November 12, 2009

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Launches Campaign to Support the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009

It is expected that next week, Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) will introduce the Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009. This legislation will dramatically increase children's access to fruits and vegetables at school.

Salad Bar

Over the last several weeks, United Fresh has launched a campaign encouraging companies within the produce industry to sign-on to a letter, indicating their company’s support for the legislation.

"In order to get the attention of policy makers from across the country, we want to expand on the diverse list of companies and produce organizations that have already signed on," said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "We hope that all concerned members of the industry will take a moment to consider joining the growing list of produce industry leaders already supporting the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009."

Given recent developments in research and on Capitol Hill, the effort to increase children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools is gaining momentum. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the federal government's leading scientific body, stated late last month that "increasing both the amount and the variety of vegetables and fruits that schools offer in meals is one of IOM's top recommendations."

"Add to the IOM report the recent CDC finding that American kids aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables," continued Dr. DiSogra, "and the effort to improve school meals becomes more important than ever."

Those interested may add their company or organization to the list of groups already signed on by clicking here or on the button below.

United Fresh Highlights Need for Audit Harmonization at GLOBALGAP Tour 2009

"United SVP of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas (second from right) participates in a panel before the GLOBALGAP’s World Tour last week."

United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas spoke on the importance of harmonizing audit standards last week at the GLOBALGAP TOUR 2009 in Alexandria, Va. The fourth stop on GLOBALGAP's world tour, Dr. Gombas' address and other event programming focused on outreach and consultation to key stakeholders.

The topic of Dr. Gombas' presentation was the newly-initiated Produce Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Harmonization Initiative.

"The intention of the fresh produce industry's Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative is to partner with all willing GAP standard owners, including GLOBALGAP, in a mutual goal of standards harmonization," David told the audience. "It would be ideal if a North American GAP standard, developed through the Harmonization Initiative, would also serve as interpretation guideline for GLOBALGAP in North America."

In support of that goal, GLOBALGAP Managing Director Dr. Kristian Moeller announced that a National Technical Working Group for GLOBALGAP will be established in conjunction with the first meeting of the Technical Working Group of the Harmonization Initiative next week in Herndon, Va., so that the two efforts can operate in concert.

For more information about the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative or GLOBALGAP, please contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.

Town Hall Meeting in South Texas Explores Food Safety, Border Issues and Nutritional Opportunities

Town Hall Meeting
"Attendees to Wednesday's town hall meeting in Mission, Texas enjoy lunch before the day's programming."

Yesterday, United Fresh was pleased to welcome companies from all segments of the produce industry at a town hall meeting in Mission, Texas.  Co-hosted by the Texas Produce Association, the town hall provided an opportunity for participants to learn about issues currently facing the South Texas produce industry, including an update on current national legislation and regulation.

Texas Produce Association President John McClung provided an update on pest eradication and border issues, while United Fresh Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman shared updates on United's legislative and regulatory activities, including food safety, traceability and immigration and labor issues.  United Fresh Director of Membership Miriam Miller provided an update on business opportunities in federal nutrition programs and also shared information on United’s educational and networking programs.

"These events provide a unique opportunity to visit and network with United Fresh members and the industry," said Oberman. "Town hall meetings provide 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, as well as our leadership in food safety and the industry-wide move to whole-chain produce traceability."

For more information on United's town hall program, contact Miriam at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

United Fresh 2010 Convention Host Committee Meets in Las Vegas

Las Vegas

The United Fresh Convention Committee gathered in Las Vegas last week to discuss plans for United Fresh 2010, happening April 20-23 at the Sands MegaCenter. With this year's focus on "Winning is Everything," committee members took an in-depth look at the annual event's programming, expos and networking events and discussed ways to further enhance the show experience for attendees and exhibitors alike.

Convention Host Committee Co-Chair Dave Dever of Pandol Brothers kicked off the meeting, commenting, "United Fresh saw growth last year, and our job is to continue growth by all aspects of the fresh produce industry.  By coming together under one roof to talk about business issues, we all become stronger and better operators."

