September 20, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Shaping the Economic and Political Landscape for Produce Industry Success at WPPC

Agriculture industry ally Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) will share candid remarks about a divided Congress and the impact it will have on the industry.

United Fresh is proud to announce an outstanding slate of expert speakers at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference to describe the economic and political environment the produce industry needs to succeed.

Wednesday morning, the final day of the conference, industry leaders will gather for an informative session as Dr. Martin A. Regalia, Chief Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, remarks on the Real Economic Outlook for America with an in-depth outlook on the future of businesses in light of national issues and factors influenced by the global economy. Dr. Regalia, a highly sought after economic expert, has appeared on national television news and debate programs, testified before congressional committees, and authored articles and publications on a variety of economic topics.

The leaders of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance will bring the importance of the political economy to center stage. The panel will address how forging coalitions will drive fruit and vegetable policy success, based on lessons learned from steering the Alliance through the two most recent Farm Bills. Speakers include:

  • Barry Bedwell, President & CEO, California Grape & Tree Fruit League, Chairman, United Fresh Government Relations Council
  • John Keeling, Executive Vice President & CEO, National Potato Council, Co-Chair, Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
  • Dennis Nuxoll, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs, Western Growers, On behalf of Co-Chair Tom Nassif
  • Mike Stuart, President, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Co-Chair, Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance

To lend further political insight, Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) will join United Fresh members for a town hall discussion. As a longtime friend of the fresh produce industry serving Monterey County and the Salinas Valley in California, Rep. Farr will share his candid views of what the future may hold for produce issues in a highly divided Congress, from a new Farm Bill to immigration policy to food safety and nutrition.

“The Washington Public Policy Conference affords us an amazing opportunity to engage in dialogue with our allies on how we can all work towards a more successful industry,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “These are the sessions where we evaluate where we stand and strategize on how to best move forward.”

Register today and join the discussion with these experts on the future of the produce industry!

For more information on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Salad Bars, Member Visits Bring United CEO to Iowa

Student at United Community School in Iowa serves herself up a plate of fresh fruit and vegetables from the salad bar, donated by Hy-Vee and Dole Food Company.

Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president & CEO (far left) visited a Hy-Vee store in Iowa with (L-R) Christian Buss, produce manager, Hy-Vee Urbandale, IA store; Jason Sheridan, Assistant Vice President of Produce Operations, Hy-Vee; Marty Ordman, Vice President Marketing and Communications, Dole Food Company.

(L-R) Brendan Comito, Kieran Comito, Tom Stenzel and Joe Comito tour Capital City Fruit Company.

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel joined representatives of Hy-Vee and Dole Food Company last week to celebrate the donation of five new salad bars to Iowa schools.  The salad bars were donated as part of an ongoing partnership between these leading companies through Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.

“It was great to get together with Jason Sheridan of Hy-Vee and Marty Ordman of Dole for the celebration,” Stenzel said.  “It is always inspiring to see elementary school kids crowd around a new salad bar, load up their plates with fresh fruits and veggies, and thank all of us for making this possible.” 

While in Iowa, Stenzel also visited with longtime wholesaler-distributor members Capital City Fruit Co. and Loffredo Produce.  “Both of these family businesses have stood the test of time, and deliver great service to their retail and foodservice customers.  It was also great to see Capital City getting ready to move into their new facility taking their business to an even higher level,” he said.  Stenzel concluded the day in Des Moines with Jason providing a tour of the new Hy-Vee store in Urbandale, stopping in to congratulate the front line produce team on their work to set the bar for our industry in produce merchandising and sales.


Upward Growth for Fresh Produce Continues in Q2 FreshFacts on Retail

Fresh produce continued an upward trend of dollar and volume sales in the second quarter of 2012, according to the latest edition of FreshFacts on Retail, the quarterly retail research report of the United Fresh Foundation. The report also pointed out that average retail prices continued to fluctuate, resulting in an overall increase in prices for fruits, while vegetables saw a decrease. The organic and value-added fruit and vegetable categories fared well, with significant dollar and volume growth compared to the second quarter last year

The FreshFacts on Retail report, produced in partnership with the Nielsen Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

Highlights of this quarter’s report include:

  • Eight of the top 10 fruits and five of the top 10 vegetables posted dollar sales that exceeded Q2 2012.
  • Berries, cherries and avocados were the primary drivers of both dollar and volume growth in the fruit category, and corn led the way in the vegetable category.
  • Value-added fruits continued upward growth in dollar sales and price, up 9.2% and 9.0% respectively.
  • Value-added vegetables increased weekly dollar and volume sales; this growth was relatively unaffected by retail price.
  • Organic produce had double-digit increases in both dollars and volume. Organic vegetables increased dollar sales nearly 15% and organic fruit increased dollar sales 20.3%.

