August 18, 2011

Fresh Impact Tour Moves West From Pennsylvania into Ohio, Ontario, Michigan and Indiana This Week

After stops throughout Pennsylvania last Friday, United’s Fresh Impact Tour headed west this week, visiting members and touring operations in Ohio, Ontario, Michigan and Indiana.  The road-tested team of President and CEO Tom Stenzel, Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner, and Senior Director of Membership Miriam Miller crisscrossed Pennsylvania and Ohio, stopping for a town hall in Willard before hopping the border for visits in Ontario for a town hall in Leamington.

On Friday, the team toured multiple operations in Pennsylvania to wrap up week one, including a visit with Fresh-Cut Processor Board member David Masser at Keystone Potato Products in Heggins, as well as the company’s fresh pack operation in nearby Sacramento. After a quick bite at Wendy's store 8358 in Lickdale, the team was off to Rice Fruit in Gardners to chat with John Rice about the history of his company and his thoughts on how labor, food safety, GAP harmonization and other issues affect the apple industry.

Keystone Potato Products’ David Masser, left, and United’s Tom Stenzel examine potatoes in a field in Heggins.

Week two kicked off in Ohio at Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, where the Wendy’s Supply Chain Co-op team shared how it is making fresh produce one of the stars of the restaurant’s menu. From there, the team visited a nearby Gordon Food Service Marketplace to see how retail opportunities can be harnessed by a foodservice distributor. A quick drive into Columbus took the team to lunch with Ohio Produce Growers & Marketers Association CEO Michael Geary and Director of Communication & Membership Laura Kunkle. Together, United and OPGMA addressed common concerns about issues like food safety and labor, as well as the goal to increase produce consumption.

United’s Tom Stenzel, center, visits with the Wendy’s Supply Chain Co-Op team members Joe Loiacano, left, and Bob Stumpo in Dublin.

After a visit with R.S. Hanline in Shelby, it was off to Willard for visits with Wiers Farm and Buurma Farms, and the week’s first town hall luncheon. The team rounded out its time in the Buckeye State with a visit to Doug Walcher Farms, where John and Dean Sweeting, two of the farms' growers shared their thoughts on how food safety and labor affect Ohio growers.

United’s Tom Stenzel, right, with Buurma Farms’ Tom Buurma.

Wednesday took the team north to Ontario, where Stenzel, Miller and Toner visited with former Canadian Produce Marketing Association Chair Adrian Abbott at his new post, J-D Marketing. The team then visited Nature Fresh Farms, before heading to Leamington for the week’s second town hall luncheon addressing issues affecting the Canadian and American produce industries.

United’s Tom Stenzel, left, visits with Matt Quiring, center, and Mike Glass at Nature Fresh Farms in Leamington.

Today, it’s on to Michigan for more tours and a fifth and final town hall at Meijer in Grand Rapids before the team heads to Indiana on Friday.

For complete updates and photos from the Fresh Impact Tour, please visit us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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FDA’s Mike Taylor Highlights United Fresh Webinar on FSMA Implementation

FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor talks with United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel at Washington’s Eastern Market in 2009.
FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor will lead a discussion of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) during United’s upcoming webinar, Food Safety Law: How Will FDA Implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and What Does That Mean For You?, on August 30.During the webinar, Taylor will discuss his vision of FSMA implementation and what direction FDA is likely to take. Attendees will also get a glimpse into the process of the Implementation Team as they prepare for more than 50 rules, guidance documents, reports and studies.

A nationally-recognized food safety expert, Taylor was named deputy commissioner for foods at FDA in January 2010. Taylor has served in numerous high-level positions at FDA and USDA, as a research professor in the academic community, and on several National Academy of Sciences expert committees studying food-related issues.

“We are now in the phase of FSMA where the rubber meets the road; where the law is put in to effect through regulations,” said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas. “It is imperative that the industry stays engaged, asks questions and voices feedback throughout this process, and we sincerely hope that members will take advantage of this opportunity to get answers and interact with FDA on what is an historic overhaul of our nation’s food safety laws.”

The webinar is the third in United’s Summer Webinar Series presented by 3M Food Safety, and is reserved for United Fresh members only. Members may register by clicking here, and more information is available by contacting United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.

Tailored Approach to Education Allows Washington Public Policy Conference Attendees to Focus on Specific Business Needs

This October, United’s Washington Public Policy Conference offers education tailored to each of four main produce industry market segments, including grower-shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesaler-distributors, and retail and foodservice operators.

“This approach is one that serves our members and attendees very well, allowing each to tailor an educational experience to their specific business type,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “Couple these market-specific breakout sessions with insight from top lawmakers like House Agriculture Committee Chair and Wednesday keynote speaker Frank Lucas, and unprecedented, face-to-face access on Capitol Hill, and at USDA, EPA and FDA, and you have an event at which produce companies can really make a difference, not only for the industry as a whole, but for their individual businesses.”

For grower-shippers, the Could E-Verify Devastate Your Workforce and Destroy Your Business? session offers a chance to explore the potential impact of business-threatening legislation moving through Congress and the repercussions of recent Supreme Court rulings on E-Verify. Attendees will also learn what they can do to help bring a sensible solution to the workforce needs of the produce industry.
The fresh-cut processor offerings focus on issues in food safety and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) in Fresh-cut Operations Inspections: FDA and Private Sector Perspectives. In the session, attendees will hear from the FDA's Office of Enforcement on the top 10 food safety and GMP issues in fresh-cut processor operations. Additionally, the session will address the Global Food Safety Initiative and how it affects the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative.

Efficiency in the supply chain is on tap for the wholesaler-distributor segment during How Produce Distributors and USDA Can Work Together to Maximize Efficiency in the Produce Supply Chain.The session includes a comprehensive discussion on how the produce industry can work with USDA at this critical step in the supply chain to ensure programs such as small farm GAP certification and border inspection are handled effectively for the industry.

In How Retailers and Restaurants Can Use New Policy Initiatives to Increase Sales, retail and foodservice operators will address the new MyPlate initiative from USDA and the Dietary Guidelines recommendation to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” The session explores how retailers and foodservice operators can take advantage of new policy initiatives like MyPlate, new menu labeling regulations, WIC and others to increase produce consumption and increase sales.

The breakout sessions add to a busy schedule of events for the annual Washington Public Policy Conference, including the Wednesday keynote address from Chairman Lucas, discussions with federal regulators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration and the popular Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill. Additionally, this year’s event includes the most visits to congressional offices by conference attendees in the event’s history.

Registration options and more information for the Washington Public Policy Conference is available at

United Joins Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow in Salinas

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, left, visits with California Grape and Tree Fruit League’s Barry Bedwell in Salinas last week.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan met with industry leaders from the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance and United Fresh in Salinas, CA, last week, to discuss issues important to the specialty crop industry in the upcoming Farm Bill.

“Senator Stabenow has been a true friend to the produce industry, engaging her congressional colleagues about policy issues critical to the long-term viability of our members,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. “Her willingness to open up and engage with the industry on such a consistent basis provides us with a real advocate in Washington.”

Chairwoman Stabenow took over the chairmanship of the committee earlier this year and has been a consistent champion on produce industry policy issues, leading the efforts to secure key funding priorities in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Two weeks ago, Chairwoman Stabenow held a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee to learn about the opportunities for specialty crops and organics in the 2012 Farm Bill, and over the next several months, Congress will begin deliberations on the legislation.

For more information on the SCFBA or on the 2012 Farm Bill, please contact Guenther at 202-303-3400, ext. 409.

American Vegetable Grower Announces 2011 Grower Achievement Award Finalists

The race to honor the top growers the United States is now down to five.

In its August issue, American Vegetable Grower announced that United Fresh member TKM Bengard Farms of Belle Glade, FL, The Chef’s Garden of Huron, OH, Buena, NJ-based Formisano Farms, Pasquinelli Produce Company of Yuma, AZ, and Finleyville, PA-based Trax Farms are the five finalists for the 2011 Grower Achievement Award. The award honors grower operations that have taken production agriculture to new levels of innovation, commitment to food quality and safety, and technological advancement.

Presented annually at United’s Washington Public Policy Conference, the Grower Achievement Award recognizes one exceptional grower for excellence in innovative, consumer-oriented marketing efforts; commitment to produce quality and food safety; technological innovation; and leadership, activism, outreach, and environmental stewardship. Past winners include Chester, NJ-based Alstede Farms, Ed Hansen Farms in Stanley, NY, Lewis Taylor Farms of Tifton, GA, and Anthony Farms of Scandinavia, WI.

The winner of this year’s Grower Achievement Award will be announced in the September issue of AVG. For more on this year’s finalists, please click here.

Tomorrow is the Final Day to Recognize an Outstanding Industry Champion in Washington

Tomorrow, August 19, is the last opportunity to nominate one outstanding company for its work championing the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. This October at the Washington Public Policy Conference, United will honor one exceptional member company with the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award.

Selected based on the candidate’s demonstration of outstanding support for public policy advocacy with elected leaders; diligent work on industry policy objectives; involvement with industry political initiatives such as the Washington Public Policy Conference, Grassroots Action Network and United FreshPAC; and United Fresh membership, this year’s award recipient will be announced at the Washington Public Policy Conference, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

For more information on the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award, click here or contact United’s Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.

Produce Traceability Initiative Launches New Webinar Series

Do you realize that now is the time to implement the Produce Traceability Initiative? Are you currently implementing PTI, but have questions? Are others looking to you for help achieving traceability? Are you curious if PTI even applies to your business?

The Produce Traceability Initiative invites you to join us for a new series of webinars, to answer your questions about the initiative and to help you implement PTI within your company.  Our experts come right to your desktop, saving you time and money – and your colleagues can attend with you, in the comfort of your location.

Designed for industry professionals at all stages in the supply chain as well as traceability service providers, the webinar series consists of six webinars covering the following topics:

  • PTI's 5 Ws (and 1 H): Who, What, When, Where, Why and How
  • Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Packer/Shippers
  • Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Assigning GTINs
  • Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Case Labeling
  • Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Hybrid Pallet Labeling
  • Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Retailers


This webinar series is being conducted to help meet industry’s PTI education and communication needs. For specific information on each session and to register, visit the PTI events page, or contact United’s Dan Vaché at 425-629-6271.

August 25 is the Deadline to Submit Input on RPC Labeling Practices

Next Thursday, August 25, is the deadline for growers, packers, shippers, wholesalers and re-packers to submit input to the Produce Traceability Initiative's Technology Working Group on their current practices for labeling returnable plastic containers (RPCs). The survey can be accessed at

The Technology Working Group asks companies currently packing into and labeling RPCs to participate in an online survey about their labeling practices, to help the working group develop effective best practices for creating PTI-compliant RPC labels for shipments into the U.S. marketplace. The group is developing those best practices in response to industry requests for a standard, baseline RPC label that is acceptable to all U.S. buyers.

The Technology Working Group will draw on the survey results to develop best practices for creating RPC labels that include information required for PTI compliance along with customary shipper information. The new labels will also allow packers to include other potentially requested information (for example, information requested by customers or individual states).

For more information, contact PTI Technology Working Group Co-Chair Dan Vaché at 425-629-6271, and for more information about the PTI, visit

New Member Welcome

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

  • Sun Valley Orchards, Swedesboro, NJ
  • University of Maryland University College - Graduate School of Management & Technology, Adelphi, MD

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.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
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