August 25, 2011

United Fresh Wraps up 2100-Mile Fresh Impact Tour

After 2,128 miles on the road, six states, one Canadian province, five town halls and dozens of visits to member facilities, United Fresh rounded out its Fresh Impact Tour with visits to member operations in Michigan and Indiana.

After stops in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Ontario, United President and CEO Tom Stenzel, Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner and Senior Director of Membership Miriam Miller Wolk began the final leg of their odyssey at Superior Sales in Hudsonville, MI, where they met with President Randy VandeGutche and Leadership Alum Todd DeWaard. VandeGutche and DeWaard shared their candid views on the challenges facing the industry and ways companies need to work together on creating the best possible business climate for produce. The next stop took the team to nearby Walsma & Lyons, where Gary and Kevin Lyons shared their insights on transportation and supply chain logistics.

Meijer's Mark Stevenson addresses attendees at United's town hall meeting in Grand Rapids, MI.

Meijer's Mark Stevenson, director of produce, and senior produce buyer Brian Coates hosted the Fresh Impact Tour's fifth and final town hall. Attendees shared their perspectives on the importance of increasing produce consumption by kids and easier access to the workforce necessary to meet increased demand for more fruits and vegetables.

E. Miedema & Sons' Dave, center, and Sally Miedema inspect sweet corn with United's Tom Stenzel

After the town hall, the team headed to E. Miedema & Sons for a tour with Dave and Sally Miedma. Miedema's grandfather started the business in 1930, and today, the fourth generation, including Miedema's three sons, is working on the farm. Sweet corn is thriving, and Stenzel and Wolk got to see loads of corn being packed for shipment to Miedema's retail customers.

The team then headed to Valparaiso, IN, for a visit with past Board member Rick Urschel and Urschel CFO Dan Marchetti at Urschel Laboratories. Stenzel and Wolk toured Urschel's 250,000 square foot plant, which included three foundries and state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment.

United's Tom Stenzel, right, tours Urschel Laboratories with Rick Urschel, center, and Dan Marchetti, left.

On Friday, the team visited Caito Foods, where Matthew Caito provided a tour of the company's facilities and shared his passion for increasing access to fresh produce in urban and rural areas.  Next, it was off to Indianapolis Fruit Company, where Mike Mascari and John Cunningham gave the team a tour of Indy Fruit's soon-to-be-completed fresh-cut rooms and the warehouse.

Indianapolis Fruit Co.'s John Cunningham, left, points out features of the Indy Fruit warehouse to United's Tom Stenzel.

The finale of the tour was a visit to Kroger store J804 to meet Central Division Produce Merchandiser Gregg Proctor and get a behind-the-scenes look at a retail produce department.  Proctor, along with store manager Rich Preston and management trainee Chris Austin were very positive about the produce department's performance.

United's Tom Stenzel, second from right, with, from right, Kroger's Gregg Johnson, Rich Preston and Chris Austin

“There’s no substitute for meeting face to face with our members to discuss how the policies in Washington are impacting their businesses and their communities,” said Stenzel.  “We wanted to show that members everywhere can have a real voice in setting the policies that affect their businesses and the broader industry. “

A full photo recap of the Fresh Impact Tour can be found on the United Fresh Facebook page. United Fresh will continue to make town hall meetings and travel to member operations a regular part of its efforts to support the produce industry. Companies and organizations interested in hosting an event should contact Wolk at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.

2011 Family Business Scholarship Winners Represent Produce Industry's Diversity

From left, Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship winners Barbara Daly, Micah Desmond, John J. Pandol, and Tami Martin.
The four recipients of the 2011 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarships are: Barbara Daly, Testa Produce, Inc., Chicago, IL; Micah Desmond, Northeast Packaging Company, Presque Isle, ME; Tami Martin, Black Gold, Grand Forks, ND; and John J. Pandol, Pandol Bros. Inc., Delano, CA.

The scholarship program, presented by the United Fresh Foundation Center for Leadership Excellence, provides the opportunity for employees of family-owned businesses to attend the annual United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference. The program is now in its eleventh year, and each scholarship recipient will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and full registration to attend the conference.

Winners were selected by a review committee from applications solicited earlier this year based on a number of criteria such as interest in advocacy work, commitment to the industry, and overall quality of the application.

“We would like to extend our congratulations to the four scholarship recipients and thank everyone who applied for this year’s program,” said United Fresh Foundation Chairman Steve Grinstead of Pro*Act. “Barbara, Micah, Tami, and John will join hundreds of other produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to address the critical issues that are directly affecting our businesses.”

