January 28, 2010

In Today's Issue:

Congressman Sam Farr Joins United Fresh on D.C.-area Produce Tour

As part of their annual retreat, the California district staff of U.S. Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) joined their Washington counterparts and the congressman himself Tuesday for a tour of several Washington-area produce companies.

Congressman Farr, whose district includes the city of Salinas and the surrounding Monterrey County area, indicated that his staff often sees truckloads of produce leaving their district, but were interested to know more about how produce is transported to restaurants and supermarkets across the country. 

"Tony Vitrano Company's Joe Vitrano (left) leads a tour of the company's stall at the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market in Jessup, Md., for the California and Washington staffs of Congressman Sam Farr (D-Calif.) (right). The tour was organized by the United Fresh Produce Association last week."

As part of the tour, the group visited the nearby Maryland Wholesale Produce Market in Jessup where they met with representatives from Cooseman's and The Tony Vitrano Company. The group then traveled to Safeway's Eastern Division Retail Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. to view their perishable facilities and see how produce is transported to Safeway stores throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

"Congressman Sam Farr, D-Calif. (left), Rose Harrell, Maryland Wholesale Market manager (center) and United Fresh Senior VP of Public Policy Robert Guenther (right), discuss a product during a tour of the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market in Jessup, Md. organized by the United Fresh Produce Association last week."

Just in time for lunch, Congressman Farr and his staff arrived at the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School in Washington to join students and faculty at their salad bar. United Fresh donated the salad bar to the school following its use during September’s Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill.

"Congressman Sam Farr, D-Calif. (left) enjoys a fresh salad from the salad bar with two students during a tour of the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. last week. The tour was organized by the United Fresh Produce Association."

A wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables were available on the salad bar, including lettuce, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, oranges and grapes and the kids eagerly piled up their plates.

Student government leaders divided up to sit with Congressman Farr and his staff, and then sang "Happy Birthday" in three languages to two of Farr's staffers celebrating birthdays this week.

The school’s new chef then talked about the benefits of having the salad bar, as well as the importance the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, noting that her students now had incredible access to fresh fruits and vegetables and that it was helping to shape their lifelong eating habits.

Ed. Note: Special thanks to Safeway's Shannon Campagna, vice president of government affairs and Jack Jacobs, director of distribution, for providing an excellent tour of their perishable facility. Special thanks to Anja Latham and Rose Harrell at the Maryland Food Center Authority, Jimi Farrell at Cooseman’s and Joe and Tony Vitrano Jr. at the Tony Vitrano Company, as well as Linda Moore and the staff and students of Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Public Charter School for their time and hospitality.

United Fresh Meets with FDA on Transparency

USDAUnited Fresh was one of only five trade associations - and the only organization representing the fresh produce industry – invited this week to the Transparency Listening Session with Regulated Industry with FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner and Chair of the Transparency Task Force, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein

The meeting served to address the agency's transparency to the regulated industry, and the Task Force plans to use the comments submitted during the meeting as it drafts recommendations about improving transparency at FDA.

"Access to information and FDA's thinking is relatively good day-to-day, as long as there is an established relationship", said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president food safety and technology.  "However, all transparency disappears during rulemaking and during investigations.  These are times when communication between FDA and the industry becomes most important. Obstacles need to be overcome to enable FDA officials and industry experts to share information during an outbreak investigation."

The FDA Transparency Initiative was launched last year in response to the Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative, with the goal of making FDA and its processes more transparent to the public.

Deadline Approaching to Honor Excellence in Fresh Produce


The deadline for nominations for United's Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and Retail Produce Manager Awards Programs is right around the corner. United Fresh members have until next Monday, February 1 to nominate outstanding chefs and produce managers for these prestigious awards.

Generously supported by founding sponsor Pro*Act, LLC, the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program is entering its third year.

