January 7, 2010

In Today's Issue:

Take Action – Ask Your Member of Congress to Support the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) enjoys a salad from United's school salad bar on display during September's Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill.

Shortly before Congress adjourned for the holiday season, Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA) and Adam Putnam (R-FL) introduced the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009 (H.R. 4333).  Now, it's critical to build broad bipartisan congressional support for this bill. Please contact your member of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4333, the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009.

This bill will create a national salad bar policy and increase the amount and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals --- improving children's health and providing new sales opportunities for years to come.  Imagine if 31 million students in 100,000 schools nation-wide had access to a salad bar in their school cafeteria every day!   

United Fresh Produce Association has collaborated with Congressmen Farr and Putnam for the last year to develop this bill and we urge our members and partners to help us build support for H.R. 4333 by contacting their member of Congress and asking them to co-sponsor the legislation.  

"We've made this easy. In two minutes, you can send a letter directly to your member of Congress. Just fill in your zip code, name and address," said United's Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra.   "Our goal is to have provisions of HR 4333 included in the Child Nutrition Act, which will be reauthorized by Congress early in 2010. But, in order to have our fruit and vegetable priorities noticed, we need significant Congressional support."

HR 4333 currently has 18 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. For more information, contact United Policy and Grassroots Coordinator Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400 ext. 407.

National Salad Bar Experts to Address United Fresh Winter Leadership Meeting

As Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) looks on, Dr. Esperanza Zendejas of the Alisal Union School District addresses congressional staffers during United's congressional briefings last month.

Two of the national experts on the effectiveness of school salad bars will bring their impassioned message to Palm Springs, Calif., later this month for the annual United Fresh winter leadership meetings.  Dr. Wendy Slusser, medical director of the FIT for Healthy Weight program at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital in Los Angeles and Dr. Esperanza Zendejas, superintendent of the Alisal Union School District in Salinas, Calif., will speak at a special educational session: A Salad Bar in Every School: Benefits to Students, Schools and the Produce Industry.  Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition, will moderate the interactive session which will also include participation by produce industry leaders already engaged and committed to expanding school salad bars.

Drs. Slusser and Zendejas spoke at congressional briefings on Capitol Hill last month as part of United’s support for the introduction of the Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009 (H.R. 4333). H.R. 4333 encourages the use of school salad bars as an evidence-based strategy for increasing the children’s fruit and vegetable consumption and includes many of the recommendations for improving school meals made by the Institute of Medicine.

"Drs. Slusser and Zendejas speak to the positive effects of school salad bars with such passion; they will inspire our members to understand the benefits and power of salad bars," said Dr. DiSogra. "Our goal is that produce industry leaders will leave this session committed and ready to engage in helping United Fresh reach the goal of a salad bar in every school."

For more information, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

2010 Brings Full Plate to the Congressional Calendar

As the New Year begins in Washington, the produce industry will have a full agenda to deal with when Congress returns officially next week.  Food safety legislation, child nutrition reauthorization and possibly comprehensive immigration reform, as well as climate change, health care, a possible transportation reauthorization and the looming prospect of card-check all may find their way onto the congressional table in the coming year.

In addition, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) announced that he may begin hearings on the next Farm Bill reauthorization, which will be the first opportunity to expand on the efforts of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.

"As we look forward to this year, United's government relations team will be working around the clock to make sure that our member's issues are fully addressed in many of these legislative priorities," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh.

In terms of priority, Congress is expected to first finish up health care reform and then tackle the economic issues that are affecting the country.

"We want to make sure that as Congress looks at the economic issues we currently face, that we are particularly concerned that they take into account the importance and diversity of the produce industry from field to table," added Guenther.

Estate Tax Relief Hits Snag in Senate

Efforts to provide estate tax relief have been bogged down in the Senate after passage in the House.  The measure, included in the House as part of a larger bill to raise the statutory debt limit, has seen increased complications in the Senate due to a so-called "pay-go" amendment.

"Pay-go" rules demand that the estate tax relief be offset by an alternate source of revenue.  The House had no similar restriction in its bill.  If the Senate is unable to accept the House’s version, it would stall that relief indefinitely.  United Fresh has joined with a coalition of agricultural interests in strongly supporting this necessary relief for fruit and vegetable producers.

For more information on estate tax relief and its implications, please contact United Fresh Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs Kam Quarles at 202-303-3400 ext. 427.

USDA Names New Appointees to Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee

This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the 25 new members of the department’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. Immediate past chairman for United Fresh Tom Lovelace is among the individuals representing the industry in the new appointments. United Fresh helped to found and serve on the original committee in 2001 under then-Secretary Ann Veneman.

