December 20, 2012
In Today's Issue:
United Workshop Connects Distributors and Schools to Boost Produce Sales

Foodservice panelists from California schools and major produce distributors prepare to take questions from the audience at the United Fresh workshop.

Following the workshop, Sean Leer, Gold Star Foods (R), talks with Dr. Robert Lewis, El Monte School District (L) while Brian Cook and Garrett Nishimori San Miguel Produce (background), speak with Cathy Tang, Lynwood Unified School District.

"Our school district has more than doubled produce purchases over the last few years!" was a recurring theme emphasized by Southern California School Food Service Directors to a room filled with 90 produce industry leaders at the "Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales to Schools" workshop hosted by United Fresh and the Fresh Produce & Floral Council last week in Cerritos, CA.

Food Service Directors from Hemet, Lynwood, Oxnard, El Monte and Hueneme school districts highlighted how salad bars, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and healthier school lunches are increasing the amount and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables they purchase every week. School officials noted that their purchases of fresh produce started to significantly increase in 2008, followed by a strong increase in 2010 and again in 2012.

“United Fresh has been a leader in driving federal policy changes, including the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, salad bars, and healthier school lunches that require schools to serve a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day,” noted Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health.   

“We promise to buy plenty more produce,” noted Kara Muniz, Director of Food Services,
Hueneme Elementary School District, Port Hueneme, CA. She and her school food service colleagues explained that schools need great produce quality, good customer service, good communication and education about seasonality, product availability and pricing, and a commitment to fixing problems quickly when they arise.  Schools are excellent customers and offer growing sales opportunities for produce distributors and all sectors of the produce supply chain.    

At the workshop, Sunrise Produce Company, The Berry Man and Gold Star Foods, large produce distributors to Southern California schools, also shared how they partner with their school customers to provide top quality produce at an affordable cost point.

“In California, hundreds of schools have salad bars and 342 schools are currently implementing the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. And, thousands of California schools are serving double the amount of fruits and vegetables served every day to meet the new school lunch standards.  Schools nationwide are looking for innovative ways to incorporate more fresh produce in their menus to increase student’s fruit and vegetable consumption.  Collaborative partnerships between schools and the produce industry are critical to success,’ added DiSogra.   

The “Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales to Schools” preceded FPFC’s Annual Holiday Luncheon and Charity Auction which raised more than $38,000 to support Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools

For more information about the workshop, or to request the slides, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Escape Winter at the United Fresh Golf Tournament in Tucson

Hit the links with your produce industry colleagues in Tucson January 28

This year’s United Fresh Foundation Golf Tournament will bring together produce buyers, sellers, suppliers and most of all, friends of the produce industry! Join us January 28 on this championship course for 18 holes at one of America’s premier golf resorts. The Mountain Golf Course at Ventana Canyon is set in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains and makes use of the spectacular desert terrain while preserving the integrity of the natural environment.  All proceeds from the golf tournament will go to the United Fresh Foundation. Funds raised from last year’s event helped the Foundation sustain important initiatives, such as the salad bar campaign, and meet other important goals.

Following the tournament, all are invited to attend the new annual Produce Legends Dinner, where United will honor Frieda Rapoport Caplan with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The dinner will be held at the Loews Ventana Canyon Ranch in Tucson. Friends and associates who wish to join in honoring Frieda are invited to participate in the dinner, as well as the Foundation’s benefit golf tournament earlier that day.

Information on golf and dinner tickets and sponsorship is available here. For more information, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

Food Facility Registration Deadline Quickly Approaching

Food facility registrations should be completed as soon as possible.

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA requires food facilities to renew their registration every two years. The deadline for registration renewals with FDA is December 31, 2012. Last week, the FDA announced that a one-month discretionary period will be offered, so that registrations submitted up until January 31 will be honored.

“United Fresh members should submit their food facility registrations as soon as possible,” said Dr. David Gombas, United senior vice president of food safety & technology. “While registrations can be submitted up until January 31, waiting until the last minute is risky.”

