May 21, 2009

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Provides Input as House Ag Committee Explores Climate Change

Climate ChangeThe current state of climate change legislation could potentially cost the agricultural sector precious revenues in an uncertain time. That was the message from United Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs Kam Quarles who took time this week to sit down with the House Agricultural Committee to discuss climate change.

"As it currently stands," said Kam, "the U.S. fresh produce industry is likely to see increased input costs from climate change legislation with little opportunity for offsets due to our unique production practices."

Congress and the Obama Administration are both moving forward with plans to address climate change through limits on greenhouse gas production, and a "cap and trade" program is being heavily discussed as a component of that plan. Under such a program, certain industries such as petroleum refiners and power plants would have major restrictions – a cap – placed upon their activities. Those facilities would either have to restructure their operations to produce fewer greenhouse gases or buy offsets to meet their cap. Agriculture is assumed to be a major generator of offsets. However many unanswered questions remain and United Fresh is urging that more study be undertaken before moving forward with legislation.

Senator McConnell Raises Concerns over Card Check

McConnellSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered a straightforward and sobering message Monday morning to United Fresh and other leaders of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace about the future for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

"Before Senator [Arlen] Specter made his party switch, all the pressure was against card check," McConnell said. "Now all the pressure is to find a solution and bring it up for a vote."

Specter's (D-PA) unexpected switch to the Democratic Party has changed the face of the card check debate. As a Republican, he came out against the bill earlier this year, and at that time his opposition made it mathematically impossible to pass the legislation. However, the interests of his new party are putting tremendous pressure on him to reverse his position and find a compromise that could make card check a reality.

United Fresh is strongly opposed to EFCA. Members can learn more on our card check resource center, which makes it easy to write Members of Congress, providing talking points for both phone calls and emails. The site also offers the opportunity for members and nonmembers alike to invest in our industry through the Produce Power Fund.

United Fresh Takes Part in Inaugural Cool Cargoes Conference

Cool CargoAs we progress toward a whole-chain traceability solution, and food safety issues enjoy a higher profile than ever before, it is more important than ever for produce and other companies to take care of their relationships with carriers and transportation providers. This central theme highlighted this week’s inaugural Cool Cargoes Conference in Portland, Ore.

As part of a continuing effort to educate the industry on supply chain matters, United Fresh Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vaché spoke before the conference to address pressing issues in the areas of food safety and traceability.

The conference, sponsored by the Journal of Commerce brought together numerous participants engaged in storing and distributing refrigerated and frozen cargo, and included panel sessions examining trends and significant developments in the transport of perishable foods and other temperature-controlled cargoes, such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

Vaché was a panelist along with United Fresh members Gary York of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Ken Lund of Alan Lund, Co. and Rich Burden of Naturipe Farms. The panel was moderated by Robert Voltmann, President and CEO of the Transportation Intermediaries Association, discussing "The Shrinking World of Reefer Trucking." The panel covered the current status of refrigerated transportation including pending legislation; freight rates and fuel surcharges; driver and equipment availability for 2009 and beyond; current industry trends in produce transportation; claims and finally the impact of the current economy and how the market is responding to the challenges.

"The session was an interactive one," said Dan. "Many audience members inquired about the issues of food safety and produce traceability. The attendees were anxious to hear about the status of food safety and specifically how the Produce Traceability Initiative might impact transportation in the coming years."

Through Partnership, United Members to Receive Member Rate for CPMA Labeling Webinar

CPMAOn Tuesday, May 26, United Fresh members are invited to take part in the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's (CPMA) educational webinar on labeling requirements for products marketed in Canada.  Through a partnership with United Fresh and CPMA, all United Fresh Members will receive the member rate for this 2-hour webinar designed to prepare businesses for the changing labeling environment in Canada.  During the online event, expert speakers will address how to label bulk and package products; product of Canada requirements; language in PLU-type labels; information about CPMA's label review process; and CPMA's online fresh fruit and vegetable labeling tool.  Speakers include CPMA Manager of Health and Nutrition Sally Blackman, Loblaw Companies' Senior Director of Produce Quality Assurance Aruna Spears, and Rose Medaglia, National Manager for Fruit and Vegetables at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  Cost for the two-hour webinar is $100CDN for CPMA and United members and $200CDN for non-members.  Those interested in participating may register here or contact Bev Appleby at CPMA at 613-226-4187 ext. 227.

