December 24, 2008

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Releases Third Quarter Fresh Facts on Retail

Fresh Facts Q3On Tuesday, United Fresh released its quarterly research report; Fresh Facts on Retail. The report is the second in the series and recaps retail sales trends for the top 10 fruits and vegetable commodities, value-added and convenience produce items, emerging market opportunities such fresh meals and snacks sold in delis, organic produce and additional analysis for the third quarter of 2008. Fresh Facts on Retail is sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce and produced in partnership with the Perishables Group which tracks and provides analysis of all retail sales data.

United Fresh released the first issue of Fresh Facts on Retail reports on sales in October 2008, exploring the impact of that year's Salmonella saintpaul outbreak, and its misinformed attribution to tomatoes. In this quarter's report, United Fresh delves deeper into the outbreak and explores further the effects on the commodities implicated.

Fresh Facts on Retail is available free of charge to all United Fresh members, and is available for $50 to non-members. The report can be purchased and downloaded here. For more information or to give suggestions for future category spotlights, please contact Amy Philpott at 202-303-3400. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Amy Smith at the Perishables Group, at 509-470-6728.

AFDO Nearing Completion of Produce Safety Model Code

AFDO A task force of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) has been working for over a year on developing a regulatory model to potentially be adopted by states that choose to mandate and enforce Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).  The model code covers all operations covered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 1998 Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.  The task force, which includes academic, industry and consumer representatives, met for two days last week in Washington D.C.  United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology Dr. David Gombas and several members of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council, including Drew McDonald of Taylor Farms, Bob Mills of Tanimura & Antle and Bob Elliott of Sunkist Growers participated as representatives of the produce industry.

"Up until now, the task force has worked on which of the GAPs should be mandatory for all fresh produce operations and which are commodity or regionally specific," said David. "We are now at the stage of 'wordsmithing' the regulatory language."  Contact David at 202-303-3400 for more information about the AFDO Produce Safety Model Code.

Only A Few Spots Left in January’s Produce Inspection Training Course!

Produce Inspection labUnited Fresh announced Monday that registration for the January 26-28 United Fresh Produce Inspection Training Program is nearing capacity. The program, designed for receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers or sellers who need to better understand the USDA produce quality inspection process, will take place January 26-30, 2009 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA.

Presented by United Fresh and the USDA, the Produce Inspection Training Program offers a comprehensive overview of USDA inspection procedures and standards through lab training courses, classroom lectures and discussion sessions with USDA trainers.

The program will include an in-depth exploration of inspection fundamentals, general market principles, PACA, FV 300 Inspection Certificate, types of inspections (quality, condition, size, etc.,) sampling procedures, marketing orders and commodity-specific instruction tailored to meet participants top preferences.

For more information, or to register, contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400 ext. 408.

Are You Getting the Most out of Your Membership Investment?

conference callAre you new to United Fresh? Interested in learning more about the association’s membership benefits and upcoming programs?  Join association volunteer leaders and United Fresh staff for an informative new member orientation call on Thursday, January 15 at 2:00 p.m. ET!  

Participants will have the opportunity to explore the resources located on the United Fresh website, learn how to access the full complement of United Fresh member benefits and services throughout the year, hear about upcoming educational programs and networking events and ask questions of United Fresh leaders and staff.

Lisa Strube "I could not have made it through 2008 without my United Fresh membership – it was essential!"Lisa Strube, Director of Finance & Administration, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company.

If you are interested in participating in the call, or if you have any questions about membership, please contact Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

United Fresh Group Drafts Comments to FDA

Produce Inspection lab In a marathon teleconference last week, a working group of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council completed drafting comments in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s September request in the Federal Register regarding the Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – better known as the FDA GAPs Guide.

"The 1998 GAPs Guide was written to apply to all fresh produce production operations – large and small and east coast to west, as well as imports and all of the hundreds of unique fresh produce commodities, each with their own variety of production practices.  We had to keep that in mind when considering our responses," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president food safety and technology.  "United Fresh is fortunate to have so many diverse perspectives and expertise represented on the Council from which to draw in developing these comments."

The draft comments are now being circulated among the rest of the Council before being submitted in time for FDA's December 31 deadline. For more information on the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council, contact David at 202-303-3400.

New Opportunities Arise at FreshConex and Fruit Logistica

Fresh ConexUnited Fresh has announced the opening of sponsorships for the 2009 FreshConex and Fruit Logistica events in Berlin, February 4-6, 2009. New for this year, United Fresh is offering members to expand their visibility at this year's events, held in conjunction at Messe Berlin. FreshConex and the Fruit Logistica offer members and suppliers alike the opportunity to co-sponsor key elements of United Fresh's already stellar presence at the events.

"We are extremely excited to present this opportunity to our members," said John Toner, United Fresh vice president of convention and industry relations. "Sponsoring an event like the United Fresh annual reception on the FreshConex show floor, the Global Advisory Council meeting or even having a presence at the United Fresh booth offers members a chance at key additional exposure and will help to identify them as a leader in the global fresh-cut produce industry."

For more information on these new sponsorship offerings, please contact John at 202-303-3400 ext. 414.

Tomato Industry Well on the Way to Harmonized Metrics

Tomatoes29 representatives of the fresh tomato supply chain made swift progress this month, building on the 2nd Edition Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain and completing the first draft of new harmonized audit standards for open-field tomato operations.

"We had a lot of different perspectives at the table and a lot of open discussion about each and every point," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology.  "But, at the end of the day, we reached a consensus on most points from all stakeholders, and that’s the best approach for ultimately reducing the likelihood of different and conflicting standards."

The group is scheduled to reconvene in Miami in February to continue working on the draft, including considerations for production in greenhouses and shade/hoop houses.  Stakeholders in the fresh tomato supply chain who would like to participate should contact David at 202-303-3400.

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
  • Gills Onions, LLC, Oxnard, Calif.
  • Sunkist Growers, Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif.
  • Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Pelion, S.C.

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

Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • BC Hot House Foods Inc., Langley, B.C.
  • Hiatt Produce, Saint Charles, Ill.
  • Rocket Farms, Salinas, Calif.
  • RSI Systems, LLC, Gaithersburg, Md.
For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

News & Views


News and Views

School lunches receive a disproportionate amount of blame for childhood obesity

Farm bank thrives amid economic crisis

Employers no longer able to use expired documents in hiring process

Help is on the way for Mississippi farmers

Vilsack will have definite impact on California agriculture


British expert pleads for more local fruits

Japan logs longest trade deficit period in 30 years

Gates Foundation, USDA to explore possibility of school meals program in Africa

Large volume of produce expected from Ethiopian state

Australian grocery price comparison website to relaunch in July

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