May 23, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Senate Considers Farm Bill, Preserves Specialty Crop Programs

The full Senate is considering amendments to the Farm Bill this week, after the Agriculture Committee approved the legislation on May 14. A final vote on passage of the bill is not expected until the first week of June.

"We're encouraged at the progress that the Farm Bill is making in the Senate," said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. "There are several amendments that we are keeping an eye on, but for the most part, specialty crop programs are being preserved. We'll continue to engage with key lawmakers to ensure the funding and integrity of vital specialty crop programs is maintained and protected."  

The House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill on May 15 with a strong bipartisan vote of 36-10, signaling a positive step for specialty crops. The House Committee demonstrated their continued commitment to policies that enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crop agriculture. The investments made in that bill are similar to many of the policies that were included in the Senate-passed legislation. The full House is expected to take up the bill for consideration in June.

Included in the House version are provisions funding key specialty crop priorities such as:

  • Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $72.5 million in fiscal 2014-2017 and $85 million in FY2018
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $50 million in FY2014-15; $55 million in FY 2016-2017; and $65 million in FY2018
  • Coordinated Plant Management Program funded at $62.5 million in FY2014-2017 and $75 million in FY2018
  • Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
  • Section 32 specialty crop purchases at 2008 levels
  • DoD Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 Farm Bill levels

The House bill does include disappointing language that signals a significant policy change to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), a landmark program that provides healthful fresh produce to more than 4 million school children. United will continue to work to preserve the program's mission of promoting good eating habits in children and promoting fresh fruits and vegetables.

United Fresh will continue to forcefully advocate for strong specialty crop programs in the 2013 Farm Bill with our partners in the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products.

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

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform

United Fresh applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee for approving the comprehensive immigration bill by a strong, bipartisan vote of 13 to 5 on Tuesday night. The bill is expected to be taken up by the full Senate in June when Congress returns from the recess.

Nearly 300 amendments were proposed to the overall immigration package, but no changes were made to the new agriculture worker program, which provides for a new, market-based federal program to ensure a steady and experienced agriculture labor force. The new agricultural workforce framework was developed through negotiations between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, of which United Fresh is a founding member, key senators and agriculture labor.

The new program allows current, experienced agriculture workers to stay in the U.S. while adjusting to legal status. It also establishes a future workforce program, which provides employers and employees with flexibility through either an "at-will" or contractual arrangement under a three-year visa program. The new proposal also allows for a transition period from the current H-2A guest worker system to the new program to ensure that employers will not face gaps in program availability and resulting workforce shortages.

"We are pleased the Senate Judiciary has moved forward with committee passage of the bill. The strong bi-partisan vote out of the committee should send a positive signal to the rest of the Senate and their colleagues in the House that the time has come to address this important policy issue that has lingered on much too long in the eyes of many people in the produce industry," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy. "Now is the time for every United Fresh member to make his or her voice heard on Capitol Hill about this crucial industry need."

United Fresh urges members to visit United's Grassroots Action Network website, where they can quickly send a message to their lawmakers to ask for support of the immigration reform bill.

United Fresh continues to advocate passage of immigration reform and agricultural workforce provisions by the full Senate, as well as by the House of Representatives later this year.

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


United Fresh 2013 Highlights Dynamic Produce Industry

Thank you to everyone who made United Fresh 2013 an unforgettable event! With more than 275 exhibitors and thousands of produce industry leaders, the show continues to be the must-attend event for valuable networking, cutting-edge education, and for discovering the fresh horizons that drive the industry forward.

United Fresh 2013 hosted more than 25 education sessions, nearly 10 focused networking events, two general sessions, four Super Sessions, an exciting salad bar press event and two full days of action on the show floor, so we understand if you didn't get to see it all.

We've captured highlights from all of the big events in the United Fresh 2013 Photo Gallery.

And don't miss video highlights from the celebration of 436 salad bars for California schools, the buzzing show floor, and featured exhibitors. Tune in to United Fresh TV now!

Were you one of the 1,500 aboard the USS Midway for the Opening Party? See if you can spot yourself in the United Fresh 2013 Kick Off video!

