January 6, 2010

In Today's Issue:

President Obama Signs Food Safety Modernization Act

In the Oval Office Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act, setting in motion large-scale changes to the nation's food safety system. United Fresh, which has long been among the most vocal supporters of comprehensive modernization of the food safety system in the United States, remains concerned about the bill's inclusion of exemptions for producers based on size and distance to consumers.

While the legislation does contain a number of important provisions that United Fresh has long supported, including implementation of preventive controls for production and processing of specific fruits and vegetables when shown necessary by a risk-based, scientific analysis by FDA, United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther looked to work on improving the bill.

"Moving forward, we will be considering our plans on how to engage in the implementation plans for the new law over the next couple of months," said Guenther. “We will look to focus on addressing the proposed rule that should come out this year on produce."

For more about United's work on food safety, visit www.unitedfresh.org.

United Fresh Aims for Quick Resolution to Lingering Retaliatory Mexican Tariffs

The U.S. Department of Transportation has unveiled an initial concept of a long-haul cross border Mexican trucking program that, according to a department release, meets the United States' obligations under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, while at the same time putting first the safety of products transported across the border. United Fresh Senior Vice President Robert Guenther welcomed the news as a positive sign of progress in what has become a significant issue for the produce supply chain.

"We are pleased that the Department of Transportation has finally released a U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Trucking proposal," said Guenther. "This has gone on much too long and needs to be rectified as soon as possible. We will be working with our members to analyze the impact of this proposal and in particular discuss with Mexican officials if this proposal meets the United State's obligations under NAFTA.  In turn, we will ask the Mexican government to suspend their current trade retaliation efforts that have severely impacted trade of fresh fruits and vegetables with Mexico."

Because the United States is not currently meeting its NAFTA obligations to allow a pilot program of Mexican trucks entering the U.S., Mexico has placed retaliatory tariffs on many American goods including fresh produce items entering Mexico. Given the economic impact upon the fresh produce industry and the damage caused to U.S.-Mexico trade, United Fresh contends that the crisis must be resolved urgently.

Under the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, Congress blocked funding for the Mexican Cross-Border Truck Safety Program. This was a pilot program allowing a small number of Mexican trucks to enter the U.S. while operating in international commerce. Though this program did not provide the full access that the Mexicans were entitled under our NAFTA obligations, the program had been in operation without retaliation since 2007. By removing this program, the United States is now in violation of its NAFTA commitments and excessive tariffs have been placed on U.S. products totaling $2 billion.

In 2010, Congress removed the prohibition on funding allowing the Administration to move forward with a new pilot program.  However, the Administration has yet to finalize this new pilot program and the Mexican government has imposed new duties on additional fresh produce items as a result of this unresolved conflict.

Dallas Industry Talks Food Safety, Increased Consumption at United Fresh Town Hall

More than 70 Texas produce leaders gathered today for United Fresh's 2011 kick-off Town Hall meeting in Dallas. Retail-Foodservice Board member Mark Walden, Brookshire's Grocery Company, United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel and Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman spoke with members and guests about the new food safety law signed by President Obama this week, as well as new marketing opportunities to increase produce consumption to children through school nutrition programs and the new WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers.

The Dallas Town Hall was co-hosted by Dan'l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions; Craig Slate, IFCO Systems; and Jarrod Snider, Frontera Produce.  United Fresh will host a series of Town Halls across the country this year, meeting with industry members to address issues important to members in different regions and sectors of the industry.

If you would like to host a Town Hall meeting in your area, please contact Jeff Oberman or Miriam Miller in the United Fresh membership department at 202-303-3400.

New Initiative Foodservice Innovators Get Kids Excited About School Lunch

Through a new initiative from the School Nutrition Association (SNA), school foodservice operations are finding interactive and fun ways to get students excited about healthy school meals. Tray Talk (www.TrayTalk.org) is the School Nutrition Association's public awareness campaign designed to spotlight school meals successes, share information on the latest trends in school cafeterias and celebrate the fact that school meals are healthy meals.

Tray Talk's School Nutrition Success Stories features how schools are finding creative ways to help kids make healthier choices - from school gardens and kid chef competitions to nutritious new menu offerings, salad bars and healthy makeovers of traditional kid favorites.

This week's Nutrition Success Story features Willamina Elementary School in Oregon, one of the first schools in the state to participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.  Past success stories have focused on salad bars at a California school, a "vegetable of the month" program in New Hampshire and a Delaware school's student published book titled "Fresh Fruit and Veggies Rock!"

