March 7, 2013
In Today's Issue:
National WIC Leadership Conference Addresses Fruit and Vegetable Voucher Program

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel speaks to the National WIC Leadership Conference on the importance of the fresh fruit and vegetable voucher program.

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel spoke to the National WIC Leadership Conference this week engaging state and local WIC directors, grocery retailers, and government officials in a discussion of ways to boost fruit and vegetable consumption among WIC moms and children. 

“With fruit and vegetable cash value vouchers now part of the WIC package, we all have to work together to make sure WIC clients can easily redeem the full value of their vouchers, and even choose more fresh produce for their families’ health,” Stenzel said. 

The National WIC Association recently estimated that 79% of the vouchers issued last year were redeemed, meaning that as much as $100 million in fruit and vegetable sales are left unused.  United is working with our retail members, WIC agencies and association partners to find ways to attract WIC clients to the produce department, and make purchasing as simple as possible, whether that’s in the produce department during their shopping experience or at check out.  United has worked for more than a decade to advocate for fruits and vegetables in WIC, which now provides up to $10 per month for fresh produce to low-income moms and children.  More than 53 percent of children are born to WIC-eligible moms in America today. 

For more information about United’s work with the WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers, please contact Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health, at (202) 303-3407.

 

United Fresh Takes Off on California Fresh Impact Tour

United Fresh will kick off a two-week California Fresh Impact Tour on March 13 with town hall events and member visits throughout the state. Members will hear updates on immigration, food safety and nutrition initiatives from United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel and have the opportunity to share their concerns and perspectives on the issues, as well as receive a sneak preview of the United Fresh convention, taking place May 14-16.

“With our convention taking place in California this year, we wanted to take this opportunity to meet with our members throughout the state before we all head to San Diego in May,” said Stenzel. “Our Fresh Impact Tours always allow us to engage in personal discussions about challenges facing our members, and to spotlight how United can help leverage the passion of individual members to make a difference for the greater industry.”

The Fresh Impact Tour will begin in Delano with a Kick-Off Luncheon hosted by United Fresh Chairman David Krause, President, Paramount Citrus. “There are so many issues of concern to our members today,” Krause said. “We want to hear our members’ concerns, and make sure that we’re addressing all of these key topics at our convention in San Diego.” Following the Delano kick-off luncheon, the United Fresh team will head up the Central Valley with member visits, concluding the week with another town hall in Sacramento. Then, starting in San Francisco on March 18, the team conducts a series of town halls and member visits moving down the coastal growing areas ending the week with a breakfast town hall at the Los Angeles Wholesale Market and a luncheon town hall in San Bernardino.

The weekend doesn’t slow down as Stenzel will join in the California Grape & Tree Fruit League Annual Convention, working with CEO Barry Bedwell, who also serves on the United Fresh Board and as chairman of United’s Government Relations Council.

Finally, this year’s California tour ends with special events and member visits in San Diego, site of this year’s convention in May.

More information on Fresh Impact Tour locations, as well as town hall registration options, can be found on the United Fresh website.

Throughout the trip, members and staff will be posting updates and photos to the United Fresh Twitter and Facebook pages. Follow along online or attend a Town Hall to join in on the 2013 California Fresh Impact Tour!

For more information on the California Fresh Impact Tour, contact Miriam Wolk, vice president of membership & marketing, at 202-303-3410 or by email at mwolk@unitedfresh.org.


Immigration Reform Talks Continue With Lawmakers

Members of the Agricultural Workforce Coalition continued meetings this week with key players in Congress working on immigration reform.  “There’s a growing recognition by members of both parties, and leaders of the general immigration debate, that agriculture is unique in our needs,” said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel.  “In all of our meetings there’s a fundamental principle that agriculture needs a method for the current undocumented workers in the United States to attain legal status, but still be incentivized to work in agriculture.  And, equally critical, we need a new guest worker program that puts in place a reliable process for the legal future flow of workers to meet agriculture’s needs.  If we don’t get this right, we could be facing the same dilemma a decade from now that we’re in today,” he said.

United Fresh is a founding partner of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, a broad organization that remains committed to the goal of ensuring that agricultural employers have access to a stable and skilled workforce. Especially important is that any eventual legislation addresses the needs of both current on-farm employees in need of an adjustment in immigration status and the future workforce requirements of employers. 

For more information, please visit www.agworkforcecoalition.org or contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, at 202-303-3400.

 

United Launches 2013 Produce Industry Compensation Survey

Produce companies are encouraged to contribute to this valuable industry resource before the April 5 deadline.

