August 13, 2009

In Today's Issue:

Opportunities for Produce Sales as Snack Program Expands in Every State


United Fresh is making available a list of schools participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP) during the 2009-10 school year. A total of $72.5 million in funding is available for the upcoming year, with every state receiving a significant increase. The program will reach approximately 1.4 million students in 2,000 elementary schools nationwide; all of these children receive a free fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school.

United Fresh has led the industry effort to expand the FFVP, and provides the school contact information as a service to members seeking to supply produce to participating schools.

"The $72.5 million allotted to implement the program this year is a powerful strategy for boosting consumption among children and growing produce sales" said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh.

Only fresh fruits and vegetables are eligible to be purchased and served as part of the FFVP, and schools strive to offer a wide variety of produce in order to encourage children to try new or unfamiliar items. On average, a funded elementary school receives between $20,000 and $30,000 per year to implement the FFVP.

"With this funding, schools are looking for produce companies in their areas that can supply great tasting, high quality fruits and vegetables that their students will enjoy eating," said DiSogra. "This is a chance to positively impact our next generation and help kids become produce lovers!"

For more information and a list of schools participating in the FFVP, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Grower Achievement Award Finalists Announced

GGAAmerican Vegetable Grower has unveiled the five finalists for the Grower Achievement Award, sponsored by Syngenta in cooperation with United Fresh, and presented annually by the magazine at United's Washington Public Policy Conference.

The 2009 Grower Achievement Award finalists are:

  • Alstede Farms LLC, Chester, N.J.
  • Buurma Farms, Inc., Willard, Ohio
  • Ed Hansen Farms, Inc., Stanley, N.Y.
  • Eubanks Produce, Inc., Lucedale, Miss.
  • Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif.

The award is given to a grower operation that serves as a genuine role model to the industry.  Nominations are evaluated based on the achievements of each farm in the following areas: consumer-oriented marketing, use of innovative technology, food safety and food quality, industry leadership and spirit of achievement.

The award will be presented at next month's Washington Public Policy Conference, September 9-11 in Washington, D.C. For more information on the WPPC, please click here or contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

NLGMA Webinar Set for August 19

Leafy greensThe National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA) Proponent Group, comprised of United Fresh and 12 other regional, national and international organizations is hosting a free, one-hour, informational webinar Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 4 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. PDT.

Members of the proponent group will discuss the purpose and components of the NLGMA, how a NLGMA would be established and how the NLGMA applies to food safety legislation. Time will be set aside to address questions from the attendees. 

To register or for more information please click here.

United Fresh Discusses the Agriculture Supply Chain with a Delegation from India

IndiaUnited Fresh staff met with a delegation of Indian representatives from the food and agriculture industry last week as part of an effort to learn about U.S. agricultural policy and explore the American food industry. A part of the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program, the envoy included representatives from the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a family-owned retail food business, and retail chains including Spencer's Retail and Reliance Retail

"The group was very interested to discuss United's strengths and our ability to represent the whole supply chain from field to fork," said Melissa Speed, United's international member services director. Speed, along with Membership Director Miriam Miller and Government Relations and Legislative Affairs Vice President Kam Quarles also discussed the latest trends for fresh-cut and fresh convenience products.

For more information on United Fresh and our international efforts, please contact Melissa Speed at 202-303-3400 ext. 404.

Drafts of Tomato Metrics Completed

TomatoesMore than 40 representatives from all points along the fresh and fresh-cut tomato supply chain met in Dallas, Texas last week to complete drafts of tomato metrics documents for open field, harvesting and field packing; greenhouse; packinghouse; and repacking and distribution operations.

"The objective of this 10-month initiative was to develop harmonized audit standards and checklists for these types of tomato operations, to replace the numerous diverse and conflicting standards that the industry has had to deal with in recent years", said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology. "We had a critical mass of tomato suppliers, handlers and buyers at the table to ensure that all could agree to the final checklists. FDA participated at all stages, and that is reflected in the FDA Draft Industry Guidance for Tomatoes, published last Friday. Government and private sector auditors were invited to participate at all stages, to ensure that the standards were clear, complete and auditable. Several organizations within the U.S. and Mexico trialed the standards and checklists in June and July, and what was taken from those trials was incorporated in the drafts we developed last week drafts.”

