April 14, 2011

In Today's Issue:

A Message from President & CEO Tom Stenzel

We're just a few short weeks away from the 107th United Fresh Annual Meeting and Convention, May 2-5 in New Orleans. Can you imagine the changes that have unfolded at this annual event over the last century - the radical innovations that changed the way our industry does business, the never-before-seen opportunities that energized new markets, the initial handshakes that would grow to be million or even billion dollar businesses?

If you have your eyes open, you can still see those innovations, opportunities and partnerships waiting for a handshake in New Orleans. I know we're all busy with a thousand other things to do or places to be. But there's just no substitute for being present when the light bulb goes off, and the opportunity unfolds. You can read about the cool new stuff in the trade press later, but it will be your competitors in New Orleans who seize the initiative when the moment is hot.

As I look at this year's list of more than 100 expert speakers, 250 exhibitors offering incredible new product innovations, and the array of true industry leaders coming to do business in New Orleans, I promise you an eye-opening experience and a positive ROI on your investment.

I hope you'll register today to join us this year in New Orleans. Don't let history pass you by!

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United Fresh Announces Nominations for New Board Officers and Directors for 2011-2012

Chairman of the Board Development Committee Jim Lemke, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., has announced the slate of new officers and directors nominated to serve on the United Fresh Board of Directors, effective at its May 2, 2011 meeting in New Orleans.

Ascending to Chairman of the Board is Reggie Griffin, Corporate Vice President, Produce & Floral Merchandising & Procurement, The Kroger Company, Cincinnati, OH. Reggie began his career at Kroger in 1969, working part-time as a produce clerk and bagger while attending college. He joined the company's management training program in 1972, and since moved upward in responsibility in produce, merchandising and operations during posts in Paris and Memphis, TN; Murray, KY; Houston, Corpus Christi and Dallas, TX; and Los Angeles, CA, before becoming corporate director of produce & floral in the Cincinnati headquarters office in 1999, and vice president in 2001. Griffin is a past chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, past president of the Houston Fruit and Vegetable Association, and past member of the Board of the Produce Marketing Association.  Reggie earned his bachelor's degree in marketing from Memphis State University.

Nominated as Chairman-Elect is David W. Krause, President, Paramount Citrus, Delano, CA. David has lived in the Central Valley of California and worked in agriculture his whole life. He joined Paramount Citrus in 1999 as COO, and was named President in 2001. Paramount Citrus is the largest integrated grower and packer of citrus in California. Paramount owns and farms approximately 30,000 acres in various locations throughout California and Mexico. David is also a third generation farmer. He and his wife Lisa currently live on their ranch in the Orange Cove area, and they farm in both Fresno and Tulare Counties. David has served in numerous industry roles, including the California Citrus Growers Association, California Citrus Mutual and the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. He has an A.S. degree in plant science from Reedley College in California.

Nominated as Secretary-Treasurer is Ron Midyett, CEO of Apio Inc. Ron currently serves as a member of the consolidated Board and Chairman of the Fresh-Cut Processor Board. Prior to joining Apio in 2005, Ron held the position of Senior Vice President of Operations at Dole Fresh Vegetables. Ron received a degree in Food Biochemistry from the University of California at Davis and is an alumnus of United Fresh's Leadership program Class 6.

Current Chairman, Steffanie Smith, CEO of River Point Farms LLC, Hermiston, OR, will move to the position of Immediate Past Chairman and remain on the Board and the Executive Committee.

The following industry leaders have been nominated to serve as new members of the United Fresh Board for a two-year term beginning May 2011:

  • Tony Freytag, National Marketing Director and Member of the Senior Management Committee, Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, Cashmere, WA, is nominated to serve as Vice Chairman of the Fresh-Cut Processor Board. Crunch Pak is the largest producer of sliced apples in the United States. Tony and his two partners started the company more than 10 years ago with an idea for creating healthy snacking by preserving fresh cut apples that he tested in his home kitchen. Today the company is a market leader and is rapidly expanding into the healthy snack and meal replacement categories that include other fresh items such as grapes and carrots. A native of Austin, TX, Tony attended the University of Texas, and began his professional career in produce in 1997 with Naumes, Inc., of Medford, OR.
  • Scott Danner, Chief Operating Officer, Liberty Fruit Company, Inc., Kansas City, KS, has more than 25 years experience in fresh produce, including the past eight years as COO of Liberty Fruit. Previously, he was senior director of produce operations & sales with the Fleming Company and worked for 11 years with C&S Wholesale Grocers, where he started the company's produce operations. Throughout his career he has participated in many volunteer leadership roles, serving on the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee from 2005-2009, the PMA Retail Board from 2007-2010, and currently serving on the Produce Traceability Initiative Leadership Council, Produce Alliance Board of Directors and Missouri Restaurant Association Board of Directors. Most recently, he served on the United Fresh Wholesaler-Distributor Board. Scott graduated from Thomas College in Waterville, ME with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.
  • David Hille, President, Cabbage, Inc., Westlake, OH, began farming when he was in high school in his home state of Ohio. He began his own company, Cabbage Inc. in 1984, which has grown into a multistate company, growing and shipping cabbage 52 weeks a year throughout the United States. David currently splits his time between home in Vermilion, OH and Palm Beach Gardens, FL during the winter growing season. He serves on the board of the Great Lakes Historical Society and most recently served on the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board.
  • John Keeling, Executive Vice President and CEO, National Potato Council, Washington, DC, became head of the NPC in 2002 and directed the council's move from Denver to Washington. He directs the development and implementation of policy for the only national association of potato growers in the United States, and is active on behalf of the potato industry on trade, environment and domestic farm policy issues. Prior to joining NPC, John worked for several key agriculture, food processor and farm organizations including the National Food Processors Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation where he spent 10 years. He currently serves on the United Fresh Government Relations Council, and is a co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. John is originally from Texas where his family continues to have farming interests. In addition, he and his brother operate a small farm in Central Virginia. He has a master's degree in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Tech and a bachelor's degree in Economics from Washington and Lee University.
  • Dave Russell, Vice President of Sales - National Accounts, Del Monte Fresh Produce Company N.A, Dallas, TX, one of the world's leading vertically-integrated producers, marketers and distributors of high-quality fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Prior to his current position, Dave headed the sales and marketing team for Standard Fruit and Vegetable Co., which was later sold to Del Monte. Dave is a member of the Strategic Account Management Association, and recently served on the PMA Retail Board. Most recently, he served on the United Fresh Fresh-Cut Processor Board. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Northeast Missouri State University and an MBA from Webster College in St. Louis.

  • Angela Paymard, Chairman of N2N Global, Longwood, FL, entered the produce industry in 2007 when she became CEO of KPG Solutions, a premier provider of software, consulting and hardware solutions for the worldwide food industry. In less than 36 months, she has successfully re-aligned the company, focused on new initiatives, recruited top additional talent and expanded operations into Europe. Prior to her current position, Angela worked for Citigroup and Larrabee Ventures on Wall Street in investment banking and financial services. She is an active member of the FDA/USDA Recall Evaluation Committee, the United Fresh Supply Chain Logistics Council and sits on the Technology Working Group for the Produce Traceability Initiative. She attended Loyola Marymount University and has a bachelor's degree from California Lutheran University in philosophy and political science.

Current Board members nominated to new positions of service on Market Segment Boards and Councils include:

  • Chairman, Fresh-Cut Processor Board - Jan Berk, San Miguel Produce, Inc.
  • Chairman, Global Advisory Council - Paddy Callaghan, Nature's Best Ltd.
  • Chairman, Nutrition & Health Council - Dan'l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions, Inc.

The following officers of Market Segment Boards and Councils will continue service on the Board: 

  • Chairman, Grower-Shipper Board - Fred Williamson, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce
  • Vice Chairman, Grower-Shipper Board - Will Steele, Frontera Produce
  • Chairman, Wholesaler Distributor Board - Brendan Comito, Capital City Fruit Company, Inc.
  • Vice Chairman, Wholesaler-Distributor Board - Ron Carkoski, Four Seasons Produce, Inc.
  • Chairman, Retail-Foodservice Board - Mitch Smith, McDonald's Corporation
  • Vice Chairman, Retail-Foodservice Board - Randy Scott, Food Lion
  • Chairman, Food Safety & Technology Council - Walter Ram, The Giumarra Companies
  • Chairman, Supply Chain Logistics Council Chairman - David Dever, Pandol Brothers Inc.
  • Chairman, Government Relations Council - Barry Bedwell, California Grape & Tree Fruit League

The following current At-Large Board Members will continue service on the Board: Mike Celani, Ready Pac Foods, Inc.; John Chrosniak, DuPont Crop Protection; Tony DiMare, DiMare Company; Emily Fragoso, Status Gro; Roger Harkrider, H-E-B; Brent Harrison, Al Harrison Co. Distributors; Ana Hooper, Darden Restaurants; Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company; Mike Martin, Rio Queen, Inc.; Phil Muir, Muir Copper Canyon Farms; Mark Murai, California Strawberry Commission; Roger Pepperl, Stemilt Growers, LLC; Bruce Peterson, Peterson Insights, Inc.; Doug Riley, Hy-Vee, Inc.; John Smith, Bayer Crop Science; Ivan Tarriba, Farmers Best International, LLC; Geoff White, Safeway, Inc.; Greg Wohlleb, Bunzl Distribution, Inc.; and Jackson Woodward, Horton Fruit Company.

"In total, the slate of nominees for our consolidated Board of Directors, together with our returning Board members and new officers, makes this a tremendously diverse and skilled set of leaders to represent our entire industry and guide our association in the year ahead," said Board Development Committee Chairman Jim Lemke.

Board members concluding service at the May meeting include:

  • Jim Lemke, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., who served as Chairman of the Board in 2009-2010, and this past year as Immediate Past Chairman
  • Mike Cavallero, Dole Food Company, who served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Board from 2008-2011
  • David Barney, who has served as Chairman of the Global Advisory Council
  • Ashley Rawl, who has served as Chairman of the Nutrition & Health Council
  • Charles Hall, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association
  • Brian Kocher, Chiquita Brands International
  • Rick Urschel, Urschel Laboratories

"I'd like to personally thank those leaders who are concluding their service at this meeting," said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. "They have contributed greatly to our industry's success in so many ways, and we appreciate the time and resources they have given to serve our industry. I'd also like to thank Jim Lemke and Board Development Committee members Will Steele, Ron Carkoski, Jan Berk, Randy Scott, Steffanie Smith, Reggie Griffin and Mike Cavallero for their work this year in nominating an outstanding slate of officers and Board members. We recognize that the strength of our association comes from strong representation of our membership across the total supply chain, bringing together an exceptional group of industry leaders to serve our industry."

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United Fresh Foundation to Provide Salad Bars to 33 New Orleans Schools

The fresh produce industry will give back to the local community in an unprecedented way when United Fresh hosts it 107th annual convention in New Orleans, May 2-5. Through the generosity of member companies and friends, the United Fresh Foundation will donate salad bars to 33 New Orleans schools, creating a lasting impact on thousands of school children in its convention host city.

"These salad bars reflect our members' commitment to help increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables for thousands of New Orleans school kids.  This is a great way for our industry to show our support to the local community, and say 'thank you' for hosting our 2011 convention," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "I'm pleased to say that we've topped our goal to raise funds for 25 salad bars and will be able to provide a salad bar to every New Orleans school that requested one."

The Foundation will commemorate the donation with a May 3 "Let's Move Salad Bars to New Orleans Schools" press event bringing together local dignitaries and officials to recognize the 33 recipient schools and each donor company.  The salad bar donations are made possible through the generous sponsorship of the following companies: The Andrew Smith Company, Apio, Inc., Bonipak Produce, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, CAMBRO, Capitol City Produce, Chiquita Brands, Ciruli Brothers, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Dennis and Susi Gertmenian, DMA Solutions, Dole Food Company, DuPont Crop Protection, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Horton Fruit Company, Mann Packing Company, Marie's, McEntire Produce, Muir Copper Canyon Farms, the National Watermelon Association, Pero Family Farms, Stemilt Growers, Taylor Farms, the Produce Exchange, the Tom Lange Company, and True Organic Products.

The May donation of salad bars is in addition to 10 salad bars that the United Fresh Foundation donated in the fall of 2010 from funds raised at its annual Washington Public Policy Conference.  United Fresh also recognizes Whole Foods Markets, which has donated salad bars to six New Orleans schools this year as part of its nationwide campaign in support of Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools.

United Fresh is a founding partner of the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which has a goal of donating salad bars to 6,000 schools nationwide within the next three years. Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.

