March 31, 2011

In Today's Issue:

World-Class Food Safety, Quality, Marketing Research on Display at United Fresh 2011

The top minds in specialty crop research will be on display this spring at United Fresh 2011, May 2-5 in New Orleans. This year's show will feature posters on food safety, quality assurance, and fresh fruit and vegetable marketing as part of its S-294 Poster Sessions.

"Innovation is the lifeblood of the fresh produce industry, and innovation starts with cutting-edge research," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas. "The research on display at United Fresh 2011 holds the key to developing everything from new products to safer approaches to processing to unique ways producers can reach their customers."

The poster session is sponsored by the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) and presented through the S-294 project, "Postharvest Quality and Safety in Fresh-cut Vegetables and Fruits." The project is a USDA-authorized Multistate Research Project, including U.S. scientists from 16 State Agricultural Experiment Stations and 5 USDA ARS laboratories along with international participants from several laboratories in Canada, Italy and Spain. The purpose of this project is to address technological opportunities and complex problem solving activities related to fresh-cut products that are beyond the scope of a single research institution, so that the research can be conducted in a more efficient and comprehensive way. The scientists involved in the S-294 project are an interdisciplinary group with expertise in the physiology and quality of fresh-cut products and the microbiological safety of those products. The research being conducted involves integration of physiological, pathological, food safety, and instrumental and sensory quality measurement concepts that are essential for developing the most effective handling procedures and innovative, new technologies for maintaining the quality, safety and shelf stability of fresh-cut products.
 Research poster topics on display at United Fresh 2011 (as of March 30) include:

  • Sanitation procedure for juicers producing fresh squeezed non-pasteurized citrus juice - Jan Narciso, Chris Ference, Sarah Stone, Jinhe Bai, and Liz Baldwin, USDA Citrus & Subtropical Products Lab, Winter Haven, FL. 
  • A method for training sensory panelists for quality evaluation of fresh fruit - Anne Plotto, Keith Williamson, Sharon Dea, Sarah Stone, Jinhe Bai, and Liz Baldwin, USDA Citrus & Subtropical Products Lab, Winter Haven, FL.
  • Gamma Irradiation: Dose effects on baby-leaf spinach vitamins - Gene Lester, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, Md., Guy Hallman, USDA-ARS, Weslaco, TX, and Juliana Perez, NAEC, Argentina 
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: Funding opportunities in Produce Safety and Quality - Ram Rao and Dan Schmoldt, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Washington, DC.
  • Quality change in stored fresh-cut seedless watermelon subjected to firmness retention dips and shipping plus vibration damage - J.C. Beaulieu, J.M. Lea, B.F. Ingber and N. Goldberg, USDA, ARS, Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, LA. 
  • Antimicrobial effect of a commercial fermentation product and NatureSeal® on fresh-cut squash - Lihua Fan, En Yang, Craig Doucette and Sherry Fillmore, AAFC, Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre, Kentville, NS, Canada
  • Effects of atmosphere composition on fresh-cut artichokes - M. la Zazzera, F. Piazzolla, M.L, Amodio, and G. Colelli, Dept. of the Science of Production and Innovation in the Mediterranean Agricultural and Food Systems, University of Foggia, Italy 
  • Degradation patterns for external and internal quality attributes of fresh-cut apples - M. L. Amodio, L. Dollo, I. Ricci, and G. Colelli, Dept. of the Science of Production and Innovation in the Mediterranean Agricultural and Food Systems, University of Foggia, Italy
  • Use of a novel portable hyperspectral imaging device for post sanitation inspection - Alan M. Lefcourt1, Michael Wiederoder1,2, Nancy (Tong) Liu1,2, Moon S. Kim1, Y. Martin Lo2, and Kevin Chao1, 1 Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD, 2 Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD. 
  • Impact of modified atmosphere packaging and antimicrobial dips on the market life of diced red onion. – Charles F. Forney1, Richard Grant2, Lihua Fan1, Craig Doucette1 and Michael A. Jordan1, 1 AAFC, Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre, NS, Canada, 2 Nova Agri Inc., Centreville, NS, Canada
  • Cutting Romaine lettuce while submerged in sanitizer improves efficacy of sodium hypochlorite - S.J. Bach, Changwen Lu, P. Toivonen, and P. Delaquis, AAFC, Pacific Agricultural Research Centre, Summerland, BC, Canada 
  • BOUNTY OF THE BITE: Kinetics of volatile synthesis following cellular disruption associated with masticated and fresh cut apple fruit - Nihad Alsmairat, Carolina Contreras, and Randolph M. Beaudry, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
  • Viability of Salmonella enterica, and selected quality characteristics of romaine lettuce following immersion in PROSAN, a biodegradable foodgrade sanitizer - Aubrey F. Mendonca, Dept. of Food Science & Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. 
  • Repeated use of PROSAN as a vegetable wash: changes in lethal effects against pathogenic bacteria and natural microflora on romaine lettuce - Aubrey F. Mendonca, Dept. of Food Science & Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, IA.
  • A new marketing approach for minimally processed onions - Eva Almenar, Amanda Humes, RenSun Lee, Sara Sobon, Derek Johnson, Rita Morse, Muhammad Siddid, Janice Harte, Elliot Ryser, and Bruce Harte, School of Packaging, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. 
  • Validation of a preharvest approach to predicting quality and postharvest shelf-life of spinach with a hand-held SPAD meter - Eduardo Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Amy Gunderson, Trevor Suslow, University of Califonia, Department of Plant Sciences, Davis, CA.
  • Effects of levulinic acid and sodium acid sulfate on quality and E. coli population of fresh-cut Iceberg lettuce during storage in modified atmosphere package - Xuetong Fan and Wenqiang Guan, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, PA. 
  • Commercial Scale chlorine dioxide gas fumigation of fresh produce - Bassam A. Annous, Angela Burke, Joseph Sites, Joel Tenney, and Thomas Isaac, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, PA.