The committee serves as a venue for United Fresh and the greater produce industry to have input through useful dialogue with USDA.

"As part of the original organization of the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and having worked closely with USDA for many years, United Fresh is very pleased that USDA is continuing this great opportunity for the industry to provide feedback directly to the federal government," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. "Congratulations to all the new appointees."

Rio Grande Valley to Host Third Meeting of Technical Working Group

The third meeting of the Good Agricultural Practices Harmonization Technical Working Group (TWG) will be held at the Texas Agrilife Extension Center in Weslaco, February 17 and 18. Hosting the meeting will be Dr. Juan Anciso, associate professor and extension vegetable specialist at Texas A&M University.  

TWG Chairman Suresh DeCosta, manager of quality systems, U.S. supply chain management for McDonald's Corporation and Dr. David Gombas, United's senior vice president of food safety and technology look for the meeting to continue and focus the group's efforts to establish common, harmonized audit standards.

"We hope to use the matrix develop by group two to evaluate the remaining audit categories identified by the TWG," said DeCosta.

The purpose of the TWG meetings is to bring together a wide variety of produce stakeholders to harmonize technical food safety standards, and the group is open to all produce industry stakeholders. 

A special lodging rate is available for attendees at the Embassy Suites in nearby McAllen through the group code "TAE," and reservations can be made by clicking here. Texas Agrilife Extension Center will be providing shuttle transportation services to the meetings. For more information, or to get involved with the standardization process, please contact United Fresh Government Relations Assistant Erin Grether at 202-303-3400 ext. 402. 

Upcoming TWG meetings and locations:

  • March 10-11, Taco Bell, Irvine, Calif.
  • April 7-8, Darden, Orlando, Fla.
  • April 19, The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nev., (joint meeting with the Steering Committee)
  • May TBD, US Foodservice, Rosemont, Ill.

New Product Awards Highlight Innovation, Ingenuity at United Fresh 2010

Attendees judge New Product Award entries in the United membership booth during United Fresh 2009.

The best and brightest products and processes will be recognized this spring in Las Vegas with the 2010 United Fresh New Product Awards. New and improved products stimulate the growth and profitability of our industry and the New Product Awards honor the results of years of research and development, ingenuity and foresight of companies bringing innovation to the marketplace.

All United Fresh 2010 exhibitors are eligible to submit products for the awards competition. Entries will be judged in the following six categories:

Best New Packaging
Best New Food Safety Solution
Best New Processing Equipment
Best New Fruit Product
Best New Packing/Packaging Equipment
Best New Vegetable Product

Based on the number of entries, up to three finalists in each category will be chosen for display in the United Fresh Membership Booth on the show floor, where they will be judged by all attendees throughout the show. Winners will be determined by total votes received and announced on Thursday afternoon, April 22. Following the announcement, United Fresh will promote extensive media coverage for the winning products and companies.

Last year's winners include:

Best New Packaging: Air-O-Films Ventilated Pallet Wrap, West Coast Supplies
Best New Processing Equipment: Broccoli Floret Machine, Charlie’s Machine & Supply
Best New Packing/Packaging Equipment: Genius Optical Sorter, Best Sorting
Best New Food Safety Solution: Ultra Wireless Label, PakSense
Best New Fruit or Vegetable Product: Chiquita Pineapple Bites, Chiquita

New products, processes or machines placed on the market or scheduled to be placed on the market between May 1, 2009 and November 1, 2010 may be entered and entries must be submitted to United Fresh no later than March 1, 2010. Entries should include a detailed product description including photos, brochures and samples if available. For more information, please contact United Fresh Convention Services Coordinator Jill Grigg at 202-303-3400 ext. 420.

United Fresh to Hold Town Hall Meeting at Philadelphia Regional Produce Market

United Fresh Government Relations Committee Chairman Barry Bedwell addresses attendees at a town hall meeting in Visalia, Calif., last year.

United Fresh invites the industry to take part in a Town Hall Luncheon at the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market on Wednesday, January 13 at 11:30 a.m.  The event will provide a forum for the industry to discuss food safety, traceability and cold-chain management issues, as well as opportunities to grow produce sales through federal nutrition programs.

"Our town hall meetings have been an effective way to provide a two-way dialogue on topics important to our members locally and nationwide," said Jeff Oberman, vice president of membership for United Fresh. "United Fresh looks forward to offering additional town hall meetings throughout 2010."