"We hope that schools throughout the region and nationwide will now look at New Orleans as a model to see how salad bars can transform the school food experience. Schools can work directly with the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, raising funds for salad bars within their own communities through government support, local businesses, PTAs and more. It's easy for schools to post an application on www.SaladBars2Schools.org, and raise the necessary awareness and funds to make a difference for their kids," said Stenzel.

United Fresh has pioneered the nationwide adoption of school fruit and vegetable salad bars as a proven strategy for significantly increasing children's produce consumption. To date, the United Fresh Foundation has donated salad bars to 85 schools in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

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FDA to Hold Second Public Meeting on Implementation of Food Safety Modernization Act

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will host "FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: Focus on Preventive Controls for Facilities," the second in its series of public meetings on the newly-passed Food Safety Modernization Act Wednesday, April 20, at its White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, MD. Those who are not able to attend the meeting in person may participate via webcast at this link.

The meeting will provide industry members with an opportunity to discuss implementation of the preventive controls for facilities provisions of FSMA. The agency is seeking information on preventive controls used by facilities to identify and address hazards associated with specific types of food and specific processes. The public will have an opportunity to provide information and share views that will inform the development of guidance and regulations on preventive controls for food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold human food or animal food and feed.

Breakout sessions at the meetings will address preventive controls guidance; on-farm manufacturing and small business; product testing and environmental monitoring; training and technical assistance; and preventive controls and the relationship to cGMP. Session speakers will include FDA Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor, Murray Lumpkin, FDA deputy commissioner for international programs, Donald Kraemer and Daniel McChesney, chairs of FDA's Implementation Team for Preventive Standards.

On-site registration for the event begins at 7:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, and the meeting will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy at 202-303-3400, ext. 409.

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Administration Agrees with United's PACA Working Group Recommendations

This week, USDA issued its final rule on revising the Perishable Agricultural Commodity Act (PACA) regulators regarding post-default agreements for payments, which took effect April 13. As part of the final rule, the new regulation reverses a series of court decisions holding that post-default payment agreements eliminated PACA Trust protections. Under the new-regulation, such post-default agreements for payment are not be considered by AMS to adversely affect trust protections.

In June of last year, USDA issued a proposed rule on changes to the PACA Trust provisions. Upon this announcement, United Fresh issued an industry briefing paper, announced the formation of a PACA Trust Working Group, and held an industry webinar to discuss the USDA proposal and industry action. In September, the PACA Trust Working Group submitted comments to USDA on the new rule and asked for key changes including striking the 180-day provision and modifying the regulation so that post-default agreements do not waive or forfeit a supplier's properly preserved trust rights.

"We are extremely pleased that the PACA Trust Final Rule issued by USDA has agreed with the industry comments and adopted important changes urged by United Fresh and our allied produce partners," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. "This change is a very big victory for United Fresh and our members, and will reduce the significant financial burden of potential litigation and collection fees. It also preserves the critical functions of the PACA Trust rights, a fundamental component in the commerce of fresh produce in the United States."

As part of the final rule, USDA agreed with the comments submitted by United Fresh and now permits sellers to enter post-default payment agreements without raising the concern that such agreements fall outside payment terms that qualify for PACA trust protection. According to the final rule, such agreements may be oral or in writing (the proposed rule would have required written agreements). Finally, the underlying PACA debt remains subject to the Trust, assuming that the PACA Trust was properly perfected prior to the default.

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United's Vaché Goes Bananas in Ecuador

United's Dan Vaché took the Produce Traceability Initiative message to Ecuador this month for "The Challenge of Integration;" the Eighth Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association Banana Forum in Guayquil.

Vaché, United's vice president of supply chain management, presented the PTI Milestones and details to more than 250 growers and shippers in the region that had heard of the initiative secondhand, yet had no direct knowledge from its facilitating organizations.

"Because Ecuador sends its bananas around the world, there is a keen interest in ensuring that the requirements of all its trading partners are met," said Vaché. "Several of our members, including Del Monte, Dole, and Chiquita, have been a great conduit of information on PTI, and I was able to directly answer grower questions in regard to the specific reasons and objectives of the initiative."

In addition to his talks with growers and shippers on hand, Vaché was provided with a tour of two banana packing facilities, as well as the Port of Machala by Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc.Vice President of Corporate Packaging Skip Marlin.