The United Fresh Foundation, through its Center for Leadership Excellence, has launched its 2013 compensation survey for the fresh produce industry. The data collected will be published in an expansive research report that will assist produce industry employers in understanding critical compensation benchmarks.

The compensation survey, which was first released in 2011, has been updated based on input from the United Fresh Market Segment Boards, including the addition of three new positions, Regional Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, and Manager of Food Safety/Quality Assurance. Additional enhancements will include job descriptions, an expanded section on employee benefit practices, and the report is now open to produce companies operating in the U.S. or Canada.

Prepared by expert research firm Industry Insights in partnership with the United Fresh Foundation, this confidential survey measures compensation and benefits for 33 full-time positions within the produce industry. Data will be collected from U.S. and Canadian-based produce companies on a range of positions, including Sales & Marketing, Production & Operations, Quality Control & Assurance, Finance & Accounting and Executives.

The results from the survey will be published later this spring in a detailed research report. The report will allow produce companies to directly compare their salaries and benefits for full-time positions across multiple business sectors, as well as by ownership type (family, private, public), type of business, produce sales volume, number of full-time employees and geography. The new data will also show important shifts since the report was first published two years ago.

“Our economy has changed tremendously since we first launched this survey in 2011,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. “This year’s compensation tool will help our members understand the current industry landscape, so they can ensure their competiveness in the marketplace. And with healthcare costs a major factor for produce employers, the data from this survey will provide a deeper understanding about current expenditures and benefit practices.”

The survey is now open at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com to any U.S. or Canadian-based produce industry employers including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors. The survey will remain open until April 5 and the final research report will be available for purchase at United Fresh 2013, the association’s annual convention and expo, May 14-16 in San Diego.

Companies that participate in submitting data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully-customized report for their company at a deeply discounted rate of $195. Non-survey participants can order a survey report for $495 for United Fresh members and $695 for non-members. For more information on the survey, please contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400, ext. 408.

 

United Fresh to Brief Retailers on FSMA Implications

United Fresh and the California Grocers Association Education Foundation are proud to present a webinar outlining the potential impact of the proposed Produce Safety Rule on retailers’ procurement and store operations as well as fresh produce suppliers. United’s Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology, and Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations, will lead the webinar.

“Retailers will definitely feel the effects of the Produce Rule, especially if the small farm amendment remains in the final version,” explained Dr. Gombas. “The industry is counting on retailers to hold suppliers to strict standards of implementing the rules to ensure safe, quality products are delivered to the consumers regardless of from what size operation they originate.”

The March 20 session will also provide an update on the work being done by United’s Produce Rule and Preventive Control Rule working groups, comprised of experts and produce and retail industry leaders, to lead a series of meetings on the proposed Produce Safety and Preventive Controls Rules.

The webinar is free to United Fresh and California Grocers Association members and $50 for non-members. Registration is available online. For more information, please contact

 

Whole Foods Foundation Aims to Donate 2,013 Salad Bars

Whole Kids Foundation™, the charitable arm of Whole Foods Market, has launched Salad Bar Nation, a public awareness and fundraising campaign committed to improving the nation’s nutrition by challenging Americans to eat a salad every day.  The Whole Foods Foundation campaign hopes to raise $5 million for Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, which will be used to fund 2,013 salad bars in schools across the country and benefit more than one million children. Text-to-give and online fundraising will build on the initial pledge of $1.5 million from the Whole Kids Foundation.

“Whole Kids Foundation is thrilled to partner with Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools to help encourage all Americans to take one effective and affordable step toward a healthier nation by eating a salad every day,” said Nona Evans, Whole Kids Foundation President and Executive Director. “Salad Bar Nation presents a powerful opportunity to make an impact on the choices our children make in the lunchroom by supporting schools that want to make more healthy foods available through salad bars,” she added.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is thrilled to benefit from such a high profile campaign,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health. As a founding partner of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, the United Fresh Foundation is also currently promoting a salad bar campaign with the Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools program, which has set a goal to donate 350 salad bars to schools in California at the United Fresh 2013 convention in San Diego.  United Fresh will host a celebration press conference at the convention on May 15, bringing together California education, agriculture and public health leaders, along with produce industry donors and representatives from the schools receiving salad bars. Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb is a keynote speaker at United Fresh 2013, and will highlight the growing collaborative momentum as retailers and growers show their support for increasing children’s fresh fruit and vegetable consumption with salad bars.

More information about Salad Bar Nation and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schoolscan be found online. For more information about United’s special California campaign and how to make a contribution, visit www.unitedfresh.org/saladbars or contact Andrew Marshall at (202) 303-3407.

