|April 11, 2013
|Immigration Reform Talks Continue with Focus on Agriculture Workforce
High-level negotiations to craft the framework for a new agriculture guest worker program, as part of a comprehensive immigration reform measure, continue this week in Washington. United Fresh, other trade associations and interested stakeholders representing labor-intensive agriculture are participating in the negotiations, ensuring that the unique needs of the industry are addressed in the immigration reform package. The overall effort to reform America’s immigration policy has, and continues to be, a top priority for legislators in Washington.
Progress has been made in the discussions among agriculture industry representatives, farm worker representatives and congressional offices about how best to establish a new agriculture guest worker program that protects workers’ fundamental rights and allows for the economic viability of employers. Key issues such as wage calculations and the cap on the number of visas granted remain under discussion.
“Creating a new ag guest worker program is a very sensitive process and how it is done will have a tremendous impact on employers and employees alike,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “Everyone in the negotiations understands that we have a rare opportunity to make a real difference in the way we ensure a viable workforce for the most critical jobs in agriculture. So we’re really trying to be as thoughtful and deliberative about the discussions as we can.”
As the momentum for broader immigration reform continues toward legislative action, United Fresh has maintained focus on outreach to key members of Congress and their staffs, particularly those representing top fruit and vegetable producing areas, and those who sit on committees with jurisdiction over immigration and agriculture guest worker policies, such as the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. The central themes of United’s message on Capitol Hill have been on the essential need to make agriculture guest worker policy reform part of immigration reform and the necessity of a framework that is feasible for employers across the country. Policymakers in both the House and Senate are crafting proposals to overhaul immigration laws and legislative activity is currently expected to begin by late Spring.
In addition, United has participated in meetings with high-level Obama Administration officials who will be involved in implementing any reform, such as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was briefed last week on the agriculture guest worker discussions and who shared his views on the need for reform.
For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.
|United, Industry Allies Request Extension on FSMA Comment Period
The proposed rules under FSMA will impact the way the entire fresh produce supply chain does business.
United Fresh and 88 international, national, state, and regional fresh fruit and vegetable groups have requested an extension of the comment period on the proposed Produce Safety and Preventive Controls Rules under the Food Safety and Modernization Act. In an April 11 letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the signatories requested to extend the comment period beyond the May 16 deadline, noting “it would be impossible for any interested party to meaningfully comment on these two proposed rules when they represent such a substantial overhaul of the structure of food safety regulation, the sheer size of the regulations has lengthened the time necessary for analysis.”
“The fresh produce industry has long supported mandatory, enforceable, commodity-specific food safety practices based on the best available science,” said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. “We have been engaged throughout the entire rulemaking process and continue to mobilize stakeholders to review and comment on the proposed rules. The additional comment period is necessary to ensure that these rules are effective, efficient, and serve the interests of the entire supply chain and our consumers.”
The stakeholders have requested a minimum of an additional 180-day period after the proposed rules for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, Preventive Controls for Animal Feed and Accredited Third-Party Certification have been issued, to allow time to analyze and comment on the anticipated interactions between the rules. The letter also notes the challenge in completing a full analysis in the given 120-day comment period due to the length of the proposed rules and the associated reference documents. In addition, some of the more than 100 questions posed by FDA when the proposed rules were issued require thorough scientific and economic analysis, a process in which stakeholders are currently engaged.
The letter and full list of signatories, representing a broad spectrum of fresh produce industry associations, can be found here.
For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, at 202-303-3400.
|United Fresh 2013 New Product Award Finalists Announced
United Fresh attendees will vote for best in industry innovation next month in San Diego.
More than 30 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations are up for United Fresh Produce Association’s 2013 New Product Awards. This year’s finalists will compete in five categories for the title of Best New Products at United Fresh 2013, May 14-16 in San Diego.
“These products represent the new approaches, ideas and processes that are driving the fresh fruit and vegetable industry forward,” said John Toner, United’s vice president of convention & industry relations. “From its very beginnings, the United show has been the undisputed home of innovation for the produce industry, and these awards continue to showcase the best and brightest minds in the produce business.”
“It is a vital mission of the United trade show to foster and applaud the latest innovations that are advancing the fresh produce industry,” said United CEO Tom Stenzel. “The insights and creativity of our member companies in bringing these new products to market undeniably boosts value to the consumer and increases profitability for the industry.”
This year’s finalists will be displayed in the United Fresh Membership Booth, located in Booth 754 on the United Fresh trade show floor. The winner in each category will be determined by total votes received as of 3:00 pm on Thursday, May 16. Winners will be announced at the Membership Booth on Thursday, May 16 at 4:00 pm.
Congratulations to the 2013 New Product Award finalists:
Best New Food Safety Solution
- ThermoTrace TTI, DeltaTRAK
- FoodLink Item, FoodLink
- Pimware, Pimware
Best New Fruit Product
- CantaBella, C.H. Robinson Worldwide
- Flavorz, Crunch Pak
- Ready Pac Bistro Fruit Salads, Ready Pac Foods
- Ruby Fresh Salad Jewels, Ruby Fresh
- Lil Snappers™, Sunkist Growers, Inc.
