April 7, 2011

In Today's Issue:

Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk to Be Honored at 2011 Reception Honoring Women in Produce

Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, CEO of Vero Beach, FL-based Seald Sweet International, will be the guest speaker at the annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce, Tuesday, May 2, at United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans.

The popular Reception Honoring Women in Produce recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry, and selects one individual to share their personal experience of service. The featured speaker is selected from nominations submitted by United Fresh members across the industry and reviewed by a committee of her peers, including honorees from the past 15 years.

"From entry level to the corner office, Mayda's career is proof positive that hard work and savvy business skills are rewarded in our industry" said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "And since assuming the role of CEO, Mayda has played a critical role in the international growth of Seald Sweet within the citrus category, and its diversification into other areas like deciduous and tropical fruits. Self-made, roll-up-your-sleeves stories like Mayda's are the cornerstones of so many produce businesses, and a fantastic leadership example for the next generation of produce leaders, both male and female."

Sotomayor-Kirk emigrated from her native Havana with her family when she was just three years old. The family settled in South Florida and Sotomayor-Kirk attended Miami-Dade Community College on a scholarship, originally pursuing a career in law. After discovering a passion for the world of international produce, Sotomayor-Kirk took an entry-level sales position with Pompano, FL-based Great American Farms, eventually working her way up to director of imports. In 2000, Sotomayor-Kirk accepted the same position at Seald Sweet and helped to develop and lead the company's imports program. She became the company's first female senior vice president in 2004, and in 2007, Sotomayor-Kirk became the first female CEO in the company's 100-year history.

"I am so humbled and honored to speak at this year's Reception Honoring Women in Produce," said Sotomayor-Kirk. "So much of what drives me in the produce industry is the building of relationships. It has been at the core of my own success, and at the core of our success as a company at Seald Sweet. In that same vein, the annual United show is so effective at fostering those relationships, and I am very happy to be a part of that this year."

A wife and mother of two, the multitasking Sotomayor-Kirk has succeeded in expanding her company's international network and programs, helping to position Seald Sweet as a global leader in the citrus category, and continuing to foster ties with Seald Sweet's Belgium-based parent company, Univeg. In addition to her involvement with United Fresh, Sotomayor-Kirk also serves on the board of directors of the Produce Marketing Association, as well as the board of directors of Seald Sweet's Uruguayan citrus subsidiary, Forbel S.A.

The annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce has established itself as one of the most popular networking events at the association's annual convention. This year's event will be held Tuesday, May 2 at the Hilton Riverside New Orleans. Tickets are required for the event as part of a Convention package registration or purchased onsite for $50.

Past honorees include:

  • Tonya Antle, Tanimura & Antle
  • Frieda Caplan, Frieda's, Inc.
  • Margaret D’Arrigo, 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 Company
  • 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
  • Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Company
Share |

USDA Proposed Rule Will Significantly Increase Fruits and Vegetables in School Meals; Industry Encouraged to Send Comments

USDA has proposed new rules for Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.  For the first time in 15 years, USDA rules will align school meals with the Dietary Guidelines. Overall, the goal of the proposed rule is to require schools to serve healthier school meals, including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free/low-fat milk, and less sodium and saturated fat.  The proposed changes are very comprehensive.

The greatest change proposed for school breakfast is the increase in fruit, which doubles from the current requirement to 1 cup per day.  For school lunch, the greatest change is the increase in fruits and vegetables, an increase of almost 4 servings a week. Since children eat less than half of the daily amount of fruits and vegetables recommended for good health, serving more fruits and vegetables in school meals will increase their overall consumption and help start these young consumers on a lifetime of healthy eating.   

Specifically regarding fruits and vegetables, the proposed rule includes provisions that will:

  • Require schools to serve double the amount of fruit at breakfast   
  • Require schools to double the amount of fruits and vegetables served at lunch  
  • Require schools to serve both a fruit and a vegetable at lunch
  • Require schools to serve a colorful variety of vegetables every week

United Fresh supports these elements of the proposed rule, but opposes one significant provision in the proposal that limits starchy vegetables, including white potatoes, corn and peas. That proposal is not aligned with the Dietary Guidelines, and inappropriately restricts a healthy vegetable.

USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule until April 13.  We urge all produce industry members to share your views with USDA.  You can simply copy our sample letter, use our sample letter and edit it to add your specific comments, or draft your own letter. Every letter counts. 

To submit comments please open our sample letter for suggestions on items you might mention in your comments.  If you prefer, simply cut and paste the sample letter into the on-line government comment form, or save the letter and upload it using the "browse" tab.  Complete your contact information, and select "submit".

Remember, USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule until April 13. The proposed rule is very positive for fruits and vegetables, although we also want to carry a strong message that restricting starchy vegetables does not follow the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.  It's important that USDA hears from the produce industry, so we hope you'll share your views with USDA today!

For additional information, please contact Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.

Share |

United Fresh 2011 Attendees to Vote for Best in Industry Innovation Next Month in New Orleans

A record 34 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations are up for the 2011 New Product Awards. This year's finalists will compete in six categories for the title of Best New Products at United Fresh 2011, May 2-5 in New Orleans.
"These 34 products represent the forerunners in the effort to bring new approaches, ideas and processes to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry," said John Toner, vice president of convention and industry relations for United Fresh. "From its very beginnings, the United show has been the undisputed home of big innovation for the produce industry, and these awards continue to showcase the best and brightest minds in the produce business."

"The development and display of the latest in innovation from our industry is a vital part of the mission of every United trade show," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Our industry's success is built upon the foresight and creativity of its member companies in bringing new products to market. This serves to boost value to the consumer and profitability to the industry."

Products will be on display in the United Fresh Membership Booth on the show floor, where they will be judged by all attendees throughout the show. Winners will be determined by total votes received as of 2:00 p.m. May 4, and will be announced approximately one hour after tabulation. 

The 2011 New Product Award finalists are:

Best New Packaging

  • Clearly Fresh® Bags, Apio, Inc.
  • Eco Trays, Clifford Produce
  • E-Pack, Daumar Corporation
  • IFCO "6408N RPC" (RPC for Berries), IFCO SYSTEMS
  • Fresh N Tasty® Produce Pouch, Robbie
  • MIXIM Classic 5x5 6oz. Bushberry Packaging System, Sambrailo Packaging

Best New Food Safety Solution

  • The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Training Kit, Arizona Leafy Green Marketing Agreement
  • EMD Portable Analysis System, BioSafe Systems
  • SmartWashTM, New Leaf Food Safety Solutions
  • XpressPDF Label – Temperature Monitoring, PakSense
  • FreshQC, VirtualOne Software 

Best New Processing Equipment

  • Primus Gemini - New and Improved Fresh Berry Sorter, Best Sorting
  • Onion Top & Tail - Manual, Charlie's Machine & Supply, Inc.
  • OP-120, Onion Peeler - Dofra Foodtec
  • Tray Filling System, Automatic Rigid Tray Filling and Lidding System, Heinzen Manufacturing
  • Tamajiro Onion Peeling Machine, Nichimo International
  • PerfoTec Fast Respiration Meter, PerfoTec BC
  • High Capacity Automatic Spin Dryer Mod. Nextra Large, Turatti SRL 

Best New Fruit Product

  • Chiquita Fruit+Juice Duos, Chiquita Brands North America
  • Crunch Pak With Disney, Crunch Pak
  • Four Pack Fresh Fruit Cups, Del Monte Fresh Produce, NA, Inc.
  • Zima® Seriously Sweet Tomato, Mastronardi Produce/Sunset®
  • Sun DropsTM Grape Tomatoes, Mucci Farms
  • Naturipe® Berry Quick Blueberry Snacks, Naturipe Farms, LLC
  • Sunkist® Premium Table Grapes, Sunkist Growers, Inc.  

Best New Packing/Packaging Equipment

  • ITM Information That MattersTM, Heat and Control, Inc.
  • Vegatronic 200 Ultrasonic, Ilapak
  • Volmpack Ultrek 320 Vertical-Form-Fill-Seal Bagger, Volm Companies, Inc. 

Best New Vegetable Product

  • Wasabi Arugula, Church Brothers
  • Colorful Classics Vegetable Tray & Sweet Honey Dijon Vinaigrette, Colorful Harvest
  • Mann's Snacks On The Go!TM, Mann Packing Co., Inc.
  • Pure Flavor Grill Ready Vegetable Mix, Pure Hot House Foods Inc.
  • Ready Pac Salad SinglesTM, Ready Pac Foods, Inc.
  • York's HarvestTM Garden Chips, Tropical Nut and Fruit

The 2010 New Product Award winners were:

  • Best New Packaging: Fresh Express Artisanal Salads, Chiquita Brands North America
  • Best New Food Safety Solution: VoiceCode, YottaMark
  • Best New Processing Equipment: FogTunnel Produce Treatment System, AgSolutions, Inc.
  • Best New Fruit Product: Chiquita Fresh & Ready Avocados, Chiquita Brands North America
  • Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Ulta Bagger (Girbagger) Bagging Machine, Giro Pack
  • Best New Vegetable Product: Ready Pac Bistro Seasonal Salads, Italiano & Waldorf, Ready Pac Foods, Inc.

For more information on the 2011 New Product Awards or on United Fresh 2011, contact United's Exposition Manager Jamie Woodside at 202-303-3400 ext. 420.

Share |

Winners of Fourth Annual Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Put Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Front and Center on Menus Every Day

Six of the country's most exciting chefs representing an array of culinary styles and backgrounds will be honored this May as part of the United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. Sponsored by Pro*Act LLC, and now in its fourth year, the program honors chefs and their companies for their innovative and influential use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. United Fresh will formally recognize the six winners at United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans, May 2-5.

"For four years now, we at Pro*Act continue to be amazed at the creativity, dedication and insight shown by the honorees in this program," said Pro*Act President Max Yeater. "We are so proud to be a sponsor of the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and we thank all of the nominees and all of the chefs who work so hard to help further the goal of increased consumption of healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables."

"Foodservice operators play such an important role in our industry, showcasing fresh produce in new and exciting ways every day. This group of winners stands out as this year's leaders in featuring fresh fruits and vegetables on their menus," said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. "We appreciate their tremendous commitment to our industry and recognize Pro*Act's generous support in honoring these winners and their positive impact on our nation's dining habits." 

This year, the program was expanded to include a sixth category honoring excellence in the K-12 Foodservice category. The six winners were selected from nearly 120 nominations submitted by produce companies and foodservice operations across North America. A panel of produce and foodservice industry leaders reviewed each nominee's demonstrated incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce related community service and special events and recognition by their company and industry peers.

The six winners, along with an executive from their company, will attend United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans. All six winners will participate in a panel session, Lessons from the Front Line - Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners, which will take place on Wednesday, May 3 at 11:30 a.m. and available for viewing on www.UnitedFresh.TV.

The 2011 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners are:

Business in Industry & Colleges
Chef Martin Breslin
Director of Culinary Operations
Harvard University Dining Services
Cambridge, MA

Casual and Family Dining Restaurants
Chef Regis Holden
Senior Director of Culinary Services
Eat'n Park Restaurants
Homestead, PA

Fine Dining Restaurants
Chef Clifford Pleau
Senior Director, Culinary and Beverage
Seasons 52 Restaurants
Orlando, FL

Hotels & Healthcare
Chef Jacques Wilson
Executive Chef
El Camino Hospital
Mountain View, CA

K-12 School Foodservice
Jenilee McComb
Director, Child Nutrition Program
Provo School District
Provo, UT

Quick Service Restaurants
Chef Dan Barash
Executive Chef
Moe's Southwest Grill
Atlanta, GA

Share |

1099 Repeal a Win for Farmers and Ranchers

The Senate passed legislation earlier this week that repeals a provision of the Health Care Reform Act that required businesses to submit paperwork, known as Form 1099, to the IRS for every vendor from whom they purchase $600 or more of goods and services. The measure to repeal this requirement passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis and is the same legislation that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

"This is good news for America's farmers and ranchers who would have been facing an unnecessary addition to the already numerous regulations and laws with which they must comply in the course of running their businesses," said to Julie Manes, United's director of government relations.  "Repeal of this provision is one way to help farmers and ranchers focus on doing what they do best which is producing an abundant supply of safe, healthy foods for consumers around the globe."

The legislation will now be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

Share |

United Fresh and the University of Georgia Collaborate to Offer Fresh-Cut HACCP Course

United Fresh Vice President of Food Safety Services Dr. Barry Eisenberg 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 efs@uga.edu.

Share |

United Fresh Participates in National, Global Efforts to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

With a focus on global initiatives to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to promote better health, the International Fruit and Vegetable Alliance (IFAVA) met in Monterey, CA last Sunday to share member country experiences, discuss future symposium and collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), and set priorities for the next two years. Many IFAVA countries have collaborated for years on communications campaigns, policy and environmental changes and public-private partnerships. United Fresh is a member of IFAVA, which was officially formed in 2007 to represent all of the countries that are promoting increased fruit and vegetable consumption.  

While in Monterey, United Fresh also participated in the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) meeting on Saturday following the Produce for Better Health Foundation's (PBH) 2011 Annual Meeting. Comprised of health organizations and fruit and vegetable trade associations, the NFVA's membership shares the common goal of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in the U.S.

Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, provided an update on federal nutrition policy issues and progress with the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Another major topic of discussion was how to build support for USDA's proposed rule to improve school meals which will double the amount of fruits and vegetables served in school lunch and breakfast programs.

For more information about the International Fruit and Vegetable Alliance or the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.

Share |

House Moves to Eliminate Unnecessary Regulations with Passage of H.R. 872

In an effort to prevent duplicative permitting processes for pesticide applications near water, the House of Representatives passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872) last month. Currently, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates the use of pesticides to address threats to agriculture production from a variety of pests. Under a 2009 court of appeals ruling, pesticide applicants would be required to obtain a permit under EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is authorized by the Clean Water Act. This would have been in addition to the FIFRA permitting process with which applicants must already comply.  The legislation passed by the House clarifies that compliance with FIFRA requirements is sufficient.

"This legislation is needed to eliminate a duplicative and unnecessary requirement that wouldn't really improve environmental safety.  Promoting the safe use of pesticides benefits the environment, farmers and consumers, but adding another layer of bureaucracy doesn't mean we’ll meet that goal," said Julie Manes, director of government relations for United Fresh. "We hope the Senate will follow the House soon and pass this measure with a strong, bipartisan vote."

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has introduced the bill, however it is not yet clear when further Senate action will take place.

Share |

Don't Miss Deadline for the United Fresh Compensation Tool

There's still time to weigh in with your company's information on the United Fresh Produce Industry Compensation Survey, available at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com.  U.S.-based produce industry employers including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors are encouraged to participate until the May 15 deadline.  Companies that participate in submitting data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully-customized report for their company at a discounted rate of $195.  

Prepared by expert research firm Industry Insights, the survey confidentially collects data from U.S.-based produce companies.  It measures compensation and benefits levels for 30 positions including Sales & Marketing, Production & Operations, Quality Control & Assurance, Administration, Finance & Accounting and Executives. 

"We've had a wide range of companies already participate in the survey and have made the decision to keep the survey open until May 15, allowing further industry participation - thus developing an even more robust final instrument," said Victoria Backer, senior vice president, member services.  

For additional information about the survey, contact Backer at 202-303-3400, ext. 408.

Share |
Nomination Period Open for Grower Achievement Award

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.

Share |
Kevin Jones of Lancaster Foods is this Week’s BIG Winner in United’s Restaurant A Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Lancaster Foods' Kevin Jones! Kevin is the winner of this week's Restaurant a Week Giveaway, and will enjoy Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill, 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!

Congratulations Kevin! Next week we'll have another dining experience courtesy of United Fresh 2011.

Share |
New Member Welcome

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

  • Brinker International, Dallas, TX
  • Kuehne + Nagel, Inc., Jersey City, 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.

Share |

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

Share |