Salad Bar Contributions Grow As Let's Move Salad Bars to California Schools Donates 441 Salad Bars

Industry donors are recognized on stage for their leadership and generosity at the press event and celebration of the donation of salad bars to 436 California schools.

On May 15, United Fresh announced the landmark donation of salad bars to 436 California schools. The donation will benefit 300,000 California students who will now have access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day at lunch. The announcement was made at the Let's Move Salad Bars to California Schools Celebration press conference at United Fresh 2013 in San Diego, which brought together government, education and child nutrition officials, school food service directors from throughout California, students from San Diego area schools, and more than 100 produce industry and foundation donors. The total number of salad bars donated was revealed at the event, far surpassing the original goal set at the outset of the campaign of 350 salad bars.

After the announcement, several additional contributions have come in, increasing the total number of salad bars for California schools to 441. Westlake Produce and Stater Bros. are teaming up to donate salad bars to four California schools, and the Scaroni Family of Companies is donating one salad bar to the Heber Elementary School District, their second donation to the district this year.

"This remarkable donation of salad bars to California schools truly demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships to improve child nutrition. Produce industry leaders, businesses, and foundations all came together to support increasing children's fresh fruit and vegetable consumption," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. "These salad bars will transform school cafeterias and help 300,000 students develop healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime."

The schools receiving salad bars are located in 71 school districts throughout CA – from Humboldt County in the north to San Diego and Imperial County in the south, and from the Bay Area to Tuolumne County in the east. School foodservice directors from 37 of those districts attended the event and were recognized as "salad bar superstars" and leaders on the front line in increasing children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.   
A complete list of California school districts receiving salad bars is available here.  
A complete list of donors to the Let's Move Salad Bars to California Schools campaign is available here.
To learn how you can support Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407. Schools interested in requesting salad bars can visit


United Fresh Announces New Recall Ready Program

Food safety was a buzzing topic at United Fresh 2013, and as Ron Midyett, CEO of Apio and United Fresh Chairman of the Board noted, it remains a serious issue throughout the industry. That's why United has developed the Recall Ready Program: to meet member needs and to offer, for the first time, expert consultation to help member companies draft and test their recall programs. Midyett announced the new service at the United Fresh 2013 General Session on May 16, assuring members that United will provide vital resources act as a strong ally in times of crisis.

"The Recall Ready Program is all about meeting the needs of our members in regards to one of our industry's most critical priorities – food safety. If any of you don't have an up-to-date recall plan, or haven't been through recall training, I strongly urge you to consider this program," said Midyett.

Recall Ready is designed to give companies peace of mind and the confidence that they are prepared in advance, and have the resources to respond to any recall situation. The program is a partnership between United Fresh and the legal and communications experts at OFW Law and Watson Green, who are counted among the food industry's leading crisis counseling firms. Companies can choose program service options that include a recall plan review, creation of a custom recall plan, and mock recall training. These program plans help produce companies prepare for recalls and to learn how to deal with the surprises that can often arise during recalls. Additionally, once companies have completed one of these services to be prepared for a recall, companies can then engage United's Rapid Recall Response Team to provide assistance from United and outside experts from the first moments of a recall crisis.

"For minimizing the impact of a recall on your business, there's nothing more important than having a plan and making sure your team is prepared to execute that recall plan," said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh.

For more information on the Recall Ready Program, please contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.


Lisa McNeece Honored at Annual Women in Produce Reception

Lisa McNeece took the stage at the 16th annual Women in Produce Reception to share her inspiring journey in the produce industry as the 2013 Women in Produce Honoree. The program recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry, and selects one individual to share her personal experience of growth.

McNeece joined Grimmway in 1991 to coordinate between sales and production for a newly introduced item called baby peeled carrots. For the past 22 years, she has driven their tremendous market growth. In her current position, McNeece navigates business development and the bulk sales of carrots to processors all over the country for use in salads, snack packs and large foodservice operations such as schools. Grimmway is one of the world's largest carrot shippers, and a pioneer in creating and marketing the baby carrot.