"Leading chefs at restaurants and foodservice operations around the country play such an important role in the fresh produce industry," said United Retail-Foodservice Board Vice-Chairman Mitch Smith, director, U.S. Quality Systems Agricultural Products for McDonald's Corporation. "Not only are they making great strides toward increasing consumption, they continue to innovate, creating new ways to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their menus."

Winning chefs will be honored in each of five business categories: Fine Dining Restaurants, Casual and Family Dining Restaurants, Quick Serve Restaurants, Business in Industry & Colleges and Hotels & Healthcare Industry. Nominations must be submitted before February 1, 2010, and a nomination form is available online here.

The United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program, sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, will recognize the nation’s 25 most outstanding retail produce managers.

"Retail produce managers have such a huge responsibility within our industry," said Reggie Griffin, chairman of United's Retail-Foodservice and vice president of produce and floral merchandising and procurement for the Kroger Company. "They represent the front lines of the produce business and have a key opportunity for direct interaction with the consumer. Retail produce managers, through innovative displays, promotions and sheer creativity, have a direct and tangible effect on all of our bottom lines."


The 5 winning chefs, 25 winning produce managers, along with their corporate executives will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2010, April 20-23 in Las Vegas. The winners will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet, Thursday evening, April 22, and will also participate in the education program at United Fresh 2010 to share their views on produce trends in their respective fields.

Sustainability Must Create Real Value, Stenzel Says

"For sustainability to be more than a buzzword, industry members must find true benefit to their operations through lower input costs, reduced waste streams, enhanced use of natural resources and increased productivity," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel in remarks to the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento this week. "A widespread culture committed to sustainability will depend more on the 'carrot' of enhanced business operations than the 'stick' of top-down demands."

In his opening general session speech to some 1,000 attendees from the wine and grape industry, Stenzel discussed the new United Foundation Center for Global Produce Sustainability, which was formed this year through an endowment grant from Bayer CropScience. He also challenged the audience to look at the bigger picture of sustainable food choices.

"Fresh fruits and vegetables are inherently the most sustainable food choice consumers can make. Life cycle analysis of meat production shows a far greater carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables. The most important food choice a consumer can make to be more sustainable is simply to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables and less meat."

Application Period Now Open for 16th Produce Industry Leadership Program

The United Fresh Research & Education Foundation has opened the application period for the 16th annual class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program. Made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, the program is a special opportunity for United Fresh members to advance their leadership skills and knowledge. United Fresh invites all eligible members to apply

The Leadership Program, launched in 1995, is developed around four fundamental goals: Leadership Development; Business Relationships; Government & Public Affairs and Media & Public Relations. During the yearlong program, participants will take part in a series of customized trips including face-to-face meetings with leading industry players; hands-on training with top industry experts and educators; interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington, D.C. and much more. This year's schedule will feature trips to Washington and Oregon, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del., and Southern California. The class will graduate at the United Fresh 2011 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Participation in the program is limited to 12 individuals. The applicants are reviewed by the Leadership Advisory Committee and 12 individuals are chosen from a broad cross section of the industry to represent the breadth of the United Fresh membership.  Since the program's inception, more than 160 industry members have participated. United Fresh Board member Nelia Alamo of Gills Onions, LLC will serve as the chair of the Advisory Committee for the coming year.

"The Produce Industry Leadership Program is an excellent opportunity for up-and-coming industry professionals to enhance their knowledge of the broader produce industry and their ability to be a successful and effective leader within it," said Alamo. "This program is a great opportunity for personal and professional growth. I encourage anyone who is looking to further their professional growth and leadership skills to apply today."

Candidates interested in applying for the program can download information and an application here. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 5, 2010.  The Leadership Program is an exclusive program for United Fresh members only, and is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry.  For more information, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at jjacocks@unitedfresh.org or 202-303-3405.

Town Hall Meetings Next Month in the Pacific Northwest

United Fresh and local member companies in Washington will host three Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheons across the state next month.

Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss key issues facing the produce industry with Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management and Jeff Oberman, vice president of membership.  In addition, local United Fresh member leaders will lead group discussions and seek input from companies in the area on important business priorities for 2010.

