March 3, 2011

In Today's Issue:

Super Session and Learning Center Topics Announced for United Fresh 2011

How growers can make the most of the locally grown discussion, fresh-cut market trends, generational leadership development and consumer trends are just a few of the many education topics available to attendees this spring at United Fresh 2011.

United's annual convention, May 2-5 in New Orleans, features education for each segment of the fresh produce industry, based on the association's four Market Segment Boards: Grower-Shipper, Wholesaler-Distributor, Fresh-Cut Processor and Retail-Foodservice. Through breakout Super Sessions and Learning Centers on the tradeshow floor, United Fresh 2011 will deliver customized educational programming for each sector of the produce business.

"One of the most important aspects of our annual show is to deliver big value that meets each attendee's unique needs," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer. "We understand that at different points in the supply chain, those needs differ, and our tailored approach to convention education allows us to focus on the critical priorities and opportunities within each segment. The Learning Centers and Super Sessions are two great ways for attendees to experience a show that has truly been customized for their business."

For the grower-shipper, United Fresh 2011 tackles the hot-button issue of locally grown in the "Putting a Face on Your Product to Meet the Local Challenge" Super Session. The session helps attendees tell their story to consumers and retail customers alike, building personal connections with customers and a strong marketing platform for their products. In addition to the Super Session, the Grower-Shipper Learning Center on the United Fresh 2011 expo floor includes programming on:

  • Social Media for Marketing and Reputation Management
  • Empowering Retail Staff as Ambassadors for the Grower-Shipper Story
  • What Do Customers Want from Suppliers in Social Responsibility?
  • Using Packaging Design to Create Excitement and Sales.

Generational leadership development is the focus of the Super Session for the wholesalers and distributors. In "Preparing the Next Generation of Wholesale & Distributor Leaders," attendees learn to identify potential leaders, facilitate internal staff development and blend family and non-family talent to create powerful leadership teams. The Wholesaler-Distributor Learning Center explores:

  • Managing Transportation Costs and Quality Control
  • Assessing the School Market for Increased Growth
  • Managing Warehouse Energy Costs and Quality Control
  • What Does Traceability Really Mean to Wholesalers-Distributors?

Fresh-cut processors explore the growing demand for value-added products in the "Market Trends and Opportunities to Drive Fresh-Cut Sales" Super Session, which focuses on how processors can stimulate growth through innovation in product development, merchandising and packaging, quality and taste. Topics at the Fresh-Cut Processor Learning Center programming include:

  • Unveiling a New Toolkit to Enhance the 'Image of Fresh-Cut'
  • Understanding New Sanitation Solutions for Fresh-Cut
  • ‘Real Life' Sustainability in Fresh-Cut Produce
  • The New Food Safety Law and Impact on Fresh-Cut Processors.

Finally, the Super Session for the retail and foodservice segment looks at consumer behavior in "Understanding the 2011 Consumer as the Key to Growth." The session points to a better understanding of today's consumer and what short-term trends are likely to change, and what may become permanent lifestyle changes. The Learning Center for the retailers and foodservice operators looks at:

  • What Loyalty Card Data Tells Us about Consumer Habits
  • Lessons from the Front Line - Retail Produce Manager Award Winners
  • Menu Labeling and the Impact on Foodservice Operations
  • Lessons from the Front Line - Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners.

"This variety of powerful, targeted educational offerings all combines to provide big solutions for each attendee at United Fresh 2011," said Backer. “It is right in keeping with 'BIG Easy,' the theme for United Fresh 2011, which reflects our continued dedication to all the elements that make the United Fresh show such a unique and effective business opportunity."

In addition to the Super Sessions and Learning Centers, United Fresh 2011 will feature keynote addresses from NFL Hall of Famer Archie Manning and CNN political analyst James Carville, both Louisiana natives. The show also brings back the most popular features of past United shows, including the highly-attended Demo Centers focused on traceability and logistics as well as food safety.

"And as is the case with every United Fresh show," adds Backer, "... the experience isn't complete without big networking opportunities, building new business connections with friends, colleagues and industry leaders, all while celebrating the revival of this great city."

Registration 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

Innovation Expert Nicholas Webb Headlines United Fresh 2011 Global Conference on Produce Technology Innovation

The latest in United's annual series of cutting-edge post show conferences, the Global Conference on Produce Technology Innovation will feature a look at innovation from every produce industry vantage point, highlighted by a keynote address from an expert in the field of business innovation. Inventor and entrepreneur Nicholas Webb will keynote the Thursday morning general session of the conference, giving attendees an inside look at the fields of innovation and customer-driven growth.