"Lisa's passion for the industry is evident in her continued leadership and creative business development. She always has the big picture in mind and recognizes that what is good for the industry is great for Grimmway," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. "She inspires young members in the produce industry as an impeccable example of leading with and decisiveness and a fresh, strong commitment to any project or function she is involved in. Lisa has demonstrated this recently by going above and beyond in her role as co-chair of the Let's Move Salad Bars to California Schools campaign and her dedication to improving child nutrition."


Technical Award Presented to Walter Ram

Dr. David Gombas presents the 2013 Technical Award to Walter Ram, longest running chairman of United's Food Safety & Technology Council and vice president of food safety for The Giumarra Companies.

Walter Ram, Vice President of Food Safety for The Giumarra Companies, was awarded the 2013 Technical Award on May 15 at United Fresh 2013. Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology, presented the award to Ram, whose many contributions have helped steer the work of United's Food Safety & Technology Council over the past seven years during his tenure as the longest running chairman.

Most recently, Ram led the Council in review and development of comments for FDA's proposed Produce Safety rule, and has been a key participant on projects such as the Cantaloupe Working Group, GAPs Harmonization and development of the Tomato Metrics. Ram has also been a frequent advisor to many government agencies in the areas of food safety, food defense, and preventing agricultural terrorism.

"Walter has been a selfless leader of the Council. His legacy as Chair is the strongest technical resource in the produce industry – he has united more than 100 individuals who, together, have and will continue to tackle the toughest food safety and technical issues across the fresh produce supply chain.  I'm grateful to The Giumarra Companies for allowing Walter to dedicate so much of his time to advancing these important initiatives for the betterment of the entire industry."

Since 1995, the award, presented annually at the United Fresh convention, recognizes individuals who make significant technical contributions to the overall fresh produce industry in the area of food safety and food quality to better serve consumers. Congratulations to Walter Ram!

United Fresh 2013 Attendees Honor Best New Products
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John Toner, United vice president of convention & industry relations, presents the award for Best New Fruit Product to Sunkist Growers at the United Fresh Membership Booth.

Attendees at United Fresh 2013 in San Diego cast their votes and recognized this year's New Product Awards in five categories. More than 30 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations competed in the categories of Best New Food Safety Solution, Best New Fruit Product, Best New Packaging, Best New Packing/Processing Equipment, and Best New Vegetable Product.

The 2013 New Product Award winners are:

Best New Food Safety Solution: FoodLink Item, Food Link
Best New Fruit Product: Lil Snappers, Sunkist Growers, Inc.
Best New Packaging Product: Sunset Display Ready Box, Mastronardi Produce
Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: RayFly Optical Sorter, Raytec Vision, SPA
Best New Vegetable Product: Pumpkin Pie Baking Kit, AMF Farms/Bay Baby Produce

"These winning products have been selected by United attendees as outstanding representations of the new approaches, ideas and processes that are driving the fresh fruit and vegetable industry forward, and we applaud them for their product development," 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."

The finalists in each category were on display in the United Fresh Membership Booth on the trade show floor, and the winners were selected from votes cast by show attendees. More information on all of the New Product Award Finalists is available here

Produce Industry Leadership Program Graduates Class 18, Welcomes Class 19
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Class 18 of the Produce Industry Leadership Program graduated at United Fresh 2013.

Congratulations to Class 18 of the Produce Industry Leadership Program who graduated at United Fresh 2013! Their year-long program included field and facility tours in California, Washington D.C., Wilmington, Del., Southern Florida and San Diego, as well as training with expert educators and meetings with key industry leaders and innovators. The investment they have made in their careers is sure to yield great benefits for the entire industry.

United Fresh is also proud to announce the 12 members of the 2013-2014 United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program. Presented through the Foundation's Center for Leadership Excellence and sponsored by a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, this program was launched in 1995 and has graduated more than 200 program participants.