Second Edition of Critical Consumer Issue Research Available in 2009 Issues Scan

2009 Issues ScanWhen American grocery shoppers walk through the front door of the supermarket, in addition to carrying the shopping list and reusable grocery bags, they carry with them a unique set of opinions, concerns, values and predeterminations which can serve to steer them toward one product, or away from another. Understanding how factors like food safety, country of origin, sociopolitical concerns and other issues affect this valuable public can go a long way toward predicting purchasing patterns and protecting against common pitfalls.

As a follow-up to last year's inaugural edition, United Fresh is proud to unveil Issues Scan 2009. Containing research conducted by Harris Interactive, Issues Scan 2009 creates a basic understanding of issues related to food safety, sustainability, product origin and other areas, looking at U.S. consumer attitudes and behaviors in five major areas that have garnered significant media coverage in recent years and explores each in depth. These areas of focus are: Food Safety; Environmental and Social Issues; Product Origin; Comparison of Different Forms of Fruits and Vegetables and Impact of Issues on Purchase Intent and Desire for Information.

United Fresh members may purchase a copy of Issues Scan 2009 here for $125 and non-members may do so for $195. For additional information, please contact United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400 ext. 408.

First Installment of United's Popular Recall Course Kicks off in Salinas Next Week

RecallBeginning Wednesday, May 27, United Fresh and Syngenta will bring the 2009 edition of the popular Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course back to Northern California. The course will be held through Friday May 29 at the Embassy Suites in Seaside, Calif.

SyngentaThe two-day training program focuses on helping attendees understand the fundamentals of a product recall, including responsibilities, the role of the FDA, how to limit liability and manage customer expectations. In addition, take an in-depth look at how to build a customized communication plan in the event of a recall, and how to effectively communicate to the industry, customers, consumers and the media.

In addition to the two-day training course, United Fresh is offering a customized media training session that follows the recall training designed to prepare attendees for the stresses of a real-life interview, enabling the delivery of key messages while being aggressively interviewed in a high-stress setting. A separate registration is required for Friday’s media training.

Space is still available. For more information or to register, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh Education Coordinator at 202-303-3400 ext. 425.

Meet Your United Fresh Staff: Jill Grigg

Jill GriggsIf you were fortunate enough to pack up the exhibit booth and join us in Las Vegas for United Fresh 2009 last month, you probably saw Jill Grigg's smiling face as she walked the show floor, dotting i's and crossing t's along the way. As the Convention Services Coordinator here at United, Jill is responsible for the organization of all exhibitor-related services at United's annual trade show and convention. While the show may only happen in April, Jill is busy year-round, striving to bring the best show possible to the produce industry.

"This year's show was a great experience for me, being new at United," said Jill. "Meeting so many of our most involved members this early in my career here has been a real advantage, and something I really enjoyed. It was definitely good to jump in early!"

A Carolina-blue native of Chapel Hill, N.C. whose favorite produce includes berries of all sorts, Jill holds a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and business from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. Jill joins United Fresh from EurekAlert, an online news outlet where she handled both sales and marketing.

To reach Jill and all your United Fresh staff, contact us at 202-303-3400.

See What You Missed at United Fresh 2009!

United Fresh 2009Want to see what you missed? Want to relive the moments? A complete recap of the learning, networking and fun from the United Fresh 2009 Convention and Expo in Las Vegas is now available on our website at Photos can be viewed by clicking here, and if you have photos to share, let us know at!

New Member Welcome

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

  • Fruit Patch Sales, Dinuba, Calif.
  • Sobeys Inc., Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Canada
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

Prince George's County, Md. grocers brace for Wegman’s

Immigrant help needed down on the farm

Harkin optimistic for card check bill

Administration seeks to boost food safety efforts

National Cherry Queen candidates announced


Bt brinjal to hit market as early as possible

China's food export back to growth in March

Thai food firms sense export opportunity

Experts on hand for showcase of Exeter, UK produce

Food recalls heighten Canadian demand for traceability

Tell a Friend About Inside United Fresh, or tell us how we can make it better.