There is no registration fee to attend and a reservation form may be downloaded here. For more information about the January 13 meeting, or for questions about upcoming town hall meetings, please contact Miriam Miller, director of membership, at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

Spots Still Available for United’s 2010 Produce Executive Development Program

The 2010 United Fresh Produce Executive Development Program still has spots available for produce executives looking to broaden their leadership portfolios.

Developed in partnership with Cornell University, this program is the premier forum for produce industry leaders to sharpen their executive business skills, master the expertise to navigate economic challenges and learn stragegic tools to advance their companies.

This five-day course, March 14-19, takes executives through a unique learning experience that includes cutting-edge theory, industry best practices and thought-provoking discussions about critical business issues affecting the global produce industry, such as Negotiation & Conflict Resolution, Leading Through Change, Financial Planning, and Understanding the Global Food Industry.

Tuition for the five-day Produce Executive Development Program includes five nights lodging at the Statler Hotel, all classroom sessions and materials, tours, lunches, several special dinners, completion certificate and group photo. Those who register before January 15 will receive a substantial discount. For more information, contact Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.

United to Host Tour, Reception During FRESHCONEX Berlin


United Fresh members and friends attending the FRESHCONEX expo in Berlin are invited to join United Fresh for a tour of leading supermarket retailers ALDI Discount, METRO Cash + Carry and LIDL Discount. The February 2 outing will explore different produce formats and better understand the impact of discount strategy in the competitive German market.

In addition, between store visits the group will tour major Berlin highlights including the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Wall, Reichstag and Siegessäule.  

Following the tour, all participants are invited to United's Member Welcome Reception at the Berlin Marriott Hotel, the United Fresh headquarters hotel for Fruit Logistica.  Special thanks to United fresh-cut processor member Fresh Factory, Hamburg, for sponsoring the Berlin tour and welcome reception.

In addition to the tour and welcome reception, United Fresh will host its own booth in Hall 1.1 of the FRESHCONEX expo, and will again partner with Market Intelligence, publisher of Eurofruit Magazine, to deliver daily educational sessions in the FRESHCONEX Business Forums.  The Business Forums offer information on cutting-edge innovations in fresh-cut convenience from industry leaders from around the world.  And on Thursday evening February 4, United will continue its tradition of hosting a Global Reception at the trade fair for members, visitors and guests in the United Fresh booth.

Registration for the Berlin Retail/City Tour is limited to the first 25 participants, on a first-come, first served basis.  Registration is $100 for United Fresh members and $200 for non-members. For more information on these activities, contact Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services at +1-202-303-3400.

United Adds Government Relations Staffer

United Fresh Government Relations Assistant Erin Grether (far left) and members of the GAPs Harmonization Technical Working Group in Oak Brook, Ill., last month.

United Fresh is pleased to welcome Erin Grether to the full-time staff as government relations assistant. Grether will be making the transition to her new duties from her summer and fall internship with United. She is a native of Ventura County, Calif. and a graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.

The daughter of a lemon and avocado grower, Grether has been directly involved in the farming and agriculture industry for more than 20 years. Her family has more than 100 acres of fruit trees, growing for the Sunkist Packing House in Oxnard, Calif. Avid horse lovers, the Grether family operates a full equestrian facility next to the ranch where they breed racehorses.

Grether coordinates attendance of the monthly GAP Harmonization Technical Working Group meetings, and she serves as a key member of the support team for United's government relations and food safety efforts.

Grether can be reached at 202-303-3400 ext. 402, or at egrether@unitedfresh.org.

United Fresh Members Renew at Record Pace

Members who have not yet renewed their membership are encouraged to do so. A membership invoice has been sent to each member by mail, but alternatively, members may renew online, or by contacting Miriam Miller, United Fresh director of membership, at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

United Fresh thanks those members who have made their renewal commitments this year, and all members for their continued support of the association and the produce industry.

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:

  • Cabbage, Inc., Westlake, Ohio

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.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Limoniera Company, Santa Paula, Calif.

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

North Florida strawberry farmers take measures to protect their crops

Food prices may increase as economic rebound begins

Food trends for 2010 point to healthful eating, continued thrift

Salinas Valley ag pinched pennies in '09

Agriculture offsets may lead to land shift, food shortage


Indonesia proposes delay in free trade agreement to ASEAN Council

DEFRA warns Britain must produce more food

Taiwan FDA officially becomes operational

Vietnam fruit and vegetable exports far from meeting demand

Swiss help put Palestinian produce on the table

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