The Produce Industry Leadership Program welcomes the following professionals to its 19thClass:

Bob Biesterfeld, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
Brian Cook, San Miguel Produce, Inc.
Amanda Costa, Del Monte Fresh Produce
Hillary Femal, IFCO
Ryan Fukuda, Avocados from Mexico
Peter Hill, Alpine Fresh, Inc.
Duke Lane, III, Lane Southern Orchards
Sparky Locke, Apio, Inc.
Taylor Martin, FreshPoint – Charlotte
Rebecca Meyers, Stemilt Growers LLC
Bill Pollard, IV, Save-A-Lot Food Stores
T.J. Rahll, Jr., Edward G. Rahll & Sons, Inc.
During the year-long fellowship, participants 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 expansive trips to Michigan and Ontario, Washington, DC and Wilmington, DE, Yuma, AZ, and Chicago, IL, where the class will graduate at the 2014 United Fresh Convention.

"We are proud to extend our congratulations to the newest class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program, and thank all of the candidates who applied for this year's program," said Leadership Advisory Committee Chairman and Board Member Lisa Strube of Strube Celery & Vegetable Company. "We applaud their commitment to developing themselves into future leaders of the fresh produce industry."

For questions or additional information on the Produce Industry Leadership Program, please contact Shannon Young, United's education manager, at 202-303-3400.

Produce Managers and Foodservice Professionals Celebrated at United Fresh 2013
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The 2013 Produce Retail Manager Award winners are recognized for their dedication to promoting fresh produce on the frontlines.
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The 2013 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners are honored for their creative and innovative use of fresh produce.

At this year's Chairman's Reception and Annual Produce Celebration, United Fresh honored 25 Retail Produce Manager Award winners. These men and women are on the front line of the produce industry, boosting consumption with brilliant displays and innovative promotions. The winners represented 21 different supermarket chains, commissaries and independent retail stores in 16 states and Canada. While at the show, several of the winners shared insights as to how their creative merchandising strategies engage consumers and ultimately sell more produce.

The 2013 Retail Produce Manager Award winners are:

Ryan Acosta, Raley's Family of Fine Stores, Sacramento, CA
Louis Brock, Quality Food Centers, Seattle, WA
Manson Camp, Weis Markets, Williamsport, PA 
Kevin Cazeaux, Rouses Markets, New Orleans, LA
Lavern Clark, Brookshire Grocery Company, Alexandria, LA
Darren Estermann, Food Maxx/Save Mart Supermarkets, Visalia, CA 
David Fitts, Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Charlotte, NC
Jim Fleming, Price Chopper/Golub Corporation, Newburgh, NY
Ken Gaylord, Safeway Stores, Portland, OR
Aaron Geohring, Ray's Food Place, Grants Pass, OR
Donna Goodman, Daniel's Sentry Store, Whitewater, WI
James Gordy, Safeway Stores, Auburn, CA
Doug Groendyke, King's Supermarkets, Gillette, NJ
Rick Hogan, Hugo's Family Marketplace, Grand Forks, ND
Deborah Horton, Ft. Worth NAS Commissary, Fort Worth, TX
Pat Kapelka, The Kroger Company, Tiffin, OH
James May, Food City/K-VA-T Food Stores, South Williamson, KY
Maureen McCarthy, Ft. Bragg North Commissary, Ft. Bragg, NC
Nathan Mineart, Hy-Vee, Inc., East Marion, IA
Nicholas Olivieri, Pathmark, Bethpage, NY
Bill Power, Dominion, St John's, NFL, Canada
Brett Reed, Hy-Vee, Inc., Windsor Heights, IA
Frankie Thacker, Food City/K-VA-T Food Stores, Rogersville, TN
Jeffrey Vocatura, Big Y Foods, Stratford, CT
Corey Watkins, Raley's Family of Fine Stores, Elk Grove, CA

Six foodservice professionals were presented the Excellence in Foodservice Awards at the event. The award honors chefs and their companies for their innovative and influential use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. The winners also participated in a panel discussion, "Restaurant Flavors and Trends From the Best," that explored the trends that are capturing the attention of consumers across foodservice sectors.