United Fresh is also looking to honor School Foodservice Directors who demonstrate produce excellence in their menu development. This year, a new category for K-12 School Food Service will be included in the 2011 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. In addition to K-12 School Foodservice, outstanding chefs will be honored in categories including Fine Dining, Casual Dining, Quick Service, Hotels & Healthcare Industry and Business in Industry and Colleges. Six winners and a corporate executive will receive complimentary airfare, two-nights lodging and registration for the United Fresh 2011 convention, May 2-5, 2011 in New Orleans. Each winner will be recognized at the Annual Awards Banquet on May 4.

For more information about the program, please contact Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400, ext 410.

New Orleans' Finest Restaurants Take Center Stage in Lead-Up to United Fresh 2011

More than a dozen of New Orleans' top restaurants are the centerpieces of a new promotion from United Fresh. United's Restaurant-A-Week Giveaway will provide winners with special experiences at some of the finest restaurants in New Orleans. Winners will be selected from a weekly drawing of all attendees registered for United Fresh 2011, the association’s annual expo and convention, May 2-5 at the New Orleans Convention Center.
Similar to last year's Show-A-Week Giveaway that provided attendees with tickets to Las Vegas shows, the Restaurant-A-Week Giveaway focuses on the rich culinary tradition of New Orleans.
"The Big Easy is one of the greatest and most unique food cities in the world," said United Fresh Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner. "We wanted to make sure that attendees to United Fresh 2011 had the opportunity to sample the flavors and aromas that make New Orleans such a vibrant place to be."
Restaurants participating in the promotion include Arnaud's, Chartres House Café, Domenica, Drago's, Galatoire's, Lá Bayou, Outback Steakhouse, Pier 424 Seafood Market, Pierre Maspero's, Primo’s and Royal House Oyster Bar.
The first Restaurant-A-Week drawing will feature Galatoire's Restaurant, and be held January 7.

Registration for United Fresh 2011 can be done online and multiple convention packages are available. An early registration discount is available for attendees who register prior to March 25. More information can be found at UnitedFresh2011.com.

What's the Best Way to Meet Jamie Woodside, United's Newest Employee? Exhibit at United Fresh 2011!

United Fresh is proud to announce the hiring of Jamie Woodside, CEM, to the position of exposition manager as the association moves toward United Fresh 2011. Companies exhibiting at United Fresh 2011 will get to know Woodside well, interacting on all things trade show.

Woodside has worked in the exhibition industry for nearly 14 years and will be a strong addition in enhancing exhibitor retention, generating new sales, and inciting a higher level of engagement with this critical revenue stream to the association. Woodside has worked for a variety of different associations over her career, most recently as the Water Environment Federation’s Assistant Director of Exhibition Operations. Additionally, she has worked on some of the largest trade shows in the U.S., including the International Consumer Electronics Show and the National Retail Federation's Annual Convention and Expo.

"United Fresh is lucky to have Jamie Woodside as our new exposition manager," said United Convention and Industry Relations Vice President John Toner. "She has considerable exhibition management experience and has achieved her Certificate of Exposition Management from the International Association of Exhibition and Events. Jamie will be able to assist the entire staff team in delivering greater value to the exhibitors, and in return see an increased ROI to the membership."

Jamie can be reached at jwoodside@unitedfresh.org and at 202-303-3400, ext. 420.

Long-Time Produce Champion and United Fresh Ally Sworn In as Florida Ag Commissioner

Long-time produce champion and friend of United Fresh Adam Putnam was sworn in Tuesday as Florida's eleventh Commissioner of Agriculture in Tallahassee.

"Today begins a new chapter in our state, and I am excited to hit the ground running as Commissioner of Agriculture," Putnam said. "Agriculture remains a vital part of our state's economy and will remain an important part of its future, and I look forward to using technology and innovation to put Florida at the forefront of every opportunity."

United Fresh Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer, who like Putnam is a Central Florida native, congratulated Commissioner Putnam on his swearing in.

"Florida and the produce industry are fortunate to have Adam Putnam as the state's new agriculture commissioner," said Gilmer. "Commissioner Putnam comes from an agriculture background and he has demonstrated that industry knowledge and shown outstanding leadership on so many priority issues during his time in Congress. We look forward to working with him on Florida's and national industry priorities in the years ahead."

Award Winning Retail Manager Continues to Wow Customers

2009 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Award Winner Lequitte Perry, produce manager at the Louisa, Kentucky Food-City, a K-VA-T owned store, was recently featured in a Supermarket News story showcasing her creative approach to attract customers to their produce department. This season's attractions included a handmade floor-to-ceiling snowman made from chicken wire and tissue paper, and beautiful holiday fruit baskets. Click here to read the full story. Keep up the great work, Lequitte!

If you know an extraordinary retail produce manager like Lequitte who is deserving of recognition, nominate them today for the 2011 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program.  The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program pays special recognition to those on the front line in supermarkets working everyday to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  United Fresh is proud to extend the produce industry's thanks to outstanding supermarket produce managers everywhere!

United Fresh Members Highlight Freshconex Business Forums at Fruit Logistica 2011

United Fresh members will play a huge role in the upcoming Business Forums at Freshconex 2011, the annual international trade fair for fresh produce convenience held during Fruit Logistica 2011, February 9-11 in Berlin.

On February 9, Friedhelm Balmes from Gartenfrisch Jung GmbH will speak on taking advantage of Germany's HORECA sector, and Steve Grinstead of Pro*Act will share his perspectives on opportunities for fresh produce convenience in mass catering.

On February 10, Kim Gaarde and Eric Gaarde of Fruit Dynamics will discuss new profit channels for fresh convenience products, and Paddy Callaghan of Ireland's Nature's Best will speak on securing new retail growth for fresh produce convenience.

On February 11, Jeff Brandenburg of The JSB Group will update attendees on new packaging technologies. Mark Sementilli of Bunzl will share his perspectives on securing improvements in the fresh produce convenience logistics chain, followed by a presentation by Harrij Schmeitz of Frug I Com/Imtech, who will share his thoughts on distribution chain and traceability solutions for the fresh-cut convenience sector.

United Fresh will also have a booth in Hall 7.2C/A-08, where attendees can meet with United Fresh staff and learn more about United's programs and services global produce leaders, as well as programs in food safety and supply chain management, research in consumer trends, and more.  Chairman of the Board Steffanie Smith, River Point Farms, Members of the United Fresh Global Advisory Council and its Chairman David Barney, Bakkavor and President and CEO Tom Stenzel will host a Global Reception in our booth Thursday, February 10 from 17:00 - 19:00.

For more information about United events at FRESHCONEX and Fruit Logistica, please contact Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940.

Are You Ready to Be a Leader?

The application period is now open for the 17th annual class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program, presented by the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Leadership Excellence. The program, made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, is a special opportunity for United Fresh members to advance their leadership skills and knowledge.

Launched in 1995, the Produce Industry Leadership Program is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry, and is developed around the four fundamental goals of leadership development, business relationships, government and public affairs, and media and public relations. During the year-long fellowship, participants will take part in a series of customized trips which include face-to-face meetings with leading industry players, hands-on training with top industry experts and educators, interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington and much more. This year's schedule will feature trips to Central California, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Delaware, and Central Chile. The class will graduate at the 2012 United Fresh Convention in Dallas.

Participation in the program is limited to 12 fellows who are selected by an Advisory Committee, chaired by United Fresh Board member and Class 10 alumnus Jackson Woodward of Horton Fruit Company. The fellows 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 190 industry members have participated.

"For a rising professional in the produce industry, this is the most comprehensive program available," said Woodward. "It blends industry knowledge and exposure with professional development and business training for a fully-rounded experience. I encourage anyone who is looking to advance their career and their leadership skills to apply today."

Candidates interested in applying for the program can download information and an application at www.unitedfresh.org/programs or apply online here. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 4, 2011. The Leadership Program is an exclusive program for United Fresh members only. There is no cost to participate in the program and all regular expenses are covered through program funding. For more information, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

United Fresh and Allies React to ReNew Life Ad Attacking Lettuce

United Fresh joined with other produce industry organizations in a letter sent this week to the editors and publisher of Delicious Living magazine in response to the magazine’s running of an advertisement for ReNew Life dietary supplements.

In the ad, titled "What’s Lurking in your Lettuce," a head of iceberg lettuce is depicted as containing 11 chemicals including, according to the letter, an herbal extract, a home garden pesticide used to control wasps and a form of copper used in refineries, causing "fatigue, constipation, weight gain, skin problems and even brain fog."

In addition to United Fresh, other industry organizations signing the letter included The Alliance for Food and Farming, the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, the Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers Association.

"This type of advertisement is misleading to consumers and maligns the farmers who work so hard every day to bring their customers safe, wholesome and nutritious foods," said the associations in the statement.

For more information on the letter, please contact United Fresh Communications Manager Patrick Delaney at 202-303-3400, ext. 417.

Meet Your United Fresh Board Member: A Culture of Innovation Drives DuPont's John Chrosniak

John Chrosniak
Director, North American Crop Protection
DuPont Crop Protection
Wilmington, Delaware

Tell us about your background. Are you from Wilmington originally?

