July 21, 2011

In Today's Issue:

United's New Compensation Survey Polls Thirty Job Functions Multiple Industry Segments Nationwide

Bonuses account, on average, for 30 percent of C-suite executive (CEO, COO, CFO) compensation, according to a new survey of produce industry compensation and benefits released today by the United Fresh Foundation, through its Center for Leadership Excellence.

The confidential survey of 119 produce industry companies measures employee compensation and benefit data for a wide range of full-time positions including sales and marketing, production and operations, quality control and assurance, administration, finance and accounting, and executives. The survey was open to U.S.-based produce industry employers including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors.

"This new report offers compensation data from multiple market segments across the nation," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer.  "This is a terrific yardstick by which produce companies can gauge their salary and benefit levels to ensure their competitiveness within the industry, increase profitability, and not only attract new talent, but also retain the valuable employees already on the team."

United's compensation survey shows detailed salary and benefits information on companies, sorted by ownership type, type of business, produce sales volume, number of full-time employees and geography.

The survey represents a wide range of the industry with regard to company size, with 32 percent of responses coming from companies with between 100 and 499 full time employees, and almost 17 percent coming from companies with fewer than 20 full time employees. Also represented is a large range of sales volumes, including 30 percent of responses from companies doing more than $100 million in annual volume, and 22 percent from companies doing less than $15 million in sales annually.

Additional information in the compensation report includes:

  • Adjustments to  salary structure during the current fiscal year and anticipated adjustments for the coming year
  • Basic healthcare plans provided by companies
  • Retirement plans offered by companies

The survey concept was developed by the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board, which identified an important need for a national compensation survey for the fresh produce industry.  To help ensure the broadest and most beneficial input for the produce supply chain, a task force with members from the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board, Fresh-Cut Processor Board, and Wholesaler-Distributor Board was formed in December 2010. The Task Force reviewed and provided input to help determine the top 30 positions within the industry that would be most valuable to industry members.  In February 2011, the survey was sent to the industry and 119 surveys were completed. Industry Insights, an Ohio-based company that specializes in industry compensation research, administered the survey on behalf of United's Foundation.

"The produce industry competes with other industries for attracting and keeping the best talent. United's Grower-Shipper Board strongly supported the idea of conducting a national compensation survey to help industry employers stay competitive in the workplace," said Fred Williamson, president of Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and chairman of United's Grower-Shipper Board.

The final survey report is now available to members of United Fresh for $495 and non-members for $695. Companies who participated in the survey receive an additional discount. The survey can be purchased here, and more information is available by contacting Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400, ext. 408, or vbacker@unitedfresh.org.

California Members Roll Out the Red Carpet for Leadership Class 17

The twelve members of the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program Class 17 initiated their year-long journey with visits to United Fresh member companies throughout central California.

The program, which is focused on developing future industry leaders, kicked off in San Luis Obispo last week. Touring several growing, packing and processing facilities, the fellows were able to gain a better understanding of how other businesses operate, including some of the current challenges that affect the produce industry.

United extends a warm thank you to the many United Fresh members who opened their facilities and shared their knowledge and hospitality with the leadership class, including Apio, Beachside, DuPont R&D, Fazio Marketing, Grimmway Farms Naturipe Farms, Paramount Citrus, Sun World International, Talley Farms, and WESPak Sales.

Special thanks also go out to DuPont Crop Protection, sole sponsor of the program since its inception in 1995. 

Growth Opportunities Explored in Nutrition Webinar Next Week

Next Tuesday, July 26, United Fresh will examine recent policy changes in school meals and increased funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program, and how those developments and others like them create new sales and business opportunities for fresh produce companies.

Schools: A New Produce Sales Opportunity is the latest in United's 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.

Purdue/Syngenta Leadership Group Visits United Offices

Several representatives of the Purdue University/Syngenta Agribusiness Leadership Plus program met with United staff on Tuesday to discuss produce industry challenges. Purdue's program offers management development training for Syngenta's emerging leaders. Topics explored by the group included labor, new varieties, trade, food safety, water use and general sustainability challenges.

"It's clear that these Syngenta leaders have a strong interest in providing technology for advancing the produce industry, and we look forward to partnering with them on these and other critical priorities," said United President and CEO Tom Stenzel.

The Syngenta group, representing the seeds and crop protection businesses, also had meetings at American Farm Bureau, World Wildlife Federation, the World Bank and other organizations in Washington. 

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

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. 

Meet Your United Fresh Board of Directors: For Darden's Ana Hooper, a Love of Sciences Runs in the Family

Ana Hooper
Vice President, Total Quality
Darden Restaurants
Orlando, Florida

Tell us about your background. Is it in agriculture?

No, I have a very diverse background, not one that you'd typically find in the produce arena, I'm a microbiologist by training.