"The tours were a tremendous opportunity to see the care and dedication that the banana growers, packers and shippers take to supply consumers around the globe with a healthy and desirable fruit," said Vaché.

Additional presentations at the forum included: Financial Resources and Energy Security Problems; Traceability of Product from Banana Plantations; Packing Trends; Efficient Employment of Fertilizers; Disease Controls; Post Harvest Management of Bananas; Reduction of Fleet Refer Transportation; and Future Trends in Distribution.

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How Does Your Company's Compensation Stack Up?

There's just one month left to see how your company's compensation levels stack up with the rest of the industry through 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.

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United's Dr. Barry Eisenberg to Present at 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.

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$25,000 Could Buy a Lot of Po-Boys

Are you ready to do something that will make you feel good and support a great cause? It's time to purchase your tickets for the 2011 Salute to Leadership Raffle. The $25,000 cash prize could be yours! 

Proceeds from the Salute to Leadership Raffle support the United Fresh Foundation Center for Leadership Excellence, which provides valuable resources, training and development programs for industry leaders at all career levels.

The drawing for the raffle will take place at the May 4th Annual Awards Banquet at United Fresh 2011 in New Orleans. Tickets are just $100 and there is no limit to the number you can buy. Get your tickets now by clicking here or contact United Fresh Education Manager Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400, ext. 405. 

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@UnitedFresh Hits 1000 Followers, Will Tweet Live From United Fresh 2011

United Fresh sends a special welcome to Karen Baughman of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, who this week became the 1000th follower of the association on Twitter. Baughman joins her industry counterparts who use the rapidly-growing social media site to stay current on industry news, developments on Capitol Hill and elsewhere within the federal government, and United Fresh happenings.

"In the fresh produce industry, where keeping up with new technology is a business imperative for our members, Twitter provides a great avenue for the dissemination of news and generation of discussions on everything that United Fresh does," said Patrick Delaney, United's communications manager. "Twitter feed allows us to get quick, short-format information out to produce leaders, engaging the industry in ways not possible before."

United Fresh can be found at www.twitter.com/UnitedFresh, and the association will tweet live from New Orleans next month for United Fresh 2011, May 2-5. United has established the #United2011 hashtag for the show, and attendees and exhibitors are encouraged to include the #United2011 hashtag in all show-related tweets.

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Loblaw's Doug Rodriguez is This Week's BIG Winner in United's Restaurant A Week Giveaway!

Congratulations to Doug Rodriguez of Loblaw Companies Ltd! Doug is the winner of this week's Restaurant a Week Giveaway, and will enjoy dining at one of Emeril Lagasse's famous New Orleans restaurants 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 Doug! Next week's winner is headed to the Riverfront Restaurant, housed in a centuries-old port warehouse building in the Vieux Carré, the oldest section of the famed French Quarter. Overlooking the Mississippi River and just blocks from the bustle of Jackson Square Park, Riverfront serves the finest in New Orleans standards. Po-Boys, bananas foster, blackened redfish, shrimp and grits, jambalaya, muffaletta and other Cajun staples make this stop an essential one on any serious diner's tour of the Big Easy.

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Meet Your United Fresh Board of Directors: Ashley Rawl Strikes a Key Balance Between Looking Back, Moving Forward

Ashley Rawl
Director, Sales & Marketing
Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Inc.
Pelion, South Carolina

Walter P. Rawl & Sons is very much a family business with small, local roots, but is also a successful, large company. How do you balance the customer appeal of your local, rootsy story, with the workings of a large operation like yours?

It is a balance for sure.  We are honored and humbled to look back at our beginnings and see the growth we've been blessed with and at the same time we have a vision for our future.  With the second and third generations working together, we make sure to have a focus in each area of the business so we never neglect an important part.  We also still all stay very grounded. When it comes to my generation, we used to work in the fields every day when we were young. It didn't matter what the weather was, or what time of year we were hands on in the fields and in every aspect of the farm. Today, even though the company has grown like it has, we really try to keep that family atmosphere here as best we can.  But it is a delicate balance between that family atmosphere and having the structure, protocol and procedures. It's a healthy balance, though, and that's why we try to maintain it.

Speaking of that balance, how do you see the tradition of a company like yours working hand-in-hand with the technology that is available today?