The 2013 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winners are:

Business in Industry & Colleges: Chef Joshua Distenfeld, Executive Chef, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD
Casual & Family Dining Restaurants:  Chef Christopher John Raucci, Corporate Chef, Ted's Montana Grill, Atlanta, GA
Fine Dining Restaurants: Chef John Johnson, Regional Executive Chef, St. Louis, Pinnacle Entertainment Company, St. Louis, MO
Hotels & Healthcare: Chef Chad Tyler Brodkin, The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, Benchmark Hospitality International, Blacksburg, VA
K-12 School Foodservice: Kevin LaPittus, Director of Child Nutrition Services, Encinitas Union School District, Encinitas, CA 

Quick Service Restaurants: Chef Ethan Kawasaki, Executive Chef, Café Zupas, Sandy, UT

Exhibitors at United Fresh Donate More Than 32,000 Pounds of Fresh Produce

After this year's show in San Diego, exhibitors donated more than 32,000 pounds of fresh produce more from the convention floor to benefit those in need serviced by Feeding America San Diego's partner agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and other emergency feeding centers.

"United Fresh and exhibitors at the show are proud to support the Feeding America network of food banks," said John Toner, United Fresh vice president of convention & industry relations. "Fresh produce is an important part of a healthy diet and the donation highlights how the industry is helping those in need each and every day."
Bringing nutritious foods to families in need is a large part of the work that Feeding America and its network of 202 food bank and 61,000 partner agencies do on a daily basis. In all, the nationwide Feeding America Network serves about 37 million people in need.

"Feeding America thanks the United Fresh Produce Association and its 2013 exhibitor donors for their more than 32,000 pounds of donations to Feeding America San Diego. We would also like to thank Freeman and IFCO for their additional logistics support and assistance," said Bob Aiken, President and CEO of Feeding America.

See You in Chicago for United Fresh 2014!

Chicago is the must-attend destination for the produce industry in 2014!

Save the date now for United Fresh 2014, June 10-13 in Chicago. The United Fresh trade show and convention will co-locate with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) to bring together the retail and fresh produce industries and highlight the shared interest in providing high quality, fresh selections to consumers. The show will offer retail and produce executives unprecedented value in the opportunity to connect with customers and industry counterparts.

"We're excited to once again co-locate with FMI for United Fresh 2014 in Chicago," said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO. "The co-location of the United and FMI shows is a perfect setting for produce and retail executives to explore the flavors, variety, innovation and sales growth opportunities available in fresh produce."

We're looking forward to seeing you there! For more information, please contact John Toner, vice president of convention & industry relations, at 202-303-3424.

United CEO Stenzel Stresses Access to Fresh Produce at Sustainability Forum
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United CEO Tom Stenzel speaks on the importance of improving access to fresh produce on the Future of Food panel.

United CEO Tom Stenzel participated in a live online forum, Wednesday, May 22 about sustainable agriculture, nutrition efforts and farming innovations.  Other expert speakers at The "Future of Food 2013: Building a Sustainable Food System" forum, hosted by the Washington Post,  included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio;  Louis Finkel, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs,  Grocery Manufacturers Association; Sandra Ford, President, School Nutrition Association; and others.

"For fruits and vegetables, it's not a production issue, it's an access issue," said Stenzel at the forum. "We're working closely with private sector, with retail, and government to try to get more healthy food to those consumers who are hungry.  In the SNAP and WIC and other feeding programs, we need to make sure that the available dollars go to healthy foods."

More than 150 people attended the event, including invited guests from Capitol Hill, industry and other stakeholders from agriculture, sustainability and nutrition fields.

"Our biggest innovation in our sector is increasing the access to fresh fruits and vegetables," added Stenzel.  "So getting fresh fruits and vegetables to people where they are … kids and schools … are a big part of that. We're seeing a revolution in terms of people's choices."

More information about the forum is available here.

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

  • Divine Flavor, Rico Rico, AZ
  • Gold Star Foods, Ontario, CA
  • Integrated Foods, LLC, Frisco, TX
  • Jack Family Farms, Brawley, CA
  • Marketing Management, Inc., Fort Worth, TX
  • MC Solutions, Kingsburg, 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

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

Produce Inspection Training Program
June 3-7, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Washington Public Policy Conference
Sept 30 – Oct 2, Washington, DC