November 10 , 2011
In Today's Issue:

Pandol Promotes Childhood Nutrition in Delano Community with Salad Bar at Local School

Students at Nueva Vista School enjoy their new salad bar courtesy of Pandol and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.

In a special inaugural salad bar luncheon and ribbon cutting ceremony that featured a student mariachi band, Pandol Bros. Safety Manager and United Fresh Leadership Program Alumnus Andrew J. Pandol and Pandol CFO Cheri Diebel joined Principal Noria Tapia and School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Aguilar to commemorate Delano-based Pandol’s donation of a salad bar to the Nueva Vista School. Also on hand for the commemoration were Delano school foodservice representatives, United Fresh Vice President of Membership and Trade Relations Jeff Oberman, and students from the school’s seventh and eighth grade classes.

The donation marks the second year that Pandol has made a salad bar donation and its first donation in Delano.

“We are excited to make this contribution right here in Delano and partner with United Fresh in the national Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative,” said Pandol.

Andrew J. Pandol, center, joins Cheri Diebel, United’s Jeff Oberman, and local officials for the ribbon cutting of a new salad bar at Delano’s Nueva Vista School.

Oberman pointed to Pandol’s donation as a great example of the produce industry’s sustained effort to support the local communities in which it operates, making a difference in future generations through childhood nutrition. “United Fresh is very pleased that our member companies like Pandol have adopted their local schools, and represent true industry leadership in encouraging more fresh produce in their school’s lunch menu,” he said.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is a comprehensive public health initiative to provide salad bars to schools across the country to increase children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. And Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

For more information on supporting Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, visit www.SaladBars2Schools.org or contact United’s Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400, ext. 407.

Produce Leaders Talk Farm Bill in Kansas City

National Potato Council's John Keeling, right, speaks with National Association of Farm Broadcasters President-Elect Tom Steever of Brownfield Ag News, while United's Ray Gilmer, left, talks with Sean Lisle of KMJN in Fresno, California.

Specialty crop representation in the upcoming Farm Bill was the hot topic in Kansas City this week as National Potato Council’s John Keeling and United’s Ray Gilmer joined hundreds of farm radio and television stations for the annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

Keeling, NPC’s CEO and executive vice president and a United Fresh board member, is co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a group of more than 140 organizations and associations representing the specialty crop industry. Together with Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of communications, the pair spoke at length with reporters during the event’s Trade Talk session Thursday about the urgency to maintain balance in the Farm Bill between the various sectors of agriculture, highlighting that specialty crops represent nearly half of all farmgate crop value, and underscoring the landmark progress made for specialty crops in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“It’s important that the greater agricultural community realizes the important role that specialty crops play,” said Gilmer. “Ours is a vital part of this industry, and the progress made in the 2008 Farm Bill is critical to maintaining that standing and ensuring that specialty crop producers are as competitive as their counterparts in other agricultural sectors.”

More information on the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is available at www.StrongerAgriculture.org.

New Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market Hosts National Association of Produce Market Managers

United Fresh Senior Director of Membership Miriam Wolk joined representatives from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and wholesale and retail market managers from around the country in Philadelphia last week to discuss policy and operational issues affecting terminal markets. The attendees participated in a tour of the new Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, where they visited United Fresh member operations, including M. Levin Co., John Vena, Inc. and Pinto Bros., and heard feedback from market tenants on the advantages the new market facility creates for their businesses.

After the tour of the market, attendees discussed AMS’ ongoing research on regional food systems, as well as food safety, labor, infrastructure and funding issues facing terminal markets and their wholesaler-distributor tenants.

“We look forward to continuing to work with USDA, NAPPM, the Wholesaler-Distributor board and United’s broader membership to facilitate understanding of the existing produce distribution infrastructure and the role each of our members plays in the produce supply chain,” said Wolk.  “We are grateful for NAPMM’s interaction and support in the association’s policy efforts.”

For questions about United Fresh’s Wholesaler-Distributor board, please contact Wolk at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.

