March 22, 2012
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh Names Honorees in Retail Produce Manager Awards Program

Display by honoree Wanda Ivy Nicholas at Travis Air Force Base Commissary.

Outstanding produce managers representing 21 different supermarket chains, commissaries and independent retail stores in 15 states and Canada will be the honored guests at United Fresh 2012 this May through the United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program. 

Sponsored by Ready Pac Foods and presented through the Foundation’s Center for Leadership Excellence, the eighth annual 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.

“These produce managers have demonstrated the creative energy to make fresh fruits and vegetables shine in their stores. In so many cases, their interactions with consumers influence opinions and purchasing decisions, and have an undeniable impact on our industry,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh. “We’re fortunate to have these talented retailers as the face of the fresh produce industry.”

The 2012 winners are:

  • Leslie Alex, Hannaford Brothers, Dover, NH
  • Ricky Allemand, Brookshire Grocery Company, New Iberia, LA
  • John Ballard, Food City/K-VA-T Food Stores, Lafollete, TN
  • Phil Burgess, Safeway Stores, Bend, OR
  • Brian Burrow, Brookshire Grocery Company, Whitehouse, TX
  • Franklin Bys, Hy-Vee, Inc., Coralville, IA
  • James Campbell, Sunflower Farmers Market, Denver, CO
  • Brian Collegnon, Rueben’s County Market , Hartford, WI
  • Corey Conrad, Colemans Food Centres, Corner Brook, NFL, Canada
  • Brian Corbitt, Bel Air Market/Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, Sacramento, CA
  • Jolene Cyr, Food Maxx/Save Mart Supermarkets, Fairfield, CA
  • Ron Danielson, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, Woodland, CA
  • Chad Faulk, Harris Teeter, Charlotte, NC
  • John Heon, Big Y Foods, Lee, MA
  • Rich Jackson, Quality Food Centers, Sammamish, WA
  • Steve Kaminski, Jewel-Osco, Westmont, IL
  • Charmagne Kendrick, VG's Food Center/Spartan Stores, Fenton, MI
  • Jim Kesteloot, Harris Teeter, Reston, VA
  • Michael Kolek, Jewel-Osco, Schaumburg, IL
  • Brian Langdon, The Kroger Company, Cincinnati, OH
  • Mike McElmeel, Hy-Vee, Inc., Silvis, IL
  • Elizabeth Myers, New River MCAS Commissary, Jacksonville, NC
  • Wanda Ivy Nicholas, Travis Air Force Base Commissary, Travis, CA
  • Nick Puleo, Vons, San Diego, CA
  • George Sanders, Price Chopper/Golub Corporation, Barre, VT

“It is truly inspiring to see these exceptional retail managers making the produce department a highlight of shoppers’ visits,” said Ready Pac’s President and CEO, Michael Solomon. “Ready Pac is proud to once again sponsor this program and offer our congratulations to these hard-working individuals and companies for their tireless promotion of the fresh produce industry!”

The program’s 25 winners were selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by retailers and produce suppliers across the industry. Selections were made based on a number of criteria, including efforts to increase produce consumption through everyday excellence in merchandising, special displays and promotions, community service and commitment to total customer satisfaction.

All winners and their corporate produce directors will be honored at United Fresh 2012 during the Chairman’s Reception & Produce Celebration Dinner, Tuesday, May 1, at the Hyatt Dallas at Reunion in Dallas. In addition to the awards, five Grand Prize recipients will receive an additional $1,000 cash prize. 

On the United Fresh 2012 trade show floor, select program winners will take part in a panel discussion of retail strategies and trends, as well as consumer purchasing habits. This special event will be available at

For more information on the Retail Produce Manager Awards Program, please contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3400.

Image of Fresh-Cut Toolkit Launched

United Fresh Produce Association is pleased to announce the publication of the Image of Fresh-Cut Toolkit. The just-launched Image of Fresh-Cut Toolkit contains valuable marketing strategies and resources to help processors streamline their efforts to emphasize the value of fresh-cut and value-added fruits and vegetables. The toolkit was a multi-year endeavor lead by United’s Fresh-Cut Processor Board in response to market challenges within the segment.

Consumer data has indicated hesitancy towards fresh-cut produce over the last several years, so toolkit materials were crafted to deliver messages that would best showcase the positive attributes of fresh-cut produce. By considering data on how political, social and environmental issues affect produce consumers’ opinions and purchasing behavior, the toolkit provides the resources to build confidence among retail and foodservice customers and consumers, and ultimately increase market growth.

