February 4, 2010

In Today's Issue:


President's Budget Outlines a Number of Produce Industry Priorities

On Monday, President Obama released his budget recommendations for the fiscal year 2011, beginning in October.  Many of the fresh produce industry's priorities are represented in the administration's recommendations.

Specifically, United Fresh supports:

  • $10 billion over ten years to reform and improve the school nutrition programs
  • Full funding ($55 million) for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program
  • Doubling funding for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program
  • Full funding for pest and disease detection and exclusion (Farm Bill sections 10201 and 10202)
  • $1.4 billion in funding to strengthen America's food safety system

United Fresh is concerned about the following recommendations:

  • Proposed user fees to fund certain elements of the enhanced food safety program
  • The administration has proposed a 20% cut in the Market Access Program 
  • Enhanced resources to enable EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, in the absence of congressional action to address climate change

"This budget represents a blueprint for President Obama and his administration for the next fiscal year," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. "It is now up to Congress to support or reject these proposals as they are ultimately responsible for writing the budget for 2010."


Wir sind alle Deutschen bei Fruit Logistica!


Fruit Logistica 2010 attendees join United Fresh Membership Director Miriam Miller (third from right) for a tour of the produce department at Edeka Supermarket in Berlin on Tuesday.

All this week, United Fresh has made its presence felt at the annual Fruit Logistica and FRESHCONEX Expo in Berlin. United Fresh kicked off the festivities Tuesday with an informative tour of German supermarket retailers and followed with a welcome reception at the Berlin Marriott, United's headquarters hotel. Both events were organized and sponsored by United Fresh Global Advisory Council member Klaus Klische, owner of Fresh Factory GmbH in Hamburg.


KPG's Angela Paymard and Bakkavor's David Barney enjoy United's Welcome Reception at Fruit Logistica 2010 Tuesday evening.

During the retail tour, United Fresh members and friends toured leading German retailers Metro, Lidl, Rewe and Edeke. The outing explored different produce formats including club, low-cost, traditional and modern, and provided insight into the competitive German marketplace.


United Fresh Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman (right) joins, from left, Canadian Produce Marketing Association's Dan Dempster, KPG's Ernesto Nardone and BC Tree Fruit's Gary Schleck during United's Welcome Reception at Fruit Logistica 2010 Tuesday evening.

"I enjoyed the opportunity to welcome United Fresh members on a tour of the German retail industry," said Klische. "This tour provided an overview of multiple store formats including club store and low-price, as well as the latest upscale markets.  We look forward to our continued support for United Fresh membership outreach and events in Germany in conjunction with the Fruit Logistica exposition."


Sensitech's Elizabeth Darragh and Chris Schlect from the Northwest Horticultural Council enjoy United's Welcome Reception at Fruit Logistica 2010 Tuesday evening.

At the welcome reception later that evening, United Fresh welcomed more than 60 members and friends attending Fruit Logistica. Klische, alongside United Fresh Chairman Jim Lemke and President Tom Stenzel, addressed a packed room before members from around the globe who enjoyed an evening of networking, fine local cuisine and entertainment.

United Fresh will continue activities and events at Fruit Logistica through Friday.


United Fresh Launches Virtual Marketplace for Global Fresh Produce Industry

In a special announcement yesterday at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin, United Fresh unveiled AllThingsProduce.com, its new virtual marketplace showcasing the latest in fruit and vegetable products, business tools, technologies and solutions for the fresh produce industry.

Powered by a proprietary search engine and a current database listing thousands of companies and products, AllThingsProduce.com enables companies throughout the fresh and fresh-cut produce supply chain to find products and services from the comfort of their own offices and on their own schedules.

"AllThingsProduce.com provides 24-7 access to a user-friendly, product-rich resource," said John Toner, United Fresh vice president of convention and industry relations.

Free to users, AllThingsProduce.com allows quick, online searches, comparison of different products and the ability to contact vendors, all directly from the site. Users can search for companies or individual products in numerous business categories and even sign up for email alerts on product categories of interest.

"Businesses can sign up for their own AllThingsProduce.com listings, providing detailed information about their company and their products, including links, photos, videos and downloads of product information," Toner said.

AllThingsProduce.com offers companies package pricing for listings, from a basic $495 package to a Gold Package including multiple product descriptions, photos, keyword marketing and links, priced at $1,495.  All United Fresh member companies receive a complimentary base listing, with low-cost options to enhance their on-site presence.

