March 26, 2009

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Testifies Before House Subcommittee for Second Time in Less Than a Month


United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel testified on Capitol Hill today before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies on the development and implementation of the Produce Traceability Initiative.

Stenzel's testimony focused on several main subjects, including the the general state of traceability in the produce industry today and compliance under the Bioterrorism Act, as well as major initiatives currently underway to build streamlined, whole-chain traceability for the produce industry. Additionally, Stenzel provided guidelines for Congress and the FDA as both government and industry move ahead in the traceability process.

"As our second Congressional testimony in less than a month, this hearing gives us a great opportunity to hold the ear of the decision-makers on the Hill," said Stenzel. "We are excited to present what is a vital industry initiative to the people with the power to make it happen."

A full transcript of Stenzel’s testimony can be found here. For more on the Produce Traceability Initiative and all of United’s work on Capitol Hill, visit

Congratulations to the 2009 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners!

Food Service AwardEarlier this week, United Fresh announced the winners of the 2009 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards. This year's honorees represent a wide range of culinary styles and backgrounds. The awards, sponsored by Pro*Act LLC, honor chefs and their companies for the innovative and influential use of fresh produce in the culinary arts and will be presented at United Fresh 2009.

"Pro*Act is very proud to sponsor this award, now in its second year," said Pro*Act president and CEO Steve Grinstead. "We thank all of the nominees and all of the chefs who create such unique and powerful menus around fresh produce and we look forward to honoring their ingenuity in Las Vegas."

"All of the honorees show a tremendous commitment to using fresh produce to delight their customers," said United Fresh president Tom Stenzel. "We greatly appreciate Pro*Act's support in recognizing these winners and the overall importance of produce to the foodservice industry in one of America's new culinary capitals: Las Vegas."

Winners were selected in five business categories from nearly 100 nominations submitted by produce companies and restaurants across the industry. A panel of produce and foodservice industry leaders judged the submissions, reviewing how each nominee incorporates fresh produce into menu development, uses protocols for correct storage and handling of produce and features fresh produce in order to build an overall positive dining experience. Both the chefs and their corporate executives will be honored in Las Vegas.

The 2009 winners in each category are:

Business in Industry & Colleges:
Glenn Pruden, CEC, Executive Chef/Assistant Director University Dining, University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.
Bettie Clarke, Director, Residential Dining, University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.

Casual & Family Dining:
William Fuller, Corporate Chef, big Burrito Restaurant Group, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Tom Baron, President, big Burrito Restaurant Group, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Fine Dining:
George Mavrothalassitis, Chef/Owner, Chef Mavro, Honolulu, Hawaii
Donna Jung, Publicist, Chef Mavro, Honolulu, Hawaii

Quick Service:
Chick-fil-A, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
William "Woody" Faulk, Vice President of Brand Development; Shona Jonson, Sr. Manager of Menu Development and the entire Chick-fil-A Menu Development Team, Atlanta, Ga.

Hotels & Healthcare:
Miles McMath, CEC, Senior Executive Chef, Morrison Specialist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.
Kevin Dorr, Corporate Chef, Morrison Management Specialists, Nashville, Tenn.

United Fresh Applauds Specter on Card Check Decision, Thanks Pennsylvania Grassroots Network for Outreach Efforts

Arlen SpectorIn a statement Tuesday, senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) revealed that he would oppose the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and any attempt to pass a cloture motion on it.

"We greatly respect the serious consideration that Sen. Specter gave this issue,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "He clearly recognized the flaws in the bill and the fact this legislation just goes too far for average Americans in taking away workers’ right to a secret ballot."

Specter was the lone Republican senator to support moving forward with the EFCA in the last session of Congress. His position on the current bill (S. 560) is seen as pivotal as proponents attempt to gain the necessary 60 votes for cloture and move the bill toward final passage.

