April 15, 2010

In Today's Issue:

FDA's Michael Taylor to Address Produce Industry at United Fresh 2010

FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor will speak in Las Vegas, NV, before the General Session of United Fresh 2010. Taylor's Wednesday, April 21 address - The Future of Food Safety Legislation and Regulation - will give convention attendees the opportunity to hear the latest information on a subject that has been at the forefront of the industry’s consciousness for many years.

"Deputy Commissioner Taylor's address is an opportunity not to be missed," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology. “So often we hear opinion on food safety from consumer and trade groups, media outlets and innumerable other sources, but Taylor will provide members of the industry gathered for United Fresh 2010 the chance to get information directly from the FDA’s lead food official and one of the highest food safety authorities in the federal government."

Taylor's food safety resume is distinguished, starting his FDA career in 1976 as a litigating attorney. He then served as FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Policy from 1991 to 1994, overseeing FDA's policy development and rulemaking, including the implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and issuance of new seafood safety rules. From 1994 to 1996, he served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety. During that time, he spearheaded public health-oriented reform of the FSIS. From 2000 until his appointment as Deputy Commissioner for Foods in July 2009, Taylor has worked in academic and research settings on the challenges facing the nation’s food safety system and ways to address them.

“Given the paramount importance of food safety within the produce business, it is imperative for companies to recognize and embrace the type of information that Deputy Commissioner Taylor is sharing next week,” said Dr. Gombas. 

More information on United Fresh 2010 can be found online at www.unitedfresh2010.org or by calling 202-303-3400.

Nevada Schools to Receive Salad Bars Through United Fresh Campaign

United's campaign for A Salad Bar in Every School, in collaboration with The Vollrath Company and Cambro Manufacturing Company, will donate two salad bars to schools in Pahrump, Nev., next week. The salad bars will be donated on Wednesday, April 21, during a ceremony at United Fresh 2010, the association’s annual convention and expo. The salad bars will be donated to Nye County School District’s J.G. Johnson Elementary School and Manse Elementary School. .

"Salad bars are such a simple and effective way to increase children’s intake of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables," said Steffanie Smith, CEO of Hermiston, Ore.-based River Point Farms and incoming United Fresh chairman. "The produce industry is uniting behind the Salad Bar in Every School campaign, so it is only appropriate to have an industry gathering like United Fresh 2010 as a backdrop for this donation. Thanks to the generosity of the Vollrath Company and Cambro Manufacturing Company, the campaign is able to make this donation, and we look forward to more donations to schools in other communities in the coming months."

The donations are made possible by the manufacturers of the salad bars, The Vollrath Company, headquartered in Sheboygan, Wis., and the Cambro Manufacturing Company of Huntington Beach, Calif.

The campaign selected Nye County School District to receive the salad bars because of the district’s commitment to improving child nutrition and increasing children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

"Nye County has wanted salad bars for their school cafeterias for several years," said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "They feel strongly that salad bars will offer their students a daily variety of fruits and vegetables with their lunch and will increase consumption."

Both J.G. Johnson Elementary and Manse Elementary serve more than 450 students and have participated in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP) for the last two years, providing each student with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack for free every day at school.

"Both salad bars and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program are evidence-based strategies to increase children's consumption of fruits and vegetables," added DiSogra.

Launched in February 2010, the Salad Bar in Every School campaign relies on the produce industry and allied partners to donate salad bars to schools who want them for use in increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption.

"It is important for students to have unfettered access to fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "United Fresh has a long track record of success increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for children. Alongside the $1 billion federal commitment to national expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable School Snack Program and the launch of more than $700 million annually in fruit and vegetable vouchers for moms and children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Salad Bar in Every School campaign truly has the produce industry poised to make a difference."

Joining United Fresh for the event will be representatives from the Nevada Department of Education, Nye County School District and produce industry leaders. Also on hand for the donation will be officials from the New York City Department of Education, which serves more than 1 million school children in 1600 schools and recently purchased 99 salad bars with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Research shows that children significantly increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when given a variety of choices in a school fruit and vegetable salad bar," said DiSogra. "Children try new items, incorporate greater variety into their diets and increase their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Increased daily access to a variety of fresh produce items also provides a personal experience about choices that can shape behavior far beyond the school lunch line. Children learn to make decisions that carry over outside of school, providing a platform for a lifetime of healthy snack and meal choices."