"AllThingsProduce.com represents a new and exciting step for the fresh produce industry," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "We chose to announce this new virtual marketplace at Fruit Logistica because we truly are offering a global business-to-business tool for companies throughout the produce supply chain, from growers through retail and foodservice. No matter what stage in the supply chain, or where based around the world, companies can use AllThingsProduce.com to find solutions to improve their businesses."

For more information on AllThingsProduce.com, please contact John Toner at 202-303-3400 ext. 424.


Through Online Forum, United Brings Together Members from Around the World

United Fresh has launched a new online discussion forum designed to allow members around the world to talk together about issues, challenges and opportunities facing their businesses. United Fresh announced the launch of United FreshLink at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin yesterday.

United FreshLink includes discussion groups for each sector of the produce industry, as well as hot topics for cross-cutting discussions through the entire supply chain. Discussion groups include the growing-shipping, fresh-cut processing, wholesale-distribution and retail-foodservice segments of the industry, as well as groups dedicated to food safety, traceability, labor and immigration, and nutrition and health.

"United FreshLink promises to be an important tool for our members, especially in the international community," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Members have asked us to develop an online community where they can talk with each other about the issues most important to them, without waiting for meetings and conferences. While face-to-face contact is still crucial, today's pace of business requires personal connections, 24-7, on a global basis."

United Freshlink has more than 6,000 individual United Fresh members pre-registered on the discussion site. Members can gain access to the site at www.unitedfreshlink.org with their member user names and passwords. For more information, contact United Fresh Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner at 202-303-3400 ext. 424.

United Fresh Launches Fresh Convenience Congress in June 2010

Trade professionals in Europe's fresh produce convenience sector can now look forward to the Fresh Convenience Congress, a new annual conference event that focuses on key issues of importance to what has become a burgeoning segment of the fresh produce industry.

London will host the inaugural Fresh Convenience Congress June 22-24, 2010, and every year thereafter the congress will return in June or July to a different location in Europe where fresh produce convenience products show excellent potential for growth.

The Fresh Convenience Congress is jointly organized by United Fresh and Eurofruit Magazine, Europe's foremost fresh produce business magazine, published by Market Intelligence Limited, the leading fresh produce business publisher and international conference organizer.

"The Fresh Convenience Congress offers the sector a great opportunity to focus on some of the key trends for fresh produce convenience products in Europe," said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. "With the changes happening at the retail and foodservice level, we think it is vitally important that we develop a forum in which the European fresh produce convenience sector at large can discuss in detail the issues that really matter to its future development."

The Fresh Convenience Congress is supported by FRESHCONEX, Europe's annual trade show for the fresh produce convenience sector, organized by Messe Berlin GmbH in cooperation with Eurofruit. FRESHCONEX is holding its 2010 show in Berlin this week.

"Together, the Fresh Convenience Congress and FRESHCONEX provide business leaders and newcomers to the fresh produce convenience sector in Europe with the chance to discuss the key role for fresh fruits and vegetables within the category," said Chris White, managing director of Market Intelligence Limited. "At Market Intelligence Limited, we are also planning a new online platform for the fresh produce convenience sector, as well as a new business magazine that will allow both suppliers and buyers to get regular business news and information, and to promote their products and services to a new business audience."

The Fresh Convenience Congress will provide the fresh produce convenience sector with an enhanced educational and networking event and builds on the success of the FRESHCONEX Business Forums, a series of daily, seminar-style presentations for trade show visitors at FRESHCONEX, jointly organized by United Fresh and Eurofruit.

For more information about the Fresh Convenience Congress, please contact United's John Toner, vice president of convention and industry relations at 202-303-3400 ext. 424.


First Lady Ready to Launch Childhood Obesity Initiative


First Lady Michelle Obama (right) meets with House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller (D-CA) (left) and Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) (center) during a meeting Tuesday. (Image Courtesy CBS)

United Fresh is cheering the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama as she gets ready to launch a campaign to reduce childhood obesity in the United States.

For the past two weeks, United Fresh and nutrition advocates around the country have been eagerly awaiting details on Mrs. Obama's childhood obesity initiative. The First Lady has built anticipation regarding the program in speeches before the National Council of Mayors and alongside Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin last month.

The prevalence of obesity has tripled among children and adolescents from 1980 to 2004.  Currently, one in three children is overweight or obese. 