Final versions of the standards are expected to be published by the end of August and will be made available on the United Fresh website and elsewhere. Outreach and training efforts will begin over the next few months, with a target of converting all relevant tomato audit checklists to the new versions by January 2010. For more information, please contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400.

Upcoming Training Programs Offer Something for Everyone

Professional DevelopmentThis fall, United Fresh will offer two distinct training programs designed to bring unique value to different members of any produce team.

Starting September 21 in Fredericksburg, Va., the Produce Inspection Training Program, presented in partnership with USDA, will cover the basic elements of produce inspections including grading, standards, tolerances, PACA and sampling procedures plus in-lab training on specific commodities. 

From October 27-29, United's popular Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire, sponsored by Syngenta, will include a two-day program focusing on the fundamentals of a product recall, the role of the FDA, how to limit liability, and how to build a customized communication plan.  In addition, United will offer a media training seminar immediately following the recall training that is designed to prepare attendees for the stresses of a real-life media interview.

"While no recall is ever easy, how you handle it can have a tremendous impact on your businesses – and those who fair the best, are often those who are best prepared," said Backer. "This course is designed for everyone on your produce recall team.  It will combine recall protocols and communication management principles to ensure that both your technical food safety staff and communication and executive staff work together effectively and efficiently during product recall."

Registration for each course is limited.  For more information or to register for the Inspection Program, click here.  To sign up for the Recall Training Program, click here.  For questions or personalized assistance, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405

Webinar to Prepare Attendees for WPPC

WPPCNext month, hundreds of Washington Public Policy Conference attendees will gather in our nation's capital to talk face-to-face with congressional, regulatory and administration officials. In an effort to further prepare conference-goers for what they'll face here in Washington, United Fresh is offering a free webinar to gather current information on food safety, labor, child nutrition and more.

"This is the produce industry's most important opportunity to talk with leaders in Washington about the issues that are so important to the industry," said United Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. "From promoting a strong and scientific food safety policy to preserving fair labor laws and even providing a salad bar in every school, there is so much to be done on Capitol Hill."

The webinar, which begins September 2 at 2 p.m. EDT, is offered only to attendees of the Washington Public Policy Conference who have registered by August 28th. For more information, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

What United Members Are Saying About WPPC

Lorri Koster
Lorri Koster
Salinas, Calif.
Mann Packing Co.

What resonated the most with me was a conversation I had last year with Senator Barbara Boxer regarding United's push for a national school salad bar policy. I told her that not only was I there as a California farmer, but also as the mother of two young boys that need and want more healthy fruits and vegetables. I remember her replying that she was not only a Senator, but a grandmother that wanted to see her grandchildren exposed to more healthy foods as well.

What struck me is that it was much more of a person-to-person conversation rather than a lobbyist-to-politician one. I think it's easy to forget that lawmakers in Washington are real people with real families, who worry about many of the same things we do.  WPPC does a great job of recognizing that and helping to foster a connection over a shared goal - in this case, healthier kids and families.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Avery Dennison Retail Information Services, Miamisburg, Ohio
  • Nash Produce, Nashville, N.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 at 831-422-0940 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.
Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

News & Views


News and Views

Kids weigh in on what they like to eat in restaurants

Farmers will benefit from bilateral WTO agreements

North Florida students to see more nutritious menus

Sen. Byrd announced funding for agricultural research and development in West Virginia

Virginia food safety bill not as damaging to agriculture as feared


Two-for-one supermarket deals face the axe

Pesticides debate heats up after UK’s Food Security Assessment

Fijian authorities confiscate food items

Vietnamese city bans informal trade of fresh food

Irish food imports soar despite growing safety concerns

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