November 8, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Status Quo or Status Go? - Message from CEO Stenzel on 2012 Elections

Now that the election has passed, it’s critical to begin meaningful dialogue on key issues, says Stenzel.

After spending what may add up to $6 billion on the 2012 election, it appears that Americans have voted for the status quo. President Obama is in the White House, the Republicans remain in control the House of Representatives and the Democrats control the Senate.

But somehow, I just can’t see this as a vote for more gridlock, more polarized voices, and more political posturing while the country walks over the pending “fiscal cliff” of extreme tax hikes and indiscriminate spending cuts. While some of that rhetoric will be forthcoming for sure, I’m going to suggest just a hint of optimism that both sides may be a bit more willing to address the serious problems facing the country. Stalemate and inaction will not grow the economy, reduce the debt, or enhance people’s lives. Yelling louder on Fox News or MSNBC may drive television ratings, but it doesn’t drive progress on difficult issues. No matter whom you voted for in this election, I am hopeful that some of our leaders heard the frustration from both sides with the status quo, not support for more of the same.

Agriculture did ring in what is considered a major victory: California voters rejected Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food products. But the produce industry has been frustrated as well. It’s critical that we get off the dime and pass the stalled Farm Bill to ensure sound agricultural policy for the future. It’s critical that we get serious about increasing fresh produce consumption by our children as the easiest and best way to lower long-term health care costs. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s critical that both Republicans and Democrats start a meaningful dialogue toward real immigration reform in the next year. No other issue presents such a clear example of how polarized extremes have undercut rational progress. Now is the time to say “no” to the extremists, and put our heads together on reform that works. After all, if we are not able to harvest our crops due to a lack of labor, most of these other issues don’t really matter.

Congratulations to President Obama, and all those members of the House and Senate that we’ll be working with next year. We’re expecting a lot from you, and intend to hold you to it.

United’s outside legislative counsel, The Russell Group, has examined the election implications and outlook for 2013, outlining several possible ways the political landscape will take shape now that the election has passed. Click here to view The Russell Group's analysis.


Be Ready for Deadline on FDA Food Facility Registration

Does your food facility need to be registered with the FDA?

United Fresh will host a webinar to answer key questions about the FDA’s Food Facility Registration Process. Beginning in 2012 under the Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA requires food facilities to renew their registration every two years. Registration renewals with FDA must be done before December 31, 2012.

Join us November 19 at 2:00 PM ET for a one-hour webinar that will outline important information about who needs to register, how to register or renew your registration, and upcoming deadlines not to miss.

Amy Barringer, Director, Division of Field Programs and Guidance, FDA Office of Compliance, and David Gombas, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Food Safety & Technology, United Fresh Produce Association, will address the following questions:

  • Who is required to register or renew their registration?
  • What changes have been made to the registration process?
  • Which companies are exempt from registration?
  • How do companies renew their registration and what information is required?
  • When do registration updates need to be submitted?

Registration for the webinar is open to all interested parties, especially domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States. The cost to participate for United Fresh members is $25 and $50 for non-members. Register now!


Retailers Play Key Role in Assuring Food Safety

Retailers have critical role to play in assuring food safety.

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel called on food safety leaders attending the Retail Food Safety Forum in Cincinnati, OH this week to look hard at their role in assuring food safety. Stenzel led a Produce Safety Roundtable Discussion for retail food safety and quality assurance managers from across the country attending the conference hosted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Grocers Association (NGA).

“The most important thing you can do to protect your customers and your companies is to know every one of your vendors and their food safety practices,” he told the audience. “Pathogens don’t discriminate between large companies and small ones, between global and local farms, or between your regular year-round vendors and those you might turn to on a fill-in basis. Your risk is just too high not to make sure that every supplier is following basic good agricultural and good handling practices.”

Stenzel briefed the group on general produce safety, retailers’ role in produce traceability, and the Harmonized GAP Initiative that is now helping align food safety audits across the industry. “Some companies are going to want a GFSI globally certified audit with all the bells and whistles that entails. But others simply want a basic GAP audit from a USDA or state agriculture department. The key is to make sure that both audits address the exact same risk factors, and our industry is vetting every grower on these basic practices.”


Innovative School Foodservice Directors and Produce Suppliers to Explore New Valuable Business Opportunities

Students fill their trays with colorful fruits and vegetables at a salad bar donated by FPFC in California earlier this year.

United Fresh is teaming up with the Fresh Produce & Floral Council (FPFC) to host “Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales to Schools”, a special educational workshop on the morning of December 12 at the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel in Cerritos, CA. The workshop will bring together school food service directors, grower-shippers and produce distributors from southern California and be held prior to FPFC’s Holiday Luncheon and Charity Auction.

Healthier school lunches, salad bars and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are increasing the amount and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables purchased by schools, and these programs are creating new business opportunities for all sectors of the produce industry. Recent changes in the National School Lunch Program now require schools to double the amount of fruits and vegetables served each day, and serve a colorful variety of vegetables each week. In California hundreds of schools have salad bars and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, creating tremendous demand for fresh produce. Schools are looking for innovative ways to incorporate fresh produce in their school menus and develop partnerships with the produce industry.

United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, will kick-off the workshop with an overview of the new fruit and vegetable school lunch requirements and other initiatives aimed at creating healthier school food environments. The workshop will also feature innovative school foodservice directors who are incorporating a variety of strategies to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in their schools:

  • Jennifer McNeil and Brad Knipscheer, Hemet Unified School District, Hemet, CA
  • Cathy Tang, Lynwood Unified School District, Lynwood, CA
  • Laurel Goins, Rio School District, Oxnard, CA
  • Kara Muniz, Hueneme Elementary School District, Port Hueneme, CA 

“All of our schools have salad bars and every day we offer eight different fruit and vegetable choices”, said Laurel Goins, Rio School District Foodservice Director. “We work closely with our produce distributor who sources a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that our students enjoy, and delivers fresh produce to all of our schools at least twice a week.”

“To enhance opportunities for our members, we teamed-up with United Fresh to host this workshop on how to drive produce sales to schools,” said Carissa Mace, president, FPFC. The joint United Fresh-FPFC workshop will take place from 8 to 11 am on December 12 immediately prior to the FPFC Holiday Luncheon and Charity Auction, which will benefit Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools and Wounded Warriors.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools is a special campaign of the United Fresh Foundation, under the umbrella of the national Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative (LMSB2S). The goal of Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools is to increase students’ fruit and vegetable consumption by donating salad bars to 350 California schools to be celebrated at the United Fresh 2013 convention in San Diego in May.

Registration for the FPFC Holiday Luncheon and workshop is available through the FPFC website. For more information, please contact Jeff Oberman, United Fresh vice president of membership & trade relations, at 831-422-0940.

 

Freshen Up Your Produce Inspection Savvy with 2013 Courses

Students in the Produce Inspection Training Program examine and grade cantaloupe in the hands-on lab.

The United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Food Safety & Quality, will conduct three installments of its popular Produce Inspection Training Program in 2013. These hands-on training sessions, executed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), are designed to help produce industry members better understand the breadth of the produce inspection process.

Three Produce Inspection Training Programs will be offered in 2013 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA: January 14-18, June 3-7, and September 16-20.

 “This course prepares produce handlers to better understand the complexities of product quality inspection,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president, member services, foundation. “We continue to see many new and returning companies take advantage of the hands-on, practical format offered in this unique program.”

"The quality and safety of America's food are among the highest priorities for USDA," said Charles Parrott, deputy administrator for the AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program. "Over the past 12 years, training courses like this one have helped more than 850 produce handlers become familiar with the standards and requirements that are vital to good handling and manufacturing practices. We will continue to work with the industry to make this training available."

The program is offered in two specialized courses: Fundamentals of Produce Inspection and Commodity Labs. Upon completion of the Full Course, attendees receive a certificate of completion from United Fresh and USDA.