Best New Packaging
- Eco-Crate, C.H. Robinson
- Cabo Fresh 100 cal Snack Pack, Cabo Fresh
- Salad Kitz, Crunch Pak
- Folding RPC, InterCrate
- Artisan Series Basket Weave Clamshells with Dometops, JemD Farms – Red Sun & Golden Sun Greenhouse Vegetables
- Sunset Display Ready Box, Mastronardi Produce
- Snack Fresh, NNZ Inc.
- Peel and Reseal Spring Mix Trays, Ready Pac Foods
Best New Packing/Processing Equipment
- Mango Destoning Equipment, ABL
- ECM-200 Precision Slicing Machine, Nichimo
- RayFly Optical Sorter, Raytec Vision, SPA
- Robag FXIS 3ci rotary polyethylene packaging system, TNA North America
Best New Vegetable Product
- Pumpkin Pie Baking Kit, AMF Farms/Bay Baby Produce
- Tasti-Lee® Tomatoes, Bejo Seeds Inc.
- Italian Greens, Church Brothers
- Grower Pete’s Organic Living Butter Lettuce and Watercress, Hollandia Produce
- Bite-A-Minis, Nature Fresh Farms
- Dippin Stix – Celery, Reichel Foods
The 2012 New Product Award winners were:
- Best New Food Safety Solution: FlashCheck® Real-time Bacterial Enzyme Detection Kit, DeltaTRAK®, Inc.
- Best New Fruit Product: Fresh Fruit Parfaits, Ready Pac Foods
- Best New Packaging Product: Naturipe EarthCycle Packaging for Organic Berries, Naturipe LLC
- Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Bosch Pack 301 IN Inverted Horizontal Flow Wrapper, Bosch Packaging Technology, Inc
- Best New Vegetable Product: Delano™, Mastronardi Produce
For more information on the 2013 New Product Awards or on United Fresh 2013, contact United’s Exposition Manager Jamie Woodside at 202-303-3420.
|Save Mart CARES Salad Bar Donation to CA Schools Benefits 10,000 Students
The United Fresh Foundation is pleased to announce a generous grant from the Save Mart CARES charitable organization to support Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools. The Save Mart CARES grant will provide salad bars to schools in three Central Valley school districts: Kern High School District in Bakersfield, Alview-Dairyland Unified School District in Chowchilla and the Armona Union Elementary School District in Armona. The donation will benefit 10,000 low-income students and help the United Fresh Foundation close in on their goal of donating salad bars to 350 California schools by May 2013.
”Encouraging families to eat more fruits and vegetables provides immeasurable lifetime health benefits. We believe the most powerful change starts with children. As they get excited about produce through school salad bars they will influence their family to try more fruits and vegetables at home,” Steve Junqueiro, Save Mart President and COO.
Save Mart CARES is the charitable organization of Save Mart Supermarkets that aims to support community initiatives in art, recreation, education and sports. Save Mart Supermarkets operates 226 stores throughout Northern California and Northern Nevada under the Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky, Maxx Value Foods, and FoodMaxx banners.
“We are very pleased to have Save Mart contribute to the growing momentum behind Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools and build on their commitment to local communities and schools,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh President and CEO. “The grant from Save Mart CARES is a great boon to our efforts to increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables and combat childhood obesity. Salad bars are the easiest, most effective way for schools to meet the new federal school lunch standards and make it possible for students to “make half their plate fruits and vegetables” as recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for America,” added Stenzel.
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, of which the United Fresh is a founding partner. A press event to celebrate Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools will be held on May 15, 2013 at the United Fresh 2013 Convention in San Diego. California school food service directors and donors will be recognized at the press event.
To learn how you can support Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools, contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407. Schools interested in requesting salad bars can visit www.saladbars2schools.org.
|$165 Million Allocated for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
FFVP provides a fresh fruit or vegetable snack for more than 4 million school children every day.
USDA has announced that $165 million is available to fund the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) next school year and provided a table with funding allocations for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. More than 4 million low-income elementary school students will benefit by having a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. The $165 million is a $1.5 million increase above this year’s funding.
“The FFVP is very popular and very effective. It increases children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, introduces them to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and is very popular with schools, parents and students,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health. “The recently published evaluation results demonstrated the effectiveness of the FFVP as a school-based public health intervention that positively impacts children’s fruit and vegetable consumption. And, parents who took part in the evaluation study noted that the FFVP resulted in their child eating more fruits and vegetables at school and at home.”
The FFVP has been one of United’s top public policy priorities for the last decade. It is a win for children, a win for produce, and a win for public health. As Congress begins to debate the 2013 Farm Bill, the FFVP will be one of the key nutrition policy issues discussed. “The evidence that the FFVP is effective will be very helpful on Capitol Hill over the next few months as United Fresh leads advocacy efforts to protect the FFVP in the 2013 Farm Bill,” noted Dr. DiSogra.
