January 27, 2010

In Today's Issue:

Nutrition Advocates, United Fresh Allies Named House Subcommittee Ranking Members

Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sam Farr (D-CA), back row, third and fourth from left, have been named ranking members of two House Appropriations Subcommittees.
Long-time congressional nutrition advocates Sam Farr, who represents California's Central Coast, and Connecticut's Rosa DeLauro, who represents the New Haven area, have been named the ranking members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, respectively.

"It is so encouraging to see these members of Congress, who have been our allies for so long, in these positions," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United's vice president of nutrition and health. "Reps. DeLauro and Farr have fought so vocally for better nutrition through increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and we look forward to working with them in the 112th Congress."

Rep. DeLauro's subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services, while Rep. Farr’s subcommittee determines federal spending on food safety and agricultural research, as well as federal feeding programs like the WIC program.

TSA Shortens Timeframe for 100% Cargo Screening Requirement

In response to recent global security events, the Transportation Safety Administration has bumped up the target date for 100% screening of cargo carried aboard passenger planes inbound to the United States by December 31, 2011, two years before the original target date in 2013.

“This is an important change for our supply chain members, and we encourage each of them to research the new requirements and updated timetable and submit their comments to TSA accordingly,” said Dan Vaché, United Fresh vice president of supply chain management.

According to a statement released by TSA, carriers will have between 30 and 45 days to submit comments, and may do so at www.tsa.gov.

Have You Redeemed Your Member Rewards Certificate Yet?

Members, be on the lookout for your United Fresh Member Rewards certificate. It's your ticket to savings on all of United's one-of-a-kind education, developing and networking opportunities.

Upon renewing their membership, United Fresh member companies will receive, based on their dues category, a series of $100 rewards certificates that can be applied towards registrations for United member programs.  Rewards certificates can be redeemed for individual registrations for United's upcoming convention and trade show in New Orleans, Washington Public Policy Conference, Produce Executive Development Program, Produce Inspection Training Program, or Fresh Convenience Congress.  United Fresh membership staff will personally assist member companies with redeeming the awards, as well as with the registration process.

“Participating in an educational program is one of the best ways members can experience the value of United Fresh membership,” said Miriam Miller, senior director of membership.  “Member Rewards will help our member companies to participate in the programs and events that will best support their business priorities.”

For more information on United Fresh Member Rewards, or for help with registering for a United Fresh program, please contact Sophie Drayton, United Fresh membership coordinator at 202-303-3400, ext.

Get the Scoop on the Food Safety Modernization Act from United Fresh

It's not too late to pick up your copy of the United Fresh white paper that details the likely effects of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by the Congress late last month and signed into law by President Barack Obama January 4.

Available for free to United Fresh members, the white paper examines new requirements and regulations faced by businesses within the fresh produce supply chain under the new law. Included in the report are breakdowns on the ramifications for produce grower-shippers, wholesalers and distributors, fruit and vegetable importers, retailers and foodservice operators, and food transporters.

"The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will mean significant changes for the fruit and vegetable industry," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. "This white paper gives a quick but exhaustive rundown of the major changes that produce industry members can expect under the new law - all in plain English."

In addition to the segment-specific impacts for these sectors, the white paper contains a section that looks at the legislation's effect on the industry as a whole, including the aspects of the bill that deal with mandatory recall authority for FDA, traceability, foodborne illness surveillance, food safety education and training, protections against bioterrorism and laboratory testing.

The white paper also includes a quick-reference-style chart showing what new developments can be expected by each sector, as well as a timeline for the implementation of all new regulations under the law.

The white paper can be downloaded here free of charge for United Fresh members; there is a $50 fee for non-members. For more information on the report, please contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

Apply Now for the 17th Annual Produce Industry Leadership Program

If you know an "up-and-coming" leader in the industry, encourage them to apply for the 2011-2012 United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program. Presented through the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Leadership Excellence and made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, the Produce Industry Leadership Program is a special opportunity for United members to advance and foster their leadership skills and industry knowledge.

Each year, 12 candidates are selected to participate in the year-long program that focuses on four fundamental goals: Leadership Development, Business Relationships, Governmental & Public Affairs, and Media & Public Communication.

Since its inception in 1995, over 180 industry members have taken part in this exclusive program. The applicants are selected from a broad cross-section of the industry to represent the breadth of the United Fresh membership.  There is no cost to participate and it is the only ongoing, fully paid leadership program for the produce industry. 

During the year-long 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, together with a specially designed curriculum at the University of California, Davis, interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington, DC and much more.

This year's schedule will feature trips to Central California; Washington, DC and Wilmington, DE; and Central Chile.  The class will graduate at the 2012 United Fresh convention in Dallas.

Download an application from the United Fresh website or apply online. Applications must be received before March 4. For more information or questions, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

University of Georgia Hosts GAPs Course Next Month

Next month, United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas will join representatives from the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Southeast Produce Council and the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Food Science and Technology in presenting GAPs and GMPs for HACCP-Based Food Safety for the Fresh Produce Industry.

The course, which is now accredited by the International HACCP Alliance, is presented at UGA's Extension Food Science training facility in Athens and 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. Additionally, 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, document and verify the results of their efforts, each as established by the International HACCP Alliance. Participants will also learn how to use microbial testing as a verification tool for audit compliance. The goal of the interactive sessions is to assist participants in developing a food safety plan that they can implement in their specific operations.

The course will run from February 15-17 and United Fresh, GFVGA and SEPC members will receive discounted registration. For more information, visit www.efsonline.uga.edu, or contact UGA's Extension Food Science department at efs@uga.edu or 706-542-2574.

Time's Running Out to Honor the Best in Foodservice

Just two weeks remain to honor the foodservice industry's most groundbreaking produce performers through the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. The program, presented through the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Leadership Excellence, is generously supported by founding sponsor Pro*Act, LLC, and is now entering its fourth year. Nominations must be submitted no later than February 7 and nomination information is available online here.

"This award recognizes the positive impact that chefs and foodservice operators have on the produce industry," said Max Yeater, chief operating officer of Pro*Act. "Across the country, chefs at restaurants and foodservice operations play such an important role in increasing the consumption of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables by creating new and exciting ways to incorporate fresh produce into their menus."

Winning chefs will be honored in the categories of Fine Dining Restaurants, Casual and Family Dining Restaurants, Quick Serve Restaurants, Business in Industry & Colleges, and Hotels & Healthcare Industry, as well as an inaugural honoree in a the new K-12 Foodservice category.

The six winning chefs and their corporate executives will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2011, May 2-5 in New Orleans. The winners will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet on Wednesday, May 4. The chefs will also participate in the education program at United Fresh 2011 to share their views on produce trends in foodservice.

Winners will be selected based on nominees' incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, community engagement and outreach and how nominees build an overall positive dining experience featuring fresh produce.  Winners will be selected by a panel of United Fresh members focused on excellence in the foodservice sector.

For more information about the award program, please contact Miriam Miller, United Fresh senior director of membership at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.

Liberty Fruit's Scott Danner is This Week's BIG Winner in United's Restaurant A Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Liberty Fruit Co.'s Scott Danner, as the winner of this week's Restaurant a Week Giveaway. Scott is headed to Drago's Seafood Restaurant, courtesy of United Fresh.

Every Friday, United Fresh draws a winner from all registered attendees to United Fresh 2011. Winners receive a gift certificate to one of New Orleans’ finest restaurants. Each week, the list is updated with the most current registered attendees, so the sooner you register for United Fresh 2011, the BIGGER your chances are to win!

Congratulations Scott! Next week's Restaurant a Week winner is headed to Domenica, A Chef John Besh Restaurant, courtesy of United Fresh 2011.

Meet Your United Fresh Board Member: At Walmart, at Naturipe or on his Harley, Bruce Peterson Brings Perspective

Bruce Peterson
Peterson Insights
Bentonville, Arkansas

You have been heavily involved in the public policy arena starting with your time at Walmart and on into your time on United's board. Is there a single issue that pushed you into that involvement, or highlighted the importance of involvement in the political process?

No, actually, it was more by happenstance in that Walmart was, in the mid-90s, getting more involved, across the board in political action. It's funny, because Sam Walton was never a believer in trying to influence or becoming involved in the regulatory and legislative process. He viewed Washington as a necessary evil; more of a "you don't bother us, we won't bother you"-type mentality. But during that time, it became more apparent that Walmart was going to need to become more active in the political arena. Correspondingly, we were becoming a more substantial part of the produce industry in terms of our size, and it was clear to me that there were ag policy agendas that we could be supportive with our suppliers on. My focus, in my political agenda throughout that process, was to help our growers, because they needed a voice. As United well knows, it is very difficult for an individual grower to either be abreast of or influence the agenda with respect to agricultural policy. They tend to hunker down into more regionalized issues. Because I was one of the few senior executives at Walmart that was proactively reaching out to our team in Washington, we got a lot of attention, and ultimately, they approached me to chair our WalPAC advisory committee. We were able to work on a regulatory and legislative agenda in the same kind of proactive way that we would work on a marketing agenda. It wasn't really a single thing that grabbed my attention, rather I was more interested in the things that were on our suppliers’ minds.

With 40 years in the industry, from Walmart to Naturipe and on to your consulting work, what have you taken from each stop and how do you combine that experience into your current position?

When I left Walmart, I was responsible for about $36 billion in retail sales. When I got to Naturipe, it was a fraction of that. But more importantly than just size is that a publicly-held company will behave very differently than a privately-held one. That's where I think I've been helpful in my consulting business is in helping growers understand how major, publicly-held retailers feel about a wide variety of things. The other thing that people don't realize is that when you work for a large company, just how many resources that you have at your disposal. For example, if I wanted to call up the Secretary of Agriculture, he would come to the phone. Not necessarily because I'm so important, but because the company itself is so significant. What I like to tell people about my career is that I don't know if I've gotten any smarter, and I don't know if I've gotten any wiser, but I can assure you that I’ve gotten perspective. I'm still a street kid from Detroit and a produce guy at heart. With most produce companies, because they're so regionalized, they don't get that larger perspective. They focus so closely on their commodity or their area of the country and they don’t get that broader scope of the issues. Because I speak the language and am generally regarded as a produce guy, I can sit down and talk to people about their business and give them a perspective that they wouldn’t otherwise have, helping them to think about their business differently.

You mention that you're a street kid from Detroit, but after leaving Walmart, you chose to stay there in Arkansas. What is it about Bentonville that made you stay?

It’s funny, coming from a major metropolitan area and an area up north, I never thought badly about Arkansas, I just never thought about it at all. When we first moved down here, getting in and out of Bentonville was kind of difficult. It was a small airport with only turboprop commuter planes; but when they built the new airport, all of that changed and I can get wherever I need to go direct. What we don't have here are major traffic problems, major crime problems or major tax issues. It's a great sense of community. I've got a Harley too, and I’m able to ride around here, which is great. When we first got here, we didn't think we’d stay - now we're building another house and it makes no sense at all to go any place else. We're fortunate enough to travel when we want to, but from a hometown standpoint, it was really a surprise to us.

What kind of Harley?

It's a Heritage Softail. I retired from Walmart on the last day of February and picked my bike up on the first day of March.

Anything you miss about Detroit?

Oh everything, kind of, but we've been in Arkansas for almost 20 years. We spent a lot of time in Canada because of the proximity. I'm a big University of Michigan fan, a big Detroit Tigers fan, a Red Wings guy. It's hard to be a Lions fan, but I am. I spent 30 some odd years of my life in Southeastern Michigan, and I think that when you do that you'll always have that attachment. The city itself has gone through its share of trauma and difficult times, which is really sad to see, but I'll always have that romantic attachment to it.

You are a frequent guest lecturer at universities across the country. What is it about this that is so rewarding for you?

Of all the things that I have done and do in my professional career, that is the most satisfying thing that I do over the course of the year. Back when I was with Walmart, it had much more of a pragmatic value to it in that it served as kind of a recruiting tool, if you will, because so many people really didn't have a good idea of what Walmart was all about, and lecturing gave me the opportunity to showcase a side of the company that perhaps people didn't readily see. Generally the way my lectures worked involved about 30 minutes of prepared remarks, and then the balance of the time in questions and answers. In that part of the lecture, no questions were off-limits, and I found that to be both so refreshing and so challenging. To hear what young people had on their minds with respect to the business world, the produce industry, Walmart. We never seemed to have enough time to get all the questions in. If you open up the floor in an honest way to a group of students, you really start to get a feel for exactly what’s on people's minds.

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2011 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 2011 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • A & J Produce Corporation, Bronx, NY
  • Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN
  • Lakeside Produce Distribution, Rocky River, OH
  • Market Fresh Produce, LLC, Nixa, MO
  • N2N Global, Longwood, FL
  • Val Verde Vegetable Company, McAllen, TX

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:

  • Midwest Commodities, Indianapolis, IN
  • Sabor Farms, Salinas, CA
  • Status Gro, South Pasadena, CA
  • University of California, Davis Plant Research Center, Davis, CA
  • Yamato Corporation, Mequon, WI

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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