Each FreshFacts report also features a Quarterly Spotlight on an industry segment or notable trend. This quarter, Nielsen Perishables Group introduces Essence, a new tool that targets consumers based on ethnicity, affluence, presence of children, cooking behaviors and health and wellness lifestyles. The Spotlight examines the dominant shopper groups within value-added fruits and vegetables, and in which households value-added produce stands to gain the largest opportunities.

The complete FreshFacts on Retail report can be downloaded free of charge for all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members) by clicking here. For more information about how to obtain the report, please contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3405. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.

United Fresh Talks FSMA Implications with Food Service Industry

Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, participated this week in the annual National Restaurant News Food Safety Symposium.  The two-day conference was held in Denver, and featured a panel on Government Regulatory Concerns related to produce.  Robert was joined by United Fresh Retail & Food Service Board Member, Ed Thompson, vice president, quality assurance, Avendra, LLC. Guenther discussed with attendees the current state of affairs around the Food Safety Modernization Act and its potential impact on the food distribution chain. 

“We see this law and the new rules, once they are published by FDA, to have a profound impact on the entire food distribution chain, from farm to table,” said Guenther.  “This will require a strong collaboration amongst the supply side and customer side of the food industry to work collectively to ensure these new rules are implemented that help continue an efficient flow for fresh produce to consumer through retail and food service channels,” Guenther commented.

The symposium, which is in its seventh year, brings together the food service community along with academia and key food industry stakeholders to discuss the burgeoning issues confronting the food service industry, particularly around food safety.  It is a collaborative environment with attendees sharing ideas and common practices to help address the food safety in a comprehensive way.

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


Goal of One Audit for Produce Operations Within Reach

Dr. Elme Coetzer, GlobalG.A.P, presents to a full house at the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative workshop last week.

“Audits using the Harmonized Standards are available now,” attendees heard from Ken Petersen, Acting Head of the Audit Programs Section, USDA AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs, and one of the presenters at last week’s Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative workshop. The workshop, provided at no cost to attendees thanks to sponsorships by USDA, GlobalG.A.P., NSF, California Tomato Farmers and United Fresh, attracted more than 80 growers, buyers, state and private sector auditors, extension specialists and others, including officials from FDA.

Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety & technology, briefed the audience on the genesis of the Harmonized Standards which, over the past three years, have gained widespread industry use and acceptance. “Every major fresh produce buyer in the U.S. that I’ve talked with has said that they endorse audits using the Harmonized Standards for fresh produce field operations,” said Gombas. He cautioned the audience that there may still be some conditions to a buyer’s acceptance, so operations are encouraged to contact their buyers before scheduling an audit. Some of the conditions buyers may be requiring include the audit being performed by a specific audit organization, or performed as part of a GFSI-benchmarked standard, or including some buyer-specific riders. USDA and other audit organizations report already having performed hundreds of audits using the Harmonized Standards.

Dr. Elme Coetzer, GlobalG.A.P., and Ben Marchant, NCSI Americas, presented how the Harmonized Standards are being used in GlobalG.A.P.’s Produce Safety certification, which is being accepted by buyers that are requiring certifications to GFSI-benchmarked standards and is currently the only GFSI-benchmarked audit organization using the Harmonized Standards.

Gombas said, “We are hearing that the number of audits a field operation has to endure is dropping.” His advice to growers: “Talk with your buyers. If you manage your audits carefully, the goal of one audit per year may already be achievable.”

Petersen and Ed LaClair, NSF, also described how the Tomato Metrics have been incorporated into both the Harmonized Standards and the GlobalG.A.P. Produce Safety standards, enabling a single, commodity-specific audit for the tomato industry. According to Reggie Brown, Executive Director of the Florida Tomato Exchange, this commodity-specific version is important to the Florida tomato industry, which is working to incorporate the Harmonized Standards into their mandatory state inspection program.

For more information about the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative and who is accepting audits using the Harmonized Standards, contact Dr. Gombas at

Produce Inspection Course Teaches Hands-On Skills

Students at last week’s Produce Inspection Training Course follow the USDA instructor’s lead on examining a potato for potential defects.

