February 10, 2011

In Today's Issue:

United Board Member Ashley Rawl Represents Produce Industry at Let's Move! Anniversary

When First Lady Michelle Obama mentioned the United Fresh effort to put 6,000 salad bars in schools across the country within three years, it was all Ashley Rawl could do to contain himself. The United Fresh Board member and director of sales and marketing for Pelion, SC-based Walter P. Rawl & Sons represented United Fresh and the produce industry at the first anniversary celebration of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative in Alpharetta, GA, Wednesday.

"Mrs. Obama was very candid about the challenges facing kids and parents alike with regard to childhood obesity." said Rawl. "She spoke at length on the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. Increasing consumption, making them more available, increasing access in lower-income areas."

The First Lady focused primarily on the initiative's efforts to meet the needs of parents, sharing how the issue has affected her as a parent. Mrs. Obama also highlighted the momentum Let's Move! has gained, and looked ahead to what more needs to be done to reduce childhood obesity in a generation. The First Lady then gave a nod to the pledge of United's Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative to place 6,000 salad bars in schools nationwide.

"When she mentioned the 6,000 salad bars, she got a nice round of applause, but I about stood up and jumped on my chair," said Rawl. "I was very impressed with Mrs. Obama. You could tell that it really meant something to her not only to be there, but also to see all the parents that were there because they’ve had enough and they're making a stand; looking for ways to get their kids to be healthier."

United Fresh issued its congratulations on the success of Let"s Move! as well.

"With Let"s Move!, the First Lady has raised our nation's awareness about the value of a healthy, nutritious lifestyle for America's children. The Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, announced by Mrs. Obama in November, brings additional focus to the importance of better nutrition in our nation’s schools," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Research has shown that kids, given a variety of choices of fruits and vegetables in a salad bar, respond by trying new items, incorporating greater variety in their diets, and increasing their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. United Fresh congratulates the First Lady for her accomplishments with Let's Move! and thanks her for her ongoing promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables in schools. We look forward to the progress ahead as we work toward creating a healthier future for our kids."

For more on Let's Move!, visit www.LetsMove.gov, and for more on Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, visit www.SaladBars2Schools.org.

Smith, Grinstead Highlight First Day of Fruit Logistica

FRESHCONEX 2011 got off to a rolling start this week, with presentations from several key United Fresh members, including Chairman Steffanie Smith, who presented along with Nunhems' Daniel Kretzschmar at the FRESHCONEX Business Forum focusing on new product developments at the foodservice level.

In addition to Smith's address, Friedhelm Balmes from Gartenfrisch Jung GmbH spoke at a forum on taking advantage of Germany's hotel, restaurant and catering sector, and Steve Grinstead of Pro*Act shared his perspectives on opportunities for fresh produce convenience in mass catering alongside Raina Nelson of Rosemont Farms.

The education continues today and tomorrow, with Kim Gaarde and Eric Gaarde of Fruit Dynamics, who will discuss new profit channels for fresh convenience products, and Paddy Callaghan of Ireland’s Nature's Best, who will speak on securing new retail growth for fresh produce convenience. Additionally, 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, and Harrij Schmeitz of Frug I Com/Imtech will share his thoughts on distribution chain and traceability solutions for the fresh-cut convenience sector.

All week, United Fresh can be found in Hall 7.2C/A-08, where attendees can meet with United Fresh staff and learn more about United's programs, as well as programs in food safety and supply chain management, research in consumer trends, and more.

This evening, Smith, and United Fresh Global Advisory Council Chairman David Barney of Bakkavor and President and CEO Tom Stenzel will host the association's annual Global Reception in the United stand from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (17:00–19:00).

Check back in next week's Inside United Fresh for photos and a full recap of FRESHCONEX and Fruit Logistica.

Chiquita, United Spotlight Fruits and Veggies with Donation of 10 Salad Bars to Chicago Schools

At a dedication ceremony in Chicago yesterday, United Fresh and Chiquita joined forces to help increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for thousands of Chicago Public Schools students by announcing the donation of 10 new salad bars as part of the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

The 10 salad bars donated this week bring the total number of salad bars serving CPS students to 72. CPS is committed to raising that number to 110 salad bars throughout the district by the end of 2011.

Chiquita's Chairman and CEO Fernando Aguirre, international banana ambassador Miss Chiquita, United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, along with CPS officials, were all in attendance at Bernhard Moos Elementary School in West Chicago for the announcement.

"On the first anniversary of Let's Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama's bipartisan initiative to fight childhood obesity, Chiquita is proud to be at the forefront of providing children increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables"” said Aguirre. "Chiquita's donation of salad bars to Chicago Public Schools furthers our sustained commitment to helping children live healthier lives. At Chiquita, providing all consumers with convenient and fresh products is part of our vision of a healthier world; helping children reach that goal is one of our top priorities"

"We are thrilled that Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third largest school system, has made a commitment to salad bars as a way of increasing students' fruit and vegetable consumption," added DiSogra. "Salad bars are an effective strategy for improving the healthfulness of school meals and the eating habits of students. Chicago Public Schools is a leader in Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, and we thank Chiquita and CPS for their valuable teamwork."