 Darden uses a risk based, Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) strategy to ensure that all suppliers, even smaller-scale suppliers adhere to the same stringent food safety requirements as would their larger, national and international counterparts. What successes have you seen from that approach?

Food safety is our number one priority.  What we really try to drive home is that food safety and quality begins at the source. We don't just deal with the large players, we deal with the small regional players as well, whether that's produce or breadsticks or any other products that are served on our tables. As a company, we understand the need to wear the hat of the buyer and the receiver, but also help to develop the smaller players so that they can meet our expectations from a food safety and quality perspective. Dealing with local and regional suppliers does take a little more time, but we are really looking forward to using the new Audit Benchmarking Matrix, which will be very beneficial for the smaller local and regional suppliers, helping them to be better aligned with the needs of companies like ours. It will ensure that we're all speaking the same language. From our point of view, we can't remain static. We know that we need to raise the bar on food safety, but at the same time, we have to keep it simple. The Audit Benchmarking Matrix helps local and regional suppliers self-assess, and it helps us ensure that their practices are aligned with our needs.

Worldwide, Darden has approximately 1500 suppliers supplying 2200 products from 35 countries. Given those top-line numbers, it comes as no surprise that you are one of United's most vocal voices on traceability. Can you give us some insight into Darden's embrace of traceability, and perhaps what lessons can be learned from your experience, both in a foodservice context and in a general industry context?

For all of our food suppliers, we take traceability very seriously. Through the Bioterrorism Act, we had to ensure traceability of our products one step forward and one step back, and although we are not yet automated through GS1, we are moving in that direction. We have made the company-wide decision to move forward with GS1, and we are very supportive of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI). Personally, I sat on the task force with the National Fisheries Institute on the seafood side as well. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what the product is, we just have to be sure that we're both nimble and quick if we have to isolate a product that does not meet a food safety standard. Public health absolutely comes first. So, on traceability, we look forward to that day when everything has a barcode and is automated, but in the meantime, we expect our suppliers to have the capacity to tell us what they produce, where it was shipped, and where they source it. Even if it's a manual function, we expect all of our suppliers, regardless of product, to answer those questions within a two-hour timeframe.

Red Lobster is one of the pioneers in the casual dining category, but Darden has also been very successful within the fine dining category as well, with The Capital Grille and Seasons 52. What lessons have you been able to take from your success in casual dining and parlay into the fine dining category?

I can only speak from a food safety and quality standpoint, but from that perspective, the approach is always the same: risk-based, HACCP-focused. If you look at all of our food supply from 35 different countries, it is a risk assessment, and we follow it all the way back, as far as we can take it. On the produce side, go back to the growers, and follow that product until it's in our hands, being served in our restaurants. Our supply chain begins as far back as we can take it, and does not end until the guest consumes our food in our restaurant. We've applied that concept very successfully to all Darden brands, whether it's casual dining or fine dining. We hold not only our suppliers and all of the distribution chain, but also ourselves accountable with a risk-based, HACCP-focused plan applied evenly and equally across all of our restaurants.

Tell us about your professional background.

I am a microbiologist, and I got my training at Florida State. I started in clinical microbiology with the hospital systems in Atlanta before I moved to Orlando 31 years ago. At the time, Red Lobster was looking to start up a microbiology lab, and I thought, "well I can do that." That's how I made the switch from clinical to the food business. I've stayed ever since. I was born in Cuba and I'm fluent in Spanish. I grew up in Chicago, and when my family moved back to Florida for my dad's health reasons, I found my way to Florida State.

How did you decide to study microbiology?

It's funny because I initially majored in pre-med, so I could go on and be a medical doctor. I got sidetracked however, fell in love and got married. Microbiology was a passion of mine ever since I was young, and I get that from my father, who was a pharmacist. He passed on his love of the sciences to me. Somewhere along the line I shifted gears from pursuing medical studies and settled on microbiology and prevention of passing disease-bearing organisms to people.

Between the hospital industry and the foodservice industry, you've chosen two sectors that are centered on serving people. Is there something about that aspect of the industry, about being so close to the end consumer, which draws you to it?

There is, and I find it very rewarding. It's rewarding to know that what my team and I do each and every day provides an assurance to our guests that the food served in our 1900 restaurants is safe.

Tell us about your family?

I have two grown kids: a daughter, Julie, who is finishing up nursing school in Philadelphia, and a son, John, in Santa Monica, who is an aspiring actor. I have two very artistic kids. Julie began her career in the beauty business, but has since found her love of the sciences as well.

What do you do to unwind?

I enjoy doing the simple things. I travel quite a bit internationally, so in my down time, I go to the beach and unwind. I enjoy nature and meditation, and the quiet, relaxing things.

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:

  • Cabbage, Inc., Westlake, OH

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:

  • Texas G & S Investments, Inc., McAllen, TX

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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