The final Produce Inspection Training Course of 2012 was held last week at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The hands-on course is the produce industry’s only USDA-instructed inspection training program, which is designed to help produce industry receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the complexities of the produce inspection process.

“This course really takes it to the next level,” said Hassan Shabazz, warehouse manager for Produce Source Partners, who was attending the course for the first time. “The USDA trainers cover every detail, and are always available to answer any question you may have. Actually being able to step into the lab, apply what we’ve learned, and actually touch and cut open the product is so important to being able to bring these skills back to my company.“

The course introduced all facets of produce inspection process, and included a commodity labs segment where attendees spent three days doing hands-on commodity evaluations. The September lab featured cantaloupes, grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes.

To learn more about United’s Produce Inspection Training Program, please visit the United Fresh website or click here for Produce Inspection flyer and downloadable registration form. If you have any questions about this or any other United Fresh education program, contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3405.


New England Produce Council Celebrates First Salad Bar Donation

(L-R) Bob McGowan, president of the New England Produce Council, board member Bill Brophy, Executive Director Laura Sullivan, First Vice President Tom Murray, and board member Bob Duperre presented the salad bar to students at East Boston High School in a ceremony last week.

The New England Produce Council (NEPC) donated a salad bar to East Boston High School last week through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program. The council became interested in the program after a presentation by Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president & CEO, and set out to raise funds for their first salad bar donation. “Our objective is to donate an electrical salad bar unit each year to a school within the New England area,” said Laura Sullivan, executive director of the NEPC, in a statement.

The NEPC Board of Directors chose East Boston High, an inner-city school, as their first recipient. The salad bar application was completed by five students, who call themselves the Healthy Hood Girls, under the guidance of a coordinator from Let’s Get Movin’, the anti-obesity program for children and teens at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

“As students are headed back to school across the country, it’s so exciting to see more salad bars being donated,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health. “Salad bars are an effective way for schools to meet the new school meal requirements, which call for a doubling of the amount of fruits and vegetables served every day. Parents and students are asking their schools for salad bars, and we’re proud to support the effort to donate as many as possible and create healthy eating environments for kids.”

United Fresh is a longtime advocate of improving child nutrition through wider access to fresh fruit and vegetables and is a founding partner of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation and has donated salad bars to more than 1,600 schools nationwide.

For more information on Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, please contact Andrew Marshall, policy & grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407.


United Fresh member Dean Taylor Travels Abroad in Search of Next Great Tomato
Dean Taylor Dean Taylor of Mastronardi, shares his passion for the produce industry.

When asked about the professional accomplishments he is most proud of, Dean Taylor’s answer is short and sweet: “Working here!” As Director of Food Service Sales and Commodity Planning at Mastronardi, he takes on a diverse set of roles, but never grows tired of the challenge. His engagement in United Fresh and eagerness to support and promote the produce industry makes him an example of the thousands of industry leaders who are members of United Fresh and are working together towards a stronger industry. If you know Dean, you know United.

Dean has travelled extensively, researching new varieties in Europe with owner Paul Mastronardi or working with overseas growers on procurement plans. “We have one of the largest tomato trial facilities in the world at Mastronardi. It’s exciting to spend time with Paul in these trials and to see what the next great tomato may be years before the public does. I’ve learned so much about the international aspect of the industry over the years. In addition to the partnerships we enjoy abroad, I continue to learn from them and bring ideas, processes and technology back to Mastronardi.”

Recognizing that “the success of our growth is attributable to the energy and talents of our people,” Dean is passionate about showcasing Mastronardi and the produce industry to young people. “I never dreamed I would end up in the produce industry. One summer of detasseling corn when I was 16 years old was enough for me,” Dean jokes. “Now, as a fellow in the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program, Class 18, we are called to service. I’m proud and grateful to be part of this program and understanding that we need strong future leaders, I am involved in showcasing the produce industry and demonstrating that it can make for a fulfilling career. This month, in response to questions from United Fresh, President Obama noted that in the past three years, 1 in 12 newly created jobs were in agriculture. I found this to be an impressive figure and hope to keep this momentum moving. “

To read more about Dean’s industry involvement and his work at Mastronardi, continue reading his profile here. For perspectives from other industry leaders, click here.


New Member Welcome
Welcome New Members!

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

  • Mexico Calidad Suprema A.C. , Mexico

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

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

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

2013 Produce Executive Development Program 
March 10-15, 2013, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
United Fresh 2013
May 14-16, 2013, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA