February 26, 2009

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh to Honor Costco's Shavey at 2009 Reception Honoring Women in Produce

Heather ShaveyUnited Fresh has announced that the 2009 Reception Honoring Women in Produce will honor Costco Wholesale's Assistant General Merchandise Manager, Fresh Foods and Produce, Heather Shavey on Wednesday night, April 22 at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. Part of the United Fresh 2009 expo and convention, the Reception Honoring Women in Produce is designed to honor all women working in the produce industry and will honor Shavey for her innovation and continued service to the produce industry.

A tenured veteran of the produce industry, Shavey is celebrating her 25th anniversary with Costco Wholesale this year. Starting as a warehouse caller in 1984, Shavey climbed through the ranks and has excelled as assistant general merchandise manager for fresh foods and produce for the Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer since 2004. Shavey is a graduate of the University of Washington, and holds a certificate of executive leadership from Seattle University. An avid skier and golfer, Shavey lives in Kirkland, Wash. with her husband Greg and daughters Gabrielle and Giselle.

"It's such an honor to receive this award and be counted in such an esteemed group of past recipients," said Shavey. "Now more than ever, women play crucial roles and are needed in all stages of the fresh and fresh cut produce industry – from farm to fork.  This recognition is as much theirs as it is mine."

This annual reception has established itself as one of the most popular networking events at United Fresh 2009. This year's United Fresh show will be held at the Sands MegaCenter in Las Vegas, Nev. April 21-24; to attend this special reception, you'll need the All Access Pass, available online here.

On Capitol Hill, United Fresh Government Relations Council Kicks Off Two-Day Meeting

Capitol DomeWith a wide range of policy issues on the table, the 38 members of United's Government Relations Council converged on Capitol Hill Wednesday for their 2009 winter meeting. Over the course of two days, Council members are slated to discuss a wide range of policy issues with congressional and administration officials, including food safety legislation, card check, nutrition policy and targeted supply chain matters. 

"This is a critical time to be in Washington. With the 111th Congress and new Administration now up and running, we anticipate movement on a whole range of action items," said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy.

Wednesday night, the Council also hosted a congressional reception for House and Senate Agriculture Committee members. Additionally, members of the Council took part in targeted meetings with key congressional committees, as well as House and Senate members to discuss priority policy issues.

The Government Relations Council focuses on setting public policy priorities based on the full exploration of numerous government-related issues, in addition to recommending specific policies to United Fresh. The Council includes key company members and allied association partners that represent the entire produce distribution chain.

"The GR Council is a critical volunteer leadership group," said Robert. "These are the industry experts who provide comprehensive discussion on the issues that are most important to our industry. This provides us with a valuable tool to drive policy in Washington."

United Fresh Wraps Up Successful GAPs Workshop

FDA LogoEarlier this week, United Fresh brought together over 80 representatives from key organizations throughout the industry to discuss and review of the Food and Drug Administration's Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, also known as the GAPs Guide.

The meeting, attended by representatives from FDA, along with constituents from multiple companies along the fresh and fresh-cut produce supply chain, provided the opportunity to discuss the successes and areas for improvement in the decade old GAPs Guide

GAPS Attendees
GAPs meeting attendees participate in one of four breakout sessions.

"The GAPs Guide is arguably the most influential document ever written for the fresh produce industry, and it was important that a broad spectrum of the fresh produce industry be heard on how that document is changed and used," said meeting organizer and United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology Dr. David Gombas. 

The meeting included a series of presentations on the origin, adaptation and amendment of the current GAPs Guide, and was followed by four breakout sessions in which attendees explored the benefits and obstacles presented by the Guide.

"In looking at the composition of the previous Guide," said Gombas, "we saw that only a small handful of our constituents were represented in its language. I commend those stakeholders who made an investment in their future by participating in the meeting and making their opinions known, and I'm particularly grateful to FDA officials for their attendance and willingness to consider these comments as they revise the Guide." 

Warm Weather and Florida Hospitality Greet Leadership Class 14

Leadership Class
Class 14 takes a tour of the FreshPoint South Florida facility.

Last week the twelve members of the United Fresh  Produce Industry Leadership Program gathered in Florida for the third trip in their year-long program.  The class took the opportunity to visit with United Fresh members FreshPoint South Florida, Pero Vegetable Company, Pioneer Growers and Duda Farm Fresh Foods, in addition to enjoying lunch with executives from Rosemont Farms, including special guests Jim Prevor and Ken Whitacre of Produce Business and the Perishable Pundit.

Leadership Class
Class 14 views a bin of tomatoes at Six L's Packing Company in Immokalee, Fla.

After an overnight stay in Clewiston, the group toured U.S. Sugar Corporation and Southern Gardens Citrus before heading to Immokalee for a lunch and tour hosted by Six L’s Packing Company and Custom Pak. Afterwards, the class met with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association and wrapped up the day in Ft. Lauderdale with a half-day training seminar on crisis communication conducted by Gil Meyer of DuPont.

Leadership Class
DuPont's Gil Meyer instructs Class 14 on the basics of crisis communication.

The Class will convene once more for their graduation ceremony at April’s United Fresh 2009 in Las Vegas.  Registration is open for United Fresh 2009, and United invites you to join the class for this special event.

The Leadership Program is presented by the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation and is made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, sponsor of the program since 1995.  Applications for Leadership Class 15 are now being accepted until March 2, 2009.  Interested applicants can click here for more information or contact Julie Jacocks, education coordinator, at 202-303-3405.

United Fresh President, Legislative Staff Meet with House Republican Leadership on Card Check Opposition

CheckboxOn Monday, United Fresh President Tom Stenzel and Vice President Kam Quarles joined with other members of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace in a strategy meeting with House Republican Leader John Boehner (8th-OH) and other key legislators who oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, commonly referred to as card check legislation.  As a member of the coalition’s steering committee, United Fresh has worked with other key business leaders in developing opposition to card check legislation which would take away employees' right to a secret ballot in deciding whether to form a union.  Yesterday, more than 100 members of the House of Representatives joined in support of counter-legislation that would guarantee the right to a secret ballot.  "Taking away the right to a secret ballot is simply wrong," Stenzel said, "and we’ll be devoting all possible resources to preserving employees' rights on this issue."  United is also a member working with many other coalitions opposing card check, including the Agriculture for a Democratic Workplace and state coalitions in key states.  United Fresh has established an online card check resource center to provide members with information to understand and weigh in with Congress on this important issue.  Please contact Kam Quarles at 202-303-3400 ext. 427 for more information.

Guenther Addresses Potato Group on Food Safety

National_Potato_CouncilDuring their annual public policy conference this week, the National Potato Council heard from Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. Robert addressed the outlook for food safety initiatives in the 111th Congress, emphasizing the need for both recognition and cooperation.

"In our industry, food safety simply cannot be ignored," Guenther said. "We must have a unified voice before our elected leaders and Administration officials. We're all in this together, as food safety impacts the entire produce industry from farms to retailers," he continued. "Our number one priority must be to maintain and build consumer confidence in our product. Consumers must be assured that, as they enter a retail store, farmers market, or local roadside stand, the produce they are buying for their family is safe."

For more on United Fresh’s food safety efforts, log on to www.unitedfresh.org.

There’s Still Time to Capitalize on Ivy-League Industry Education!

CornellNext weekend, executives from all sectors of the produce industry will gather on the beautiful Ivy League campus of Cornell University for the 2009 Produce Executive Development Program, a week long course that focusing on the unique needs and challenges of industry executives.

As a produce industry executive, this is a great chance for you to learn and network with your colleagues from across the country! This exclusive program is designed for mid- to senior-level executives interested in achieving a competitive edge and helping their companies address the key challenges and opportunities facing today's produce industry. The five-day course will begin March 8 at Cornell's Statler Hotel & Executive Conference Center in Ithaca, N.Y.

During tough economic times, this thought-provoking session will jumpstart your creative thinking, helping you build a competitive edge and addressing the key challenges and opportunities facing today's produce industry. Join us as tenured industry leaders share insights and experiences from all areas of the produce business and allied industries. You'll engage in in-depth discussions on topics including:

  • A "Survival Guide" to Finance in Strategic Planning
  • Negotiation & Conflict
  • Reflecting on Retail Strategies: Lessons for Suppliers
  • Strategies for Growth Entrepreneurial Environment
  • Management vs. Leadership
  • Team Decision Making
  • Strategy
  • Work Life Balance: Power of Sleep
  • Forecast of the Future
  • Firo-B - Your Style of Working With Others
  • Customer Directions: Retail and Foodservice
  • Leading Change
  • Click here for a full program schedule.

Plus you'll take part in retail store visits, a unique Supply Chain Simulation, group exercises and enjoy one-on-one networking time with other industry executives.

Tuition includes 5 nights' accommodations, most meals, instruction, books, supplies and more. For more information or to register, contact Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.

Nominations for Outstanding Produce Managers Due Tomorrow!

RetailerThe deadline to nominate store-level retail produce managers for the 2009 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program is this Friday! Sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, and now in its fifth year, the 2009 program will honor 25 retail produce managers, their corporate produce directors and their companies at the United Fresh Annual Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 23 in Las Vegas, Nev.  The award winners and their corporate produce directors will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and admittance to United Fresh 2009– featuring United Fresh Marketplace and United FreshTech.  To attend the awards banquet, purchase the All-Access Pass when you register at www.unitedfreshshows.com.  For more information, please contact Ginny Pugh at 202-303-3400 ext. 413.

United Fresh Virtual MarketplaceVirtual Marketplace

United Fresh Virtual Marketplace gives you access to today's leading suppliers and products like never before - visit today to see featured products.

United Fresh 2009 Cranberries
Naturipe® Farms
United Fresh 2009 6 oz. cup, Sweet and Tart Apples w/Caramel
Crunch Pak
United Fresh 2009 Bittermelon
Val Verde Vegetable Co., Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Clamshell Traceability Initiative
United Fresh 2009 Basket Specialty Pack
Pandol Brothers, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Naturally Fresh® Bleu Cheese Dressing
Naturally Fresh, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Mr. Avocado Fresh Guacamole
Mission Produce, Inc.

Find out more about these and other great products at virtualmarketplace.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
  • Seminis, Oxnard, Calif.

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:

  • Black Gold, Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Central Marketing Associates, Delaware, Ohio
  • Dandrea Produce, Landisville, N.J.
  • Easterday Farms Produce Co., Pasco, Wash.
  • Market 52, Visalia, Calif.
  • Sahlman Williams Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.
  • Titan Farms, L.L.C., Ridge Spring, S.C.
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

North Dakota mulls tougher regulation of farm chemical application

Merrigan nominated for deputy ag secretary

Washington farmers back bill easing labor crunch

More Iowans growing fruit and vegetables

Farm-to-plate bill pushes local food and looks to boost Vermont economy


Contaminated food and water kills 700,000 in Africa annually

China to set up central food safety body

French agri-food exports to Middle East on the rise

EU to share food safety data with Jordan

Foreign investors must report U.S. agricultural land holdings

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