 

PTI Report Yields Traceability Recommendations

A report released March 4 outlined ten traceability recommendations that will be sent to Congress and used to develop proposed traceability rules in support of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The report, titled “Pilot Projects for Improving Product Tracing along the Food Supply System Final Report,” was authored by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and is now open to comment from the industry.

“The recommendations made in the report are in alignment with what the industry has been diligently working on as outlined in the Produce Traceability Initiative. FDA is now seeking comments before submitting their findings to Congress,” stated Dan Vaché, United Fresh vice president of supply chain management. “It is important for the industry to provide feedback to ensure whole chain traceability is established for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry and continues to build on the progress we’ve made.” 

The pilot projects examined in the report were designed to explore and demonstrate methods for rapid and effective tracking and tracing of food, including types of data that are useful for tracing and ways to connect the various points in the supply chain. One of the projects focused solely on fresh produce and mirrored the work towards whole chain case-level electronic traceability that volunteer members of PTI have been focused on for more than five years.

United Fresh will continue to work with PTI partners and FDA as the final recommendations are crafted. Members are encouraged to review the report and contact Dan Vaché with questions or comments at 425-629-6271.

 

Deadline Approaching: Nominate an Exceptional Woman for Top Produce Industry Honors

Past Honorees (L-R) Steffanie Smith, River Point Farms, LLC, Mayda Sotomayer-Kirk, Seald Sweet, LLC, Dan'l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions, Inc., Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company.

The March 13 deadline to submit a nomination for United’s Women in Produce Honoree is quickly approaching. This year’s honoree will speak at the annual Reception Honoring Women in Produce, Wednesday, May 15 at United Fresh 2013 in San Diego. Each year, United Fresh recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry and honors one outstanding female industry leader at this reception.

“It is an honor to count such thought-leaders, role models and inspiring innovators among us,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “It is always a highlight of the convention to celebrate the contributions of women who guide the industry. We’re looking forward to welcoming back our past honorees and recognizing another outstanding leader in San Diego.”

“This recognition is a wonderful way to acknowledge an individual’s contribution to our industry, while also promoting and encouraging progress and growth among the women in our space,” said Dan’l Mackey Almy, 2012 Women in Produce Honoree and founder of DMA Solutions, Inc. “I was honored when I was given the opportunity to share my own story with the industry and I know that we will all continue to be inspired by women who receive this award in years to come.”

Nomination forms may be downloaded online and must be received by Wednesday, March 13.

Past Women in Produce Honorees include:

Dan’l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions, Inc.
Tonya Antle, Tanimura & Antle
Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Frieda’s Inc.
Margaret D’Arrigo , Taylor Farms, Inc.
Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission
Jan Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company
Janice Honigberg, Sun Belle, Inc.
Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission
Dr. Martha Rhodes-Roberts, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Steffanie Smith, River Point Farms, LLC
Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale
Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Seald Sweet International
Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms
Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Company

For more information on the Reception Honoring Women in Produce, please contact United Fresh Political Affairs Manager Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Prime Steaks Reign Supreme at This Week’s Taste of San Diego Featured Restaurant

Want to experience a Taste of San Diego? Register now for your chance at next week’s featured restaurant: Donovan’s Steak & Chop House. Donovan's sets the standard of fine dining excellence as a classic steakhouse with a stylish, lively atmosphere where USDA Prime Steaks reign supreme. The menu is complimented by a wine selection that has earned the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.


Every Thursday through May 2, 2013, United Fresh will draw one lucky winner from the United Fresh 2013 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of San Diego's finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor, Diversified Restaurant Systems, Inc.


Congratulations to Mark Messier, Delhaize America, this week’s winner of our Taste of San Diego give away. Mr. Messier will receive a gift certificate to dine at Truluck’s. Truluck’s catches its crabs in its own Florida fisheries every day, so each crab moves from trap to table within 24 hours. And don’t miss the classic Cioppino or Natural Certified Angus New York Strip steak.

Register today for United Fresh 2013 and you'll be automatically entered for United's Taste of San Diego giveaway. You could win a gift certificate to one of the best restaurants in San Diego!

The sooner you register, the greater your chances to win a certificate to one of these stellar restaurants:

Baci Ristorante
Bertrand at Mister A’s
Bully’s East
Burlap
Donovan's Steak & Chop House
Gabardine
George’s at the Cove
Herringbone
Island Prime
Mille Fleurs
On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
Pamplemousse Grill
Poseidon on the Beach
Prepkitchen
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Searsucker
The Marine Room
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
The Prado at Balboa Park
Truluck's

Learn more about these great restaurants and how you can experience a Taste of San Diego!