United Fresh, Chiquita and CPS announced the donation as part of the CPS commitment to salad bars and increasing students' consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. The Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative is committed to 6,000 salad bars to schools across the country over the next three years. Chiquita, through its Fresh Express subsidiary, was the first produce company to commit multi-year financial and operational support for the school salad bar effort.

For information or to get involved with the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, contact Claudia Wenzing, United Fresh vice president of business development at 202-303-3400, ext. 415.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and USDA Launch Let's Move Salad Bars to New Haven Schools

Fresh salad is now available to students at two New Haven, CT, schools every day thanks to NatureSeal and Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools. The salad bars, donated to Mauro-Sheridan Science, Technology and Communications School and Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School by NatureSeal and United Fresh, will benefit more than a thousand students each school day.

"I think it's really cool and it should help kids think more about healthy eating," said student Avery Johnson, 12, as she happily dug into a bowl of lettuce, broccoli and carrots.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and USDA Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton joined Chef Timothy Cipriano, executive director of New Haven Public School Food Services as well as New England Patriots lineman Ron Brace and NatureSeal’s Karen Murphy and A.J. Martinich, to unveil the new salad bar at a ceremony on February 3.  

"Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools provides students an opportunity to prepare and consume their own fresh salad every day, which translates into a win-win for our children's health and well-being," said Thornton. "We thank all of our vital partners who contributed and look forward to the thousands of schools that will benefit from similar nutritious options in the coming years."

Congresswoman DeLauro, a big champion for increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, noted that she will continue to fight for programs that provide healthful foods for children. 

United Fresh thanks Nature Seal for their very generous support of salad bars to schools in New Haven and Las Vegas. For information or to get involved with the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, contact Claudia Wenzing, United Fresh vice president of business development at 202-303-3400, ext. 415.

GAPs Course Returns to University of Georgia

Next week, 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 through 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.

United Fresh to Offer Popular Recall Training Program Online

In response to overwhelming demand, the United Fresh Produce Association Foundation has announced that it is offering its popular Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course in an online webinar format. The course, presented through the United Fresh Foundation’s Center for Food Safety and Quality, consists of six weekly, hour-long sessions beginning March 11.

The six-part course features representatives from FDA and legal professionals, as well as crisis communication and food safety experts, helping participants gain a firm grasp on a company’s rights and responsibilities during a recall, how to limit liability and manage customer expectations, and the steps involved in guiding a company through a product recall as smoothly as possible.

"We've received such a fantastic turnout for each in-person version of this course that we wanted to expand, and bring it to the entire industry," said United's Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer. "The new format will bring the same industry-leading concepts and exercises from the recall course right to the participant's desk."

Program presenters include Larry Howell, recall and emergency coordinator for the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, David Durkin of Olson, Frank & Weeda, United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas and Ray Gilmer, United’s vice president of communications.

"A product recall can be devastating to a company's bottom line and reputation," said Gilmer. "The companies that are best prepared can weather the storm and minimize the impact of a recall. This course helps companies ensure that each person on their staff knows how to work together to properly handle a recall."

Registration for the course is $495 for United Fresh members; $695 for non-members, and registration can be done online here. For more information, please contact United Fresh Education Manager Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

ERS Study Highlights Affordability of Fruits and Vegetables

A study released this month from the USDA's Economic Research Service explores the retail costs of fruits and vegetables for the American consumer and, perhaps not surprising to United Fresh members, has found that there is not a significant price difference between fresh and processed produce. According to the survey, shoppers can purchase their recommended daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables for between $2.00 and $2.50 per day.

"This is a big finding for fresh fruits and vegetables," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "In a time when most Americans are not getting their recommended daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, a study that shows these healthy foods are no more expensive than their processed counterparts can go a long way toward convincing consumers to eat more fresh produce."

With the new Dietary Guidelines that suggest Americans eat half a plate of fruits and vegetables, Stenzel hopes that the study will enable consumers to see the "half a plate" goal as something that can be achieved on an average household grocery budget.

"Fresh fruits and vegetables have always been the healthiest foods available, and now it has been shown that they cost no more than their processed, dried and canned counterparts," he said.

A full transcript of the study can be found by clicking here.

House and Senate Luminaries to Meet with Fruit and Vegetable Representatives at Government Relations Council Meetings

Members of United's Government Relations Council will gather in the nation's capital next week for their annual meetings at the Renaissance Washington Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. On the docket for this year's meetings is face time Tuesday with Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), president of the freshman class of the 112th Congress and a new member on the House Agriculture Committee. That evening, long-time produce ally and newly-minted ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee Sam Farr (D-CA) will join the GR Council for dinner.

During the council's congressional visits on Wednesday, the group will meet with Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). A great friend of the produce industry, Chairwoman Stabenow will discuss her expanded role as the leader of the committee that will write the next Farm Bill and its impact on the industry.

Along with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) as honorary co-hosts, United will host a reception following Wednesday’s visits that honors the members of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Additionally, the council will also hear from FDA the latest on its plan to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Check back with Inside United Fresh next week for photos and a full recap of the event.

Town Hall Luncheons Coming to South Florida Later this Month

Continuing its popular series of produce industry Town Hall luncheons, United Fresh will visit with members of the South Florida industry at Town Halls in Belle Glade and Immokalee.

Led by United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Florida native Robert Guenther and Senior Director of Membership Miriam Miller, the events will feature informal discussions of key topics facing the industry, including the potential impact of the new food safety legislation, new federal nutrition programs and an update on United Fresh member programs and services that benefit produce companies of all shapes and sizes. 

"United Fresh Town Halls are a great opportunity for companies to come out and make their voices heard on issues that pertain to their specific regions and their specific business types," said Miller. "We look forward to welcoming United Fresh members from across Florida this month and hearing the issues that matter to them most."

The Belle Glade Town Hall will be held Monday, February 21 at the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences' Everglades Research & Education Center, and the Immokalee Town Hall will be held the following day at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research & Education Center.

Registration may be done online for Belle Glade here and Immokalee here. Please contact United Fresh Membership Coordinator Sophie Drayton for more information at 202-303-3400, ext. 413.

Gary Myracle of Associated Wholesale Grocers is This Week's BIG Winner in United’s Restaurant A Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Associated Wholesale Grocers' Gary Myracle, as the winner of United's first Restaurant a Week Giveaway. Gary is headed to Arnaud's, 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 Gary! Next week's Restaurant a Week winner is headed to Pierre Maspero's, courtesy of United Fresh 2011.

Meet Your United Fresh Board Member: Tony DiMare Values Family, Community and Integrity

Tony DiMare
Vice President
DiMare Company
Ruskin, Florida

What values are most central to the DiMare Company?

Family. We're three generations deep with longstanding relationships within the industry. In addition to that, integrity, honesty, reliability, and remaining a quality grower/shipper are all important values and characteristics to our organization.

What are some of the challenges that DiMare has faced in the past year?

Radical weather has been a big one, with unprecedented freezes and prolonged cold. We've also had to deal with the continued diminishing of a stable harvesting workforce.

In spite of those challenges, what are you working on?

We continue to monitor and review new technology for distribution, packing and repacking on the shipping side of the company. On the growing side, we also continue to look at and introduce new technology, whether it's new seed varieties or farming practices; all with the goal of reducing water usage and our carbon footprint.

What industry issues strike a chord most with you?

Although we are supportive of, and have been a leader in the Produce Traceability Initiative, and we will do whatever the industry and government decides, I believe this initiative has been pushed too fast without fully studying the various complexities from all of industry, both big and small. I personally don't believe the return on investment within certain commodities will ever be achieved.

You mentioned your support for PTI but cited a few concerns and issues you have. Both in your own company and as a member of a representative organization like United Fresh, how do you ensure that differing views, opinions and ideas are heard and given equal consideration?

First of all, you have to speak your mind and express your feelings as it relates to the impact on your company, but as a director you also have to be open-minded as to the effects on the entire industry. Realized and unrealized long and short-term costs are always a consideration.

How does your company interact with the surrounding community in Ruskin, in Homestead and other communities where you operate?

Our company has always been a supporter of numerous local and statewide community service and business organizations inside the industry and outside the industry. Members of our company give both in financial support and time volunteered as board members, from RCMA (Redlands Christian Migrant Association) and other causes for the betterment of our workers, local schools at all levels, food banks, hospitals, and many other charity groups.

You live in college football heaven, but who's your team?
Having grown up in Miami, I am a Hurricane fan through and through. I actually attended summer school and part of a semester there after transferring from Boston University.

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

It seems like yesterday, but I have been involved in the business for 28 years now. The DiMare Family has been and still is a very hands-on operator with 12 family members involved at many different levels from farming, packing, repacking and sales. The DiMare Company has also made significant investments for the purpose of developing tomato varieties for the betterment of the entire tomato industry.

With nearly 30 years in the business under your belt, what are some of the lessons you've learned and the experiences that you carry with you to work every day?

Nothing stays the same for long in this business. Things change very rapidly and sometimes daily in this business. Be open-minded, be flexible and, most of all, be honest with people. Your word is your bond!

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:

  • NewStar Fresh Foods, LLC, Salinas, CA

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:

  • G & D Wallace, Inc., Burlington, WA
  • Jardin Verde Pjusa, Quito, Ecuador
  • Jem-D International/Agricola El Rosal, Forest Park, GA
  • RLB Food Distributors, West Caldwell, NJ

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
  • Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
    February 22, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Southwest Florida Research & Education Center, Immokalee, FL