We are fortunate that first generation of Rawl farmers was very innovative and ahead of its time. The second generation was the same way, and really showed a willingness and desire to continue to invest in the business and to be a leader in technology from every aspect—seed through distribution. We are open to new ideas. We've been blessed in that we haven't had a huge generational gap standing between where the business is and where it needs to be moving forward. 

You have said in the past that one of the places from which Rawl derives its success is that you and your employees are consumers first and industry people second. How does that mentality enable your company to be effective?

We constantly talk about the consumer. The sale, for us, is not done when we get the signed bill of lading from our customers. It's done when we have a satisfied restaurateur or when the consumer has the meal on the table. We talk about the sale not even being final when it's in the buggy on the way out to the car; the consumer still has to have that positive experience once they take it home and prepare it. We talk about every employee being consumers. We stress to them that all of our kids and our families are consuming the products that we produce. As we ingrain that in our employees, it increases that sense of pride in what we all do to provide the freshest products we can.  Also we try to keep our mind open to engage and educate new consumers that didn't grow up with our background.  It's fun to watch some new employee try "greens" for the first time. 

You represented both your company and United Fresh at the First Lady's Let's Move! anniversary in Atlanta earlier this year, and Rawl is very involved in the effort to improve child nutrition both at home in South Carolina and nationwide. What is the produce industry's role in the child nutrition movement and what potential does that effort hold for the industry?

I have been very passionate about this since day one. I think that our industry holds such a promise for our country and for the world in terms of the fresh fruits and vegetables that we grow and produce. When I first got on United's Government Relations Council, they talked about the price of this and the price of that, and this seems like such a basic, simple investment in our future. I've always felt that way, but I think that message gets stronger every day. We're faced with such a massive health care bill, but as a country, we don't want to do the things that will move us from a sick-care system to one that's based on wellness and prevention. I think that this presents such a huge, huge, huge opportunity for fruits and vegetables when it comes to developing kids nutrition and creating that pallet for future healthy eating habits. It's also important that people—especially industry folks—don't underestimate the power of kids'.  We also need to be creative in how to educate them to help increase consumption and overall healthy wellbeing.


To that child nutrition end, Rawl is involved with a project called LazyTown. What's this all about and how does it work?

LazyTown is a global brand in over 100 countries, and the smallest, in terms of popularity, is the United States. That is going to change with a new platform coming out in the US in August through the networks. "Sports Candy," is fresh fruits and vegetables, and mentioned in every show.  It's what the kids look for now. Around the globe, I've been able to see growth of produce consumption in markets where LazyTown has been for just under the past decade.

What do you do when you're out of the office? How do you unwind?

I have two little girls, Chloe, who's 9, and Meryn, who's 7. I spend as much time with my family as possible. Between work and travel, we all try to do a lot of activities together. We spend a lot of time outdoors, and I like to fish a lot, pretty much every chance I get. I spincast mostly, and like to saltwater fish a bunch, but I do a lot of freshwater fishing as well. We have Lake Murray, which is a very nice place to fish, but we are not too far from the coast, either. I fish for trout and redfish mostly, but when we go offshore, we look for mahi mahi.

Tell us about the Lexington/Pelion area. You mention that it's outdoorsy, but what other aspects do you like?

We're outside of Columbia, so we're kind of "close enough, yet far enough away." There are rivers that run through Columbia so there is a lot of kayaking and canoeing, lots of hiking. It's a college town, so there are a lot of younger people moving in that either go to South Carolina or went to USC, so there is a lot of growth.

What's one goal that you're pushing for, either personally or professionally?

We talk about that a lot here at work, and it may seem simple, but we really strive to be the freshest in the industry. It's a simple goal, but we really feel that the whole team here gets it. Also, becoming attractive to new consumers is a big push. Produce is a world that barely exists to some people so the more we can try to increase awareness, consumption and health follow. 

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New Member Welcome

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

  • Anderson Truck Farm, Lake Crystal, MN
  • Buckelew Programs, San Rafael, CA
  • Cut Rite Onions, LLC, Millersburg, PA
  • Gelson's Market, Encino, CA
  • Omni Distribution & Sales, Layton, UT
  • Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co., LLC, Watsonville, CA
  • SGS North America, Brookings, SD,

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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