IFT Traceability Pilot to Focus on Fresh Tomatoes

In the coming months, the Institute of Food Technologists will lead two pilot programs, one of which will use fresh tomatoes, for the Food and Drug Administration designed to test and study various product tracing systems. These pilots aim to identify methods by which FDA can rapidly and effectively trace food products throughout the supply chain so that, in the case of a food-related outbreak, products can be quickly identified and removed from the marketplace, which will ultimately help minimize the number of consumers affected by a contaminated product.

Dan Vaché, United Fresh vice president of supply chain management, provided comments to IFT during a stakeholder input session held earlier this month in Chicago, addressing the series of questions posed by IFT which covered paper Vs electronic records, consideration of data carriers form bar codes to RFID and new technology. Stakeholders asked that the cost/benefit analysis and potential industry benefits beyond traceability, including supply chain efficiencies were be addressed, along with other challenges encountered to improve the traceability of food products.

“I found the series of comments by the different organizations to be informative and the different perspectives on traceability were apparent,” said Vaché. “Traceability is the here and now, not what might be technically available in the next decade or two.”

According to Vaché, many of the comments included mention of the Produce Traceability Initiative, and urged the IFT to look closely at the work currently underway in the produce industry, pointing especially to the use of a common language and electronic record keeping.

In the coming weeks, United Fresh will be reaching out to members in the fresh tomato supply chain seeking companies willing to participate in this critical industry pilot.

For more information, please contact Vaché at 202-303-3400.

Stenzel Named to U.S. Chamber’s Committee of 100

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel joins eight other association CEOs as the newest members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100. The Committee of 100 comprises leaders of trade associations in various industries and represents the interests of association members before the U.S. Chamber’s board of directors, working to recommend and enhance U.S. Chamber programming, strengthen U.S. Chamber outreach to the business and association community, and augment U.S. Chamber lobbying and coalition efforts.

“This Committee of 100 has a long-standing reputation as one of the most prestigious appointments in the association community,” said Rob Engstrom, the U.S. Chamber’s senior vice president of political affairs and federation relations. “These new members reflect our continued dedication to naming diverse, high-profile leaders to serve on this important committee.”

Stenzel joins fellow appointees Lori Anderson, president and CEO of the International Sign Association, Michael D. Bellaman, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Gov. Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, William R. Carteaux, president and CEO at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI President and CEO Stephen Gold, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers, Mortgage Bankers Association President and CEO David H. Stevens, and Susan B. Waters, EDM, CAE, president and CEO of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

“I’m honored to be joining the Committee of 100, and look forward to working with the U.S. Chamber and my association colleagues to advance issues important to the fresh produce industry,” said Stenzel.
More information on the U.S. Chamber’s Committee of 100, including a full roster of committee members, is available at www.uschamber.com/associations/c100.

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Sets Strategy for Dialogue with Consumers

At its annual meeting of board members, industry partners and affiliate organizations, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) cited a successful first year of operation with continued support for expanded communications programs to foster a positive dialogue with consumers. Meeting in Kansas City, alliance members heard the results from a communications program that only started in July: 147 million media impressions, 44 million impressions through advertising, and 29 million impressions via social media.

Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, started the annual meeting by reminding attendees that the “many skeptics of this effort have been turned into believers.” Stallman added, “USFRA is the first time American agriculture has been united to this extent to accomplish a single mission.”

The alliance communications agency announced the start of an advertising campaign, comprised of a series of television commercials featuring on-farm conversations with farmers and ranchers that will start airing on several channels of the Discovery networks later this month.

“This effort focuses on conversations with key influencers, not just spreading our messages, while also admitting there are areas of concern and committing to continuous improvement,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for United Fresh.

United Fresh and Western Growers are the only produce industry affiliates of the USFRA. For more information on the alliance, visit USFRAOnline.org, or contact Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3400, ext. 425.

United Fresh Exhibits at Second Annual New York Produce Show

United’s Miriam Wolk speaks with attendees at this week’s New York Produce Show.