"We also want to thank the members of our Pennsylvania grassroots network who have shared their opinions with Sen. Specter. Clearly the senator is listening to all of his constituents' voices in the state and it is critical that he has heard from the produce supply chain about this bill. I'd ask every one of our members in Pennsylvania to send a note today to Sen. Specter thanking him for his serious consideration," Stenzel said.

USDA Sliced Apple Pilot Program a Reality, Presents $4M in Revenue for Industry

Apple SlicesThis Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the purchase of over $4 million in fresh-cut sliced apples for national school lunch programs.

This initial purchase represents the start of a pilot program in five states that will run until the end of this school year. The program will test the feasibility of purchasing and delivering fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables to schools. It is anticipated that purchases for fresh-cut sliced apples will be expanded for next school year and baby carrots will also be available. The first fresh-cut sliced apples will be delivered to schools starting tomorrow, March 27th.

Those companies receiving contracts include:

  • Farmington Fresh Sales LLC, Stockton, Calif.
  • Fresh Innovations of California, Oxnard, Calif.
  • Global Purveyors LLC, Mountain View, Calif.
  • Peterson Farms, Inc., Shelby, Mich.
  • The HMS Group Marketing Inc., Kingsburg, Calif.

United Fresh would like to recognize the many fresh-cut apple companies that have collaborated with USDA/AMS over the last 2 years to make this pilot a reality; as the purchases expand next school year more companies in the industry are expected to participate and benefit.

For more information about the USDA fresh cut sliced apple program, contact United vice president of nutrition and health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at (202) 303-3400.

United Fresh Opposes Elimination of U.S.-Mexico Trucking Pilot Program

Mexico BorderIn the passage of the Omnibus Spending Bill last month, Congress approved the elimination of funding for the U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Truck Safety Inspection Program, an initiative that facilitated the safe transportation of goods across the U.S.-Mexico border, enhancing the trade for both countries. In recent weeks, the elimination of this program has led to the imposition of retaliatory tariffs established by Mexico against fresh fruits and vegetables from the U.S.

"Both the elimination of the pilot program and the predictable retaliation by Mexico against the United States for terminating this program will cause significant disruption in cross-border trade in fresh fruits and vegetables," said Kam Quarles, vice president of government relations and legislative affairs for United Fresh. "We urge the Administration and Congress to either restore funding for the program, or create a satisfactory alternative to allow the U.S. to adhere to its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Additionally, we call on Mexico to immediately eliminate the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. fresh fruits and vegetables, which serve only to punish an industry unrelated to the trucking dispute and whose views align with that of the Mexican government."

United Fresh is working with a coalition of affected organizations in compiling economic impact data on these retaliatory tariffs. The coalition is also crafting a letter to the Administration and Congress urging a resolution, in advance of meetings between Mexican officials and both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in the next two weeks.

For more on this issue and all United Fresh policy matters, visit or contact Kam at (202) 303-3400.

$72 Million Available for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program Next School Year

School KidsUSDA's Food and Nutrition Service recently released the state funding allocations for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP) for the 2009-10 school year. In total, $72.5 million is available for next school year. With 40% more funding available for next year, every state will fund a significant number of new schools to participate and many states are already in the process of selecting additional schools.

"This is a great opportunity for the produce industry," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United's vice president of nutrition and health. "Produce businesses now have a unique chance to partner with funded schools to provide high quality fresh fruits and vegetable that children will enjoy eating."

The FFVP is an effective school-based strategy aimed at increasing children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to improve their health and reduce their risk of obesity. Participating schools receive federal funds to provide a fresh fruit and/or vegetable snack to all students for free every day at school. United Fresh has led the charge in this effort, advocating for Congress to expand FFVP nationwide in the 2008 Farm Bill.

The 2008 Farm Bill provided $1.2 billion in mandatory funding for the nationwide implementation of FFVP, and approximately $49 million in federal funds were made available this school year, reaching over one million students in 1,300 schools.

