October 13, 2011

In Today's Issue:

United Cheers Passage of Free Trade Agreements

United Fresh welcomed news Thursday of the ratification of bilateral free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

“This key development in trade policy represents a win for agriculture across the board with up to $2.5 billion in new agricultural exports and support for up to 22,500 jobs involved,” said United Fresh Senior Vice President for Public Policy Robert Guenther.

More specifically for the fruit and vegetable industry, the South Korean trade agreement allows for immediate elimination of tariffs on American-grown asparagus and certain kinds of tomatoes, the Panama agreement will lead to the elimination of tariffs on almost all fruit products and the Colombia agreement will do away with most barriers to trade for U.S. products.  These agreements will have a direct impact on key regions in the fruit and vegetable industry.

“Increasing opportunities for those who grow and ship fresh produce is the foundation for the future success of the industry”, said Guenther. “Making foreign markets more accessible to American producers is one critical way to making sure that the produce industry retains the vitality and diversity necessary to keep growing. The fresh produce industry is an increasingly global one, reaching and impacting all corners of the world. The trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, collectively offer a significant opportunity for U.S. agricultural exporters. Through the bipartisan efforts of Congress and the administration, these new trade agreements will help to foster trade with these important markets, create jobs and support continued growth of the fresh produce industry in the United States.”

Following an Action-Packed WPPC, Leadership Class 17 Takes on Wilmington, Philadelphia

The twelve members of United Fresh Leadership Class 17 wrapped up a jam-packed trip to the East Coast last week, the second of four trips for the class during the program year.

Following an engaging political experience at the Washington Public Policy Conference, the class departed for DuPont’s Chesapeake Farms, a natural reserve devoted to the development of advanced agricultural practices. In addition to a half-day of crisis communication training with DuPont's veteran crisis communications expert, Gil Meyer, the class enjoyed some relaxation and a tour of the 3,330-acre farm.

Next, they traveled north to Wilmington, DE, site of DuPont's global headquarters, to join DuPont executives and researchers to learn about the company’s current initiatives in the global specialty crop market. The day wrapped with a crash-course in media training, led by United's media expert and Vice President of Communications, Ray Gilmer.

The trip wrapped up in Philadelphia with a tour of the new Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, hosted by leadership alumni members Todd Penza (Class 14), Pinto Brothers, and Dan Vena (Class 16), John Vena, Inc.

The class will meet next in February in Chile. The Produce Industry Leadership Program is presented through the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Leadership Development and is made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, sponsor of the program since its inception in 1995.

For more information about the program, contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400, ext.405.

United Fresh Honors Fresh Produce Champions at WPPC

At the annual Washington Public Policy Conference last week, United Fresh honored two outstanding member organizations for their work in advocating for fresh fruits and vegetables on the national stage.

United Fresh presented the Fresh Produce Advocate of the Year Award jointly to the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Association and the National Watermelon Association.

“Both the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the National Watermelon Association are shining examples of how the produce industry can look at the issues in specific regions of the country and see how those issues play out on a national level,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “Congratulations to the leadership and members of both of these outstanding organizations for their continued dedication to the important issues that affect our industry.”

Stenzel presented the award at the Washington Public Policy Conference Closing Luncheon Session on Wednesday, October 5. For photos from the 2011 Washington Public Policy Conference, please click here, and for video highlights, visit www.UnitedFresh.tv.


United Fresh Names Headquarters Hotel for the 2012 Fruit Logistica and FreshConex Exposition

United Fresh has once again designated the Berlin Marriott Hotel as its headquarters hotel during the 2012 Fruit Logistica and FreshConex Exposition, February 8-10. All United members and friends are invited to book rooms within the United Fresh block at the discounted rate of EUR185 per night, which includes breakfast. 

"A headquarters hotel provides our members from around the world with a central meeting place and a great opportunity to network,” said Jeff Oberman, vice president of membership for United Fresh.

The room block is limited, so members are encouraged to book as soon as possible - before October 21, 2011.

During the exposition, United will partner with Market Intelligence, publishers of Fresh Convenience Magazine, to deliver daily educational sessions in the FreshConex Business Forums. This year's forums will feature presentations on new marketing opportunities, food safety, and technology and new product development. On Thursday February 9, United will also continue its tradition of hosting a Global Reception at the trade fair for members, visitors and guests in our booth.

New for this year, United Fresh is pleased to co-host the 5th European “Short-course on Quality and Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce” just prior to the FreshConex and Fruit Logistica Exposition beginning on February 6. Click here for more information.

Click here to link directly to United's reservation page for the Berlin Marriott. For more information on United's activities at Fruit Logistica and FreshConex, please contact Oberman at 831-422-0940.

Don’t Let Last Week’s Highlights Pass you By!

Photos and video highlights from last week’s Washington Public Policy Conference are now available at UnitedFresh.org, or by clicking here. Included in the highlights are candid moments from congressional visits, the Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill, the Face-to-Face Meetings with regulators at FDA, EPA and USDA, and a unique Flipcam diary of the annual Washington conference from a young leader’s perspective.

Click here to relive your favorite moments, or to catch some you may have missed!

Don’t Miss the GLOBALGAP Tour next Week in Atlanta

If you’re in Atlanta next week, don’t miss a great opportunity to learn more about United’s harmonization efforts with the GLOBALG.A.P TOUR 2011.

On Monday, October 17, United Fresh will run the GLOBALG.A.P. U.S. National Technical Working Group Meeting, where participants will have a final look at the joint draft that combines the Harmonized GAP checklist on farm with the GLOBALG.A.P. Food Safety criteria contained in their Version 4. Directly following, there will be an open consultation meeting where all stakeholders—retailers, producers, certification bodies, NGOs, processors, plant protection manufacturers, and trading organizations—can discuss current issues, raise questions, and form a strategic plan for the future.

On Tuesday, October 18, United’s Senior Vice President, Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas will explain the process of harmonization and how the GAPs Harmonization Initiative’s goal of one audit by any credible third party, acceptable to all buyersis within reach.

McDonalds, U.S. Foodservice and Marks and Spencer will share their buyers’ views on standard harmonization with responses from producer groups.  Booking as still available to reserve your seat at this event and preferential rates are available for United Fresh members.

Those interested are encouraged to also consider attending GLOBALG.A.P.’s Public Workshop for crops on October 19-20. For more information and registration, please click on the link above or contact Daniela Fabiszisky.

More information on the events can be found on the TOUR 2011 website.

Are You Attracting and Retaining the Best Produce Talent?

How does your company stack up when it comes to competing for top talent?

Produce industry members can ensure their competitiveness with the United Fresh Foundation’s comprehensive survey of produce industry compensation and benefits, available on the United Fresh website by clicking here.

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 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, and 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.

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 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 United’s Shannon Young at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.

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

  • AV’s Distributing, Inc., Lakewood, CO
  • Zespri Kiwifruit, Minneapolis, MN

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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