March 29, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Top Chefs Earn Top Honors at United Fresh 2012

The 2011 award winners on stage at United Fresh.

Six of the country’s most exciting chefs and foodservice professionals representing an array of culinary styles and backgrounds will be honored this May as part of the United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. Sponsored by Pro*Act LLC, and now in its fifth year, the program honors chefs and their companies for their innovative and influential use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. The United Fresh Produce Association will formally recognize the six winners at United Fresh 2012, the association’s annual convention and expo in Dallas, May 1-3.

“For five years now, we at Pro*Act continue to be amazed at the creativity, dedication and insight shown by the honorees in this program,” said Pro*Act President Max Yeater. “We are so proud to be a sponsor of the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and we thank all of the nominees and all of the chefs who work so hard to help further the goal of increased consumption of healthful, fresh fruits and vegetables.”

“Foodservice operators play such an important role in our industry, showcasing fresh produce in new and exciting ways every day. This group of winners stands out as this year’s leaders in featuring fresh fruits and vegetables on their menus,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “We appreciate their tremendous commitment to our industry and recognize Pro*Act’s generous support in honoring these winners and their positive impact on our nation’s dining habits.”

The 2012 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners are:

  • Business in Industry & Colleges: Chef David Kramer, Chef Instructor, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL
  • Casual & Family Dining Restaurants: Chef Michael Stebner, Director of Culinary, True Food Kitchen, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Fine Dining Restaurants: Executive Chef Brian Scheehser, Trellis Restaurant, Kirkland, WA
  • Hotels & Healthcare: Chef Christophe Depuichaffray, Area Executive Chef, InterContinental Mark Hopkins and Hotel InterContinental San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
  • K-12 School Foodservice: Jessica Shelly, Director of Food Services, Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati, OH
  • Quick Service Restaurants: John Hughes, Senior Vice President & Director of Training, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Manasquan, NJ

The six winners were selected from nearly 120 nominations submitted by produce companies and foodservice operations across North America. A panel of produce and foodservice industry leaders reviewed each nominee’s demonstrated incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce related community service and special events and recognition by their company and industry peers.

The six winners, along with an executive from their company, will attend United Fresh 2012 in Dallas. All six winners will participate in the panel session, Top Chefs! Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners, which will take place on Wednesday, May 2 at 3:00 p.m. For those not able to attend, a recording of the session will be posted on UnitedFresh.TV.

For more information on the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award program, please contact Miriam Miller Wolk at 202-303-3410.

Discounted Registration and Housing Rates End this Week!

United Fresh 2012 kicks off in a little over a month, but the discounted housing and registration rates end tomorrow, March 30!

If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time to lock in low prices on all-access ticket packages that will open doors to 1 million square feet of exhibits, 30 hours of cutting-edge educational sessions and much more.

Planning your trip to Dallas has never been easier! United has compiled a number of travel discounts that will make your trip simple and hassle free. United Fresh 2012 attendees can take advantage of housing and registration discounts through March 30, but other travel discounts will be available through your stay in Dallas. Click here to learn more about all the travel discounts available.

In addition to travel discounts, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is also offering United Fresh attendees discounts to some of Dallas’ best dining, retail shopping and attractions in the city. Click here to experience Dallas and start saving today!

Cantaloupe Guidance Meetings Webinar Series Begins April 2

More than 150 people have already registered for the first in a series of webinars to collectively 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. Cantaloupe growers are especially encouraged to attend to provide input on field practices. 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 produce industry alliance that organized the webinar series intends 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.

Supreme Court Juggles Broccoli, Health Care Reform

Broccoli has become a buzzword in an unusual arena: the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Justice Antonin Scalia asked the Obama administration's lawyer if the controversial individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act meant that the government could force citizens to eat vegetables, specifically broccoli. The delicious green vegetable was mentioned 8 times in the arguments between justices and lawyers.

“Broccoli has always been synonymous with good nutrition,” said Lorri Koster, CEO and chairman of Mann Packing Company. “We call it the crown jewel of nutrition because of the high nutrient density, high fiber and calcium that make broccoli a super food. It’s great to have broccoli associated with healthy lifestyles and preventative health measures. People will pay so much for expensive medical treatments and pills then frown at the price of food, when really, eating healthy is a much better value in the long run.” Mann Packing is one of the world’s largest shippers of broccoli.

“Broccoli is a super vegetable and kids love raw broccoli florets,” said Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health. “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program are introducing millions of children to fresh broccoli, and many other fresh green vegetables. When I visit FFVP schools, parents always tell me that their kids never ate anything green before and now they love fresh raw broccoli! These programs, paired with the new school lunch rules that call for doubling the amount of fruits and vegetables served, are helping young children develop a lifetime of healthy choices.”

For more information about United’s nutrition initiatives, please contact Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health, at 202-303-3400.

Image of Fresh-Cut Toolkit Popular with Processors

The recently released Image of Fresh-Cut Toolkit has already been widely downloaded by companies looking for that extra advantage in presenting their product. The 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. The 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 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.

Your Participation in 5 Minute Survey Measures Industry Progress Towards Produce Traceability

April 5 is the last day for the produce industry to submit feedback on progress made toward case-level traceability under the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI). The PTI Implementation Survey measures what has been accomplished and what still needs to be focused on to realize the PTI vision. The survey was developed by the Leadership Council and the Communications Working Group to help gain a clearer picture of where the industry stands as the PTI closes in on its final official year. 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. To view or to complete the survey in PDF form instead, please click here. It’s easy and will only take about 5-10 minutes of your time. Thank you for helping, and we look forward to sharing the results with you later this spring!