For more information on S-294, or to present a poster at United Fresh 2011, interested parties may contact Gombas at 202-303-3400, ext. 411.

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United Weighs In on Import Safety Requirements of Food Safety Modernization Act

During the FDA's first public meeting on the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther submitted the association's initial comments on the import safety provisions of the law.

"When looking at the produce industry, one most understand its unique diversity and vertical integration that has evolved over the last decade," said Guenther. "There are many grower-shippers and fresh-cut processors who grow primarily domestically but may also have growing operations or partnerships in other countries. Additionally, these new provisions will impact the wholesaler-distributor community, retail and food service companies who source both domestically and internationally. Therefore, FDA must look beyond the traditional import produce sector along the borders and weigh how these new requirements impact the entire distribution chain for fresh produce."

In addition to United's comments on FSMA in a larger context, Guenther addressed specific aspects of the new law, including the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, which creates a partnership between industry and FDA that identifies high and low-risk imports, and gives expedited access to imports that pose no meaningful risk; and the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, under which producers importing food to the United States must establish a program to verify that their product is produced in accordance with U.S. food safety standards. Guenther also commented on the much-debated Tester Amendment exempting certain producers based on size, location and customer type.

"As FDA considers the new import requirements," said Guenther, "FDA must weigh this congressional exemption on food operations involved in importing.  Specifically, how will FDA verify qualified farms and facilities meet the statutory criteria defined in the law? In addition, how will FDA define this exemption for the Foreign Supplier Verification and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Programs into their regulatory guidance to industry members."

United invites members to submit input to be included in formal comments to FDA. For more information or to submit feedback, contact Guenther at 202-303-3400, ext 409.

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New Exhibit Opportunity at Global Conference on Produce Technology & Innovation

Table-top exhibit opportunities are now available for the Global Conference on Produce Technology & Innovation on Thursday, May 5. United Fresh will host the conference, sponsored by N2N Global, immediately following United Fresh 2011 on Thursday, May 5. United Fresh invites leading companies to showcase their technology and solutions to industry leaders interested in technology and innovation.

"Innovation drives the produce industry on every level, from production of the highest quality fruits and vegetables to final delivery to the consumer," said John Toner, United Fresh Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations. "Exhibitors at this year's conference have the ability to feature their latest and most innovative products and processes in front of the entire produce industry."

Global conference attendees will hear about breakthrough innovations in seed and product development for nutrition and taste; post-harvest packaging and processing technology; information management across the supply chain, and new technologies to reach the consumer.

The conference is the latest in United's own innovative tradition of cutting-edge post-show conferences, and will bring together produce industry leaders from all points in the supply chain, government officials and other opinion leaders interested in produce technology. 

Solutions providers and suppliers are encouraged to participate, and companies may choose to staff these displays to meet with attendees personally, or simply make printed materials available.

To reserve space at the conference, download this registration form and fax to John Toner at 202-303-3433, or contact Toner for more information at 202-303-3400, ext. 424 or

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United Fresh Returns to Georgia for Fresh-Cut HACCP Course

United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas will join counterparts from the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Department of Food Science and Technology in presenting "Hands on HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry," May 17-19 at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Designed specifically for the fresh-cut industry and accredited by the International HACCP Alliance, the program provides attendees with the skills and knowledge to design, implement, document and maintain HACCP within a fresh-cut business. The three-day course provides a unique program of lectures and work group discussions from a broad-based faculty of food microbiologists and HACCP experts, as well as authorities from academia, industry and government. The program also includes work group sessions that provide interaction with HACCP authorities who have developed and implemented successful HACCP programs in fresh-cut processing plants.

The deadline for program registration is April 25, and a registration form can be downloaded here. United Fresh members receive discounted registration. For more information, please call 706-542-2574 or email

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Click Your Mouse and Get Your Boss to Approve Your Trip New Orleans

This week, United Fresh unveiled the Boss Approval Tool, a new online program that allows prospective United Fresh 2011 attendees to generate a customized letter showcasing all of the development, education and networking opportunities available at this year’s show, May 2-5 in New Orleans.

"Our members know that the bottom line is paramount. This resource allows employees to show all of the great value to be found at United Fresh 2011 to their managers, and helps make the decision to capitalize on this great show that much easier," said United Fresh Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner.

For more information on the Boss Approval Tool, click here, and for all the reasons to attend United Fresh 2011, visit

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Duck Delivery Produce's Tim Kraus is this Week's BIG Winner in United's Restaurant A Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Tim Kraus of Duck Delivery Produce! Tim's the winner of this week's Restaurant a Week Giveaway, and will enjoy Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, 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, and remember, you only have one day left to get your early registration discount, so register today!

Congratulations Tim! Next week's Restaurant a Week winner is headed to Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill, courtesy of United Fresh 2011.

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Meet Your United Fresh Board of Directors: As a former member of the media, San Miguel's Jan Berk knows that produce has a story to tell

Jan Berk
Vice President
San Miguel Produce, Inc.
Oxnard, California

What is your agricultural background?

Personally, I became involved in agriculture via my husband Roy Nishimori, founder of San Miguel Produce. Prior to coming on board San Miguel, my professional background had been in media, working in marketing and public affairs for three newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, being my last. After many years of corporate hustle and being involved with the sale of two newspapers, coupled with long commutes to L.A. from Ventura County, this venture was growing weary. Then, when 9/11 came along, I was in L.A. away from my family, and it was a sobering moment for me. I remember discussing my concerns with Roy and it became clear then that I had completed this chapter; it was time to come home. To further confirm my decision, the Times, a longtime family owned paper by the Chandlers for 120 years, was going to sell and this came as a shock to everyone. This sale also meant most of the executives would be given a package to leave. I had seen it too many times: this was the beginning of volatile times for the newspaper industry. Fortunately for me, with a background in marketing and public affairs, the experiences can translate to most any industry. I often make the joke that the newspaper business is a lot like the produce business---both deal with a perishable product and every day it's a new product you have to create.  You have to crank it up fresh and new otherwise it becomes stale, and who wants to buy stale product?  In fact, one of my first newspaper marketing slogans back in the 70's was, "Delivered Fresh Daily."

As a person with a background in general consumer media, what value do you see in interacting more with that type of media?

