January 14, 2010

In Today's Issue:

Industry Icon, Past United Leader Bob Strube Sr. Passes Away
Bob Strube Sr., one of the pillars of the fresh produce industry, passed away today at the age of 91.

"The industry truly lost a giant today," said United President Tom Stenzel. "Bob's can-do, never-give-up attitude helped build both a family and a company that reflect the very best values of our produce industry. He let it be known that he lived by several mottos – "Work is a blessing," and the self-reliant creed "If it is to be, it is up to me."

Mr. Strube received the Packer's Produce Man of the Year Award in 1976, and was followed by his daughter Jan and son-in-law Tim Fleming Sr. who shared the same honor in 2002. In 1978, Mr. Strube helped found the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing helping 500,000 adults and children annually through a network of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Founded in 1913 by Fred Strube, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company holds the oldest PACA license in the Chicago area and is still owned and managed by the founding family. Information regarding memorial services is not yet available.

United Fresh Holds Town Hall Meeting in Philadelphia

Companies from all segments of the produce industry gathered at a United Fresh town hall luncheon meeting yesterday at the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market.

Members Todd Penza of Pinto Brothers and John Vena of John Vena, Inc. hosted 40 industry guests as well as United staff members Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, Claudia Wenzing, vice president of business development and Miriam Miller, director of membership.  

Topics of discussion included food safety, traceability, transportation and an update on federal nutrition programs. Vena also provided an update on the status of the new Philadelphia Regional Produce Market facility, which is scheduled to open in Fall 2010. 

"These events provide a great opportunity to visit and network with United Fresh members and the industry." said Miller. "The town hall meetings provide an excellent forum for United Fresh to gain valuable feedback on industry issues, as well as showcase our efforts to expand federal nutrition programs, our leadership on critical food safety legislation and regulation and the industry-wide move to whole-chain produce traceability."

For more information on upcoming town hall meetings, contact Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

Nominations Being Accepted for United Fresh Market Segment Boards

United Fresh Grower-Shipper Market Segment Board Chairman Al Vangelos (left) addresses attendees a meeting of the board at September's Washington Public Policy Conference.

Nominations are now being accepted for open positions on each of United's four Market Segment Boards: Grower-Shipper, Fresh-Cut Processor, Wholesaler-Distributor and Retail-Foodservice. New board members will be announced and inducted at United Fresh 2010, April 20-23 in Las Vegas, Nev. Please click on the board of interest to see our current board members.

United's Market Segment Boards include a broad pool of talent from each business segment of the produce supply chain.  Boards are empowered to identify, discuss and advance issues of importance within their market sector to ensure United Fresh is meeting specific business needs, addressing critical issues and implementing programs that deliver member value to each market segment. United Fresh Market Segment Boards provide a strong voice for each sector of the supply chain, so that together we can develop a United industry voice for all. 

Each board has 20 members predominately representing companies from their respective business sectors, as well as supplier and allied association members that work closely within a specific segment.  Terms of service for board members are two years. The boards meet twice a year in person and conduct additional business by phone and web conference.

In addition to the four Market Segment Boards, United's volunteer leadership also includes several cross-cutting Expert Advisory Councils, each addressing a core business area within our industry. They include: Global Advisory Council, Government Relations Council, Food Safety & Technology Council, Supply Chain Council, and Nutrition & Health Council. The five expert advisory councils are vertically integrated, including members from all sectors of the industry, in order to address common issues and challenges. We also invite industry members to consider volunteering for service on one of these expert councils. 

All volunteers will be reviewed by the Nominating Committee for consideration, which will present the final slate of nominees for each board to the membership for election later this spring. Those interested in consideration by the Nominating Committee for service on one of these boards may contact Victoria Backer by Monday, January 18, at 202-303-3400, ext. 408.  

Demo Centers to Be a Focal Point at United Fresh 2010

Exhibitors interact with attendees in the Traceability Demo Center during United Fresh 2009 in Las Vegas.

This spring, United Fresh will feature a showcase of the latest in food safety technology and practices at United Fresh 2010, April 20-23 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The new Food Safety and Research Demo Center will join last year’s successful Traceability Demo Center (expanded this year to include logistics and other supply chain solutions) on the United Fresh 2010 show floor.

As the produce industry’s only dedicated exhibit area focused exclusively on food safety solutions for all points in the fresh and fresh-cut produce supply chain, the Food Safety and Research Demo Center will help attendees answer pressing questions in this all-important industry field.

"Given the importance of food safety within the fresh produce industry, the Food Safety and Research Demo Center became a must at this year's show," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology. "Visitors to the center will be able to learn about advances in best practices, audit harmonization, pending legislation and more, all in one stop."

The vision for the Food Safety and Research Demo Center would not have been possible had it not been for the level of success enjoyed by its traceability counterpart at last year’s United Fresh show.

"We had such a resounding turnout and reception at last year’s center that its return in 2010 was a natural decision," said United Fresh Vice President of Supply Chain Logistics Dan Vaché. "With the progress that the industry is making on traceability, including the fulfillment of the first three milestones of the Produce Traceability Initiative, we have seen a tangible need for the solutions provided in the demo center and we look forward to what 2010 has in store."

To cater to exhibitors and facilitate interaction with attendees, United Fresh has opened up table-top displays in each Demo Center.

"Companies may choose to staff these displays in order to talk with attendees visiting the Demo Centers or use these displays for materials only and include signage directing attendees to their larger exhibit booths," said Jill Grigg, United's convention services coordinator. "The table tops are specially-designed to work well for consultants, universities and agencies wanting to display marketing and educational materials."

The Demo Centers are a key part of United Fresh 2010's theme of 'Winning is Everything.' United Fresh 2010 looks to highlight the skills, products and technologies needed to build and maintain a successful, winning produce business, focusing on specialized programming for all segments of the fresh and fresh-cut produce industry.

Other new features at United Fresh 2010 include a Food Safety & Research Pavilion showcasing food safety solutions for growers and retailers and the Global Conference on Produce Sustainability, hosted immediately following United Fresh 2010 by United’s new Center for Global Produce Sustainability.

For more information on the Demo Centers, please contact Jill Grigg at 202-303-3400 ext. 405, or to register for United Fresh 2010, visit www.unitedfresh.org.  

Food Safety Draws Crowds at Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference

Capacity crowds packed last week's Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Ga., and payed special attention to the event's Food Safety Conference on Friday, in which United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas briefed the audience on pending legislative activities, traceability and recall preparation and the Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative.

Following the presentation, David joined L&M Companies' Adam Lytch in a special Product Recall Crisis Management Forum.

"The recall that L&M went through earlier this year is a prime example that companies don't have to do anything wrong to get caught up in a product recall," said Dr. Gombas.  "I'm glad to be sitting here with Adam, because that means L&M Companies was prepared for the recall and survived it.  Too many food companies that think 'it will never happen to me,' are shocked when it does and don’t have the tools to get through it."

Dr. Gombas went on to tell conference attendees that anyone who sells produce is potentially vulnerable to being involved in a recall and urged companies to get training and practice their recall plan to be safe.

For more on the conference, please click here.

Early Registration Deadline Approaching for Produce Executive Development Program

This Friday is the final day to capitalize on early registration discounts for the 2010 United Fresh Produce Executive Development Program.

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

This five-day course, March 14-19, takes executives through a unique learning experience characterized by 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, giving the attendee a more agile executive to effectively lead into the new year and beyond.

Tuition for the program includes five nights lodging at the Statler Hotel, all classroom sessions and materials, tours, lunches, several special dinners, completion certificate and group photo. For more information, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.

United Fresh Volunteer Leadership Gears up for Winter Meetings

Next week, the members of United’s Board of Directors, Market Segment Boards, Expert Advisory Councils, committees and task forces, as well as United Fresh staff will gather in Palm Springs, Calif. for the association’s annual Winter Leadership Meetings.

Check back with Inside United Fresh next week for a full recap of the meetings.

Here's Your Chance to See Top Las Vegas Shows for Free at United Fresh 2010!

Starting this Friday, United Fresh 2010 attendees have the unique opportunity to not only experience the best trade show in Las Vegas, but also enjoy the best entertainment in town as well! Las Vegas boasts world-class shows and entertainers and only United Fresh 2010 attendees can win top show tickets for FREE!

Register now for United Fresh 2010 you’ll be automatically entered for United's weekly Show-A-Week Giveaway. We’re talking about world-class, fabulous Vegas entertainment – for FREE, courtesy of United Fresh 2010. We're so excited we can hardly stand it.

Here’s the deal: Every Friday, United Fresh will draw one lucky winner from all United Fresh 2010 registered attendees to receive two tickets to a Las Vegas show during United Fresh 2010, April 20-23. Each week the list will be updated with the most current registrants, so the sooner you register for United Fresh 2010, the greater your chances to win! Show-A-Week Giveaway tickets will include: The Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, and more!

This week's Show-A-Week Giveaway: Viva Elvis - Cirque du Soleil

Registered attendees must be paid in full to be eligible for Show-A-Week Giveaway. Attendees may win only once. Tickets will be valid for shows on April 20 and April 21, 2010.

United Fresh 2010 is the most innovative, cost-effective and business-oriented event in the produce industry. This year, we’re back in Las Vegas with a new educational program and trade show format designed specifically to serve each segment of the produce industry. 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. Register now to join the winners attending United Fresh 2010.

United Fresh 2010 Show-A-Week Giveaway is sponsored by:

United Fresh Efforts Featured Prominently in Packer's 2009 Year in Produce

After a busy 2009, the editorial staff of The Packer took a look back last week at the 10 biggest stories of the year in the produce industry. The industry publication's "Year in Produce" edition featured the work of United Fresh in four of the top 10 stories, including a feature on United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra’s work on child nutrition initiatives (#5), as well as stories on pending food safety legislation (#2), traceability (#3) and labor issues (#10).

The issue details United’s continuing efforts toward the inclusion of more fresh fruits and vegetables in school breakfast and lunch, and in the national expansion of WIC vouchers for produce. Both efforts made considerable headway in 2009.

"We've waited a long time for this," said Dr. DiSogra in the article. "It's a huge win for fruits and vegetables because we're finally part of the package."

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:

  • Apio, Inc., Guadalupe, Calif.
  • L & M Companies, Raleigh, N.C.
  • State Garden, Inc., Chelsea, Mass.

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:

  • Diagraph, An ITW Company, St. Charles, Mo.
  • TrueTrac, LLC, Salinas, Calif.
  • USA Fresh, LLC, Lucas, Ohio

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

Food forecasters predict taste trends for 2010 (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Some in California say food safety regulations may threaten wildlife (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Pennsylvania’s Sestak to introduce bill on food-recall notification (Delaware County Daily Times)

Oklahoma State helps plan Market Gardening School (Stillwater News-Press)

Hawaiian farmers swap seeds, knowledge (Big Island Weekly)


Irish Farmers’ Association chief to take on retailers in food price war (Irish Independent)

Vietnamese official addresses rumor of unsafe Chinese fruit (Saigon Giai Phong)

U.S. tells Afghans to grow grapes not opium poppy (New York Times)

USDA gives final OK for Peruvian avocado imports (McClatchy Washington Bureau)

Kenyan agricultural secretary appeals for more international assistance (Voice of America)

Tell a Friend About Inside United Fresh, or tell us how we can make it better.