 

It’s Now or Never: Begin Your Leadership Journey Today

Class 18 tours Monterey Mushrooms in Watsonville, CA.

The March 11 deadline to apply to the United Fresh Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program is quickly approaching. Don’t miss your opportunity to equip your up-and-coming leaders with the tools they need to achieve success in the produce industry.

Class 19 of the Produce Industry Leadership Program will embark on a year-long program that will expose participants to the many facets of the produce industry and help them think beyond their daily business. Participants will engage in a fully customized program, focused on four core areas:

  • Leadership Development
  • Business Relationships
  • Government and Public Affairs
  • Media and Public Relations

“The program is an exploration of the many facets of the produce industry while teaching the professional skills and personal development that are vital to success,” said Strube. “It is a life-changing experience and an opportunity that I recommend to anyone who is committed to advancing their career.”

The 12 leadership fellows will take part in a series of customized trips which include face-to-face meetings with leading industry players, hands-on training with top industry experts and educators, interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington and more. This year's schedule will feature trips to Michigan & Ontario; Washington, DC & Wilmington, DE; and Yuma, AZ. The class will graduate at the 2014 United Fresh Convention in Chicago, IL.         

 The Produce Industry Leadership Program is made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection. It is a special opportunity for United Fresh members to advance and enhance their leadership skills and industry knowledge. There is no cost participate and all regular travel expenses are covered through the program.

Candidates interested in applying for the program can download information and an application at unitedfreshfoundation.org. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 11, 2013. Participation in the program is limited to 12 fellows who are selected by an Advisory Committee. The fellows are chosen from a broad cross-section of the industry to represent the breadth of the United Fresh membership. Since the program’s inception, more than 200 industry members have participated. For more information, please contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at syoung@unitedfresh.org or 202-303-3405.


Are Your Produce Inspectors Prepared?

Watch the video for an insider’s look at the Produce Inspection Training Program!

The United Fresh Foundation, through the Center for Food Safety & Quality, will conduct another offering of the 2013 Produce Inspection Training Program  on June 3-7. The 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.

“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 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).

The last Produce Inspection Training Programs offered in 2013 will be held September 16-20 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA.

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

 

New Cantaloupe Guidance Resource Available

United Fresh members are encouraged to take advantage of a new resource to develop specific food safety plans. The National Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Cantaloupes and Netted Melons is available to help companies that grow, harvest, sort, pack, process or ship cantaloupes in developing production practices that address risk and minimize microbial hazards. The guidance offers a comprehensive framework for ensuring the highest level of food safety in cantaloupe production.

“We brought 12 to 60 individual industry, academic, government and other experts from 20 states and several countries together in virtual meetings for 26 weeks to discuss, develop and perfect this National Cantaloupe Guidance,” said Hank Giclas, senior vice president of Science, Technology and Strategic Planning for Western Growers Association, who took a lead role in development of the guidance. The facilitating team also included the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, the Produce Marketing Association, and United Fresh Produce Association. “It’s a remarkable example of industry leadership, commitment to food safety and collaborative spirit,” he said.

The guidance is intended to be a “living document” that will keep pace with science and industry knowledge. Growers, handlers and other users are encouraged to provide comment and feedback during the 2013 growing season via the website. At the end of the season, the development group will evaluate comments, review the guidance and make changes as necessary to improve the practicality for industry and protections for consumers.

“This National Guidance is one more food safety tool that the cantaloupe industry can use right now. There is no higher priority, and it’s never been more important for everyone in the produce industry to demonstrate the highest commitment to food safety,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management and communication at United Fresh Produce Association.

The free document is available for download here. More information and additional resources can be found at www.cantaloupe-guidance.org.

 

Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2013 Supporters
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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:

  • Blue Book Services, Inc., Carol Stream, IL
  • Wm. Bolthouse Farms, Inc., Bakersfield, 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 Vice President of Membership & Marketing Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.

 

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

  • Wm. Bolthouse Farms, Inc., Bakersfield, 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 831-600-8922 or Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

2013 Produce Executive Development Program
March 10-15, 2013, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2013 California Fresh Impact Tour
March 13-26, California

United Fresh FSMA Rules Review Meeting
March 12, Chicago, IL
Impact of FSMA and the Produce Rule at Retail Webinar
March 20, Online

United Fresh FSMA Rules Review Meeting
March 28, Portland, OR

United Fresh 2013 
May 14-16, 2013, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA



 



 
 
 


 

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