Webb holds more than 35 patents and has served as CEO for several technology-related corporations. He is the author of The Innovation Playbook, The Digital Innovation Playbook, and his latest, The Customer Playbook. Webb is currently the CEO of Lassen Innovation.

"Innovation drives the produce industry on every level, every day, and Nick Webb will help our audience embrace this concept and learn how to use innovation to truly drive customer value," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "This will be a perfect platform to kick off what promises to be a day full of big ideas in produce technology innovation."

Following Webb's keynote, Global Conference attendees will learn about cutting-edge research to developing better products from the ground up to better meet consumer, grower and marketers' needs for fresh produce varieties in the Pre-Harvest Technology Innovation discussion on "Seed and Product Development for Nutrition & Taste."

Then, the Post-Harvest Technology Innovation session "New Technologies to Drive Efficiencies" will focus onways technology is helping bring high quality and innovative products to consumers.

Over lunch, attendees will hear from leaders of United's Grower-Shipper, Fresh-Cut Processor, Wholesaler-Distributor and Retail-Foodservice Market Segment Boards during "Making Innovation a Core Culture," an executive roundtable discussion on how companies can build a culture of innovation.

In the afternoon, attendees will focus on how partners up and down the chain can use information technology to better achieve mutual goals in “"Information Management Technology to Empower the Supply Chain Enterprise."

The Global Conference wraps up Thursday afternoon with an exploration of the brave new world of social media and how companies can connect to customers in ways they never thought possible with the Consumer Technology Innovation session "Social Media and New Age Technology to Reach Consumers."

Registration for the Global Conference on Produce Technology Innovation is included in the United Fresh 2011 All Access Pass, or can be purchased separately and  done online. An early registration discount is available for attendees who register prior to March 25. More information can be found at

United Fresh Calls on USDA for Additional Resources for Healthier Meals

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra emphasized the need to provide schools with additional resources to serve healthy foods during her testimony at a USDA Stakeholder Listening Session last week on implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

With the goal of quickly implementing the regulations and policy provisions in the child legislation, USDA/FNS recently developed an ambitious implementation plan and wanted to gather feedback from partners and child nutrition advocates. 

In her testimony, Dr. DiSogra noted United's strong support for the legislation and congratulated FNS on its recent proposed rule to update nutrition standards for school meals.

"This was an intimate meeting of USDA officials and advocates, which allowed all of us to discuss ways to enhance implementation and focus on how collectively we can ensure this historic legislation becomes a reality in more than 100,000 schools nationwide as quickly and effectively as possible," said DiSogra. "One of the points I emphasized was the need for USDA to consider all possible policy levers that could be utilized over the next few years to provide schools with additional resources for healthier meals, and to clarify when the additional $.06 in reimbursement becomes available."  

President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act into law on December 13, 2010. Over the next few months, USDA/FNS will issue many policy and guidance memos that put aspects of this law into place. Additionally, the legislation requires USDA/FNS to publish 15 new regulations over the next 3 years.

For more information, please contact DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.   

Help United Fresh Donate Salad Bars to 25 New Orleans Schools

At United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans this spring, please join the United Fresh Foundation in making a charitable commitment to the children of our host city. United Fresh has received requests from dozens of New Orleans schools that want salad bars so they can serve more fresh fruits and vegetables to their students. The cost of one salad bar is $3,000, and by donating you positively impact the lives of thousands of New Orleans school children.  

Following our successful Riverboat Cruise Event at last fall's Washington Public Policy Conference, your contributions helped us deliver the first 10 salad bars to New Orleans schools. Now our goal is to donate a salad bar to every New Orleans school that wants one as part of United’s commitment to New Orleans as the host city for United Fresh 2011.

Salad bar sponsors will be recognized during the Convention Opening Session and at a special press conference on May 3. By donating one or more salad bars, your company’s name and logo will be featured on convention signage and printed materials, and linked to a specific school in New Orleans. Your logo will also be displayed on that school's homepage on the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools website at

If you want to join United Fresh in making a BIG difference in the Big Easy, please contact Claudia Wenzing at 202-303-34oo, ext. 415 to get involved.