Committee members include:

Nora Trueblood-Adams Allen Lund Company, Inc.
Mark Munger Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce
Brian Hrudka Bayer CropScience
David Hille Cabbage, Inc.
Cindy Jewell California Giant Berry Farms, Inc.
Joe Klare Castellini Company, LLC
Doug Ranno Colorful Harvest, LLC
Vanessa Lawrence Cool Pak LLC
Heather Shavey Costco Wholesale
Tony Freytag Crunch Pak
Carissa Mace Fresh Produce & Floral Council
Larry Gevert Get Fresh Sales
Doug Riley Hy-Vee, Inc.
Teri Johnson Key Technology, Inc.
Bill Schneider Melissa's/World Variety Produce, Inc.
Froylan Gracia MexBest
Ross Wileman Mission Produce, Inc.
David Dever Pandol Brothers, Inc.
Bob Nelson Polymer Logistics
Mary Wright-Rana Pro*Act, LLC
Wes Liefer Pura Vida Farms, LLC
Barbara Dan Ready Pac Foods, Inc.
Sean Picquelle Taco Bell
Barbara Gaitan Western Concord
Elliot Grant YottaMark

Las Vegas

During the meeting, the committee discussed ways to build quality attendance for the April event.

Hy-Vee's Doug Riley, committee co-chair, added, "With everything that we've planned, including the bowling and golf tournaments, targeted industry segment super sessions, supply chain learning centers and a fantastic opening party at Tao Beach, the 2010 show will set the benchmark for future industry conventions."

For information about maximizing your participation at the 2010 show with exhibit space, business suites and sponsorship opportunities, please contact John Toner at 202-303-3400 ext 424 .

Vilsack Announces $234 Million to Promote American Ag Exports

"USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, pictured here at the 2009 Washington Public Policy Conference, announced Wednesday that $234 million was allocated for the promotion of U.S. agricultural products overseas."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that 70 U.S. trade organizations, including multiple United Fresh members, received more than $234 million in FY2009 to help promote American food and agricultural products overseas.

"Agricultural trade is absolutely crucial to the U.S. economy and by providing this funding to U.S. organizations during these difficult economic times will help open new global markets for American food products," the secretary said.

The funding was allocated under the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Cooperator Program, both administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

For a full list of organizations receiving funding, please click here and for more about FAS' market development programs, contact the USDA’s Office of Trade Programs at (202) 720-4327, or click here.

Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group to Meet in D.C. Area Next Week

Over 80 fresh produce stakeholders have signed on for the first meeting of the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group (TWG) next week in Herndon, Va.

According to United Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas, the objective of the TWG is to develop a harmonized audit standard for produce Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in North America, building from the commonality of many existing GAP audits.

Instructions to the working group come from the September meeting of the initiative’s steering committee, comprised of over 30 produce business leaders, all of whom have expressed concern that the multitude of audit standards has become a burden to the industry.

"Other groups have tried to develop harmonized GAP standards before, but with limited success," said Dr. Gombas. "This is the first effort we know of that brings so many different interests to the table, including stakeholders in as many different produce commodities, growing regions, size operations, and growing practices as are willing to participate in the common goal of one audit by any credible third party that can be acceptable to all buyers."

To register for next weeks meeting of the TWG, please email United's Erin Grether and for more information about the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative or the TWG, contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.

New York's, Philadelphia's Hungry Walk Away Winners After Yankees Take World Series Title

As part of the fulfillment of a wager on the World Series, the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market made good on its promise of one truckload - over 10 tons - of fresh produce for the Food Bank for New York City this Tuesday. A Philadelphia truck decorated in Yankees regalia made its way from its home market north to Hunts Point Terminal Market Tuesday morning, complete with Yankee-clad employees who offloaded the truck.

