February 3, 2011

In Today's Issue:

2010 Dietary Guidelines: Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables!

With the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010 DGA) in Washington today, United Fresh is cheering the new consumer message to "make half your plate fruits and vegetables." The Dietary Guidelines have long recommended that Americans consume more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, but the "make half your plate fruits and vegetables" message is the strongest and most compelling message to ever come out of Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services about fruits and vegetables. The "half a plate" visual lets Americans know exactly how to picture the amount of fruits and vegetables they should eat at every meal.
"Today's announcement is a huge step toward encouraging healthier eating habits across the country, and we couldn't be happier," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, who cited the "half a plate" strategy as a key tactic in testimony delivered to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in 2009 and 2010. "By making an overarching recommendation like 'half a plate,' the 2010 DGA provides clearer guidance to Americans that, no matter what their age or calorie intake requirement, everyone needs to strive to have fruits and vegetables make up half of what they eat at each meal. In late 2004, in preparation for the release of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, the National Cancer Institute did scientific consumer research to demonstrate that the half a plate message was the most effective way to communicate the amount of fruits and vegetables American should eat. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines really put fruits and vegetables front and center as a critical step toward creating a healthier America."
Published jointly by USDA and HHS, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every five years to reflect new nutrition science related to health promotion and disease prevention.The 2010 DGA focuses on balancing calories with physical activity and encourages Americans to consume more healthy foods like fruits,vegetables, whole grains, fat-free dairy products and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains. The 2010 DGA also emphasizes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange vegetables.
The 2010 DGA recommendations add to the impact of the recently-passed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law late last year, as well as the recently published proposed rule to improve school meals, which calls for doubling the amount of fruits and vegetables served in school meals and provides an increase in the federal reimbursement rate tied to serving healthier foods.
United Fresh has been at the forefront of nutrition advocacy for many years, championing increases in fruits and vegetable consumption through federal programs like the National School Lunch Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as public-private coalitions like the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative which supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative.

First Recipient of a United Fresh Salad Bar Receives USDA Highest Honor

Yesterday, Washington, D.C.'s Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School became the first school in the city to receive the Gold Award of Distinction as a Healthier US School from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The school was also the first in the nation to receive a salad bar from the United Fresh Foundation's groundbreaking school salad bar initiative. The salad bar has helped the school transform their school lunch program and improve the eating habits of their students.

School officials note that, as a result of the salad bar, almost all of their more than 300 students eat vegetables everyday at lunch. USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon presented the Gold Award of Distinction along with Hosanna Mahaley, D.C.'s new Superintendent of Education. Linda Moore, the school's founder and executive director, recognized United Fresh as a partner for their role in bringing the salad bar to Stokes.

Additionally, DC Bilingual, another school that received a salad bar through the United program last Spring, will also be awarded a Gold Award of Distinction later this winter. Thanks to a generous contribution from Dole Food Company, the United initiative was able to provide salad bars for both of DC Bilingual's schools.

For more information about how you can support United Fresh's Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, please contact United Fresh Vice President of Business Development Claudia Wenzing at 202-303-3400, ext. 415.

United Fresh Foundation Launches Produce Industry Compensation Survey

The United Fresh Foundation, through its Center for Leadership Excellence, has announced the introduction of a national produce industry compensation tool to assist industry members in providing critical compensation benchmarks.

Earlier this week, the United Fresh Foundation launched a survey to measure compensation and benefits levels for 30 positions within the produce industry using a proprietary online survey system. This online survey, prepared by expert research firm Industry Insights, confidentially collects data from U.S.-based produce companies on a range of full-time positions, including sales and marketing, production and operations, quality control and assurance, administration, finance and accounting, and executives.

"Our members have told us that they want reliable metrics on the salaries and benefits of several critical positions within the produce industry," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. "In fact, this new survey tool has been developed in direct response to input from United's Grower-Shipper Board and our members who have expressed a desire to ensure their competiveness in the marketplace and employment of the highest quality executives and workforce."

The survey is now available at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com, and is open to U.S.-based produce industry employers including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors. The survey, open to all produce companies based in the U.S., will be available until March 15 and the final report will be available in early May, to coincide with United Fresh 2011, the association’s annual convention and expo, May 2-5 in New Orleans.