Q4 FreshFacts® Shows Customers Remain Loyal to Fresh Produce Despite Increase in Price

Weekly dollar sales and per store volume of fresh produce grew in the fourth quarter of 2010, when compared with the same period in 2009. The average price of produce at supermarkets in Q4 2010 also increased, according to the latest edition of FreshFacts® on Retail, United's quarterly retail research report.

According to the report, consumers remained dedicated to including fresh produce in their diets, and coupled with the recent recommendation from USDA that Americans eat "Half a Plate" of fruits and vegetables, the outlook is positive for continued growth in produce sales.

The FreshFacts® on Retail report, produced in partnership with the Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

Highlights of this quarter's report include:

  • An increase in weekly dollar sales of 3.1 percent for fruit
  • Increases of 11.6 percent in volume and 8.4 percent in sales for the value-added fruits and vegetables category
  • Weekly volume and dollar sales growth for six of the top 10 items in the vegetable category
  • Increases in weekly dollar sales for seven of the top 10 items in the fruit category  

Each FreshFacts® report also features a Quarterly Spotlight on one industry segment in particular. This quarter, the spotlight shines on organic produce, which has seen an increase in dollar sales, volume per store and average retail price in the fourth quarter. Within the segment, organic apples, berries, grapes, citrus and avocados have all seen double-digit percentage growth in sales, while berries, grapes, citrus and avocados have seen the same double-digit percentage growth in weekly volume. The organic category as a whole accounts for 4.5% of all produce sales.

The complete FreshFacts® on Retail report can be downloaded free of charge to all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members) by clicking here. For more information about how to obtain the report, please contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.

Don't Miss A Rare Opportunity to Get United's Recall Training at a Lower Cost!

Just one week left to register for United's popular Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire online course before the first edition kicks off next Friday. 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.

Just 24 Hours to Take the Next Step Toward a Great Produce Career

Tomorrow is the deadline for applications for the 17th class of United's Produce Industry Leadership Program.

The Produce Industry Leadership Program, made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, is a special opportunity for United Fresh 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, government & public affairs, and media & public relations.

Established in 1995, over 190 industry members have taken part in this exclusive program, open only to United Fresh members. It is the only ongoing, fully paid leadership program for the produce industry.

For more information or questions, click here or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

Large Turnout Expected for Visalia Town Hall

More than 100 of California's Central Valley industry members are expected in Visalia, next week at the first of three United Fresh Town Hall meetings in the month of March.

The Town Hall event, hosted by Barry Bedwell, California Grape & Tree Fruit League; Joel Nelsen, California Citrus Mutual and Paul Cruikshank, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, provides local industry representatives the opportunity to informally discuss important issues currently facing their operations, including the expected impact of the Food Safety Modernization Act, opportunities for sales through federal nutrition programs and an open discussion of regionally specific issues and concerns.

"We look forward to providing this great opportunity to share updates and address key issues from attendees representing varied regions and the total supply chain" said United Fresh Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman.

Next up on the Town Hall schedule is a March 16 stop in Minneapolis hosted by Marylou Owen, G.O. Fresh; Nina Brooks, H. Brooks & Company and Ted Morimoto, The Kunkel Company, followed by a March 17 luncheon in Chicago, hosted by Lisa Strube, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company.

Be sure to check next week's Inside United Fresh for photos from the Visalia Town Hall, and for more information about these meetings, or to request a Town Hall meeting in your area, please contact Miriam Miller, United Fresh senior director of membership, at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.

Nominations Now Accepted for Annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce

United Fresh is now accepting nominations for its annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce, May 3 at United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans. Each year, United Fresh recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry and recognizes one outstanding female industry leader at the reception, which has become one of the most popular features of the annual convention.

"This is a celebration of women and the essential roles they have played in shaping and guiding the produce industry," said Victoria Backer, senior vice president of member services for United Fresh. "This annual reception is an opportunity to showcase the contributions of these thought-leaders, role models, and opinion-drivers and we're looking forward to honoring all women in the produce industry in New Orleans."

Nominations may be submitted online and must be received by Friday, March 11.

Past honorees at the Reception Honoring Women in Produce include Tonya Antle, Tanimura & Antle; Frieda Caplan, Frieda's, Inc.; Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin, D'Arrigo Brothers of California; Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission; Jan Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company; Janice Honigberg, Sun Belle, Inc.; Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Co.; Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission; Dr. Martha Rhodes-Roberts, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; Steffanie Smith, River Point Farms, LLC; Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale; Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms; and Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Company.

For more information on the Reception Honoring Women in Produce, please contact United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.

Do You Know an Outstanding Grower?

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2011 Grower Achievement Award.

Given by the editors of American Vegetable Grower and sponsored by United Fresh and Syngenta, the annual award will be presented at United's Washington Public Policy Conference, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

The Grower Achievement Award honors leading fruit and vegetable growers based on marketing, innovation, food quality and safety, and industry leadership, recognizing the honorees in a way that creates good news for the entire industry.

For more information on the award and to nominate an outstanding grower, click here.

Why Should You Attend United Fresh 2011?

Make a BIG Difference in the Big Easy at United Fresh 2011! Join thousands of produce industry leaders for United's innovative trade show format designed specifically for each segment of the produce industry. Register Now!

Why Should You Attend United Fresh 2011?

Congratulations to Food Lion's Teri Miller! She's the winner of this week's Restaurant a Week Giveaway. Teri will enjoy some true New Orleans cookin’ at Lá Bayou, courtesy of United Fresh.

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!

Way to go, Teri! Next week's Restaurant a Week winner is headed to the world famous Commander's Palace, courtesy of United Fresh 2011.

Meet Your United Fresh Board of Directors: Incoming Chairman Reggie Griffin Pushes Kroger to Live Up to Six Important Principles

Reggie Griffin
Corporate Vice President, Produce and Floral Merchandising Procurement
The Kroger Company
Cincinnati, Ohio

How long has Kroger been in business?
Barney Kroger started The Kroger Co. in 1883

What values are most central to Kroger?
The Value Proposition at Kroger has six components: honesty, diversity, inclusion, safety, integrity and respect. This is for both our internal and external customers.

What is it about the makeup of Kroger that allows you to fulfill those company values? 
As a retailer who serves up to 55 million households each week, our customers trust us to deliver safe, wholesome food at a value. Our "Customer 1st" strategy is driven by those six core values, and every decision we make is made to support and engage our customers and the value proposition that we stand for.

What are some of the challenges Kroger has faced in the past year? 
It was a challenging year for everyone. With significant deflation in produce and other areas of the store coupled with the recession, customers were challenged more than ever before in dealing with an uncertain economy, personal challenges due to changes in their work place, and a general concern over what was happening around them. They became much more conservative in their purchases and looked harder for a value so they could save money.
Which industry issues strike a chord with you the most and why? 
All of the issues that we deal with today (food safety, labor, child nutrition) are key issues in our industry. Relative to our status as a retailer, the one that surfaces more often than not is food safety. As a retailer, our customers trust us to deliver safe food. 

How do Kroger stores interact with the communities they serve? 
We operate stores in 31 states and have 18 regional operating divisions (just for the Supermarket division). Each division works within their communities to make sure we are an integral part of every one. Our stores are in the communities we service and we are part of that community.

What is one thing that your industry peers don't know about Reggie? 
If I tell you that then it won't be a secret anymore! Because of the size of Kroger, we are very visible. I'm actually a private person and do not really like the limelight.

You are the incoming Chairman and will take office at United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans, but what can you tell us about your experience as a member of United Fresh? 
Kroger has been a member for many years. Back in the 1970s, Kroger actually promoted in our ads that consumers could trust our produce because it was supplied by United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association members! I've been more personally involved the past five years. Immediately before me, our food safety and regulatory staff director served on the United Board. It has been a great experience for me as I've learned so much, especially about how we have to be involved in government and about how we have to be leaders in addressing core problems that intersect our great produce industry.

At the office, what are you working on now?
We are always looking for products that resonate with a segment of our customers.  Internally, we are looking at our entire supply chain to make sure we are delivering products at the lowest cost while maintaining the integrity of the cold chain. Any company today must look for ways to reduce cost and continue to deliver high quality products sold at a value.

I’m working on future retirement. My lovely wife Sandra and I are planning on retiring someday(?) to the Hilton Head area of South Carolina. This would allow me to spend time with those things that mean the most to me: my wife, four children and seven grand children, golf and yes, even a little wine.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Begley Brothers Limited, Dublin, Ireland
  • Category Partners, Aurora, CO
  • Grow Green Industries dba Eat Cleaner, Lake Forest, IL
  • Ilapak, Inc., Newtown, PA
  • LoBue Bros., Inc., Lindsay, 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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