United Fresh headed to New York City this week to exhibit at the second annual New York Produce Show. Vice President of Convention and Trade Relations John Toner and Senior Director of Membership Miriam Wolk met with attendees throughout the industry and shared information on United’s upcoming convention in Dallas, the Produce Executive Development Program and United’s broader membership benefits and services.

“Face to face interaction with our members and the broader industry is a key priority for United,” said Toner.  “We are always happy to support regional events organized by United’s members, and we commend Produce Business and the Eastern Produce Council for creating a strong networking and business environment for the produce industry. We look forward to building new industry relationships and continuing to work with our members and industry partners for the greater success of the fresh produce industry.”

United Fresh 2012 to Shine Light on Retail Stars

The United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Leadership Excellence, is now accepting nominations for the 2012 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program. Established in 2005 by founding sponsor Ready Pac Foods, Inc., the program will honor 25 outstanding retail produce managers at the United Fresh 2012 convention and expo, May 1-3, in Dallas.

The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program pays special recognition to those on the front line in supermarkets working everyday to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the program’s inception, more than 150 managers from nearly 60 different retail banners have been honored for their exceptional commitment to customer satisfaction; innovative merchandising; produce-related community outreach; and recognition among company peers.
 
“Not only has this program raised the bar of excellence for produce managers everywhere, it has helped exemplify to retailers and the produce industry the critical role that these managers play in reaching the consumer,” said Vice Chairman of United’s Retail-Foodservice Board Randy Scott, Category Manager Produce for Delhaize America.  
 
This year, the 25 award winners, along with their corporate produce directors, will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to the United Fresh 2012 convention, co-located with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), American Meat Institute (AMI) and U.S. Food Export Showcase. The winners will be honored at the annual United Fresh Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 1, where five grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $1,000 cash prize.
 
“These outstanding men and women, serving everyday on the front line, are the face to our customers and their positive work can have a powerful impact on the entire supply chain,” said Michael Solomon, President and CEO of Ready Pac Foods, Inc. “Ready Pac is proud to be the sponsor of this program that sends a powerful message to retailers everywhere that we respect and appreciate the great work of their produce managers.”
 
“It’s hard to believe how much this program has grown over the past seven years,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “The support from supermarket executives who have embraced this program to honor their produce staff has been tremendous.  With this year’s co-location with FMI, we are looking forward to exceptional turnout of senior retail executives at our annual banquet, cheering on their produce superstars.” 
 
The 2011 Retail Produce Manager Award winners:

  • Shannon Adkins, Food City, Shelbiana, KY
  • DJ Bertoldi, Big Y Foods, Inc., Wilbraham, MA
  • Terry Blackburn, Hy-Vee, Inc., Lincoln, NE
  • Aaron Carleton, King Soopers/City Market, Boulder, CO
  • Donald Courtright, Beale AFB Commissary, Beale, CA
  • Michael Crutchfield, Save Mart, Angels Camp, CA
  • Craig Docherty, Vons, Las Vegas, NV
  • David Dozier, GFF Foods, Moore, OK
  • Paul Ferro, Jewel-Osco, Chicago, IL
  • Jake Foster, Brookshire Grocery Co., Athens, TX
  • Greg Gerdes, Hy-Vee, Inc., Sioux Falls, SD  
  • Mark Glanville, Hannaford Bros. Co., Scarborough, ME
  • Dave Heetderks, Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Brad Lange, Brookshire Grocery Co., Shreveport, LA
  • Dave Lemire, Safeway Stores, Inc., Tsawwassen, BC
  • Ben Lopez, Nob Hill Foods/Raley's Family of Fine Stores, San Ramon, CA
  • Bob Merritt, Quality Food Centers, Seattle, WA
  • David Nappi, Price Chopper Supermarkets/Golub Corporation, Plattsburgh, NY
  • Ron Potter, Food City, Kingsport, TN
  • Marilyn Jo Poyzer, Woods Supermarkets, Nevada, MO
  • David Schoch, Bel Air Markets/Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, Woodland, CA
  • Eric Segerstrom, Safeway Stores, Inc., Bellevue, WA
  • Jennifer Smith, Camp Pendleton Commissary, Oceanside, CA
  • John Ward, VG's Food, Shelby Township, MI
  • David Williams, Rouses Supermarkets, New Orleans, LA

Nominations for the 2012 Retail Produce Manager Awards Program may be accessed online and must be received by January 16, 2012.

Click here for more information, including selection criteria and a list of winners since 2005, or contact Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president, member services, foundation, at vbacker@unitedfresh.org or 202-303-3400 ext. 408.

Meet Your United Fresh Board of Directors: John Keeling

John Keeling
Executive Vice President and CEO
National Potato Council
Washington, D.C.

What brought you to the National Potato Council?

I moved to Virginia from Texas for college, then stayed in Virginia after school. I had been out of agriculture for a good bit of time, buying houses and renovating them. I went back to graduate school, then got a job back in agriculture working for Farm Bureau. After Farm Bureau, I did a variety of things around D.C. in agriculture, some working directly for growers, others working more with the supply chain partners. I was working for National Food Processors Association at the time when National Potato Council was looking to move its offices to Washington. I went and interviewed; I liked them and they liked me, and they hired me to bring their offices to D.C. I enjoyed working for the corporate interests in agriculture, but my passion has always been working with growers, and that’s really what got me to the National Potato Council.

What does moving the headquarters to Washington, D.C. say about your organization’s recognition of the importance of public policy on agriculture and the produce industry?

If you look at the history of NPC, we actually had an office in D.C., and then they decided that they needed to be closer to the growers, so they moved to Denver, which is somewhat of a center point for a lot of the major growing areas. The organization still had Washington representation through that time period, but I think they realized that there was no substitute for being in a situation where, when something happens at USDA, or when there’s a question on the part of someone at FDA or EPA, or someone on the Hill, you can be there in 30 minutes to sit down with them an help to answer that question. With all the modern communications that we have, this is still a town where personal relationships and the ability to build a personal comfort zone is critical. There’s no substitute for it. It’s so important that the produce industry has direct representation in D.C. on public policy issues. This is where so much of the action occurs in terms of impact on growers and their subsequent ability to be profitable. It’s the place you gotta be.

What is one misconception that people on Capitol Hill have about the produce industry?

I don’t think that a lot of people involved in agriculture on the Hill fully grasp or understand the customer-facing aspect of the produce industry. So much of the industry in Washington represents commodities that end up being a part of food: corn, rice, wheat, and so on. Ours are products that the consumer sees in much the same form as when the products came out of the ground, and that relationship makes it very, very different than some of the other areas of agriculture. I also think that people don’t understand the complexity of producing fresh fruits and vegetables and the economics involved in produce when it comes to getting the product to the consumer’s plate on a regular basis.

How about one misconception that the industry has about Washington?

I think that it’s hard to explain to industry people the glacial pace that is sometimes the case here. As an industry, we may know that we’re in the right and we may have a lot of support, yet it can take years to make the real progress, even if the issues aren’t particularly controversial. In agriculture, you have a cycle. The cycle begins with planting and ends with harvesting. Here, though, they can’t see that same cycle reflected with any finality, and I think that it’s frustrating for them. I will say that my guys, potato growers, are incredibly respectful of us as staff and value our understanding of the Washington environment.

As a co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, what are your thoughts on how the industry can remain involved in the Farm Bill discussions, even when it would seem that the final decision may not be in our hands?

I think that whatever the issue is, and in whatever state the issues exist, Congress is always interested in what folks on the ground level know, and what they understand about an issue. That takes a lot of communicating with congressional offices directly and it’s important to have good relationships with congressional staffers so that, as an issue comes up, you already have a communications channel open, and you’re not trying to build that connection at the same time as you’re trying to move an issue forward. Also, I think that the district offices are terribly important in terms of communicating with Washington. Even on a Farm Bill like this one that is being done in somewhat of a cloistered, closed-door kind of way, continuing to educate members of Congress on the impacts to businesses in their districts and states is extremely important.

New Member Welcome

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

Can Manufacturers Institute, Washington, DC
Produce Q.A. Consultants, Rochester, NY

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.

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