For additional information and questions about the FDA’s Food Facility Registration Process, industry members are invited to purchase a copy of the "FDA Food Facility Registration: What You Need to Know" Webinar Recording. In the webinar, Amy Barringer, Director, Division of Field Programs and Guidance, FDA Office of Compliance, explains who needs to register, how to register or renew your registration, and upcoming deadlines.

Registration or renewal of food facilities may be completed online by clicking here. United Fresh members with additional questions should contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.

Cantaloupe Growers Elevate Food Safety in New Association

The newly formed Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association (ECGA) will convene an organizational meeting on January 3 in Atlanta. United Fresh cantaloupe members in the area are encouraged to attend and learn more about the initiative and the ECGA recommendations. Retailers and wholesalers are also welcome to share this announcement with their cantaloupe suppliers.

The meeting will address food safety standards that ECGA members will agree to follow as a condition of membership. The association was formed by a small group of cantaloupe growers in Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina in late summer 2012 in an effort to cooperatively re-establish consumer and retail confidence in the Eastern cantaloupe market and supply chain. The group has utilized the Commodity-Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Cantaloupes and Netted Melons as founding guidance, and has also included unannounced audits at members’ farms and packing facilities in the standards.

The group also plans to have a meeting for retailers and food service operations in mid-January to introduce them to the concept and the standards the ECGA will be establishing for their members. 

The meeting will take place January 3 from 10am-3pm at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel. Registration information is available here. For more information or questions, please contact Charles Hall, Executive Director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association at 706-845-8200.

United Member Bob Mast Brings Retail Experience to Supply Side

Bob has been involved at nearly every level of the produce supply chain in his 27 year career. He has even started growing apples and cherries to experience a grower’s point of view.

Bob Mast has refined his knowledge of the produce industry over the past 27 years with stints in nearly every position along the produce supply chain, with a considerable amount of time at the retail level. Now, as Vice President of Marketing and Food Safety at the Wenatchee, WA- based Columbia Marketing International (CMI), Bob has used his experience to create a smooth approach for moving product into the grocery store. His engagement in United Fresh and his produce industry savvy makes him an example of the thousands of industry leaders who are members of United Fresh and are working together towards a stronger industry. He is the latest in a series of members to be profiled and featured on our homepage. If you know Bob, you know United.

“Our goal is to have the simplest delivery program for our goods and assist the retailer in any way we can to drive sales. After spending so many years sitting on the other side of the desk with suppliers coming to me, I have a good understanding for what retailers are looking for. I’ve been fortunate enough to see what works, what doesn’t, and gain valuable insight on how to establish a long-term partnership. I’ll never promise anything that my team and I can’t deliver on,” said Bob.

Bob is a regular attendee at the United Fresh shows. “We always find it valuable to get out there and network with our retail customers,” he said. “And it’s always important to catch up on the issues at the education sessions. United has always led the way on issues that directly affect us, like food safety and immigration. It’s encouraging to see them out there in DC fighting for our industry.”

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

Celebrate Your Produce Department Manager at United Fresh 2013

Display by 2012 award winner Mike McElmeel of Hy-Vee, Inc. in Silvis, IL.

The United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Leadership Excellence, is accepting nominations for the 2013 Retail Produce Manager Awards Program. Established in 2005 by founding sponsor Ready Pac Foods, Inc., the program will honor 25 outstanding retail produce managers at the United Fresh 2013 convention May 14-16 in San Diego.

The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program pays special recognition to produce managers on the front line in supermarkets working everyday to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the program’s inception, over 170 managers from more than 60 different retail banners have been honored for their commitment to customer satisfaction, innovative merchandising, produce-related community outreach, and recognition among company peers.

“We salute the incredible work of these men and women who are delivering an exceptional produce experience every day to the consumer,” said Michael Solomon, President and CEO of Ready Pac Foods, Inc. “We are proud to sponsor this program and honored to have such dedicated and talented managers showcasing the best our industry has to offer.”