As an industry, we need to continue to educate the media and consumers about what we do, the benefits of our products, and the challenges our businesses face. When issues need to be addressed, do so with facts and integrity. The mainstream media is a challenge to deal with at times. They tend to focus on the negative and come down hard on big business and industry. They are a skeptical breed making it difficult to gain their trust and respect. It seems our industry is more re-active than proactive with the mainstream media. There is no question the ag industry is doing extraordinary work every day, we hear about it, we see the people doing great things through our trade media. However, the mainstream media and public only hear about us when something terrible takes place. Thus, the industry takes a black-eye and has a negative image, especially for the larger corporate companies. Today, we hear a lot about local and the love of farmers of the farmers markets. I think this is primarily due to the fact that consumers have a face and voice to connect with. The farmers are there to answer questions and educate them on their produce and building a relationship with the consumer. I am always impressed when we meet (everyday) people, out and about, and they find out we are farmers.  The reaction is notably different than when I was in the newspaper business. The public takes great interest in wanting to know more about farmers, they want to hear our story. I always walk away thinking that we must find a way to tell these stories as an industry. It is important that we communicate with the mainstream media on a regular basis (not just when there is an incident) and start to build relationships with the editors. Your hometown is a good place to start. Building trust with editors will eventually lead to them looking to us as authorities and seek us out when there are questions or need a professional and honest point of view. As we build those relationships, we will begin to have more opportunities to tell our story. Farmers tend to be low key, however it is important to be pro-active, step out and connect with the media with honest, factual and engaging information. We have an important message to share and there definitely will be a benefit if we pursue a relationship with the media.

As a purveyor of specialty products within the specialty crop industry, is there a special approach to marketing those products that you take? Different than, say, a more mainstream fruit or vegetable commodity?

When we first started selling our packaged Cut 'n Clean Greens line in 1995, at that time there was a general retail perception from retail that "my customers won't buy those greens in a package, they want to buy them in bulk and cheap." We had to work harder and smarter to overcome these perceptions with educational facts, marketing tools, and fine-tuning and more fine-tuning.  Since that time, the packaged greens program has become a much larger program nationwide and we see that statistically they are purchasing greens more often. Today we're re-entering this process with another start up niche' of Asian products and we're hearing those same concerns. So, we are developing tools to educate retailers, and in turn help the retailers communicate to the consumer the value of the products and information on the health, farm fresh, great taste and fun applications in many dishes. Overall with niche programs, there is initially more work and investment involved in getting a new program going. However in time, we expect to see success.

One of the lesser-known facts about you is that you worked for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. How did you get involved with that?

It was perhaps one of my most cherished experiences of a lifetime. When the Olympics were first announced, I was living here in Ventura County and working as a volunteer with some of the city officials. It was announced that the rowing and canoeing events would be up here at Lake Casitas, so I offered to volunteer, but ended up in a paid position managing ticketing sales on site. It was not only a fun experience, it was inspiring. You could feel the energy and spirit throughout the entire 16 days, the diversity of the people and cultures all coming together for a short time with a common goal to compete, do their best and have a great time. The rowing events are an early morning event, starting at sunrise when the lake waters are the calmest. They are also one of the more quiet events, and maybe not as popular then as they are now, but the memories and memorabilia, pin exchanges, and had exchanges were wonderful. I still have my hat with pins all over it, now faded and tired, however, the sprit and experience still lives strong in my memories.

You are involved not only with the Board of Directors, but also with the Fresh-Cut Processor Market Segment Board and the Member Relations Task Force. As you become more involved, what is one perception you had about United that has changed?

I think the first Washington Public Policy Conference I attended really opened my eyes.  I attended this event a few years ago, before I became a board member or was involved beyond our annual membership. I remember talking to Nelia [Alamo, Gills Onions] who had told me great things about this WPPC, which I had also heard from others, however, I was trying to understand what was so great about this event, so I decide to attend. And when I finally did, I was very impressed with United Fresh and all that it does for us in advocating for agriculture in Washington. United plays a very an important role for our industry, and I go back to what I'd said earlier about agriculture and farmers' tendency to be low-key and not as vocal about issues. It's good that United is there to help be our voice and create a united voice for our industry. After WPPC, getting more involved just reinforced that benefit for us, and now by serving on the board, we are giving back and hoping to help be a part of that process.

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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:

  • Pro*Act, LLC, Monterey, 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.

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New Member Welcome

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

  • Consumer Effects, Rocklin, CA
  • Daumar Corporation, Miami, FL
  • Marvel Technologies USA, LLC, Franklin, TN
  • Pappas & Co., Mendota, CA
  • Practical Solutions International Ltd., Reading, United Kingdom
  • Smile Factory, LLC, Hendersonville, NC

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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Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

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