More information on the initiative can be found here.

Programming for Four Separate Market Segments Available on iPhone, Other Mobile Devices

A new mobile application, or "app," is now available for download in advance of United Fresh 2010, next week in Las Vegas, Nev.

Featuring convention schedules, exhibitor information and product listings, as well as convention news, the app offers customized convention content for each of the four United Fresh market segments: Fresh-Cut Processor, Grower-Shipper, Retail-Foodservice and Wholesaler-Distributor. The app will enable United Fresh 2010 attendees with iPhones to easily plan their days to make the most of their United Fresh 2010 experience. Users of BlackBerry phones and other internet-capable mobile devices can visit m.unitedfresh.org on their mobile browsers to experience the same customized features.

"The launch of this app and mobile website represents a new dimension in our trade shows and a bold step forward in the way attendees experience all that the United Fresh show has to offer," said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for United Fresh. "The app is just the latest innovation from United Fresh to specifically serve each segment of the produce industry. Convention attendees can have customized, updated content available on their mobile devices, alerting them to new products and exhibitors, programming and news that directly benefits their businesses."

The iPhone app may be downloaded free of charge by visiting the Apple iTunes store and searching for "United Fresh." Once the United Fresh 2010 icon appears, users must click "Get App" to download the application to their iPhone.

The mobile app is a key part of United Fresh 2010's theme of "Winning is Everything." United Fresh 2010 highlights the innovations, 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.

For more information, or to register for United Fresh 2010, visit www.unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3400.

Stenzel Participates in White House Gathering on Child Obesity

More than 100 key stakeholders in obesity prevention from academia, community groups, government and industry, including United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel gathered last week at the White House to discuss the growing epidemic of child obesity and ways to combat it. After hearing from the First Lady, the meeting afforded an opportunity to talk with the Obama Administration's Task Force members, and then break into working groups on four separate challenges the Task Force will address, including increasing access to healthy foods, increasing physical activity, improving the school environment and empowering parents with their children.

Stenzel participated in the break-out group on increasing access to healthy foods led by USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and focused primarily on increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in inner city and rural "food deserts," and increasing access and affordability for those in poverty and government feeding programs.  Many of the community groups present spoke about urban farms on vacant lots, community supported agriculture, locally grown, and farmers markets. 

Stenzel was able to support these concepts as a "way to instill a connection between people and food production," but not as a way to truly meet volume needs in feeding the population. He encouraged the task force to look to the produce distribution system in place today for solutions, whereby regional and local wholesaler-distributors can play a critical role in getting fresh produce to consumers wherever and whenever needed. Deputy Secretary Merrigan agreed, and suggested looking at wholesale markets as part of the solution in increasing access to fresh produce. In addition, there was general consensus on the need to create incentives for people receiving SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps) to choose more fruits and vegetables.

The meetings provided a good opportunity for Stenzel and others to promote the concept of allocating some portion of SNAP benefits directly to healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, similar to what has been done in the WIC program.  The Rev. Douglas Greenaway, president of the National WIC Association, spoke with the group about the great success of fruit and vegetable vouchers and positive response from WIC moms. Greenaway and Stenzel also emphasized the role of the WIC vouchers in building demand for fresh produce in those markets where consumers have not found much availability in the past.

Ag Groups Urge Congress to Pass Estate Tax Reform

In 2011, the estate tax is scheduled to be reinstated, negatively impacting many family grower operations in the produce industry. Within the past few weeks there has been movement in the Senate to take up the longstanding issue. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the lead republican working for estate tax relief and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) are pushing for the Finance Committee to mark up estate tax legislation before Memorial Day.

In response to this movement, United Fresh, along with other agriculture groups in Washington, have signed-on to a letter urging Congress to reform current estate tax laws and recognize the unique needs of agriculture businesses that wish to transfer their business operations on to future generations.

"If estate taxes are allowed to be reinstated at the beginning of 2011 with only a $1 million exemption and top rate of 55 percent, the negative impact on our industry will be significant," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. "We are trying to make the argument that estate tax law does a disservice to agriculture because we are a land-based capital-intensive industry with few options for paying estate taxes when they come due. Also, the current state of the economy, coupled with the uncertain nature of estate tax liabilities make it difficult for family-owned growers to make sound business decisions."

"Estate tax reform is a big issue for many family produce companies.  By permanently raising the exemption to no less than $5 million per person and reducing the top rate to no more than 35 percent, as agriculture groups are proposing, the produce industry could see some relief," Guenther added.

Critical components of meaningful estate tax reform also include that the exemption be indexed to inflation, provide for spousal transfers and include the stepped-up basis. 

For more information about estate tax reform, contact Guenther at 202-303-3400, ext. 409.

AMS Announces Baby Carrot Buy

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service announced last week the purchase of more than 600,000 pounds of baby peeled carrots for USDA national school feeding program. The purchase totaled 47,611 cases of 100-count 2-ounce bags, totaling 607,040 pounds and valued at $514,384.

The purchase is the first ever of baby carrots by the USDA for the agency's feeding program, and was in response to an invitation to bid extended by AMS in March. Bids for the purchases were awarded to United Fresh members Grimmway Farms of Arvin, CA and HMC Marketing of Kingsburg, CA, as well as Bakersfield, CA-based Western Veg-Produce.

"United Fresh has played a leadership role for the last year and a half in moving this baby carrot pilot forward. Given the popularity of baby carrots among students, serving them at lunch will go a long way toward increasing consumption among children," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health. "We are thrilled that thousands of students in the six pilot states will be enjoying baby carrots with their lunch this spring. Our goal is to see baby carrots and fresh cut sliced apples available nationwide as quickly as possible."

Deliveries of baby peeled carrots will be made from April 16 through July 31.

Top Produce Managers to Share Insights During United Fresh TV

Bookmark your browsers now, as a week from today, UnitedFresh.TV will bring you live insight from 10 of the nation's top retail produce managers during Winning Retail Strategies: Secrets of the Retail Manager Award Winners. The live webcast will take place on the floor of United Fresh 2010 and be broadcast via United’s dedicated video website, www.UnitedFresh.TV on Thursday, April 22, at 4 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Pacific.

The event will showcase the merchandising and promotional efforts, community outreach and in-depth consumer knowledge of this year's honorees in the Retail Produce Manager Awards Program, sponsored generously by Ready Pac Foods.

For those unable to watch the event live, the broadcast will be available at UnitedFresh.TV beginning Friday, April 23. UnitedFresh.TV will also feature daily news coverage of other educational programs and events from the convention, including reports from the traceability and food safety demo centers on the show floor, interviews with major speakers, hot topics covering each sector of the supply chain, and new products, services and solutions on display at the show. The association gratefully acknowledges the support of Chiquita Fresh in sponsoring UnitedFresh.TV at this year's convention.

Currently, users can find a special video preview of United Fresh 2010 at UnitedFresh.TV between now and the beginning of the show.

For more information on the live webcast or on UnitedFresh.TV, please contact United Fresh Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3400 ext. 425.

Inside United Fresh 2010: Bushels of Fresh-Cut Offerings at United Fresh 2010

With United Fresh 2010 coming up next week, United wants to be sure that each fresh-cut processor out there makes a special note of the exciting offerings at this year's show.

The expo floor opens Wednesday at 11:00 a.m., filled with the latest fresh-cut technology solutions. Also on the show floor, the all-new Fresh-Cut Processor Learning Center will feature a full schedule of topics and speakers, including Drew McDonald from Taylor Farms along with Dr. Trevor Suslow from University of California, Davis who will be presenting on Understanding Micro Testing Options in Fresh-Cut Operations. Then, we'll hear from Steve Gill of Gills Onions on the company's new waste-to-energy system and more in Best Practices in Fresh-Cut Sustainability.

Once you venture outside the Learning Center and back on to the show floor, be sure to catch one of the other fresh-cut activities going on at United Fresh 2010, including processor-specific sessions in the Produce Traceability Demo Center and a range of speakers and research posters in the Food Safety Demo Center.  

A big day for the Fresh-Cut Processor Market Segment Board, Thursday’s Fresh-Cut Processor Super Session starts at 8:00 a.m. with a great program including an opening presentation from board chairman Ron Midyett of Apio. Ready Pac’s Ali Leon will then provide an overview on the latest data from United's Issues Scan 2010, exploring how fresh-cut and value-added produce stacks up to whole, canned and frozen product in the eyes of the consumer.

A subsequent roundtable discussion on marketplace issues from the Western European perspective will be presented by Leon and fellow Market Segment Board members Paddy Callaghan of Nature's Best and Grimmway Enterprises' Phil Gruszka, who will lend insight into the North American marketplace. Also, you won't want to miss Del Monte North America’s Dennis Christou as he presents Taking Advantage of New Business Channes in Fresh-Cut.

Following Dennis' presentation, members will have a chance to voice opinions, successes and concerns during a short Town Hall meeting. This will give members an opportunity to interact with the board on key challenges facing their operations and ultimately help to establish projects for the board's focus in the coming year.

Thursday continues with a series of topical seminars hosted by United's Expert Advisory Councils before the show floor reopens at 11:30 a.m. Be sure to return to the learning center at Noon for Chiquita's Dara Gniady, who will share a presentation on New Product Launches - Success Principles & In-Store Execution. At 2:00 p.m., Ready Pac's Ali Leon will join Jan Berk of San Miguel Produce for a session dedicated to helping processors educate consumers on Telling the Positive Story of Fresh-Cut Produce.

If you're a fresh-cut processor, as you can see, there is no shortage of things to do at United Fresh 2010. The excitement is building … we'll see you in Vegas!

Topco Produce Team Discusses Food Safety and Traceability with United Fresh

Robert Guenther, United's senior vice president for public policy, met in Florida this week with retail and wholesale co-op members of Topco to discuss ongoing activities around food safety in produce and industry traceability efforts. During the meeting, Guenther addressed the importance of whole-chain engagement in these important issues, and provided an overview of current food safety legislative and regulatory efforts in Washington, as well as United’s GAP Harmonization Project and the Produce Traceability Initiative.

"It is important to have an open and effective dialogue on these important issues with the entire food chain," said Guenther. "It is critical for all parties to understand what is at stake and how members of the industry must work cooperatively to address these challenges."

Topco is a privately-held cooperative, which allows for its members' collective volume to drive down product costs and to obtain economies of scale in support areas enabling its members to effectively compete against national companies.  Topco members Mike Tipton of Food City, Mark Walden of Brookshire Grocery and Craig Ignatz of Giant Eagle also serve on United Fresh's Retail-Foodservice Market Segment Board.

For more information, contact Guenther at 202-303-3400 ext. 409.

Darden Restaurants Hosts Fifth Meeting of TWG

The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group (TWG) gathered last week for their fifth meeting to harmonize Produce GAPs standards, this time at Darden Headquarters in Orlando, FL, and hosted by John Gurrisi, Darden's director of total quality, fresh produce.

The TWG considered 17 GAP audit categories just in time to present their work to the Initiative's Steering Committee at next week's joint meeting in Las Vegas. The TWG has only 20 more GAP audit categories to tackle by the Steering Committee's October deadline.

"The group is making fantastic progress at a rapid pace," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology. "I think the Steering Committee will be very impressed with the commitment and accomplishments the Technical Working Group has made in working toward a single standard applicable to all fresh produce operations in North America and subject to Good Agricultural Practices standards and audits."

The next Technical Working Group meeting will be May 12-13 at US Foodservice headquarters in Rosemont, IL. For more information on this meeting, please contact Erin Grether, United Fresh government relations assistant at 202-303-3400, ext. 402. To indicate your planned attendance at the meeting, click here.

Slots Still Available to Strike It Rich in Vegas

Spots are still available for a night of fun at Rio Lanes next week at Striking It Rich in Vegas, the annual bowling tournament of United FreshPAC.

"This event has been a blast each year we’ve had it," said United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Bezon. "Attendees to the event will enjoy opportunities to mingle and network with friends from the produce industry while we enjoy music, dinner, bowling, open bar and pool tables. Plus the $100 contribution to the PAC goes directly to supporting produce champions on Capitol Hill."