"Employee turnover and new employee training costs companies thousands of dollars every year. This new compensation and benefits tool offers an efficient way for produce industry employers to know if they are paying their top employees competitively," said Backer.

Companies that participate in submitting data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully-customized report for their company at the discounted rate of $195. Non-participants can order a survey report for $495 for United Fresh members and $695 for non-members. For more information on the survey, please contact Education Manager Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

Annual Reception, 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 next week's Freshconex 2011, the annual international trade fair for fresh produce convenience held during Fruit Logistica 2011, Wednesday through Friday in Berlin.

On Wednesday, 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 Thursday, 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 Friday, 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 its annual Global Reception in our booth Thursday from 17:00–19:00.

For more information about United Fresh events at FRESHCONEX and Fruit Logistica, please contact United's Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940.

United Fresh Joins FightBAC! to Update Consumer Safety Practices

With the aim of updating federal information on consumer food safety practices, Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas represented United Fresh and the fresh produce industry this week on a panel presented by the Partnership on Food Safety Education.

"PFSE has been consumers' source of credible, science-based food safety information for twelve years," said Gombas. "United Fresh is pleased to assist in their efforts to provide consumers with the best recommendations."

At the meeting, hosted by USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, the panel of scientists considered whether the current recommendations of "Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill" are still relevant to consumers, whether the details in those recommendations are still based in the best science today, and whether additional recommendations should be provided.

"Consumers have an important role in assuring the safety of the fresh produce they serve to their families," added Gombas. "Today, there is an abundance of food safety information from many sources, and much of it can be wrong. The Partnership for Food Safety Education reaches consumers in multiple ways with simple and reliable guidance."

For more information about the Partnership and United's role in the new consumer messaging and other PFSE efforts, please contact Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3400, ext. 425.

Only a Few Days Left to Nominate Exceptional Chefs and Retail Produce Managers

Next Monday, February 7, is the final day to submit nominations for the 2011 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program and the Retail Produce Manager Awards Program.

The Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program, sponsored by Pro*Act, honors chefs for their use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. Winning chefs will be honored in six categories: fine dining restaurants, casual and family dining restaurants, quick serve restaurants, business in industry and colleges, hotels and healthcare, and k-12 foodservice. If you know an outstanding chef who has made produce a centerpiece of their plate, nominate them today.  For questions about the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards, please contact Miriam Miller, United Fresh senior director of membership, at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.

The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program, sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, pays special recognition to retail produce managers on the front line in supermarkets working everyday to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. This year’s program will recognize 25 exceptional retail produce managers. Do you know a produce manager who goes above and beyond and sets the standards of produce excellence in their store? Nominate them today. For questions about the Retail Produce Managers Awards Program, please contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

The winning chefs and retail produce managers along with their corporate executives will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2011, May 2-5 in New Orleans and will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet.

An Ivy League Education Awaits for Produce Industry Executives

United's signature Produce Executive Development Program, held in partnership with Cornell University, will return to the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY next month. 

Produce executives are invited to register for the five-day program, held March 13-18, that includes issues critical to both personal career development and larger business challenges such as financial planning, executive leadership, negotiation and conflict resolution, retail and foodservice strategies, work/life balance and more. The course will feature guest speakers, case study exploration, working groups and discussion with leading industry executives.

"This is an investment in human capital," said 2010 graduate Scott McQuiston, Vice President and Food Safety Director of Dawson's Orchards, Inc. "The instructors are world class and have structured a program that's like a full MBA geared specifically to the produce industry which you won't find anywhere else. The program was enhanced by the quality of the industry leaders participating and the continued relationships long after we left."

Tuition for the course includes five nights lodging, instruction, books, supplies, breakfasts, luncheons and several special dinners. Limited space is available and interested parties can click here or contact United Fresh Education Manager Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400, ext. 405 for more information.

Kevin Basore of TKM Bengard Farms is This Week's BIG Winner in United's Restaurant A Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Kevin Basore of TKM Bengard Farms, as the winner of this week's Restaurant a Week Giveaway. Kevin is headed to Pier 424 Seafood Market, courtesy of United Fresh. Kevin comes on the heels of Publix Super Markets' Albert Gottuso, who, as announced last Friday, is headed to Domenica, a Chef John Besh Restaurant.

Every Thursday, 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 Kevin and Albert! Next week's Restaurant a Week winner is headed to Arnaud's, courtesy of United Fresh 2011.