Calibration Committee Finishes Training Materials

The Calibration Committee (L-R): Thomas Feimore, GlobalGAP North America; Larry Robertson, Darden; Reggie Brown, Florida Tomato Exchange; Tim Amlaw, Sustainable Foods Development, LTD; Tony Litito, Sustainable Foods Development, LTD; Mike Ziegler, Ag Resource Management; Dave Gombas, United Fresh.

The Calibration Committee of the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative participated in a two-day meeting last week at the Florida Tomato Exchange in Maitland to finalize training materials for auditors as they officially begin using the GAP Harmonized Standards this year. The committee collaborated to finish the training materials and documents, which cover a multitude of scenarios that will confront GAP auditors. In April, the Calibration Committee intends to announce its first training session for auditors and industry stakeholders.

“The committee includes trainers from audit organizations that anticipate using the harmonized standards as well as subject matter experts representing a variety of fresh produce commodities across growing regions and different size operations,” said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety & technology, who coordinates the committee. “With that depth of knowledge, we are confident in providing training situations that will calibrate auditors in how to interpret the requirements of the harmonized standards and how to evaluate what they see during an audit, thereby minimizing the risk of two auditors coming to different conclusions about an operation’s compliance.”  

The Calibration Committee was commissioned by the Operations Committee in 2010 with the dual role to develop training materials for auditors and to resolve disputes in interpretation of the harmonized standards when questions arise.

For more information on the progress of the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative, please contact Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety & technology, or Erin Grether, government relations coordinator, at 202-303-3400.

If You Know Gordon, You Know United

Gordon Robertson’s marketing strategies for Sun World’s wide variety of fresh produce are pitch-perfect.

Gordon Robertson never stops looking for opportunities to improve, and at Sun World, he’s found room to grow. As senior vice president of sales & marketing, Gordon manages all international and domestic sales, as well as marketing activities. He is involved in strategic planning, collaborating with growers and customers and what he says is the most rewarding responsibility: “leading an exceptional team of sales and marketing professionals.”

Sun World is one of California’s largest growers, shippers and marketers of fresh table grapes, peppers, apricots and desert grapefruit. They also breed new fruit varieties that emphasize flavor, grower-friendly characteristics and favorable harvest windows.

After working 21 years for a major consumer packaged goods company, when the opportunity came around to push his boundaries, Gordon took the chance. He joined Sun World ready for the challenges of the fresh produce industry, and soon after became involved with United Fresh as a member of United’s Grower-Shipper Market Segment Board.

“There’s tremendous value in the dialogue of our Grower-Shipper Board meetings and in learning from each other. We spend time addressing issues facing the grower-shipper and the shared concerns we all face in the industry,” said Gordon. “When I hear how others are taking action, it gives me the opportunity to bring back new ideas and solutions to our leadership team and attack these concerns from a whole new angle.”

Beyond dialogue with fellow United board members, Gordon spends plenty of time listening to consumers. “Our strategy is simple. Get to know the consumer and let her tell you what she wants. Then you can deliver, build her trust and loyalty. Ultimately it’s a win for the shopper, a win for our customers and a win for the Sun World.” The company studies consumer preference data when designing marketing programs and carefully considers ways to encourage fresh produce consumption. Part of this includes a newly-launched and beautifully-designed website.

“We know that our target consumer likes to get information online, so our first step was to make sure we were representing ourselves well in that space.”

To continue reading Gordon’s full profile, and the profiles of other United Fresh members, click 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 striking and sumptuous plates at The French Room, memorable fine dining locavore dishes at the Pyramid Restaurant and generous portions of fine steak at Morton’s.

  • The French Room – Scott Brooks, Taco Bell
  • Pyramid Restaurant – Tony Garin, Colo-Pac Produce, Inc.
  • Morton’s – Kenny McDonald, Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Stores

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants: Oak, The Grape and III Forks.

Oak is an experience of global cuisine from a medley of cultures wrapped in a comfortable, modern design that is spiced with an avant-garde soundtrack. Simply elegant cuisine, thoughtfully crafted cocktails and a worldly yet approachable wine list gives guests the pleasure to imbibe and indulge in an intimate dining experience. Popular dishes include the berbere spiced lamb loin with sweetbread panzanella and tzaziki and the organic chicken with oaxacan mole and summer squash.

The Grape, established in 1972, is Dallas’ original wine bistro. It was the first restaurant in Dallas to offer a blackboard menu and one of the first to offer wines by the glass. The Grape has stayed true to its roots, offering quality food and wine at affordable prices. The real showstopper is the cheese and charcuterie plate filled with rabbit mortadella, chicken and caramelized mushroom terrine, pork rillettes, manchego cheese and house-made Boursin delivered with fresh hot bread and crackers.

III Forks serves the ultimate in Texas French cuisine. III Forks is a restaurant that has recreated the grandiose lifestyle experienced by Texans who believed that fine dining was a perfect combination of great food, great service, great atmosphere and great music all spent with the ones you love. From thick signature cuts of USDA prime beef to ocean-fresh fish and buttery lobster, the food is perfectly prepared and fresh with a mouth-watering balance of flavor and texture.

New Member Welcome

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

  • FoodLink Online, LLC, Torrance, CA
  • Hines Nut Company, Dallas, TX
  • Rio Fresh, Inc., San Juan, TX

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.

Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business.

United Fresh 2012
May 1-3, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX

Produce Inspection Training Program
May 21-23, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

UGA Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry
May 22-24, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Washington Public Policy Conference
October 1-3, Washington, DC