Philly Makes Good
Left to right: John Vena, owner, John Vena, Inc., and board member, Philadelphia Regional Produce Market and United Fresh Wholesaler-Distributor Market Segment Board; Dan Kane, assistant manager, Philadelphia Regional Produce Market; Chickie Curtin, driver, Quaker City Produce, Co.; Tyrone Stubbs, employee, Quaker City Produce, Co. Photo courtesy Sue B. Photography."

According to the bet, the winning city's food bank was to receive one full truckload of produce from the losing city's produce market, however while New York may have captured bragging rights, needy families in both cities benefitted from the wager in the end. Sonny Di Crecchio, executive director of Philadelphia Regional Produce Market and Matthew D' Arrigo, co-president of the Hunts Point Terminal Market and chairman of United's Wholesaler-Distributor Market Segment Board arranged for Philadelphia-area food bank Philabundance to receive a truckload of produce from Hunts Point as well.

United Takes Food Safety Message to Pacific Northwest

United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas provided an update on produce food safety during last week's 29th Annual Northwest Food Safety and Sanitation Workshop in Portland, Ore.

Immediately following the event, Dr. Gombas spoke before the inaugural Northwest Organic Food Safety Summit, discussing the Produce Traceability Initiative and the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative. Dr. Gombas also talked with the group about the microbiological challenges facing the fresh produce industry. 

Referring to a soon-to-be published white paper on microbiology developed by the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council, Dr. Gombas said, "Few rapid methods developed for testing of meats and other foods have been validated for produce and there are unique features to fresh produce that can lead to false results."

He also cautioned the attendees that they cannot test their way to safety, and that properly designed, microbiological testing may be able to help find and eliminate gross contamination when it occurs, but following a well designed food safety plan will always be more reliable than a negative test result.

For more information on United's food safety efforts and work toward audit harmonization, contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.

Member Relations Task Force Holds First Meeting of 2010 Campaign at H-E-B Produce Distribution Center

H-E-B Produce Distribution Center
"Several members of United Fresh Member Relations Task Force explore pumpkin displays before a tour of H-E-B's Alon Market in San Antonio, Texas."

Twenty-one members of the 2010 United Fresh Member Relations Task Force helped the group to kick off its annual campaign last week with a meeting at H-E-B Produce Distribution Center in San Antonio, Texas.  Led by co-chairs Roger Harkrider, director of produce for H-E-B, and Steve Ottum, chief operating officer for Potandon Produce, LLC, the group discussed ways to maximize member value and participation, as well as increase member recruitment and retention.

United Fresh Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman noted, "We extend special thanks to all the members who serve in this important volunteer leadership effort.  This diverse group of leaders will play a significant role in helping us identify even more ways we can deliver unparalleled business opportunities to our members."

For more information about the Member Relations Task Force or other United Fresh member services, contact Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2010 Supporters

United's Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas that help to grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the 2010 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • Capital City Fruit Company, Inc., Norwalk, Iowa
  • Danaco Solutions, Highland Park, Ill.
  • G.O. Fresh, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Heartland Produce, Kenosha, Wisc.
  • Nonpareil Corporation, Blackfoot, Idaho
  • North Bay Produce, Inc., Traverse City, Mich.
  • The Nunes Company, Salinas, Calif.
  • Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore.

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 Fresh'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 United Fresh Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

New Member Welcome

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

  • C & E Farms, Cheriton, Va.
  • Yerecic Label, New Kensington, Pa.
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

Ohio women take reins of agricultural enterprises

Gillibrand calls for safer food nationwide

In Oregon, stable farm labor seems elusive in global economy

Climate bill likely on the shelf for rest of the year

California's Miller wants school-lunch E. coli investigation from GAO


India moves to curb food advertising

UK supermarkets targeted for stocking Israeli goods

Vietnamese lawmakers focus on food safety

Canadian scientists expand program to bar-code DNA of world's plants and animals

Lebanese politicians' squabbles lead to poisonous produce

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