For more information about the FFVP and how to support advocacy efforts, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra or Andrew Marshall, United’s policy & grassroots manager, at 202-303-3400.
|United Outlines FSMA Impact at NC Produce Meeting
(L-R) Don Williamson, Larry Otto, Jimmy Burch, and Dr. David Gombas at the North Carolina United Fresh Produce Association meeting gathered producers to discuss potential effects of proposed FSMA rules.
On April 6, Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology, gave an update on the proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). His presentation at the North Carolina United Fresh Produce Association meeting highlighted the potential impacts of the proposed Produce Safety and Preventive Controls Rules, with a discussion of current crops that are exempt and several definitions within the rules that United’s Working Groups have found to be in need of further delineation.
“These proposed rules are going to change how everyone in the fresh produce industry does business,” warned Dr. Gombas. “The rulemaking process has been long, but it’s important that the entire supply chain is aware of what is being proposed. I encourage everyone to make sure their voice is heard in comments to FDA, whether they be submitted on behalf of individual companies or with the added strength of a group through your association.”
The deadline to submit comments to FDA is May 16, though United and industry allies have requested an extension to allow for further review and analysis. The industry is awaiting proposed rules on the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, Preventive Controls for Animal Feed and Accredited Third-Party Certification, all of which are expected to have interactions with the previously issued rules.
For more information, please visit www.unitedfresh.org/fsma or contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.
|Enjoy Breathtaking Views Paired with a Taste of San Diego
Want to experience a Taste of San Diego? Register now for your chance at next week’s featured restaurant: Bertrand at Mister A’s. With the most spectacular views in San Diego, Bertrand at Mr. A's is just minutes from downtown and an eternity from the ordinary dining experience. See the beautiful San Diego skyline, with views of San Diego Bay, Balboa Park, Coronado, Point Loma and even the world famous San Diego Zoo. Toast an inspiring sunset from the outdoor, wrap around balcony. Don’t miss the crispy roasted Moulard duck breast with huckleberry sauce and smoked potato hash or the whole oven roasted Maine Lobster with orange scented quinoa and cauliflower florets.
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 Adam Babcock, Loffredo Fresh Produce, this week’s winner of our Taste of San Diego give away. Our winner will receive a gift certificate to dine at Pamplemousse Grill. One of San Diego's best restaurants, Pamplemousse Grille offers a casual yet elegant atmosphere and a menu inspired by ingredients of the highest quality and prepared using traditional and contemporary French, Mediterranean and Asian culinary techniques.
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:
Bertrand at Mister A’s
Donovan's Steak & Chop House
George’s at the Cove
On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
Poseidon on the Beach
Ruth's Chris Steak House
The Marine Room
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
The Prado at Balboa Park
Learn more about these great restaurants and how you can experience a Taste of San Diego!
|United Fresh Heads to Canada for the CPMA Convention and Trade Show
United Fresh and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association have worked together many years together on many issues facing the fresh produce business today. United Fresh is proud to show support for our northern neighbors and look forward to participating in the annual convention of the Canadian industry, April 17-19 in Toronto.
John Toner, vice president of convention & industry relations, and Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, will be at booth #645. Stop by and learn about the United Fresh 2013 convention coming to sunny San Diego, membership opportunities, and our annual calendar of events.
"Exhibiting at the CPMA allows us to interact with our members and trading partners to our north and allows them to learn more about initiatives in the US. With each passing year, the challenges facing the fresh produce industry are growing both locally and globally, and the solutions will be forged through the many connections we make at CPMA and beyond," said Toner. "We look forward to seeing you in Toronto, be sure to stop by and say hello!"
Vaché works with CPMA on an ongoing basis with both CPMA's Industry Technology Advisory Committee and North American Trade Committee. United is pleased to be at the table with the CPMA members to discuss industry needs and challenges, as both countries have very strong trading relationships and deal with many of the same issues with border crossings, customs, food safety, labeling and packaging issues, and data synchronization.
For more information, please visit www.convention.cpma.ca or contact John Toner at 202-303-3424.
|Deadline Extended: Is Your Payroll Competitive?
The United Fresh Produce Industry Compensation Survey offers a competitive edge for your company and your executive team by providing valuable research and compensation benchmarks for over 30 produce industry positions.
Friday, April 19, 2013 is the deadline to submit data for the survey. It is open to any U.S.- or Canadian based produce industry employer - including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors.
There is no cost to participate in the confidential survey and companies that submit data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully-customized compensation report for their company at the highly discounted rate of $195 (save $300!).
The final report will allow produce industry members to benchmark their companies against others to ensure their competitiveness, and answer critical questions such as:
- Am I over-paying or under-paying my employees?
- How does my company compare to the industry norms?
- What kind of compensation and benefits package do I need to put together to attract and keep top talent?
The survey is available at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com. 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. For more information on the survey, please contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3408.
|New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry.
- Exopack, Chicago, IL
- Nutricion Fundamental, Inc., Industry, CA
- Shanley Farms, Morro Bay, 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 Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.
|Upcoming United Fresh Events
Join us for events designed to grow your business:
United Fresh 2013
May 14-16, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA
Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference
May 17, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA
Produce Inspection Training Program
June 3-7, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA
Washington Public Policy Conference
Sept 30 – Oct 2, Washington, DC