To learn more about the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, visit the United Fresh website, or contact United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health, Lorelei DiSogra at (202) 303-3400.

Get Ready for the "Salute to Leadership" Raffle

FoundationTickets are now available for the 2009 "Salute to Leadership" Raffle, which means someone is going to be taking home $25,000 from Las Vegas! Tickets are just $100 and the grand prize drawing for $25,000 will take place at the Annual Awards Banquet, April 23 at the 2009 United Fresh 2009 convention in Las Vegas. Proceeds from the "Salute to Leadership" Raffle support activities of the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation which offers research and education programs to enhance the produce industry's effectiveness, develop leadership skills at all levels of the industry, advance produce safety and quality, and increase children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Buy your raffle ticket with our online form, or contact Claudia Wenzing for tickets.

GlobalGAP Training Set to Coincide with United Fresh 2009

Global GapUnited Fresh is pleased to announce that FoodPlus GmbH, the global body for GlobalGAP, will be conducting a train-the-trainer workshop for the fruit and vegetable sub-base April 20 and 21 at the Courtyard Las Vegas Sumerlin in Las Vegas, Nev. The course will focus on the structure and documentation for a successful cooperation and implementation of the GlobalGAP framework for fruits and vegetables.

For more information on the workshop, email

First Lady Cheers "Let's Hear It For Vegetables!" at White House Vegetable Garden

Global GapHeadquartered just three blocks from the White House, United Fresh staff could almost hear First Lady Michelle Obama leading the cheer "Let's Hear it for Fruit! Yay! Let's Hear it for Vegetables! Yeah!" last Friday morning after ground was broken at the new White House Vegetable garden.

White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford and students from Washington's Bancroft Elementary helped to break ground on the first modern vegetable garden on the residence's south lawn. The event has emphasized Mrs. Obama’s campaign to improve the eating habits of all Americans, starting with the youngest.

"In 20 years of produce industry experience, I have never seen a First Lady take this much of a public role in encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption" said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health. Her cheering for fruits and vegetables has the potential to do wonders for our America's children and our industry. We've come a long way from dumping truckloads of broccoli on the south lawn."

For video of the event, courtesy of the Washington Post click here.

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Conwed Global Netting Solutions
United Fresh 2009 Chinese Okra
Val Verde Vegetable Co., Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Hothouse Tomato Clamshell
Cool-Pak, LLC
United Fresh 2009 NEW Cabo Fresh Original Avo-Hummus
Yucatan Foods
United Fresh 2009 New Parisian and Asian Complete Salad Kits
Ready Pac, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 Mott's® Apple Slices
C. H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 PakSense Labels
PakSense, Inc.
United Fresh 2009 PerformancePak®
Wilkinson Industries, Inc.

Find out more about these and other great products at

New Member Welcome

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

  • Blue Island Wholesale Produce, Chicago, Ill.
  • De Jong Bros. Farms, Inc., Lansing, Ill.
  • Fresh Food Processing Equipment & Technology, Venlo-Holland, The Netherlands
  • General Produce Company, Sacramento, Calif.
  • Growers Marketing Company, Fresno, Calif.
  • Hydro-Stacker LLC, Brandenton, Fla.
  • iTradeNetwork, Omaha, Neb.
  • Knobeloch Jenkins Associates LLC, Salinas, Calif.
  • Moss Adams LLP, Yakima, Wash.
  • Trans-I Technologies, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • VI-Doug, Inc., Douglas, Wyo.
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

Radar tech takes aim at fruit frost

Florida produce markets hope to feed nesting consumers

Companies seek middle ground on card-check

New Hampshire school officials work to bring local produce to schools

Rep. Sam Farr on organics and food safety


Mexican tariff hike hits US produce

UK urged to commit to fruit scheme

Vietnam's drive to improve food safety receives $95m boost from ADB

Indonesian fruit picker killed in komodo dragon attack

Defra announces body to help businesses and communities go green

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