"Today's epidemic of childhood obesity is unacceptable," said Mrs. Obama.  "Our nation's most precious resource, our children, deserve no less than our very best efforts to grow into healthy, smart, productive adults. Overweight and obese children are more likely to be obese adults and that will mean higher rates of preventable disease and disability if we do not take action now."

Mrs. Obama met Tuesday with Cabinet secretaries and congressional committee leaders to discuss her groundbreaking campaign against childhood obesity. The meeting included Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY), and House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller (D-CA), among others.

Since she moved in to the White House, Mrs. Obama has emphasized the importance of children eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and including more fruits and vegetables in school meals in almost all of her official remarks and events. An official announcement with details of the initiative, designed to help Americans lead healthier lives through better nutrition, regular physical activity, and healthier choices, is expected next week.


AMS Announces Availability of $55 Million for Specialty Crop Block Grants

This week, USDA-AMS announced the availability of FY2010 funds for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Made available in the 2008 Farm Bill through the work of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA), the funds are solely used to "enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops."

As secretary of the SCFBA throughout the Farm Bill debate, United Fresh has taken an active role in securing funding. Examples of eligible projects include programs that generally address marketing and promotion, research, food safety, plant pest and disease issues and education. To view projects funded in FY2009, click here.

Companies and organizations looking to take advantage of these funds are encouraged to contact their State Department of Agriculture. Applications must be received by USDA no later than July 29, 2010.

Visit the USDA's Frequently Asked Questions page for more information, or contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy at 202-303-3400 ext. 409.


United Fresh Submits Comments on Increasing Fruits and Vegetables in WIC

Continuing its unparalleled leadership and commitment to increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in WIC, United Fresh submitted formal recommendations to USDA last week on ways to further improve the program's food packages. USDA, which is in the process of developing regulations to govern the final WIC food packages, requested that comments and suggestions be submitted by February 1. United's recommendations included:

  • Increasing the cash value of the fruit and vegetable voucher for children and breastfeeding women to $8 per month and $12 per month, respectively
  • Requiring state agencies to allow WIC families to add cash to the fruit and vegetable voucher at check-out to maximize benefits
  • Allowing fresh white potatoes inclusion in the food packages 

Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in WIC is an ongoing goal and commitment for United Fresh. Reinforcing United's priorities, a large number of public health and nutrition organizations, as well as other industry groups highlighted United's recommendations in their letters to USDA.

United Fresh would like to thank the members of the Board of Directors and other members who also submitted comments to the department.

The addition of fruits and vegetables to the WIC food packages is nothing short of a historic change and benefits more than 9.4 million WIC families. The resulting additional produce purchases are expected to total $600 million per year.

Additionally, President Obama's FY11 budget request includes $104 million per year to increase the cash value of the children’s fruit and vegetable voucher to $8 per month. United Fresh has been urging USDA to make this change for the past year.  Now, advocacy will shift to Capitol Hill to ensure Congress enacts this change in legislation.

For more information on United's continuing work on the WIC program, contact Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400 ext. 403.


Secretary Vilsack to Announce Child Nutrition Reauthorization Priorities


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during an address at the 2009 Washington Public Policy Conference.

With the inclusion of an additional $1 billion per year for strong child nutrition initiatives in President Obama’s FY11 budget, USDA's Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will announce the administration's priorities for child nutrition during an address next Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer will be on hand as Secretary Vilsack highlights the Obama Administration's priorities for reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, calling on Congress to act swiftly to pass a strong reauthorization bill to improve the health and nutrition of America’s children and make it easier for eligible children to participate in federal nutrition assistance programs.

Prior to the secretary's address at the Press Club, Dr. DiSogra will be on hand at USDA headquarters for a pre-speech briefing from USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon on child nutrition priorities, including an update on the First Lady's Childhood Obesity initiative that was highlighted in the President's State of the Union address.

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


Michigan Blueberry Industry Looks at Corporate Responsibility

At a seminar Wednesday in Holland, Mich., United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther discussed corporate social responsibility and Washington’s current views on the topic with a crowd of over 200 blueberry growers from across the state.

In particular, Guenther discussed legislative and regulatory activities surrounding child labor and farm labor, along with the need to be proactive in developing industry guidance surrounding corporate responsibility.

"Most importantly," Guenther said, "industry members need to ensure they are following the current federal, state and local laws regarding hiring practices."

Hosted by the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association and the Michigan Farm Bureau, the seminar was organized to better understand and educate blueberry growers about the current laws and regulations surrounding labor hiring practices. In addition to Guenther, the group heard from Steve Wright, produce/floral sales and procurement manager for Spartan Stores and Bryan Phillips, global compliance manager for WalMart.

