March 5, 2009

In Today's Issue:


United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board Endorses Work to Harmonize Audits

Global ConferenceThe United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board has endorsed the importance of efforts to harmonize produce food safety audits to reduce cost and duplication of efforts, while enhancing overall safety.  At its meeting last week, the Board recommended that produce industry members throughout the supply chain participate in the new Global Conference on Produce Food Safety Standards, to be held April 24-25 immediately following the United Fresh 2009 Convention in Las Vegas.

In a joint statement on behalf of the Board, Chairman Reggie Griffin of The Kroger Company and Vice Chairman Mitch Smith of McDonalds said, "Both retail and foodservice buyers share the same goals as produce suppliers in assuring that good agricultural and handling practices are followed in production and distribution.  It's important that partners throughout the supply chain work toward benchmarking and harmonization of any audits that we use to ensure the most effective food safety results with these least cost and duplication of effort.  Using multiple different audits all asking the same basic questions is not the most effective way to focus our energies in enhancing food safety."

The Retail-Foodservice Board specifically recognized the work efforts thus far of the association's Food Safety and Technology Council working group on audit harmonization. 

"The conference that this group is putting together in Las Vegas is an important opportunity for retailers and foodservice companies to really work with our suppliers on what is a complex issue, but a critical one to solve for our industry," Griffin and Smith said.

Online registration is still available, and for a full conference agenda, click here.


Key Food Safety Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Capitol DomeOn Capitol Hill this week, two bills were introduced aimed at reforming our country's food safety laws.  In the Senate,  Richard Durbin (D-IL) along with several colleagues including Judd Gregg (R-NH), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, providing for mandatory, comprehensive, commodity-specific and science-based standards for fresh produce.

The legislation would also establish a comprehensive network of federal and state partners who will work with growers and the entire produce supply chain to ensure that good agricultural and handling practices are implemented throughout the produce industry.

In the House, Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and Adam Putnam (R-FL) are planning to introduce a similar bill to the Durbin proposal, titled the Safe Food Enforcement, Assessment, Standards, and Targeting Act of 2009 today.

“Providing consumers with safe and nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables is at the core of our industry's commitment to enhance the health of the American public,” said Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh.  "We commend these congressional members for introducing these legislative initiatives which will further serious congressional consideration of ways to improve our nation’s food safety system," he stated.

For more information, contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy at 202-303-3400 ext. 409


United Fresh Government Relations Council Meets in Washington, DC


Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) with Jim Allen, New York Apple Association, and United Fresh Vice President of Business Development, Claudia Wenzing.

Last week, over 30 industry leaders arrived in Washington for the winter meeting of the United Fresh Government Relations Council.  The meeting coincided with several other produce industry meetings taking place in the nation’s capital that week, including meetings of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, the Minor Crop Farm Alliance, the Crop Protection Coalition, the U.S. Apple Export Council, and the National Potato Council.


Bill Brim, Lewis Taylor Farms, Charles Hall, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Grower's Association, House Agriculture Committee member Rep. Jim Costa (CA-20), Phil Gruszka, Grimmway Enterprises, and Rick Tomlinson, California Strawberry Commission, at the United Fresh reception on Capitol Hill.

Issues discussed at the two-day council meeting included updates on the current state of affairs regarding legislation on food safety, the Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check), child nutrition, and supply chain efficiency.  The council also heard from a variety of key congressional staff and regulatory officials representing the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, USDA, FDA, the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration.  Emerging issues facing the produce industry were also discussed, and action items developed from discussion during the meetings are set to guide United's government relations activities throughout the remainder of the year.


Laura Phelps, American Mushroom Institute, new House Agriculture Committee member Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA-5), Fred Recchiuti, Basciani Mushroom Farms, and a member of Rep. Thompson's staff.

Following the first day of the meeting, United Fresh also hosted a reception on Capitol Hill to recognize the new members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. There are 16 new Members of the House Agriculture Committee and 3 new members on the Senate Committee.  Produce industry representatives mingled with members of Congress, congressional staff and industry colleagues. From the Government Relations Council and other produce industry meetings to the reception on the Hill, last week represented a strong showing for the industry in our nation’s capital.

For more information about the meeting or other government relations issues, please contact Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at (202) 303-3400 ext. 409.


United Fresh, NANA meet with White House Domestic Policy Council

CheckboxLast week, United Fresh and other members of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) Coalition met with senior staff at the White House Domestic Policy Council to discuss priorities for the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR).  Martha Coven, Special Assistant to the President, Domestic Policy Council and Director, Office of Mobility and Opportunity, led the meeting that also included Jocelyn Fry, Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama and other key staff.  The two-hour meeting included discussions about President Obama’s commitment to improving school meals and child nutrition, as well as United Fresh key CNR priorities and strategy going forward.

“This meeting – only one month after the inauguration – was an important first step in building a strong collaboration with the White House on our mutual goals of improving child nutrition,” noted Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president for nutrition and health.            

For more information on United Fresh's work on child nutrition, click here.


Town Hall Meetings in New York, Minnesota an Opportunity to Interact and Engage

Townhall Meeting
United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel addresses a 2008 town hall meeting in Columbia, S.C.

Yesterday, United Fresh was pleased to welcome companies from all segments of the produce industry at two town hall meetings.  In Rochester, N.Y., Maureen Torrey-Marshall of Torrey Farms and Jim Allen of the New York Apple Association hosted Jeff Oberman, United’s vice president of trade relations, at a luncheon for representatives of the New York produce industry.  Meanwhile, at C.H. Robinson headquarters, in Eden Prairie, Minn., United President & CEO Tom Stenzel and Chairman-Elect Jim Lemke, senior vice president for C.H. Robinson, met with members of the Minnesota produce industry.

"These town hall meetings provide a great opportunity to visit and network with United Fresh members and the industry," said Jeff.  "They're an excellent forum for United Fresh to showcase our work on the roll-out of produce in the WIC program, expansion of the fresh fruit and vegetable snack program, leadership on critical immigration legislation and regulation and the industry-wide move to whole-chain produce traceability, along with a host of other initiatives."

Later this month, United Fresh will hold Town Hall meetings in Chicago, Ill. on Tuesday, March 17 and Visalia, Calif. on March 31.

For more information on Town Hall meetings, contact Miriam Miller, director of membership, at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

United Fresh, USDA Leadership Address Child Nutrition Advocates

Child NutritionMore than 1300 nutrition advocates gathered in Washington this week to lobby for funding priorities in the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.  Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president for nutrition and health, got an early start last Sunday morning by presenting a workshop on "Policy, Benefits and Opportunities – Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program" at the national conference of the Food Research and Action Center, before participating in the School Nutrition Association's Legislative Conference on Monday and Tuesday.
 
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack keynoted both conferences, noting the Obama Administration's commitment to increased funding for child nutrition programs, while specifically mentioning the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables in school meals. Secretary Vilsack emphasized that President Obama's 2010 budget proposal includes $1 billion per year to improve school meals.  Congressional staff said they expect to start work on the 2009 Child Nutrition bill this spring.

For more information, including United Fresh's priorities for Child Nutrition Reauthorization, please contact Lorelei at 202-303-3400 ext. 403.


A Small Investment in April Brings Large Dividends Down the Road

Investment

A small investment will pay huge dividends this April in Las Vegas.  As the economy continues on its rocky path, businesses across the produce industry are looking for ways to trim the fat from an already-lean budget.  As a result we have done the math for you, and are looking not only to save you money, but actually make you money.

For less than a thousand dollars, United Fresh provides 47 hours of top business education that will change the way you do business, close-up access to the latest in technology, face-to-face interaction with a galaxy of new business partners and the best networking. Your team at United Fresh has put months of dedication into designing a world-class program at this year's United Fresh convention, April 21-24 in Las Vegas, Nev.

From saving money on the latest technology, services and products, to the largest and most influential of your industry's leadership providing best-in-industry education, to thousands of potential customers, United Fresh 2009 promises to stretch your investment all year long. But, there’s just one week left to jump on discounted early registration and housing deals, so log on and register today.


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 Restaurant-Style Bakers - Cavendish Produce Foil Wrapped Potato 3 Pack Tray
Cavendish Produce
United Fresh 2009 Basket Specialty Pack
Pandol Brothers, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Plastic Containers, Pallets, Dollys
Polymer Logistics
United Fresh 2009 Weigher PEG-14/120 FD
Giro Pack, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Fox Fresh Mesh® Combo
Fox Packaging
United Fresh 2009 Cut 'n Clean Greens, organic
San Miguel Produce, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 4 lb. strawberry clamshell
Well-Pict Berries

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
  • McEntire Produce, Columbia, 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:

  • Axway, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • iGPS, Orlando, Fla.
  • Organic Alliance Inc., Salinas, Calif.
  • Pulmuone Wildwood, Inc., Fullerton, Calif.
  • River City Produce, Sacramento, Calif.
  • Stellar Distributing Inc., Fresno, Calif.
  • Veg Pro International Inc., Sherrington, QC
Welcome
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

U.S. NEWS:

News and Views

Asian Citrus Psyllid found in Imperial Valley, Calif.

Senators push to boost FDA food safety system

Washington WIC program changes list of approved foods

It's organic, but does that mean it's safer?

Cornell gets $7.18M in federal ag research funding

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

Kenyan produce exporters say tougher U.S. import rules a boon

Beijing tightens food safety laws

Malaysia to label and grade fruits and vegetables

Tesco admits it may have got it wrong in the U.S.

Vietnam to cut down thousands of hectares of fruit trees


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