Thursday, April 12, 2012
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh 2012 Connects Independent Supermarkets and Produce Industry

Independent supermarkets and the produce industry will connect for unprecedented access and business opportunities at this year’s co-located FMI and United Fresh shows in Dallas, April 30 – May 3. FMI’s series of events is designed to deliver increased value to independent supermarkets.

“Independent supermarkets are a key channel for fresh produce suppliers, while fresh fruits and vegetables are a highlight for these companies in distinguishing themselves in the marketplace,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “With just over two weeks before the United Fresh and FMI shows convene in Dallas, we’re excited about this great opportunity to connect sellers and retailers of varying size and scope to boost their business.”

Opportunities for independent operators:

  • An exclusive “hard-hat” tour of the FMI and United Fresh trade shows prior to the show’s opening
  • Special education programs
  • “Independents Power Hour” on all three show days - allowing independent operators to sign up for specific appointments with exhibitors of their choice

“The key for independent operators is a one-stop shop, where executives can find all of the resources and make the contacts needed to grow their business,” said Kevin Davis, chair of the FMI Independent Operators Committee and Bristol Farms CEO. “Now, I’ll be working with our company’s produce director Raul Gallegos, who also serves on the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice board, to enhance the overall value to our company.”

For more information on the FMI Independent Operators opportunity, please visit For more information about the United Fresh 2012 convention, please visit

Thousands of Produce Industry Leaders Attending United Fresh 2012

United Fresh 2012 is right around the corner and thousands of produce industry leaders are already registered for this big event covering all aspects of food processing, manufacturing and retail/foodservice sales.

Curious about who else will be there? Download the United Fresh 2012 Attendee List Today!

The co-location with AMI, FMI and NASDA will draw thousands of food industry decision makers to United Fresh 2012, which offers more opportunities for growth than any other produce industry event.

  • More than 250 exhibitors sharing new innovations to increase the produce industry bottom line
  • More than 40 hours of interactive education featuring hundred’s of industry leaders and speakers.
  • More than 10 hours of maximized networking time to build your business and gain new contacts.

Don’t miss out on this exciting event! Register today for United Fresh 2012!

United Supports Coalition Effort to Strengthen the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

This week, United Fresh submitted comments to USDA on how to strengthen the administrative and operational requirements for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) at the state and local levels. United’s comments were in response to USDA’s proposed rule on the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program published on February 24.

As noted by USDA, the intent of the proposed rule is to ensure that the FFVP encourages the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by elementary school children, thus improving their dietary habits and long-term health. Over 4,600 elementary schools nationwide currently participate in the FFVP and over 3 million low-income elementary school children benefit by receiving a fresh fruit and/or vegetable snack for free at school several times a week.

“In our comments, we emphasized our support for the FFVP, its effectiveness at increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, its popularity with school officials, students and their parents and that demand for the FFVP outstrips available funding every school year,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health. “We also recommended that USDA (1) strengthen nutrition education for FFVP students through statewide collaborations and school activities; (2) require schools to implement the FFVP at least 4 times per week; and (3) allow FFVP schools to be funded for several years to enhance behavior change.”

United also collaborated with a broad group of public health and nutrition advocacy organizations, as part of the NANA Coalition, to develop model comments and encourage groups to submit comments to USDA. Several state child nutrition divisions and many school districts were consulted to build stakeholder engagement and provide strong, consistent comments to USDA.

“Increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is the ultimate goal. The results of an independent evaluation demonstrate that students who participate in the FFVP increase their fruit and vegetable consumption by an average of 15% on days the FFVP is provided. Children who are offered a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks every week develop healthier eating habits that promote good health now and in the future,” said Dr. DiSogra.

In the 2008 Farm Bill, United led advocacy efforts to secure $1.2 billion in funding over 10 years to expand the FFVP to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. “As the Senate Agriculture Committee gets ready to mark-up the 2012 Farm Bill, we are again leading advocacy efforts to protect the FFVP’s funding for the next 5 years,” noted Dr. DiSogra. “The FFVP has transformed schools and improved the eating habits of children nationwide.”

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

United Joins Agriculture Groups in Urging Estate Tax Reform

United Fresh Produce Association joined a diverse coalition of agriculture organizations earlier this week in a letter to the House and Senate urging reform of estate taxes.

In 2010, Congress passed legislation, with United’s support, to set the estate tax exemption at $5 million per person and the top rate at 35 percent for 2011 and 2012. However, absent any further congressional action, the exemption will be lowered to $1 million per person and the top tax rate will rise to 55 percent. The letter is set to be delivered to both houses of Congress within the next few days.