The first of the two courses, Fundamentals of Produce Inspection, is a prerequisite of the Commodity Labs course and focuses on topics such as inspection essentials, the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), sampling procedures, and general market principles. The three-day Commodity Labs course takes place in the lab and applies the principals learned in the fundamentals course to real product inspections. Each Commodity Labs course will include the five most commonly requested commodities: grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes, and will be customized with additional commodities based on the attendees’ most common preferences (up to 12 in total).

For more details and registration options, please visit the United Fresh Foundation website or contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3405.


Congressman Sam Farr Joins Grower-Shipper Association to Celebrate Salad Bar Donation to Gonzales School
(L-R) Congressman Sam Farr, Jim Bogart, President & General Council for the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, Margaret D'Arrigo Martin, Taylor Farms and Chairwoman of Grower-Shipper Association of Central California and Dave Bonetti, Executive Director, Grower-Shipper Association Foundation, celebrate the salad bar donations.

Congressman Sam Farr joined the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation and United Fresh on November 2 to celebrate the donation of a salad bar to Fairview Middle School in Gonzales, CA.  Last Friday’s event highlighted the cooperation between local, state and national initiatives that advocate salad bars as a tool to increase children’s access and consumption of fruit and vegetable every day at school. Congressman Farr presented the salad bar and spoke with the students in the cafeteria about the importance of healthy eating and urged them to fill their plates with fresh produce.

"Sam Farr has been a great friend of the produce industry and strong advocate for the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign. He used this opportunity to speak directly to students on the importance of nutrition and to take advantage of this new salad bar,” said Margaret D’Arrigo-Martin, Taylor Farms, and current Grower-Shipper Association Chairwoman.

The salad bar at Fairview Middle School was donated as part of Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools, a special campaign of the United Fresh Foundation, under the umbrella of the national Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative (LMSB2S). The goal of Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools is to increase students’ fruit and vegetable consumption by donating salad bars to 350 California schools. United Fresh is working closely with the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation on their “More Produce in Schools” program, which is focused on finding solutions to the national obesity epidemic by focusing on avenues to bring more produce into schools.

At the event, the Grower-Shipper Association also announced that enough funds have been raised in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties to purchase over 20 salad bars for local schools. The group ultimately hopes to have a salad bar in every school in the tri-county area. The Grower-Shipper Association began their salad bar fundraising efforts earlier this year at their Golf Tournament and Gala Events.

For more information about Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools or how you can support salad bars for schools in your area, please contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy & grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407 or visit www.saladbars2schools.org.


PTI Focuses on Buyers with New Working Group
Welcome New Members!Traceability efforts have been widely adopted along the produce supply chain.

Acknowledging that significant progress has been made to reach the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) goals over the last four years, the PTI Leadership Council has agreed that a buyer-centered implementation focus is needed to ensure continued industry movement toward case-level traceability.

The Leadership Council, representing 32 companies in the produce industry, met recently in conjunction with the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California, and decided to:

  • Create a new Buyer Working Group to expedite the completion of the remaining retail/foodservice implementation steps for PTI
  • Keep the PTI governance structure intact with the Leadership Council meeting twice a year and working groups utilized as needed
  • Maintain progress of supply-side PTI implementation
  • Maintain industry education and communications via the PTI website and other channels as needed

“The Leadership Council recognized the tremendous amount of work the industry has completed to attain whole-chain traceability to date,” said Dan Vaché, United Fresh vice president of supply chain management. “The creation of the Buyer Working Group will help to collectively address challenges faced by the receiving side of our industry.  It is encouraging to see the positive impact PTI has already made in so many produce operations. Attaining whole chain traceability will benefit everyone, including the consumer.”

For more information, please contact Dan Vaché, United Fresh vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271 or visit www.producetraceability.org.

 

Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2013 Supporters
Welcome New Members!

The 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 2013 Chairman’s Roundtable:

  • Four Seasons Produce, Inc., Ephrata, PA
  • Paramount Citrus, Delano, CA

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.

 

Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

FDA Food Facility Registration Webinar
November 19

Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales to Schools Workshop
December 12, Sheraton Cerritos Hotel, Cerritos, CA

Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales to Schools Workshop
December 12, Sheraton Cerritos Hotel, Cerritos, CA

Produce Inspection Training Program
January 14-18, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

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