December 10, 2009

In Today's Issue:


United Fresh 2010 Returns to Las Vegas; Registration Now Open

United Fresh 2010

Focused on the theme 'Winning Is Everything,' United Fresh 2010 returns to the Palazzo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., April 20-23, with a new educational program and trade show format designed specifically to serve each segment of the produce business.  United Fresh 2010 will bring attendees face to face with the experts, tools and technologies, and new products needed to build a winning business at each stage of the produce supply chain. 

"'Winning Is Everything' embodies the unmatched competitive drive of our grower-shippers, wholesalers, fresh-cut processors, retailers and foodservice companies in our quest to bring better products and service to consumers and thus increase sales and profitability," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel.  "United Fresh 2010 is the first produce convention designed to equip each segment of our industry with the expertise to succeed, paving the way for growth as we emerge from a challenging economic climate." 

"United continues to set the bar for produce convention innovation," said Doug Riley, assistant vice president of produce operations for Hy-Vee, who, along with David Dever, president and CEO of Pandol Brothers, chairs the United Fresh 2010 Convention Host Committee. “Attendees are sure to be excited about the many new programs and features for the April convention.”

This year's trade show includes five different destination areas concentrated on specific business needs:

  • FreshTech, the industry's only expo focused on the fresh-cut, value-added market and all the tools and technologies needed for an efficient and profitable supply chain
  • FreshMarketplace, our traditional expo featuring marketers of fresh produce and services for the wholesale, retail and foodservice trade
  • Business Suites, the most rapidly growing segment of the show where buyers and sellers can enjoy private hospitality, business planning sessions and their own comfortable "home base" on the show floor
  • Food Safety Demo Center, an expanded destination area offering the industry's only expo showcasing food safety solutions for the entire produce supply chain
  • Traceability and Logistics Demo Center, first pioneered by United last year, now expanded to include supply chain logistics and transportation solutions

"Education and business networking will share top billing with the trade show at United Fresh 2010, where powerful new programs will enhance the ability of each market segment to tackle its specific challenges coming out of the recession," Stenzel said. 

New for 2010 is the Global Conference on Produce Sustainability, a post-show conference focused on sustainability issues in the produce industry from farm to consumer.  Learn what retailers and foodservice companies are expecting from suppliers; learn what suppliers can do to make sustainability a positive investment in their own company and learn what government may say about standards and regulations to come.  The conference is presented by the United Foundation’s Center for Global Produce Sustainability, formed earlier this year by a founding education grant from Bayer CropScience.

"By dedicating so much of the convention to hands-on solutions on the trade show floor, combined with face-to-face industry dialogue at every turn, we are creating the most interactive show in our history," Stenzel said.  "I believe members and attendees from around the world are in for a very special event in Las Vegas this April.  If individuals want to take their place as winners in the new economy ahead, United Fresh 2010 is the place to be."

For more information and to register online, please visit www.unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3400.


Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to Keynote United Fresh 2010

Bush

Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, son of the 41st president of the United States and brother of the 43rd, will give the keynote address April 20 during United Fresh 2010.

Governor Bush's address, "Leading in a Climate of Change," will explore how to manage through change, with an inspirational view of how to achieve success when surrounded by doubters saying things can't be done.

The governor's address will help launch United Fresh 2010's theme of 'Winning Is Everything,' which showcases the expertise, skills, tools and technologies needed to succeed in each segment of the produce business.

"As governor, Mr. Bush had a track record of success in the face of economic and political uncertainty," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Attendees at this year's show will benefit greatly from the governor's message of progress and prosperity as we emerge from our recent economic issues."

A still-rising star in one of the most powerful families in American politics, Bush was an innovative two-term leader of one of the nation's fastest-growing, most diverse and powerful agricultural states, forging progress in education, business development, tourism and agriculture despite being buffeted by pressures in the economy, environmental needs and the state's rapid population growth throughout his tenure.

Today, Bush heads the Foundation for Educational Excellence, working to reinvent public education in the United States for future global competitiveness.


United Fresh 2010 Targets Each Segment of Produce Industry

United Fresh 2010Many of the most popular elements of the United Fresh Produce Association's annual convention will be tailored specifically to the needs of the industry's four market segments: Grower-Shipper, Wholesaler-Distributor, Fresh-Cut Processor, and Retail-Foodservice. With this unique program schedule, United Fresh 2010, April 20-23 at the Palazzo Resort and Casino at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev., will be the first convention specially designed for each segment of the fresh produce industry.

This innovative convention programming is being designed with input from United's Market Segment Boards, which represent the four industry areas. The boards are playing a key role in planning to ensure that every speaker, session and learning opportunity is fine-tuned to the specific needs of that industry segment. What's more, this innovative schedule will allow industry members at United Fresh 2010 to make best use of their time by focusing on the events that benefit them most.

"Ours is an increasingly specialized industry and to succeed, you must understand your customers, your suppliers and your competition," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "This market segment approach allows us to provide the highest value of education and networking to industry members, designed by and for each market segment itself. No one knows what it takes to win better than those involved on the ground level of each specific industry segment, so this approach will definitely help optimize the attendee experience."

To illustrate the targeted convention program philosophy, United developed four market segment icons that resemble mobile phone applications or "apps." The app icons will be used extensively in printed materials, signs online and onsite to help industry members easily plan their convention agenda and identify their favorite market segment event. 

"We believe the mobile phone app icons are a natural way to communicate the specialization and targeted education we've built into United Fresh 2010," added Stenzel. "Each convention attendee can choose that app that's right for their business needs."

Included in each area's programming will be specialized Learning Centers featuring expert consultants and leaders from that aspect of the industry. Each segment will also feature an educational Super Session and a networking breakfast specially designed to encourage an exchange of ideas and information.

Immediately following the United Fresh 2010 convention, industry members are invited to participate in the post-show Global Conference on Produce Sustainability, presented by the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation through its new Center for Global Produce Sustainability.

There are a variety of registration options for all industry members, and registrations submitted before March 22 receive a $100 discount. For more information or to register, log on to www.unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3400.


Advocate Group Takes Salad Bar Message From Capitol Hill to USDA

Lazarus Meeting
From left, United's Robert Guenther, Elsie Whitlow Stokes' Linda Moore, Dr. Harvinder Sareen of WellPoint, Troy Phillips from the office of Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), UDSA Special Assistant David Lazarus, Dr. Wendy Slusser of UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, Alisal Union School District’s Dr. Esperanza Zendejas and United’s Dr. Lorelei DiSogra discussss the impact of salad bars in schools during a meeting at USDA December 4.

After presenting last week at United's congressional salad bar briefings and meeting with their elected officials on Capitol Hill, United's top salad bar advocates knew there was still work to be done.       

The group, comprised of Dr. Wendy Slusser, medical director for the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight Program, Harvinder Sareen, Ph.D., director of clinical programs at WellPoint Inc.,  Esperanza Zendejas, Ed.D., superintendent of the Alisal Union School District in Salinas, Calif., and Linda Moore, founder and executive director of D.C.'s Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School stayed in Washington on Friday to meet with high level officials at USDA's Food and Nutrition Service as well as with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's special assistant, David Lazarus. In these meetings, the group presented evidence that school salad/fruit and vegetable bars are an effective strategy to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.  Drs. Slusser and Sareen presented the positive findings from their research with several Los Angeles Unified School District schools, while Dr. Zendejas and Moore provided evidence of increased fruit and vegetable consumption due to salad bars in their schools before officials at USDA, the agency responsible for administering child nutrition and school feeding programs.

United Fresh organized these briefings to educate key stakeholders about the Institute of Medicine's recent report recommending increasing the amounts of fruit and vegetables served in school meals, and United's child nutrition priorities for the 2010 Child Nutrition Act, scheduled to be reauthorized by Congress next year.

For more information about United's child nutrition initiatives, please contact Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D., United's vice president of health and nutrition.


United Fresh Launches GAP Harmonization Initiative Web Portal

PEFA WinnersUnited Fresh has established a dedicated web portal to serve as a resource for information on the Produce Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Harmonization Initiative. On the site, industry members will find updates on the progress of the GAPs Harmonization Initiative’s steering committee and technical working group, as well as learn more about the effort to improve food safety and quality assurance across the entire supply chain

Since the initiative's inception in mid-August of this year, a wide cross-section of produce growers, shippers, processors, distributors, foodservice operators, retailers and association representatives have come together to express their support for the effort and join the two committees.

At the September meeting, both buyers and suppliers of produce on the steering committee agreed that for the ultimate outcome to be successful, a harmonized GAP standard must be globally recognized and managed through a credible third-party auditing process, but also must be non-proprietary and available to all producers and others for use in self audits and for improving practices throughout the entire industry. In addition, the standard must clearly be based on the best science available and a risk-based approach that reflects U.S. government public health regulation and guidance.

Under direction established by the steering committee of produce business leaders, a broad technical working group was convened in Northern Virginia in November under the leadership of Suresh DeCosta, McDonald's Corporation, and Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology of United Fresh Produce Association. Open to all participants across the industry willing to join in the effort to develop harmonized GAP standards, the technical working group is intended to be a broadly inclusive group of technical, QA, and food safety experts across the industry, ensuring representation of all points of view in its deliberations. The technical working group is focused on examining similarities and differences in all existing GAP standards in use, with a goal toward identifying specific areas of current alignment, and those areas requiring further work to get to a harmonized approach. Ultimately, the working group will develop a consensus-based harmonized GAP standard for proposal back to the steering committee for review. 

For more information about the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative or to volunteer to serve on the technical working group, please contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.


Gombas Testifies During FDA Traceability Meeting

Gombas
United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology testifies during the FDA's public meeting on traceability December 9

United Fresh Senior Vice President Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas addressed the produce industry's comprehensive efforts toward whole-chain traceability yesterday in front of a panel of FDA and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) officials at the joint agencies public meeting on traceability.

"This industry is committed to developing the effective and timely capability to track the source of our products from retail stores and restaurants back to their original farm source and from any point in the supply chain forward to all other affected products," said Gombas.

Speaking at length about the Produce Traceability Initiative, Dr. Gombas also acknowledged produce traceability's role in the food safety arena.

"As an industry," he said, "we are moving to develop every possible means to find the specific source of a foodborne illness outbreak as quickly as possible, to protect public health, but also to free the rest of the industry from suspicion."

Designed to help FDA and FSIS determine what short and long term steps the two agencies should take to enhance current tracing systems for all foods, the meeting also provided a venue to discuss the core elements of product tracing systems, gaps in current product tracing systems and mechanisms to enhance product tracing systems for food.

For a full transcript of Dr. Gombas' testimony, please click here, and for more on United's efforts toward whole-chain traceability, contact United Fresh Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vaché at 202-303-3400.


Still Time to Complete Produce Traceability Initiative Survey

Members of the produce industry have until Monday, January 4 to complete an online survey launched by United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association. The survey can be found at www.producetraceability.org and is designed to give industry members the opportunity to share feedback on various aspects of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI).

All industry members involved in the produce supply chain - from growers to retailers and foodservice providers - are encouraged to participate in the online survey, which will help the PTI Steering Committee and administering associations assess PTI adoption to date and identify additional support needs

"The associations developed this survey to collect feedback from the industry on PTI implementation," said Dan Vache, vice president of supply chain management at United Fresh. "We can use the data to help the industry meet future PTI milestones and thereby improve traceability across the entire supply chain."

The PTI, administered by Canadian Produce Marketing Association, PMA and United Fresh, is designed to help the industry maximize the effectiveness of current traceback procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of future tracebacks. The PTI Action Plan, released in 2008, includes a series of seven traceability implementation milestones, with the final milestone to be implemented in 2012.

Participation in the survey is anonymous and only aggregated data will be reported. Results from the PTI survey will be reported to the PTI Steering Committee and made publicly available via the PTI Web site within the first quarter of 2010.

For more information on the produce industry's efforts toward whole-chain traceability, log on to www.producetraceability.org.


United Members Provide Input as FDA, APHIS Launch Food Defense Tool

FDA               APHIS

FDA and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have teamed up to launch the Food Defense Tool, a free online resource aimed at helping agricultural producers identify and resolve potential vulnerabilities in their operations.

United Fresh Food Safety and Technology Council Vice Chair Walter Ram of the Giumarra Companies and Council members Gale Prince, formerly of the Kroger Company and Bob Mills of Misionero Produce participated in a focus panel to review the new Food Defense Tool.

"The new food defense tool offered by FDA is a refreshing change from anything offered previously," said Prince. "From my review it is much more user friendly than earlier food defense tools.  It focuses the attention to those areas in your operation where you are most vulnerable, so appropriate corrective actions can be implemented in protecting your brand."

"The FDA has developed a functional prototype Food Defense Tool that can help a grower identify if there is a potential food defense issue with their location," added Mills.

According to the FDA and APHIS, farms of all sizes can benefit from the online resource. Producers are asked a series of questions about each component of their production process and based on the responses, the tool provides scores for those components and specific risk mitigation measures are recommended.  These might include upgrades or enhancements to physical security, process operations, or a change in personnel practices.

"Food defense programs and tools are advancing rapidly and in a form that is becoming directly applicable to the fresh produce industry," said Ram.

For additional information on the tool, please contact Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology at 202-303-3411.


Enforcement Discretion Period Expires on FDA Reportable Food Registry

The 90-day enforcement discretion period for the FDA Reportable Food Registry (RFR) expired this week, meaning FDA will now begin enforcing food companies’ obligations under the new RFR rules.

In September, FDA launched the RFR as an online portal for those in the food industry to report food contamination if there is "a reasonable probability that an article of food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death." 

"The RFR was established by Congress in 2007 in the FDA Amendments Act, and became mandatory for all FDA-regulated foods - including fresh produce - on September 8," said Dr. David Gombas, united fresh senior vice president food safety and technology. "While farms are exempted from requirements under the RFR, packinghouses, processors, warehouses and other facilities required to register with FDA under the Bioterrorism Act are now required, by law, to submit information to the RFR within 24 hours if they find they have received or produced a food ingredient or product that could cause severe health consequences if eaten by humans or animals."

Officials from FDA provided briefings on the RFR to attendees during September's Washington Public Policy Conference, including members of United's Food Safety & Technology Council during a special town hall meeting at the administration's College Park, Md. facility.

For more information on the Reportable Food Registry, please contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400, ext. 411.


EPA Strengthens Powers in Climate Change Regulation

EPAThis week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally announced their intent to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This action, taken in the form of an "endangerment finding" gives the agency the power to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act.

In their announcement, EPA stated that "after a thorough examination of the scientific evidence and careful consideration of public comments, EPA announced ... that GHGs threaten the public health and welfare of the American people. EPA also finds that GHG emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to that threat."

Previously, EPA had not classified GHGs as a danger to human health and therefore took no action under that act, but with this latest announcement, the is now able to act unilaterally to reduce emissions from a variety of sources throughout the U.S. economy.

"This action by EPA puts pressure on Congress to come up with a legislative solution," said United Fresh Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs Kam Quarles. "If EPA moves forward aggressively, the economic impact could be huge.  However, legislation could preempt or constrain EPA's discretion in regulating emission sources, including many that are either on the farm, involved in production of inputs or throughout the agriculture supply chain."

This announcement comes at the beginning of the two-week international climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The impact of EPA's action, coupled with any agreements between world leaders that may arise from the conference, will have an impact on Congress as they consider climate change legislation.

For more on United's work on climate change, please contact Kam Quarles at 202-303-3400 ext. 427.


Gross Vehicle Weight Pilot Moves Forward

Gross Vehicle Weight Pilot

This week, a House/Senate conference committee approved a pilot program that will allow increased gross vehicle truck weights on federal highways in the states of Maine and Vermont.

It is believed that the safety information generated via this pilot program will empower efforts to raise gross vehicle weights nationwide, with the addition of a sixth axle. A coalition of industries, including agriculture, are pushing for these modifications in order to reduce the number of trucks on the road, lower aggregate vehicle emissions and increase economic competitiveness all without sacrificing safety or harming infrastructure. 

The goals and objectives of the coalition are embodied by Rep. Mike Michaud's (D- Maine) Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (H.R. 1799). United Fresh is a strong supporter of those goals. 

The new pilot program was allowed under the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill for 2010.  The conference report, as part of a larger package, will now go to the House and Senate floors for full consideration.


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:

  • Costco Wholesale, Issaquah, Wash.
  • Fox Packaging, McAllen, Texas
  • J & J Distributing Co., St. Paul, Minn.

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

U.S. NEWS:

News and Views

Wholesalers worry that new security checks will spoil food

FTC to hold forum on food marketing to kids

Physicians want Lincoln to push for healthier school meals

Michigan produce farmers to benefit from USDA grant

CDC sets goal to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for Americans

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

United Arab Emirates to have national law on food safety

Farmers protest in Jerusalem against lack of harvesters

Romania to supply fruit and vegetables to Norway, Ukraine and Russia

Shoots of life in Ethiopia's drought-ravaged land

Ontario provincial council throws support behind fruit and veggie growers


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