Meet Your United Fresh Board Members: With a Global Perspective, Bayer CropScience's John Smith is Focused on Sustainability

John Smith
Director, Horticulture Region
Bayer CropScience
Raleigh, North Carolina

How long has Bayer CropScience been in business?

Bayer CropScience has a long and rich history in crop protection. The predecessor companies of Bayer CropScience began formulating chemistries in the late 1800's and developing trait technology in the mid-1990's. Today, Bayer CropScience is one of the world's leading innovative crop science companies in the area of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.

What values are most central to Bayer CropScience?

There are several values that are at the core of the Bayer CropScience culture, but two really stand out to me personally. First, a passion for our stakeholders, which means we have a personal commitment to deliver value for our various stakeholders by focusing on the needs of our customers. Second, sustainability of our actions, which is a personal commitment to act in a way that balances the economic, ecological, and social needs of current and future generations.

How do the organizational dynamics of your business factor into your operation, and how does it help you fulfill those values you mentioned?

Bayer CropScience consists of three business units: crop protection, environmental science and bioscience. Through these areas of focus, we are poised to bring growers a wealth of options to protect his crop, as well as his home and landscape. This allows us to take a more holistic view of our customers to ensure that we are providing value to them, while at the same time creating sustainable solutions to today's business and environmental challenges.

What are some of the challenges Bayer CropScience has faced in the past year?

We continue to face increasing pressure on sales and earnings from generic products and rising development costs.  In addition to this, we have growing regulatory requirements and the high volatility of raw material prices.  However, as an innovation-driven crop protection and seed company, we remain committed to agriculture by investing and developing solutions for farmers to help safeguard the global food supply long term for a growing world population.   

What are you guys working on currently?

We continue to be in the process of introducing a host of exciting new crop protection solutions that are innovative and specifically targeted to the fruit and vegetable markets.  Some of these products include the newly registered insecticides Movento® and Belt®, as well as future products pending registration such as Alion™ herbicide and Luna® fungicide.

Of the policy issues that we deal with as an industry, which strikes a chord with you the most and why?

Each issue is very important and we take them all seriously. However, if I were to choose just one then it would be sustainability. At Bayer CropScience, we believe that practicing sustainable development makes good business sense. With population growth of 50 percent expected by 2050, global agricultural output must double over the next 40 years to meet the demand for food, feed, fiber, and energy.  In addition to this, we must manage our environmental impact and support the communities in which we live to protect our natural resources. Bayer CropScience is pleased to be the primary supporter of the Center for Global Produce Sustainability. We feel that sustainability in the fruit and vegetable industry will continue to be a very important issue and want to ensure that the members are able to stay ahead of the game in this area. We look forward to more interaction with the Center and the members of United Fresh around this topic and hope that Bayer CropScience is seen as a leader in providing sustainable solutions to our customers.

How does Bayer CropScience interact with the surrounding community there in Raleigh?

Bayer CropScience strives to develop meaningful and long-term relationships with organizations in our industry and our communities. We are avid supporters of the National FFA and also partner with both national and local charities, such as United Way, National MS Society, and Passage Home of Raleigh. Our goal is to make a difference in the areas in which we live and work, using Bayer CropScience as a positive resource.

What is one thing that your industry peers don't know about you?

I have three daughters who are competitive swimmers, two at the collegiate level that qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2008. I also lived and worked for Bayer "down under" in Australia for three years.

What impressed you about the ag industry in Australia? What contrasts did you see?

Probably what impressed me the most about the ag industry in Australia was how efficient and self reliant the farmers are there. Just like in the U.S., farming operations have become more efficient through the adoption of new technologies and farm management practices.  This has enabled Australian farmers to return positive productivity growth year on year.  Also for a relatively arid country, less than one percent of all of the agricultural land is irrigated. I also remember that Australian farmers produce a very high percentage (greater than 90 percent) of their daily domestic food supply with relatively low government support; I believe it is less than 5 percent of the farming income.

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:

  • Chiquita Brands International, Cincinnati, OH
  • Torrey Farms, Elba, NY

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:

  • CORESEARCH, Brentwood, TN
  • DZH Phillips LLP, Salinas, CA
  • Woodhouse Shanahan PA, Cedar Key, FL

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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