This year, 25 award winners, along with their corporate produce directors, will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to the United Fresh 2013 convention. The winners will be honored at the Produce Celebration Dinner on Thursday, May 16, where five grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $1,000 cash prize.

Nominations for the 2013 Retail Produce Manager Awards Program may be accessed online and must be received by January 18, 2013.

Click here for more information, including selection criteria and a list of winners since 2005, or contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at or 202-303-3405.

Nominate a Chef for the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program
Welcome New Members!
Know an outstanding chef? They could be honored on stage at United Fresh 2013!

Nominations are now being accepted for United Fresh Foundation’s 2013 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. Sponsored by PRO*ACT, LLC since its inception, the program honors the foodservice industry’s most innovative produce performers.

“This program is a great way to recognize the work that chefs do in incorporating produce into the new products they develop for their menus,” said United Retail-Foodservice Board Vice Chairman Sean Picquelle, produce and beverage product quality and food safety manager for Taco Bell. “It spotlights the incredible ways that chefs in a variety of restaurants and culinary settings can utilize fresh and fresh-cut produce which ultimately increases fresh produce consumption.”

Since its launch in 2008, the program has honored 27 talented chefs and foodservice professionals for their exceptional work in incorporating fresh produce in menu development, proper food safety and handling, engaging in community outreach, and building an overall positive dining experience featuring fresh produce. 

In 2013, six winning chefs will be honored in each the following business categories: Business in Industry & Colleges Hotels & Healthcare Industry, Casual and Family Dining Restaurants, Fine Dining Restaurants, K-12 Foodservice, and Quick Serve Restaurants. Winners are selected by a panel of United Fresh member representatives focused on excellence in the foodservice sector. Nominations must be submitted before January 16, 2013. Nominations are accepted on the United Fresh Foundation website.

“Produce can take a consumer’s ordinary dining experience and make it extraordinary,” said Max Yeater, President of PRO*ACT. “We are proud to continue to support this program which honors chefs who make fresh produce an integral part of their menus and provider their customers with innovative and exciting concepts.”

The six winning chefs and their corporate executives receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2013, May 14-16 in San Diego. The winners will be honored at the Annual Chairman’s Reception & Produce Celebration Dinner and will also participate in education sessions at the convention to share their views on produce trends in foodservice. PRO*ACT will also make a donation to a charitable organization of each winner’s choice.

For more information about the award program, please visit the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program online or contact Miriam Wolk, United Fresh senior director of membership, at 202-303-3410.


Kick Off 2013 with Hands-on Produce Inspection Training Course
Welcome New Members!
Students in the Produce Inspection Training Program examine and grade cantaloupe in the hands-on lab.

If you’ve been curious about the Produce Inspection Training Program, we invite you take a click on this short video to get a sneak peek into the course and how it can benefit your company. The first course of 2013 is quickly approaching, so register now to secure your place in the January 14-18 program!

The Produce Inspection Training Program is a hands-on training course designed to help produce industry members better understand the breadth of the total produce inspection process. It is presented by United Fresh and USDA-AMS.

This course is designed for produce buyers, warehouse managers, field inspectors, produce inspectors, quality control managers, quality assurance managers, packing supervisors, produce receivers, operations managers, dock supervisors, inventory control managers and more.

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).

Allow the expert USDA trainers to take your staff to the next level of produce inspection knowledge. The next course will be held January 14-18, 2013 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center Fredericksburg, VA. Sign up your team today!

Class size is limited and attendees are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.  For more details and registration options, please visit the United Fresh Foundation website or contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3405.


USDA Opens Fresh Produce Purchasing Opportunities
Welcome New Members!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will accept bids from the fresh fruit and vegetable industry to support a pilot program that will supply the National School Lunch Program directly using USDA contracts. Apples, blueberries, grapes, oranges, carrots, and lettuce will be purchased and used by schools in Florida and Michigan.