"This was a great opportunity for the blueberry growers of Michigan to come together and have an open discussion on how hiring practices are impacting their businesses," Guenther said.


Nominations Now Open for 2010 Reception Honoring Women in Produce


2009 Women in Produce honoree Heather Shavey (left) accepts her award from 2008 honoree and incoming United Fresh Chair Steffanie Smith.

Each year at the United Fresh convention and expo, the association recognizes the contributions of women in the produce industry and honors one outstanding female industry leader at the Reception Honoring Women in Produce.

Year in, year out, the reception is among the most memorable events at the United Fresh show and United is currently looking for nominations for this year's honoree.

"This event is genuinely a highlight for me every year," said Steffanie Smith, 2008 honoree and incoming United Fresh Chairman. "It is a chance to come together, celebrate women in produce and hear from an industry leader and her unique experiences.  Attendees have the opportunity to listen to a woman who is a role model for our future generations within the fresh fruit and vegetable industry."

This year's reception will take place Wednesday evening, April 21. United Fresh encourages all member companies to take a moment and submit their nominations for an exceptional woman in the fresh produce industry. All nominations must be received no later than Tuesday, February 16. For more information, please contact United’s Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.


Just One Week Left to Register for HACCP Certification

Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology, will speak as part of the education programming at the course, March 2-4 at UGA's Extension Food Science Training Facility in Athens. United Fresh has again partnered with the university to offer the course, which is designed to teach safe produce handling practices.

The three-day course will teach participants how to develop and document Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) and Good Management Practices (GMPs) for farm and field operations, packing facilities, cold storage operations and produce shippers. Specific breakout sessions will use HACCP principles to teach participants to identify and prevent food safety hazards, set preventive/control measures and control limits, develop control and monitoring procedures, and document and verify the results of their efforts as established by the International HACCP Alliance.

United Fresh members will receive discounted registration for the course. For more information or to register, please call 706-542-2574 or email efs@uga.edu.


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

Congratulations to Mann Packing Company's Greg Kurkjian, winner of last week's United Fresh Show-A-Week Giveaway. Greg won a pair of tickets to Jersey Boys at the Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino.

Not to worry, though. Each Friday leading up to United Fresh 2010, all registered attendees have the 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.

Every Friday, United Fresh draws 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: Mystère by 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. 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
Greg Kurkjian, Mann Packing Company - Jersey Boys

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


United Fresh Responds to Consumers Union Story on Packaged Greens

United Fresh issued a firm rebuttal this week to a story published in the March issue of Consumer Reports magazine that recommends consumers rewash ready-to-eat salad greens. The Consumers Union examination of packaged salads found no pathogenic bacteria that could pose a health risk, but the magazine took issue with findings of ambient bacteria in the samples and advised readers to wash the greens again before consumption.

"Urging consumers to rewash these ready-to-eat greens introduces greater risk of contamination in the home,” said Ray Gilmer, United’s vice president of communications. “The increased contamination risk from handling in the home may outweigh any benefit from additional washing."

The response document, developed jointly by United Fresh and Produce Marketing Association, may be downloaded here. For more information, please contact Ray Gilmer, 202-303-3425, or Dr. David Gombas, Senior Vice President, Food Safety and Technology, 202-303-3411.


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:

  • Condies Foods, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, Cashmere, Wash.
  • Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Ready Pac Foods, Inc., Irwindale, Calif.
  • Sanitation Specialists, Watsonville, 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.


New Member Welcome

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

  • 7-Eleven, Dallas, Texas
  • Minnesota Produce, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Peco Pallet, Tribunco Canyon, Calif.
  • PWP Industries, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Restrain Company, Ltd., March, United Kingdom
  • University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Welcome

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

U.S. NEWS:

News and Views

Medfly quarantine hurts Southern California avocado farmers - North County Times

USDA approves disaster declaration for Florida crops - Tampa Tribune

Obama aims to increase promotion of organics - Vermont Public Radio

Florida growers may feel budget cut pains - Bradenton Herald

Old orange groves in California may help hungry - San Gabriel Valley Tribune

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

Fruit fly outbreak declared in South Australia - Stock Journal

China going all out to improve rural life - Shanghai Daily

New Zealand orchardist describes quarry threat - Timaru Herald

Northern Irish healthy eating scheme a recipe for success - Belfast Telegraph

Russian president signs food safety doctrine - Kazakhstan Gazeta


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