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program is made possible through a generous grant from Frieda’s, Inc. The program was founded in 2001 by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins to expand opportunities for representatives from family businesses to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and help make a positive difference for the produce industry. The Foundation accepts new applications for the program each summer.

“This program provides a special opportunity for employees of family business to become personally involved in the political process,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. “We are extremely appreciative to the Caplan family for their leadership and generosity in providing this opportunity for family businesses to ensure their voices are heard loud and clear in Washington.”

For more information on the scholarship program or on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please visit, or contact United Fresh at 202-303-3400.

United Fresh Webinar on FSMA Implementation Now Sold Out, Archive Available

Due to high demand, next week's webinar featuring FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor and a discussion of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is sold out, but members can still access the recorded version of the webinar.

In the third installment of United's Summer Webinar Series, Food Safety Law: How Will FDA Implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and What Does That Mean For You? Taylor will discuss his vision of FSMA implementation and what direction FDA is likely to take. The webinar will also provide a glimpse into the process of the Implementation Team as it prepares for more than 50 rules, guidance documents, reports and studies.

While members can no longer register for the live webinar, the archived recording will be available starting September 2. The Summer Webinar Series is presented by 3M Food Safety, and is reserved for United Fresh members only. Members may register for the archived copy by clicking here, and more information is available by contacting United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.

Training Government Food Safety Inspectors a Key Priority

As the FDA begins to implement the new Food Safety Modernization Act, the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI) will play an increasingly important role in training a consistent and reliable front-line staff of inspectors across local, state and federal agencies.

“Food companies throughout the supply chain must rely on inspectors from FDA, USDA, state departments of agriculture and health, and even local health officials to interpret FDA rules accurately and consistently,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel, who serves on the Advisory Council of IFPTI.

Earlier this week, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited IFPTI in Battle Creek, MI, to showcase its role working with FDA to better integrate federal, state and local inspectors.

For more on the IFPTI, visit

Harmonization of Produce Standards to be Discussed at Asia Fruit Logistica

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel will discuss global produce industry efforts to harmonize industry standards at a forum of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) during Asia Fruit Logistica on September 8 in Hong Kong.

IFPS is an association of 12 national produce associations throughout the world who work together on harmonization of standards for product identification, chain information management, and food safety. Stenzel was elected chairman of IFPS earlier this year.

Also speaking at the Asia Fruit Logistica forum will be Tom den Hertog, former president of Ahold Asia Pacific and founder of Tops Supermarkets in South East Asia. Mr. den Hertog serves as chairman of the Dutch association for produce information management Frug I Com.

“One of the most important challenges facing our industry globally is to increase efficiencies and drive needless costs out of our supply chains,” Stenzel said. “We look forward to many industry leaders at Asia Fruit Logistica joining us for the IFPS forum.”

For more information or to register for the forum, please visit

PTI Webinar Series Kicks Off Monday

On Monday, August 29, the Produce Traceability Initiative launches the first in its new series of webinars, PTI's 5 Ws (and 1 H): Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The series is designed to answer industry questions about the initiative and to help implement PTI, and geared toward 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.

PFSE Mythbusters Campaign Gets to the Root of Common Food Safety Myths

You dig deep in your pocketbook and comb grocery stores to find foods you think are fresh and safe to eat. But all foods, regardless of the way they were produced, need to be handled and stored properly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, according to the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE).

September is National Food Safety Education Month and United Fresh is joining with PFSE to introduce Food Safety Mythbusters to consumers. PFSE looks to bust four myths with the facts consumers need to know to help reduce their risk of foodborne illness:

  • Myth: Freezing foods kills harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
  • Myth: I eat a vegetarian diet, so I don't have to worry about food poisoning.
  • Myth: Plastic or glass cutting boards don't hold harmful bacteria on their surfaces like wooden cutting boards do.
  • Myth: Locally-grown, organic foods will never give me food poisoning.

Now in its third year, the Mythbusters series is part of PFSE's outreach to consumers, food safety educators and the media on the importance of safe food handling to good health.

United Fresh is a contributing member of the Partnership for Food Safety Education which created the Fight BAC! consumer food safety education campaign. Free downloads and resources are available at

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:

  • Blue Book Services, Inc., Carol Stream, IL

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 Senior Director of Membership Miriam Miller Wolk at 202-303-3410.

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