July 14, 2011

In Today's Issue:

WPPC Attendees Meet Face to Face with Federal Regulators

This October, attendees to the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Public Policy Conference will sit down with regulators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency for a series of discussions on policy items that will affect the fresh produce industry.

"It is a huge advantage for our industry to be able to meet with officials at USDA, EPA and FDA - in their offices - to hear directly how the policies created in Washington will be enacted in the business community and see first-hand the regulatory challenges that face the produce industry," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. "Just as it is critical for the produce industry to reach out to lawmakers as legislation is being crafted, it is equally important for leaders in our industry to voice their feedback and concerns with the regulators that will apply that legislation to their businesses."

On tap at FDA, among other topics, is a discussion on the pending regulations stemming from theFood Safety Modernization Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in January. Regulators will discuss with industry how the law is to be applied and discuss the specific needs of the industry with regard to food safety regulatory matters.

The recently-defunded Microbiological Data Program will be among the matters explored at USDA, and officials will discuss the ramifications of the program, as well as next steps for the agency and industry.

Part of a full offering at EPA, agency officials will address the implications of the Clean Water Act for growers and shippers, as well as for other sectors of the produce industry.

The Washington Public Policy Conference, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, brings together leaders of the produce industry to explore how the legislative and regulatory processes affect their individual businesses and the produce industry as a larger entity. More information on the conference, as well as registration details, can be found at www.unitedfresh.org/programs/wppc.

Webinar Takes On Produce Growth Opportunities in Child Nutrition

Recent policy changes in school meals, coupled with increased funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, creates new sales and business opportunities for fresh produce companies.

On July 26, United Fresh brings you Schools: A New Produce Sales Opportunity, the latest in its Summer Webinar Series, presented by 3M Food Safety. During the program, attendees will learn how produce business leaders capitalize on these opportunities and why schools, more than ever before, are looking for great produce food service distributors.

Like the inaugural edition on E-Verify and farm labor, this webinar features policy experts, produce business leaders and school food officials who will examine how new school meals regulations will double the amount of produce schools serve.

Speakers at the webinar include Tony Freytag, director of sales and marketing at Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, Cincinnati Public Schools Foodservice Director Jessica Shelly, Muir Copper Canyon Farms President and CEO Phil Muir, and Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health.

As vice-chairman of the United Fresh-Cut Processor Board, and director of sales and marketing of the largest producer of fresh-cut sliced apples, Tony Freytag knows firsthand that schools are an important sales opportunity for popular fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. During the webinar, Freytag will discuss how the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program and the new school meals requirements benefit Crunch Pak and why reaching schools is important for his business.

Jessica Shelly oversees 53 Cincinnati Public Schools, all of which will have salad bars by the fall of 2011. Shelley purchases a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and as part of the webinar, she explains what produce items schools want to purchase, the purchasing process, what she looks for in produce distributors and how the new school meals guidelines will increase the amount of produce her school district purchases.

Phil Muir of Muir Copper Canyon Farms capitalizes on school business in Utah and several surrounding states, and schools account for a significant share of his overall business. Listen as Muir takes you through how he builds school business relationships and how the federal school meals policy changes create major growth opportunities for foodservice distributors like him.

United's Lorelei DiSogra is a leader in driving federal nutrition policy changes that increase children's access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables. DiSogra examines how the new school meals regulations double the amount of fruits and vegetables in school meals and looks ahead to upcoming school nutrition policy changes that will create even more sales opportunities for produce.   

More information on the Summer Webinar Series, including registration details, may be found by clicking here. This program is available exclusively to United Fresh members. If you are not a member and would like to join United Fresh today, click here to complete a membership application. Click here to learn more about the full complement of United Fresh member benefits and services.

United's Marshall, Members Talk Salad Bars at SNA Conference

Innovation in school meals was the topic in Nashville this week as United Fresh Policy and Grassroots Manager Andrew Marshall spoke with school foodservice directors about current trends and Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools at this year's School Nutrition Association National Conference.

Of particular interest to many in attendance were the upcoming changes to the new school meals regulations, which call for schools to increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables offered, as well as how to participate in the HealthierUS School Challenge.

"There was a real sense that many school foodservice directors are very much engaged in trying to find innovative ways to get kids to eat healthier meals," said Marshall. "The educational session about how schools could apply for the HealthierUS School Challenge was packed."

During the trade show, Marshall spoke with foodservice directors interested in Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, and explained the application process to request a salad bar for their school. The majority of companies exhibiting at the show represent the stereotypical 'school-food' landscape - pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets - but a contingent of United Fresh member companies also exhibited at the show, promoting their products and representing the fresh produce industry well.