Established in 1976 in order to promote United Fresh member involvement in the political process, United FreshPac gives members a forum to support candidates for U.S. Congress, helping to elect and re-elect pro-produce candidates and encourage progress on issues including child nutrition, food safety legislation, immigration reform and supply chain policy. 100% of United FreshPAC funds support members of Congress who support issues important to United Fresh members.

For more information on Striking it Rich or on United FreshPAC, contact Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Can't Make it to Vegas? Don’t Worry, United Fresh Has You Covered!

Next week, United Fresh welcomes the produce industry to Las Vegas for United Fresh 2010 and we look forward to seeing you there! But if you can’t make it out this year, you can still keep track of the latest happenings at the show.

Check back each day at UnitedFresh.TV for a series of video segments on all things United Fresh 2010. You’ll get an inside look at all the show has to offer this year, including United Fresh 2010's world-class education, networking and trade show.

The latest photographs from United Fresh 2010 will be posted daily at UnitedFresh2010.org, so be sure to circle back to see photo recaps of the day’s networking, education and show floor activities.

Additional photos, videos and other cool stuff can also be found on the United Fresh Facebook page. On the page, visitors may interact, post comments and hear from other industry members.

Also, United Fresh will be tweeting live updates from all parts of the show under the hashtag #United2010. Follow us on our Twitter feed at twitter.com/UnitedFresh.

Finally, watch your inboxes for the latest news as Inside United Fresh will issue rundowns of pertinent show news and events each show day, as well as a look at what's coming up the next day at United Fresh 2010.

Your Last Chance to Win! Register Now!

Congratulations to Safeway's Ed Wright, winner of last week's United Fresh Show-A-Week Giveaway. Ed is headed to see the Lion King at Mandalay Bay.

Each Friday from now until United Fresh 2010, we'll draw one lucky winner from all registered attendees and send them to see an evening of fantastic Las Vegas entertainment completely free!

This week’s Show-A-Week Giveaway: Mystére by Cirque du Soleil

Register now for United Fresh 2010 to be automatically entered for your chance to win two tickets to a Las Vegas show during United Fresh 2010, April 20-23. We update the list each week with new registrants, so the sooner you register for United Fresh 2010, the greater your chances to win!

Attendees must be paid in full to be eligible and may win only once. Tickets will be valid for shows on April 20 and April 21, 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
Hillary Brick, The Giumarra Companies - Mystére by Cirque du Soleil
Mike Aiton, Prime Time International - Phantom of the Opera
Becky Baker, Potandon Produce - Blue Man Group
Steven Karr, Pride Pak Canada - Criss Angel: Believe
Mike Scuderi, Costa Fruit & Produce - Jersey Boys
Maria Buffone, Sobeys - KÁ BY Cirque du Soleil
Jack Bertagna, Castellini Company - Blue Man Group
Shannon Torrey, Torrey Farms - The Phantom of the Opera
Andrea Wagner, Save-A-Lot - Cirque du Soleil's Criss Angel: Believe
Ed Wright, Safeway - The Lion King

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

New Member Welcome

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

  • California State University at Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
  • GaGo, Inc., Glendale, CA
  • Maddan & Company, Inc., San Francisco, CA
  • Robbie Fantastic Flexibles, Lenexa, KS
  • SunMark Global, San Ramon, CA
  • V.H. Azhderian & Co., Inc., Los Banos, CA

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

Sen. Durbin takes on food safety – WGN-TV

Colorado lawmakers put school food bill on Gov. Ritter's plate – Sterling Journal-Advocate

Michelle Obama delves into the details on kids' obesity at task force meeting – Washington Post

Florida Orange Crop Estimate Raised for Second Month by USDA – BusinessWeek

Chicago schools adopt healthier menus - Chicago Tribune


UK Trade Union congress calls for Israeli settlement produce boycott – The Jerusalem Post

Treatment of farm workers examined in Australia – Bundaberg News Mail

Pakistani agencies working to improve fruit exports – Daily Times

After toxic milk, tainted veggies China's new worry – Times of India

Australian apple producers say no to New Zealand fruit – ABC

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



Global Times