February 5, 2009

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Leaders Look Forward at Board Meeting

United Fresh Chairman Tom Lovelace, McEntire Produce addresses the volunteer leaders gathered in Tucson

A collection of more than 150 United Fresh volunteer leaders met in Tucson, Ariz. to address programs, policies and priorities serving the association's broad supply chain membership.

The association's Winter Leadership Meetings included individual gatherings of the association's four market segment boards as well as two of United Fresh’s expert advisory councils, the Food Safety & Technology Council and the new Supply Chain & Logistics Council. The two councils that did not meet in Tucson, Global Advisory Council and Government Relations Council will meet this week at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Germany, and later this month in Washington, D.C. respectively. 

Following individual meetings, the attendees came together to discuss the current economic outlook in the fresh produce and food industry with Dr. Ed McLaughlin, Professor of Food Marketing and Director of the Food Industry Management Program at Cornell University.  The groups also talked with United Fresh General Counsel Marshall Matz and United Fresh outside legislative counsel Randy Russell, discussing what our industry can expect from the Obama Administration and Congress.

United Fresh General Counsel Marshall Matz discusses opportunities within the new Administration

The week's events culminated with a two-day meeting of the United Board of Directors to hear from each of its leadership groups, set key public policy priorities for the year ahead, and shape programs that will serve the broad membership, including the adoption of new 2009 Government Relations and Child Nutrition Reauthorization Policy priorities, and a white paper outlining the association’s food safety policy.

"Our Winter Leadership Meetings provided a great chance for volunteer leaders from all sectors of our association to come together in common purpose to serve our membership," said United Fresh Chairman Tom Lovelace, McEntire produce.  "Clearly, our members have a lot on their agenda, and it is gratifying to see the boards and councils tackling the many major issues confronting our industry."

Click here for a full recap of last week's meetings.

Freshconex Fruit Logistica

Greetings from Berlin! On Tuesday morning, United Fresh President Tom Stenzel helped kick off the 2009 FreshConex International Trade Fair and Congress, along with presentations from Board Member Alessandro Turatti of Turatti, Srl and Chairman Tom Lovelace of McEntire Produce.

Tom Stenzel
United Fresh President Tom Stenzel speaks at start of 2009 FreshConex Congress

United Fresh, along with conference co-sponsor Eurofruit Magazine worked to bring together leaders from the global fresh-cut and convenience sectors of the fresh produce industry to evaluate the latest global trends, learn about new technology and enjoy networking on the day prior to the start of the Fruit Logistica Expo, running Wednesday through Friday of this week. 

Lorri Koster, Mann  Packing and Jim Lugg
Lorri Koster, Mann Packing and Jim Lugg, Fresh Express at Tuesday's FreshConex Congress in Berlin

If you find yourself in Berlin this week, be sure to stop by the United Fresh booth during Fruit Logistica and we invite you to join us for the Global Membership Reception on Thursday, February 5 at 5:00 P.M. (17:00) in the United Fresh Exhibit, Hall 2.1/Stand C-22. 

Melissa Speed and Victoria Backer
Board member Allesandro Turatti visits with United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services, Victoria Backer and Director of International Member Services, Melissa Speed at today’s FreshConex Congress in Berlin

We look forward to seeing you at the show!  For more information about FreshConex and all of United Fresh's global outreach, contact Melissa Speed at 202-303-3400 ext. 404.

Get InvolvedOn Capitol Hill this week, thousands of labor union representatives stormed the halls of Congress in support of the Employee Free Choice Act – better known as card-check legislation. They took action as co-sponsors were actively being sought in the House of Representatives prior to reintroduction of this sweeping legislation. The unions aren't the only ones taking action; United Fresh members now have the resources to respond to this aggressive move.

In response to many of our members' concerns about card-check legislation, United Fresh has developed the interactive Card-Check Resource Center. The Card-Check Resource Center allows you to get more information about the legislation and its projected impact on the produce industry, as well as find recent newspaper editorials and resources from major business coalitions opposing this detrimental legislation.

The Resource Center also provides a quick and easy way for members to write to their respective members of Congress, using our Grassroots Action Network.  United Fresh has already drafted a letter expressing our opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, and in as little as 5 minutes, members can send this letter to their decision-makers on the Hill. 

United Fresh will provide updates as this issue moves forward, but please continue to check our Card-Check Resource Center for updated information, and be on the lookout for future grassroots action alerts on this and other issues.

Remember:  Just because you don’t take an interest in government, doesn't mean it won't take an interest in you! Get involved today.

For more information, contact your United Fresh Public Policy team at 202-303-3400.

IOMLast week the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) committee on revising nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs heard testimony on their Phase 1 Report. In her testimony before the committee, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health thanked the committee for acknowledging that children's diets are seriously lacking in fruit, and vegetables – primarily dark green and orange vegetables – and that school meals need to be improved in this regard.

She then went on to urge the committee to play a strong leadership role and to clearly state in their final report that adding the necessary servings of fruits and vegetables to lunch and breakfast will cost more and the reimbursement rate must be increased in order to improve the healthfulness of school meals.

