers that they were supposed to call the office – at the same time. It's all fun though. There's so much about the industry that I've learned by being the front line."  The glue that holds the office together and a native of London, Sophie lives in Landover, Md. "I miss my family and friends in England, but the food and football are definitely better here." She enjoys dancing and visiting the Baltimore Aquarium and National Zoo with her son, Javon. To reach Sophie or the rest of your team here at United Fresh, call us at 202-303-3400, or log on to www.unitedfresh.org.

New 2009 Chairman’s Roundtable 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
  • Andrews Bros. Inc., Detroit, Mich.
  • Castellini Company, LLC. Newport, Ky.
  • Coast Citrus Distributors, San Diego, Calif.
  • Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland, Fla.
  • L & M Companies, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Peter Condakes Company, Inc., Everett, Mass.

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’s strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of the 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 at 202-303-3410.


New Member Welcome
WelcomeEach week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • Harris Moran Seed Company, Modesto, Calif.
  • Myron L Company, Corona, Calif.
  • Supreme Cuts, Mahwah, N.J.

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 New website offers breaking food safety alerts

Chilean strike complicates loading of produce at country’s ports

Former Iowa Governor Vilsack says he’s out of the race for USDA Secretary

Cost-sharing program available for Tennessee organic producers

Colorado farm offers free vegetables

Louisiana farmers gasp for air amid storms and down markets

Cold-supply-chain conference makes waves in India

USDA grant helps Penn State project bolster Mid-Atlantic specialty crops