November 25, 2009

In Today's Issue:

A Thanksgiving Message from United Fresh President Tom Stenzel

CornucopiaTomorrow, those of us in the U.S. will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. As we pack the kids in the car and head to the airport, or put the finishing touches on the house before the family arrives, we take stock of our many blessings. Every year at this time, I am reminded of how lucky we are to do what we do. We are part of the noblest and most wonderful profession in the world – feeding people across the globe with the healthiest foods on the planet.

As representatives of each point in the fresh produce supply chain, those of you who grow, cut, pack, ship, sell or serve fresh fruits and vegetables have worked all year to provide Americans with the foods which their families enjoy this holiday season. I hope you will relax and enjoy yourselves tomorrow and take time to reflect on the important role our industry plays in providing delicious and nutritious foods for Thanksgiving and every day of the year.

The United Fresh family salutes each of you for your accomplishments and ongoing commitment to bringing that amazing bounty from our farms to tables around the world.

Best wishes for a great Thanksgiving holiday.

United to Host Salad Bar Briefing on Capitol Hill Next Week

Salad Bar
Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) enjoys United's school salad bar during the 2009 Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill.

United Fresh will host briefings on Capitol Hill next week to educate key congressional staff on the benefits of school salad bars as a strategy for increasing children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables in school. Briefings will be held in both the House and Senate and will highlight United’s priorities for the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization. The briefings will also serve to educate attendees about Rep. Sam Farr's (D-CA) soon-to-be-introduced Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009. Accompanying United at the briefings will be five nutrition and education experts who will share their personal experiences and research on school salad bars. Check back with Inside United Fresh next week for a full recap of the briefings and for more information, contact United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Technical Working Group Begins Critical Work on Audit Harmonization

More than 60 food safety stakeholders from the produce industry met in Herndon, Va. last week to begin work on one of the most challenging subjects facing the industry today - Can we achieve a single food safety audit standard for pre-farm gate operations?

Participants in the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative's Technical Working Group were briefed on a comparison of standards published by the Canadian Horticultural Council and others in 2007 and 2008, new CanadaGAP standards, the Association of Food and Drug Official's Model Code for Produce Safety, FDA's Guide to Produce Farm Investigations, and the standards for leafy greens that growers must comply with under the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The briefings provided participants with a comprehensive background on the range and extent of food safety standards facing North American growers today.

The participants then divided into breakout groups to begin the harmonization process by looking at existing standards, finding the commonalities, bringing them together and assessing whether and how they would work for all fresh produce commodities, growing regions and size operations.

"This will not be an easy task." said Dr. David Gombas, United's senior vice president of food safety and technology "But, with the wide range of representation we saw at this meeting, an inclusive and transparent process and the backing of the produce business leaders on the Steering Committee, we have a very good chance of success."

The Technical Working Group will convene approximately once a month in order to meet their goal of a standard by October 2010.  The next meeting will be hosted by working group Chair Suresh DeCosta at McDonald's Headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., December 16 and 17.  Please contact Dr. Gombas for more information about the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative, or Erin Grether for additional information about future meetings.

United's Popular Produce Inspection Training Course Returns for 2010

Produce Inspection

United's popular Produce Inspection Training Program is back for three more courses in 2010. These hands-on training sessions are designed to help produce industry receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the fundamentals of the produce inspection process.

Developed by United Fresh in partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), the program will be held February 22-26, June 7-11 and September 20-24, 2010 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, Va.

"This program provides a comprehensive overview of key USDA inspection procedures and standards," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services. "It combines a number of mediums for training such as lab work, classroom lectures, and discussion sessions, which allows participants to become fully engaged on these real-world topics.”

The program is taught by expert USDA trainers and offered in two specialized courses, Fundamentals of Produce Inspection and Commodity Labs. Upon completion of both courses, attendees receive a certificate of recognition from United Fresh and USDA.

"The Fresh Products Branch is pleased to continue training the produce industry through this customized course," said Robert Keeney, Deputy Administrator, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, USDA-AMS. "Not only does this program enable our inspectors to work directly and share knowledge with members of the fresh produce industry, it also allows us to better understand the questions and challenges that face the private sector in their daily business."

The first of the two courses, Fundamentals of Produce Inspection is a prerequisite of the Commodity Labs course and focuses on topics such as inspection essentials, PACA, sampling procedures, and general market principles. The three-day Commodity Labs course takes place in the lab and applies the principals learned in the fundamentals course to real product inspections.  Each Commodity Labs course will include the five most commonly requested commodities: grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes, and will be customized with additional commodities based on the attendees' most common preferences (up to 12 total).

Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-served registration basis. For United Fresh members, the registration fee for the introductory course is $895; the advanced course is $1225. If both courses are taken together, members may register at the discounted rate of $1925. If three or more colleagues from the same United member company register for both courses, each will receive a discounted $1825 registration rate.  For non-members, the prices are $1095, $1425, $2325 and $2225, respectively.  Seminar registration fees include training seminars and all course materials.

Attendees may register for the training seminars on the United Fresh website at or by contacting Julie Jacocks, education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.

CPMA's Preparing for the Produce Traceability Initiative Webinar Next Week, United Members Receive Discounted Rate

United Fresh and CPMA

As part of its continuing traceability webinar series, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association will host Preparing for the Produce Traceability Initiative on December 4 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST. The webinar is designed to assist the supplier community in their efforts to implement the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI).

Questions for discussion include:

  • What are the key requirements for PTI compliance?
  • How will PTI implementation facilitate better recall?
  • What is a GTIN and what do you need to know to create one for your PTI compliant case identification?
  • What are the implications to various shippers including: international shippers, U.S.-based shippers, and Canadian shippers?

Members of United Fresh will receive the special CPMA member rate of $25 CAD. To register, please click here or contact CPMA's Bev Appelby at 613-226-4187, ext. 227.

Goldsmith Brings Sought-After Peer Coaching Talent to United Livecast


United Fresh members are invited to participate in a complimentary livecast featuring one of America's most sought-after executive coaches. As the third presenter in United and Leading Authoritie'’ Executive Education Livecast Series, Marshall Goldsmith will teach participants the latest innovations in peer coaching.  Goldsmith's presentation will answer questions such as how to understand the unique challenges faced by successful people, how to use "what to stop" in personal development and coaching, and how to implement "feet forward" - a positive, focused tool for improvement.  This free livecast will teach you a proven, research-based model for developing yourself and coaching others.

The event is complimentary for United Fresh members and will take place Thursday, December 3 at 12:30 EST..

For more information and to register for this online session, click here.  This is the third of four events in the livecast series; for more information about the full series, click here or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2010 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 2010 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, Calif.
  • Castellini Company, Newport, Ky.
  • CHEP, Orlando, Fla.
  • Dole Food Company, Westlake Village, Calif.
  • Peter Condakes Company, Everett, Mass.
  • River Point Farms, Hermiston, Ore.
  • Sensitech, Beverly, Mass.
  • Sunkist Growers, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

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 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 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

News & Views


News and Views

In California, reclaimed wastewater being touted as viable for growers

FDA issues updated Food Code

Push for climate change legislation loses steam

California food bank reaches out to migrant farm workers

Think about your food, and enjoy


Call to protect food producers in Ireland

With an eye on profit, Filipino food processors adopt global food safety standards

Fruit sold at Beijing supermarkets meets national standards, according to health ministry

Cherry pickers being turned away in New Zealand

Bumper crop of British blueberries sees sales soar

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