I’m one of these transient Americans that's never been able to stay in a place for very long. I was actually born in Louisiana, Ft. Polk to be exact, when my father was in the Army. Then we moved to North Carolina for 10 years, Texas for three, then ended up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., where my parents still live today. I consider Northern Virginia home, it was just a long time getting there. I did my undergrad at James Madison University then went to the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business for my MBA.

Tell us about DuPont’s role there in Wilmington. What are your favorite things about the town?

Wilmington is DuPont and DuPont is Wilmington. We were founded in 1802 by E.I. du Pont, an enterprising young man who had fled from France during the revolution and built his first powder mill on the Brandywine River.  He was not only an accomplished powder maker, he had studied botany and worked in his father's printing business.  He believed firmly in scientific advancement and was an inventor and a bit of a gentleman scientist.  It's no wonder that the DuPont Company eventually transformed into a broad, science-based company.  The DuPont family has also been very community-minded, contributing to various causes and supporting education and research.        

As a result, you'll find that DuPont is really woven into the fabric of Wilmington, and frankly DuPont is woven into the fabric of the United States. If you look at the letters between our founder and Thomas Jefferson when he was president, you see how we got our start. As we grew, we started businesses along the way, inventing things like nylon and synthetic rubber, and basically have been a big part of the building blocks of the United States.

Wilmington is a small town, not far from Philadelphia, but it's got a very distinct culture. A lot of people’s families worked for DuPont, and because of that, we're a big part of the community. Also, Wilmington is close to a lot of history as well, with places like Valley Forge, Philadelphia, and a lot of places that played big roles in the founding of the country.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have a wife and two kids and we're expecting our third in May, so I don'’t find myself with a whole lot of free time, but when I do, I like to fly airplanes. I've actually started to do something lately that I really find rewarding. I'm working with an organization called Angel Flight, which donates piloting services and aircraft to fly transplant patients and cancer patients in need of transportation to and from treatment. Last week, I took someone from Philadelphia to Watertown, New York. She wasn't really in a position to drive, so we took what would have been an eight-hour ride for her and did it in about an hour and twenty minutes. It's a great way for me to do something for the community and do something that I love to do as well.

What are some of the policy issues that take a front seat for you on a daily basis?

If you stop and think about what we do at DuPont, we're in the business of bringing science and innovation to solve problems, right? So for us, it's always been about being able to bring new technology, as well as to maintain the existing technology.  As we look at global demands for increased food production, new energy alternatives and enhanced safety to people and the environment, we see both incredible challenges as well as exciting opportunities.  DuPont has redefined itself in the agricultural marketplace to meet these challenges.  We are launching several new products from our promising pipeline and collaborating with customers to develop new answers to their changing needs. 

Because of that, one of our main issues is ensuring that we continue to have an environment in which we can bring new products to market quickly and efficiently.  That means having a political environment that encourages innovation and provides farmers with access to the best technologies our industry has to offer.  But to do that, we're going to need an unprecedented level of collaboration across our industry - across borders, among competitors, alongside policy makers, with non-governmental organizations and most importantly, hand-in-hand with local producers.   

Also, it is very important to us that the current regulations under which we have to work are based on sound science. We have no issues being regulated, but we have to be regulated based on the scientific foundations of risk versus benefit.

DuPont is entering its 17th year sponsoring United's Produce Industry Leadership Program. What is the value, for you, of playing such a large role in developing industry talent?

Part of it is demographics, pure and simple. There are fewer people coming in to the industry than are going to be retiring, so we've really got to figure out a way to develop folks. In that sense, what we're doing with United Fresh isn’t all that different from what we're doing here within our company, and that is finding out how to accelerate leadership development.  If we are going to meet the challenge of doubling agricultural output to adequately feed the expected global population of 9 billion people in 2050, we need strong leaders who have the vision and the creativity to find truly innovative solutions.  

I see our investment in what we do with United Fresh as helping the industry to accelerate development of its key leaders.

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

  • Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, San Diego, CA
  • California Giant Berry Farms, Inc., Watsonville, CA
  • Fox Packaging, McAllen, TX
  • IFCO Systems, Tampa, FL
  • L & M Companies, Raleigh, NC
  • River Ranch Fresh Foods, Salinas, CA

have committed to the 2010 Chairman's Roundtable:

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:

  • Earthtec Solutions, Vineland, NJ
  • Performance Produce LLC, Salisbury, NC
  • Ratto Bros., Inc., Salida, CA
  • Royal 4 Systems, Long Beach, 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.

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