Lorelei also stressed that now is the time for IOM leadership to recommend changes that will transform school meals into models of good nutrition. In response to skepticism that children will not simply "eat their vegetables," Lorelei pointed to the success of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program at increasing children's fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.

The IOM's final report on recommendations to improve school meals is scheduled to be published by the end of the year. For more information, please contact Lorelei at 202-303-3400.

Ag CensusAt a press conference yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) unveiled the results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture. The much-anticipated Census is conducted by NASS every five years and, according to the USDA, "is the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation." The Census takes a statistical snapshot of American farms and ranches and the people who operate them, measuring land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, in addition to other areas.

All Census results are available online at www.agcensus.usda.gov.

Global Conference on Produce Safety Standards Just how many audit schemes do you have to comply with and what are the real differences between them?  the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation is hosting a new Global Conference on Produce Food Safety Standards to tackle the critical issues of produce industry audits and harmonization, immediately following the United Fresh 2009 show, April 21-24 in Las Vegas, Nev.

While both the Conference and United Fresh 2009 will be held at the Sands MegaCenter in Las Vegas, the Conference is a post-show event, beginning on April 24.  All registered Conference attendees, however, will receive free access to both the FreshTech and Fresh Marketplace expos, April 21-24.

We anticipate a wide range of major retail and restaurant chains, fresh-cut processors, and grower shippers to participate in the conference.  Government agencies and auditing bodies expected to participate include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), GlobalGAP, Safe Quality Food (SQF), British Retail Consortium (BRC) and others.

United Fresh Chairman Tom Lovelace echoed Gombas' enthusiasm. "One of the biggest challenges facing our industry globally is the multitude of different and often conflicting audits, at both the farm and processing level. For the first time, this conference will bring together major auditing bodies and government agencies with grower-shippers, processors, retailers and foodservice companies to compare and contrast different audit programs and discuss benchmarking and harmonization among all of these programs."

Conference registration is available online at www.unitedfresh.org or download a form here.  Individuals who register for both the United Fresh convention and the Global Conference on Produce Food Safety Standards will receive substantial discounts.

BONUS! – Catch Convention Vice President John Toner's United Fresh 2009 chat with Fresh Talk here.

GFGVALast week, United Fresh and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) co-hosted the first Partnership among Industry and Regulators (PAIR) teleconference of 2009, including representatives from over a dozen allied associations, as well as officials from FDA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

In the teleconference, GFVGA program coordinator Beth Bland described many of the association's food safety support programs, including the Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire workshop hosted by United Fresh and hosted by GFVGA in Atlanta, March 25-27.

National Watermelon Association executive director Bob Morrissey described the intention, scope and progress of the association's first Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Watermelons.  The Guidelines are already being used by 95% of NWA’s members, and are intended to be updated annually as science and industry experience demonstrates opportunities for better practices.

California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement CEO Scott Horsfall provided an update on audits, findings and technical improvements as the Leafy Greens Food Safety Program enters its third year.  Scott also noted the activity in developing a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.

FDA provided the industry with an update on their public meetings on traceability, as well as insights on their newly published guidelines for 3rd party certifiers and a 3rd party certification program being trialed with shrimp farming facilities.

The PAIR calls, which will be held quarterly moving forward, are intended as an opportunity for open communication between government fresh produce officials and industry trade associations. For more information on future calls, contact David Gombas at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.

USDALast week, the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation hosted the Produce Inspection Training Program in partnership with the USDA's Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, Va.

Attendees at the weeklong program took part in two specialized courses: Introduction to Produce Inspection and Advanced Produce Inspection, learning the fundamentals of produce inspections such as grading, standards, tolerances, PACA and sampling procedures, as well as hands-on commodity inspections in the lab, and inspection of inspection of grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes, and several additional commodities chosen by the program attendees.

United Fresh will host two more courses in 2009, including June 1-5, and September 21-25.

Attendees may register for the courses online, download a registration form, or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext 405.  Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-served registration basis.  For United Fresh members, the registration fee for the Introductory Course is $875; the Advanced Course is $1195. If both courses are taken together, the discounted rate is $1875.  Course registration fees include training seminars and all course materials.

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
  • Fresh Innovations, LLC, Yuma, Ariz.
  • Liberty Fruit Company, Kansas City, Kan.

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:

  • Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Christopher Ranch, LLC, Gilroy, Calif.
  • Allegiant, Houston, Tex.
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 at 202-303-3400.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

News & Views


News and Views

Unions to hit Capitol for card-check

Obama faults FDA on food safety

Iowa State researchers develop technique for quick detection of salmonella

Hawaiian agencies use RFID to track produce

DeLauro, Sebelius, McClellan may fill HHS void left by Daschle


GLOBALGAP initiatives presented in Berlin

Jamaican food safety agency looks to build on 50 years of success

Ghana steps up food safety

British Food and Drink Federation says labeling would be a nightmare

Sowing the seeds of peace in Afghanistan

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