United Fresh extends a warm thank you to the following companies for providing produce to include on the salad bars that were highlighted at the show: Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Dole Food Company, Grimmway Farms, HMC Farms, NatureSeal, and Pear Bureau Northwest.

For more information about how your company can get involved with Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, contact Marshall at 202-303-3400, ext. 407.

GLOBALG.A.P. to Review Version 4 Standard at Florida Workshop Later This Month

Representatives from Bethesda, MD-based GLOBALG.A.P. North America will review the regulations, documentation and audit checklist of the Version 4 standard at a workshop in Ft. Pierce, FL, July 25 and 26. Designed to help industry fully understand the GLOBALG.A.P. certification process for fruit and vegetables, the workshop will use classroom discussion, case studies, and thorough question and answer sessions to deepen attendees' understanding of how GLOBALG.A.P.'s standard applies in practice.

Upon completion of the training, participants will be better prepared to audit under and implement the Version 4 standard.

The workshop is intended for producers, suppliers, and retailers who rely on GLOBALG.A.P. for their farm assurance process; auditors and inspectors who audit GLOBALG.A.P.; quality managers, technical advisors, consultants, and farm assurers who are involved in implementing GLOBALG.A.P. certification systems; and individuals who are unfamiliar with GLOBALG.A.P. and would like to learn more. Experience with GLOBALG.A.P. is not a pre-requisite for the workshop.

The workshop will be held at the Indian River Research and Education Center in Ft. Pierce, and more information is available by clicking here or contacting GLOBALG.A.P.'s Oriana Lisker at 240-482-4852. 

Serve Your Industry on the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee

Later this month, USDA begins the process of selecting members of the produce industry to serve on the agency's Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. United Fresh is in the process of compiling a list of recommended industry leaders, which the association will then submit to USDA for consideration.

"As part of the original organization of the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and having worked closely with USDA for many years, United Fresh is very pleased that USDA is continuing this great opportunity for the industry to provide feedback directly to the federal government," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther.

Since 2001, the advisory committee has played an important role for the produce industry, providing the Secretary of Agriculture and USDA officials with important recommendations and guidance on federal programs that serve the fruit and vegetable industry. For the past decade, numerous United Fresh volunteer leaders have served on the advisory committee and have played leadership roles on working groups and as Advisory Committee chairs.

Members of the industry interested in serving on the committee should contact Guenther no later than Monday, July 18, at 202-303-3400, ext. 409.

Just One Day Left for United to Send Your Family Business to Washington

Friday, July 15, is the last day to apply for the 2011 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program to help to ensure that the views and the interests of family businesses are represented on Capitol Hill this fall at the annual Washington Public Policy Conference.

Presented by the United Fresh Foundation, the program recognizes up to four family-owned United Fresh member businesses with complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the association's annual public policy summit, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

"Through this unique program, United Fresh members in family-owned businesses have the opportunity to see how the decisions made in Washington affect businesses of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, throughout the produce industry," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Family businesses stand to gain so much by getting involved here in Washington, and it is so important that they have the ability to come to Capitol Hill, meet with legislators and administration officials and make their views known."

The program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in honor of their mother, Frieda. The program is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

Applications are now being accepted for the program, and more information is available by clicking here. Applicants must complete an application and written submission detailing why they want to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and what they hope to gain from the experience. Applicants must be employed by a family business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing. All applications must be received by July 15. Applications should be sent to the United Fresh Foundation, attention Victoria Backer via email at vbacker@unitedfresh.org or fax at 202-303-3433.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact Backer at 202-303-3400 ext. 408, and for more information about the Washington Public Policy Conference, contact United's Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Do Your Inspection Skills Make the Grade?

There's just one more chance this year to take part in United's popular Produce Inspection Training Program, the produce industry's only USDA-instructed inspection training program. The final session of 2011 will take place September 12-16 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors' Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA.

The hands-on training is designed to help produce industry receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the complexities of the produce inspection process. The program is offered in two specialized courses: Fundamentals of Produce Inspection and the Commodity Labs course. The two-day Fundamentals course is a prerequisite to the Labs course and focuses on inspection essentials, PACA, sampling procedures, and general market principles. The three-day Commodity Labs program applies the fundamental principles to real world inspections including the five most commonly requested commodities - grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes - with up to seven additional commodities based on the attendees' most common preferences.

Class size is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration fee for the introductory course is $895, $1225 for the advanced course, and $1925 for members for both courses taken together. If three or more colleagues register for both courses at the same time, each receives a $100 discount. For more information on the program, please contact United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400, ext. 408.

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:

  • North Bay Produce, Inc., Traverse City, MI
  • Driscoll's, Watsonville, CA

The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United Fresh's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support.  For more information on the Chairman's Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Antelope Distributing, Inc. Lancaster, CA
  • Castle Rock Vineyards, Delano, 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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