“USDA developed this pilot program in response to requests from schools and other stakeholders interested in utilizing the USDA school commodity program for fresh fruits and vegetables,” said AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Deputy Administrator Charles Parrott. “As part of the pilot, schools will be able to purchase fresh produce from qualified growers, produce wholesalers, and distributors in any part of the country, including small and medium-sized growers at the local level.”

The solicitation invites offers for deliveries between February 20, 2013 and December 31, 2013. Fresh whole apples will be set aside exclusively for purchase from small businesses, all other products will be competed using full and open competitive procedures. All offerors must be on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) qualified vendor list by the date specified in the solicitation for all requirements that they propose to fulfill.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases a variety of domestic, high-quality, nutritious food products each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

All offers must be submitted electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) website. Vendors are strongly encouraged to login to the WBSCM system as early as possible to begin their bidding process. For more information, please visit the Commodity Procurement Home Page at:


Postharvest Pioneer Dr. Adel Kader Passes Away at 71
Welcome New Members!
Dr. Adel Kader was a true friend to the produce industry and will be greatly missed.

With the sudden death of Adel Kader, December 10, 2012, the postharvest and horticultural development community mourns the loss of a leader, teacher, mentor, colleague and friend.

Adel was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1941. He earned his B.Sc. in Horticulture in 1959 from the Ain Shams University in Cairo, and then enrolled at UC Davis where he earned his M.Sc. in Vegetable Crops in 1962, and PhD. in Plant Physiology in 1966. He then returned to Egypt where he served as an Assistant Professor at Ain Shams University for five years, followed by work as a lecturer and consultant at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research for two years. In 1972 he was hired by UC Davis as an Assistant Researcher. He and his students were particularly focused on understanding the physiology, biochemistry and technology of controlled and modified atmosphere storage of fruits and vegetables.

The many accomplishments of Adel’s life and career are exemplified by the milestones of recognition: Chair of the University of California, Davis Pomology Department; Fellow, President, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Horticultural Science; Organizer of the International Horticultural Congress, recipient of the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Science’s Award of Distinction, among others.

Adel’s signature achievement was the development of UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center, which is widely recognized as the world’s best source for postharvest information and education. Adel authored and edited many publications, including the definitive “Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops” and popular “Small-Scale Postharvest Handling Practices: A Manual for Horticultural Crops.” Adel led the development of the Postharvest Technology website which has become a valuable resource for finding postharvest information and receives several million page views annually.

“Anyone who took post harvest courses at UC Davis would know what a knowledgeable man Dr. Kader was,” said Dan Vaché, United Fresh vice president of supply chain management. “I was a fortunate one to get to know him during his classes and he was always willing to assist after class.”

A memorial service will be held on January 26, 2013 at the Buehler Alumni Center located on the UC Davis campus. The memorial service will begin at 1 p.m. with an opportunity to visit with friends and colleagues before and after the service.

The Kader Family has requested that in lieu of flowers, any memorial gifts be made to the Postharvest Program Endowment Fund. Additionally, they have created an Adel Kader Memorial Facebook page, and welcome your thoughts and photos.


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:

  • Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc.
  • Fox Packaging
  • Frieda’s, Inc.
  • Liberty Fruit Co., Inc.
  • Renaissance Food Group

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.


New Member Welcome
Welcome New Members!

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

  • La Pradera Mixteca S de PR de RL, Pue, Mexico
  • LEVARHT, Dekwakel, Netherlands

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

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

United Fresh Foundation Golf Tournament & Produce Legends Dinner
January 28, Loews Ventana Canyon, Tucson, AZ

2013 Winter Leadership Meetings
January 28-30, Loews Ventana Canyon, Tucson, AZ

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


Editor’s Note

Please note that there will not be an issue of Inside United Fresh next week due to the holiday. Be on the lookout for the first issue of 2013 on January 3!