“A lower exemption and a higher tax rate will really be a problem for farmers who are trying to pass their operations on to the next generation. Considering that the average age of the American farmer is nearly 60, it’s important to do all we can to help up and coming generations get into farming,” said Julie Manes, United’s director of government relations. “That’s why we have joined with our agriculturally-minded counterparts to push for estate tax reform.”

It is unclear when Congress will take action on estate tax reform, but United will continue to monitor this top priority issue.

For more information, please contact Julie Manes, director of government relations, at 202-303-3400.

Special 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 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.

If You Know Lisa, You Know United

Lisa McNeece, Vice President, Food Service & Industrial Sales, has a line of buyers for delightfully crunchy bite-sized baby carrots.

Meet Lisa McNeece, the latest United Fresh member to be profiled in our ongoing series to introduce members of our community.

As vice president of food service and industrial sales, Lisa has scored giant sales with baby carrots at Grimmway for 21 years. She navigates the bulk sales of carrots to processors all over the country for use in salads, snack packs and large foodservice operations such as schools. Grimmway is one of the world’s largest carrot shippers, and a pioneer in creating and marketing the baby carrot.

Lisa fell into the produce industry with a part-time job in college with a melon shipper in Imperial Valley, CA. She started working on truck dispatches before earning a promotion to sales. When it came time to move on, someone told Lisa about a small carrot company that was looking for someone to coordinate between sales and production for a newly introduced item called baby peeled carrots.

“When I took this job, we could barely process 1,700 pounds of baby carrots a day, now we’re at 5 million pounds a week. It has been incredible to witness the evolution of the baby carrot, now they’re everywhere! We’ve seen tremendous growth, and I’m proud to have been a part of that. Who thought we could have done so much with a carrot?”

Yet with how far Lisa has brought these bite-sized treats, her goal of promoting carrots in schools to improve child nutrition can be furthered with federal nutrition policies and programs. Lisa says that the Washington Public Policy Conference is “hands down” the most valuable United event she’s participated in, helping to sharpen her understanding of the legislative process and giving her the platform to vouch for nutrition programs. “I’ve never lobbied or done anything like that, so going to Capitol Hill the first time was terrifying. To hear from senators and congressmen and to have the opportunity to explain our position is so important, there is so much that gets done at this event.”

To read the rest of Lisa’s profile, and to read about 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 new millennium southwest cuisine at Stephan Pyles, world-class sushi at Kenichi, and breathtaking Italian-American dishes at Nonna.

  • Stephan Pyles - Joe Loiacano, Wendy's Quality Supply Chain
  • Kenichi - Eric Richardson, Indianapolis Fruit Company Inc
  • Nonna - John Payne, Lipman

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants: Charlie Palmer's at the Joule Hotel, Fearings at the Ritz Carlton Hotel or Meddlesome Moth.

Charlie Palmer’s, the namesake of master Chef and hospitality entrepreneur Charlie Palmer, has received critical acclaim for its signature progressive American cuisine. The menu features plates built with rambunctious flavors and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classical French technique. Try a twist on classic steakhouse dishes like the poached black tiger shrimp in bloody mary vinaigrette or the dry-aged New York strip steak with bone marrow flan.

Fearing’s has created ongoing buzz with its distinct dining venues, acclaimed farm-to-market seasonal menu, and the near-constant presence of the James Beard Foundation Restaurant Award winner for “Best Chef in the Southwest”, Dean Fearing. The menu serves elevated America cuisine with bold flavors, inspired by Southern family recipes. Don’t miss the crispy barbecued bluepoint oysters over crab, applewood smoked bacon and spinach or the coriander crusted lamb chop and honey pistachio kibbeh on melted coconut eggplant curry.

Meddlesome Moth is Dallas’ first true gastro-pub. It features a diverse menu of share plates, as well as a variety of mussels, meat pies, fish and chips and many other unique and delicious options. The Moth offers 40 craft beers on tap, several live ales and more than 80 bottled varieties, in addition to exceptional wines and classic signature cocktails. The friendly atmosphere pub is also host to a wide variety of special beer dinners and events with brewing industry all-stars, with no shortage of new brews to taste!

Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2012 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 2012 Chairman’s Roundtable:

  • J. Marchini Farms

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.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Carlo Masi Sons & Daughter, Inc. Utica, NY
  • Dayka & Hackett, LLC, Reedley, CA

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