"Our recent face-to-face town hall meetings have been very effective in providing a venue for dialogue on topics important to our members locally and nationally," Oberman said.  "We look forward to meeting with members of the produce community to get their feedback on key issues facing the industry."

Events will be held in the following cities:

"I have enjoyed hosting and participating in United Fresh Town Halls," said Steffanie Smith, CEO of River Point Farms and chair-elect of United Fresh.  "It is an ideal setting - meeting with industry peers and gaining better understanding of the good work United is doing for our industry.  I come away with insight on policies that impact daily operations as well as learn about new opportunities that may help grow sales and profits."

For more information about the schedule and attending next month’s meetings, visit the United Fresh Calendar of Events or contact United Fresh Membership Director Miriam Miller 202-303-3410.

Wilkommen zum Berlin! Join United Fresh at Next Week's FRESHCONEX and Fruit Logistica

United Fresh invites members and their industry colleagues to join in a series of educational programs and networking events focused on the European fresh produce and fresh-cut convenience sectors during next week’s Fruit Logistica Convention in Berlin, Germany.

Beginning Wednesday, United Fresh will be exhibiting in Hall 1.1., Stand D-02.  During the show, staff will provide updates on all United Fresh member programs and services, and on Thursday United Fresh will welcome friends and colleagues to a special reception at the booth.

Special thanks to IFCO Systems for sponsoring the reception.

United encourages all attendees to stop by to learn more about United Fresh global activities and our upcoming convention, United Fresh 2010, in Las Vegas, Nev.,  April 20-23.

For more information, contact Jeff Oberman, Vice President of Membership at 831-422-0940.

DiSogra to Present on Child Nutrition Reauthorization During Live Webcast

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra will take part in Reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act: What'll It Take to Fix the School Lunch Program?, a live webcast this Monday, February 1.

Presented by Dialogue4Health, a special project of the Public Health Institute and Green Tables, an initiative of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international philanthropic society of women in the food, beverage and hospitality industries, the webcast will give participants an interactive forum in which to discuss the future of the National School Lunch Program.

Joining Dr. DiSogra for the event will be Ken Hecht, executive director of the California Food Policy Advocates, Kristin Mancinelli, manager of policy and government relations for City Harvest and the New York City Alliance for Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Public Health Institute Director of Public Policy Matthew Marsom, and Les Dames d’Escoffier’s First Vice President Elaine Corn.

The webcast will begin at 1:00 EST and attendees may register by clicking here.

More Tickets from the United Fresh 2010 Show-A-Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Coast Produce's Emily Fragoso, winner of last week's United Fresh Show-A-Week Giveaway. Fragoso won a pair of tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s KÁ at the MGM Grand.

Not to worry, though. Each Friday leading up to United Fresh 2010, all registered 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, Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, and more!

This Week's Show-A-Week Giveaway: Jersey Boys.

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. We are 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.

Previous Winners:
Susan Reimer-Sifford, Darden Restaurants - Viva Elvis by Cirque du Soleil
Emily Fragoso, Coast Produce - KÁ by Cirque du Soleil

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

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:

  • California Avocado Commission, Irvine, Calif.
  • The Kroger Company, Cincinnati, 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:

  • AnTerra Group Inc., Laguna Hills, Calif.
  • Everett Bros. Engineering, Norfolk, U.K.

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

Antihunger groups ask for $1 billion a year for U.S. child meals - Reuters

Health concerns arise over deregulation of local foods - Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Arkansas' Berry announces retirement – Lawrence County Times Dispatch

First Lady promises ambitious childhood obesity initiative to come - ABC News

Arizona produce feeds the world - Yuma Sun


Nepali government pushes for wage hike in foreign jobs - Republica

Irish food allergy text service goes live - Irish Times

Australian food set to make an impact in US market - Australian Food News

Vietnam: No need for food safety committee - Food Safety News

Australian food safety authority wants new ruled for semi-dried tomatoes - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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