The toolkit includes generic taglines and logos for use on packaging that tout produce freshness and examples of fresh-cut promotions through corporate websites and social media. Processors are welcome to edit, adapt and customize these materials. It also provides insight to the North American retail and foodservice sectors, and prepares processors to respond to questions from customers and consumers regarding fresh-cut produce.

“The fresh-cut industry was surprised and greatly concerned about the data that conveyed negative consumer perceptions about our products,” said Jan Berk, Vice President, San Miguel Produce, and Chairman of United’s Fresh-Cut Processor Board. “In creating a unified effort and voice on the benefits of fresh-cut produce, the industry reinforces consumer confidence and promotes increased consumption of healthy, fresh produce.”

“There are a number of fresh-cut processors in the marketplace, both domestic and international, that vary in size from multi-national to single-facility smaller operations and may specialize in certain commodities or products. We wanted to provide a resource where these processors could see how certain marketing programs or other ideas have or haven’t worked,” said Fresh-Cut Board Vice Chairman Tony Freytag.

Several industry experts from the Fresh-Cut Processor Board were selected to spearhead the toolkit working group: Ali Leon, Ready Pac Produce; Jan Berk, Fresh-Cut Board Chairman, San Miguel Produce; Tony Freytag, Fresh-Cut Board Vice Chairman, Crunch Pak Sliced Apples; Phil Gruszka, Gruszka Consulting; Minos Athanassiadis, Fresh Link Group; and Greg Wohlleb, Bunzl USA.

The Image of Fresh-Cut Toolkit is available to all United Fresh Produce Association member companies at no charge and for $195 US for non-member companies. For more information, please contact Jeff Oberman, United’s vice president of membership and staff liaison to the Fresh-Cut Processor Board, at 831-422-0940.

Webinars Announced for Cantaloupe Guidance Meetings

An alliance of produce industry organizations has announced a series of webinars to develop the most current, science-based cantaloupe food safety guidance The webinar format was chosen by stakeholders involved in this process as an effective way to gather input from across the industry. All members who have an interest in the cantaloupe supply chain, from farm to retail, are welcome to participate in these webinars to share their views. The webinar series is in lieu of a series of meetings that was previously planned.

The introductory webinar will be held April 2 at 1 p.m. EDT, 10 a.m. PDT. It will kick off the entire process and detail its scope, purpose, methodology and the rules. All those interested in the process should attend the webinar. Each webinar will last one hour and focus on one topic area, allowing attendees to participate in discussions that align with their expertise.

You can register online for this first session. More information about registering for additional webinars will be given at the first webinar.

The collective goal remains to have a draft of cantaloupe food safety guidance available for review by August 1, 2012.

For more information, please contact Dr. David Gombas, United’s senior vice president for food safety & technology, or Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications, at 202-303-3400.

Industry Survey Participation Needed to Measure PTI Progress

In the final official year of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), it is important to measure the progress the industry has made toward case-level traceability. The PTI Implementation Survey was developed by the Leadership Council and the Communications Working Group to help gain a clearer picture of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be focused on to realize the PTI vision. Your participation and feedback are very important to the initiative and to the produce industry’s future, as we all work together to maximize consumer confidence in produce. To proceed, please go to the survey posted here. It’s easy and will only take about 7-10 minutes of your time. Thank you for helping, and we look forward to sharing the results with you later this spring!

Executive Development Program Gives Produce Industry Leaders Ivy-League Challenge

(L-R) Michael Muzyk, President, Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc.; Brian Blommaert, CEO, Westmoreland Sales; and Tygann Billow, Outside Sales, Charlie’s Produce Sales, listen in on a strategic marketing session.

The 2012 United Fresh Produce Executive Development Program, held March 11-16, has graduated another stellar class of industry executives.

Presented in partnership with the Cornell University Food Industry Management Program, the course focused on issues critical to both personal development and the larger challenges and opportunities faced by produce industry executives. The program is an intense, five-day program for mid- to senior-level executives led by Cornell faculty and industry experts.

The students participated in a unique learning experience characterized by cutting-edge theory, industry best practices and thought-provoking discussions about key business issues affecting the global produce industry. This robust program agenda covered a range of topics ranging from executive development and financial planning to global food industry issues and work-life balance.

In the second half of the course, Tony Stallone, Peapod vice president of merchandising, led a stimulating session on the online retailing of produce, sharing helpful insights from his successful business model. Steve Grinstead, Pro*Act CEO, and Bruce Peterson, Peterson Insight, Inc. president, took the lead on reflections of retail and foodservice strategies for suppliers.

Classroom sessions examined negotiation and conflict management strategies and how ever-changing industry variables can be predicted and properly handled. In the entrepreneurial strategies for growth lesson, teams created new product ideas to pitch to their classmates. Professor Bill Drake challenged the students with a 52-week supply chain simulation, highlighting supply chain complexities and how to respond to the cost of low stock situations, backorders and delays in the supply chain process. Professor Ed McLaughlin closed the course with a look at what the future holds for the fresh produce industry and the tools produce executives have at their disposal to maintain that competitive edge.

“I had an amazing time learning and interacting with professors, other industry leaders and guest speakers. The topics covered were so interesting and vital to our understanding of strategic positioning within the industry and provided a framework to navigate current and anticipated challenges,” said Laura Pruneda, Business Development Executive, Coastline Produce. “My favorite part of the week was experiencing the collective passion and enthusiasm of emerging leaders in the fresh produce industry and the spirit of collaboration among the group. I absolutely recommend the program as a valuable experience for fresh produce industry executives!”

Food Safety, Farm Bill and Labor Among Priorities Addressed at United’s Government Relations Council Meetings

(L-R) Joel Nelsen, California Citrus Mutual; Kam Quarles, McDermott, Will & Emery; Chris Valadez, California Grape & Tree Fruit League; Lio Barrera, Western Growers; and Joaquin Esquivel, office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), discuss Farm Bill priorities.

With the current Farm Bill set to expire September 30 of this year, United’s Government Relations Council convened in Washington last week to discuss strategies for passing a pro-industry Farm Bill, in addition to addressing other issues facing the produce industry, such as food safety and labor.

At the meeting, Krysta Harden, chief of staff for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, provided a candid assessment of the challenges facing specialty crops and other groups in crafting a new Farm Bill.

“We have a deficit that has to be taken seriously, so this farm bill is different,” she warned. “For example, some people think research is a black hole, so we need to be specific about the industry’s [research] needs and what would happen without it.”

Following council meetings, members took to Capitol Hill to speak with more than 20 Senate and House congressional office staff on the critical need for a focus on specialty crops in the upcoming Farm Bill. Council members, representing United Fresh members from all market segments, requested that senators and representatives send a message to their respective Agriculture Committees asking to pass a new Farm Bill this year that builds upon specialty crop policy successes in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“Given that the Senate will take up the Farm Bill before the House, this was a great time for our council members to knock on doors and make this important call for specialty crops on behalf of the entire industry,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “Now is the time for members of Congress to maintain the focus on specialty crops in the Farm Bill.”

Learn more at the website of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance,

Produce Traceability Initiative Announces Webinars for Repackers and Brokers

Two new educational webinars/webcasts have been added to the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) webinar series to provide practical implementation guidance and information for various participants in the fresh produce supply chain.

The Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Repacking and Commingling session will cover a series of best practices for meeting PTI requirements during repacking and commingling.  The discussion will focus on what is expected from repackers throughout the process for PTI compliance. The webinar will take place March 27, 2012 from 2-3 pm ET.

The Implementing PTI: Best Practices for Produce Brokers session on April 4, 2012 from 2-3 pm ET will focus on best practice recommendations to help develop and maintain efficient shipping, receiving and communication processes for buy and sell arrangements involving produce brokers.  Multiple scenarios of shipments of orders to customers will be discussed.

More details and a full listing of events are available here.

Let United Fresh Treat You to Exceptional Dining at Dallas’ Finest Restaurants

Register today for United Fresh 2012 and you’ll be automatically entered for United’s Taste of Dallas giveaway! You could win a gift certificate to one of the 50 best restaurants in Dallas!
Every Thursday through April 26, 2012, United Fresh will draw three lucky winners from the United Fresh 2012 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of Dallas’ finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor, FreshPoint Dallas. Watch for next week’s Inside United Fresh to see if you’re a winner.

Congratulations to this week’s winners! Our winners will experience honest, straightforward cooking at Tom Colicchio’s Craft, contemporary American fare with rustic sensibility at Hibiscus, or a famous selection of prime steaks at Perry’s.

  • Craft – Linda Luka, General Produce Co.
  • Hibiscus – Jimmy Pedroso, Field Fresh Foods, Inc.
  • Perry’s – Brian Coates, Meijer

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants: The French Room at Adolphus Hotel, Pyramid Restaurant at Fairmont Hotel or Morton’s Steakhouse.

The French Room at Adolphus Hotel is nationally recognized and critically acclaimed, described by the New York Times as “a Louis XV fantasy on the prairie . . . indisputably the most striking and sumptuous restaurant in Dallas.” Under the direction of French Room Chef Marcos Segovia, an inspired culinary team of internationally trained chefs create distinctive cosmopolitan dishes that rival those served in the finest restaurants throughout the world. The food, service and decor have earned the highest honor the hospitality industry can bestow: the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award. It is the only restaurant in Texas to hold this designation, and The French Room has earned this award for an unprecedented 23 consecutive years!

Pyramid Restaurant, awarded AAA Four Diamond ranking, resonates with a sleek, contemporary look which creates an imaginative and engaging space in the heart of downtown Dallas. Couple all that with Executive Chef André Natera's exciting new cuisine, which draws inspiration from Texas growers and regional purveyors, and you have the makings of a truly memorable fine dining locavore experience. Signature dishes like the duck and pistachio terrine served with whole grain mustard, cherry gastrique and port wine poached figs or the  dijon crusted rack of lamb served with artichoke, olive and fava bean sauté and ricotta gnocchi set Pyramid apart from the rest.

Morton’s has been serving the finest steaks since 1978 and the ever-popular steakhouse has grown to more than 75 locations. Morton's steakhouses have remained true to its founders' original vision of combining generous portions of high quality food prepared to exacting standards with exceptional service in an enjoyable dining environment. The menu boasts spectacular cuts, including a 24-ounce Porterhouse, 20-ounce New York sirloin and a 14-ounce double-cut filet mignon.

New Discounted Pricing on 2011 Produce Industry Compensation & Benefits Report

The 2011 survey of produce industry compensation and benefits released by the United Fresh Foundation’s Center for Leadership Excellence is now available at a discounted price!

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.
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.

"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 2011 survey report is available at a $100 discounted rate to members of United Fresh for $395 and non-members for $595. Companies who participated in the survey receive an additional discount. The survey can be purchased here, and more information is available by contacting Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3400.

USDA Marketing Webinar Series Announced for the Fruit and Vegetable Industry

The Agricultural Marketing Service Fruit and Vegetable Program  has slated a series of free, interactive webinars to explore the many programs and services AMS has to offer. At each webinar, a USDA expert will present on a specific topic and host an interactive question and answer session.

These informative webinars are designed for fruit and vegetable growers, packers, shippers, processors, wholesalers and retailers of all sizes. All of the webinars are free. Registration is, however, required and space is limited. Log on today to register – it's the first step to gaining a competitive edge and learning how to work with AMS to meet unique produce business needs. Webinars will be posted on the webinar archive for those not able to attend.

If you have any questions about the webinar series or USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, please contact Christopher Purdy at (202) 720-3209.

Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry Workshop at UGA

United Fresh is partnering with University of Georgia on the Fresh-Cut HACCP Short Course workshop designed to establish an in-plant HACCP program for the fresh-cut produce industry. As fresh produce moves from the field through the processing plant to the table, three sources of contamination - microbial, chemical and physical - may pose a health hazard. HACCP is a specific action plan developed to identify and control any of these hazards from entering the handling process, and to document the safety of fresh-cut produce.

The three-day course, held May 22-24, 2012 at University of Georgia’s Athens campus, will provide a unique program of lectures and work group discussions from a broad-based faculty of food microbiologists, HACCP experts, authorities from academia, industry and government. The work group sessions provide interaction with HACCP authorities who have developed and implemented successful HACCP programs in fresh-cut processing plants.

In the hands-on laboratory participation the participants will learn which microbial testing tools to use to document and verify your sanitation program, how to interpret microbial results and which standardized procedures are best for consistent microbial analysis in testing fresh-cut produce.

The program is open to owners, plant managers, quality assurance personnel, production supervisors, field inspectors, marketing directors, and anyone responsible for designing and implementing field and fresh-cut food safety programs.

BONUS! This course is accredited by the International HACCP Alliance. Successful completion of the course and exam provides HACCP certification!

Register by April 21! United Fresh members receive discounted registration.

Click here for more information or contact UGA at 706-542-2574 or

Japanese Government Representatives Visit United Fresh to Discuss Produce Food Safety

Japanese government representatives and United Fresh staff.

On March 16, Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety & technology, Erin Grether, government relations coordinator, and Miriam Wolk, senior director of membership, made a presentation on produce food safety to Japanese government representatives. Noriko Iseki, Senior Technical Officer for Food Safety Risk Management, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and Maki Morita Secretary-General and Science Risk Analyst, Food Communication Compass, were visiting the United States as part of a project on food safety and security and agricultural technology organized by the U.S. State Department. The program aims to help international visitors learn about U.S. food safety and agricultural production policies.

Topics of discussion included the role of government and the produce industry in educating consumers about food safety, measuring the economic impact of a recall and the educational resources available to United Fresh members on food safety issues. Additionally, the group discussed import regulations and the current status of the efforts to harmonize good agricultural practices.

New Member Welcome

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

  • CS Sales & Marketing for Results, Irvine, CA
  • Honeywell Scanning & Mobility, Norcross, GA

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.

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