June 27, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Senate Passes Landmark Immigration Reform

United Fresh congratulates the Senate on the final vote of 68-32 to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The comprehensive immigration reform bill, passed June27, includes agricultural labor provisions that secure access to a stable, legal workforce.

"We applaud the Senate for seizing the opportunity to enact immigration reform that is desperately needed in the fresh produce industry and many other sectors of agriculture," said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO. "This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain, and boost the economy. We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers."

There are several key agricultural labor provisions included in the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate:

  • Current undocumented farm workers will be eligible to obtain legal status through a new Blue Card program if they choose to remain working in agriculture:
    • Ag workers who can document working in U.S. agriculture for a minimum of 100 workdays or 575 hours prior to December 31, 2012 can adjust to this new Blue Card status.
    • After a minimum of five years, workers who fulfill their Blue Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture will become eligible to apply for a Green Card, providing that they have no outstanding taxes, no convictions and pay a fine.
  • A new agricultural guest worker program will be established, with two work options:
    • An "At-Will" option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific job offer from an authorized agricultural employer, under a three-year visa. Employees will then be able to move within the country, working "at will" for any other authorized agricultural employer during that time. Employers must provide housing or a housing allowance to these workers.
    • A "Contract-Based" option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific contract for a specific amount of work from an authorized employer. This will also provide for a three-year visa, and require employers to provide housing or a housing allowance.
  • All guest workers will be paid an agreed-upon wage under the terms of this agreement.
  • There is a visa cap for the first five years of the program while current workers are participating in the Blue Card program. The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to modify that cap if circumstances in agricultural labor require.
  • The new program will be administered by the Department of Agriculture.

United would like to recognize the leadership and hard work shown by the Senate 'Gang of Eight' in shepherding this bill through the chamber and garnering broad-based, bipartisan support for the measure. In addition, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Marco Rubio, Michael Bennet and Orrin Hatch were instrumental in fostering the agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers and ensuring that the agricultural provisions work for both producers and farm workers.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up immigration reform in July. United Fresh will continue to advocate for agriculture labor provisions as part of any broader reform package to ensure a stable workforce for our members and the entire fresh produce industry through grassroots efforts and continued cooperation with AWC and other stakeholders.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, or visit www.unitedfresh.org/labor.

Agriculture and U.S. Chamber Ads Urge Support for Senate Immigration Bill

Senator Marco Rubio is featured in a US Chamber of Commerce commercial urging the passage of immigration reform.

Leading up to today's Senate vote on the immigration reform measure, United Fresh and other founding members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition sponsored a series of issue advertisements to help rally support for the landmark bill. The ads, which ran in the Politico newspaper, one of Capitol Hill's most widely-read news sources, underscored the importance of immigration reform to support agricultural production and related jobs. The ads, which appeared on multiple dates in June, can be viewed on the AWC website.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also ran a commercial on national cable and local television stations. The ad, called "Conservative Leaders on Immigration Reform," featured Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky in addition to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin."What we have today is chaos. We have de facto amnesty," Sen. Rubio says in the ad. He also admits, "We all wish we didn't have this problem, but leaving it the way it is it's amnesty. We have to solve this problem."

The chamber concludes the ad by urging viewers to "support conservative immigration reforms" because they would "create jobs and economic growth" and to call senators to voice support.

"Looking ahead  to the House immigration reform debate, this kind of issue advertising, from agriculture and other business interests, is a vital strategy for getting our message to lawmakers and to voters," said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication at United. "At every opportunity, here in Washington and in the home districts, House lawmakers will need to hear from us about the vital importance of passing immigration reform."


Whole Foods Co-CEO, Industry Experts Predict Future of Fresh Produce

Walter Robb's insights into consumer trends and how to leverage them to build a loyal customer base are now available online.

Walter Robb, Whole Foods co-CEO, revealed the trends driving consumers towards increased fruit and vegetable consumption, touching upon various causes such as rising health care costs and the search for more nutrient dense options. In his keynote remarks at United Fresh 2013, now available online, he emphasized the importance of fresh produce: "The produce industry has the right product, at the right time," he said, drawing attention to the growing demand for fresh produce. "Fruits and vegetables are clearly the way forward."

Robb also pointed out several of the trends Whole Foods has observed, trends which they have leveraged to expand their loyal customer base. Shifting demographics, changing marketplace and delivery options, and technology were all cited as major drivers. Ultimately, according to Robb, the entire supply chain will need to "work on partnership, closing gaps, sharing information and tightening up the experience so the customer can be served with what he is looking for."

Hear more insights from the co-CEO of the successful retailer here.

The fresh produce industry is tuned in to the sea of changes in consumer preferences, as evidenced by the resources from several experts that are now available on the United Fresh 2013 website. Terry Soto, president and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, shared data on multi-cultural marketing and merchandising, an important demographic to understand. Other posted resources lay out the most up-to-date information on food safety, supply chain logistics issues, the local food movement, health care costs and more.

These expert presentations are now available online!

Free United Webinar Details Strategies to Safeguard Your Company in a Recall

Looking for a roadmap to safeguard your company against a recall? United Fresh will offer a Recall Ready Risk Management Webinar on July 10 to explore ways to prevent the catastrophic losses associated with recalls, contamination/adulteration, mislabeling and other scenarios. The session, "Managing Risk for Contamination and Recall Events," will feature expert speakers Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology, United Fresh; Jonathan Cohen, Partner, Gilbert LLP; and Michael Lieberman, Capital Risk Concepts; discussing the intricacies of varying insurance policies and endorsement options for government recalls and third-party indemnity.

The hour-long webinar will explore:

  • How certain types of insurance can yield a competitive advantage 
  • How to anticipate events that can disrupt your business or create liability 
  • Insurance endorsement options for government recalls and 3rd party indemnity 
  • Case law that demonstrates how companies incurred or avoided catastrophic losses 

Registration for the webinar is free to all – sign up today!

The Recall Ready Risk Management Webinar is one component of the Recall Ready Program, which also offers recall plan development and workshops to help produce industry companies prepare for and respond to virtually any recall event. The program is designed to leverage the expertise of the food industry's leading professionals in food safety, legal and regulatory counsel and crisis communication.

For more information, please visit www.unitedfresh.org/recallready or contact Erin Grether, government relations coordinator, at 202-303-3400.


Produce Industry Represented at Immigration Meeting with President Obama

(L-R) Kam Quarles, McDermott Will & Emory; Tom Stenzel, United Fresh, Stacey Berry, Jason Berry, Blueberry Farms of Georgia; and Robert Guenther, United Fresh, meet in advance of President Obama's immigration discussion with industry leaders.

On Monday, President Obama was joined by Jason Berry, owner of Blueberry Farms of Georgia and Berry Farms, along with other CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs for a discussion on the economic benefits of fixing the broken immigration system. The president and business representatives discussed their shared belief that achieving immigration reform holds meaningful economic promise for the United States, creating a fair playing field for employers and workers alike. 

"Jason carried a very strong message to President Obama and other business leaders that agriculture is clearly facing a crisis under the current immigration system," said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO. "To have an industry leader, someone on the ground who is experiencing firsthand the challenges our industry is facing with the lack of immigration reform, speak with the president is an invaluable contribution to the ongoing debate here in Washington, DC."

The president reiterated his support for the continued bipartisan efforts in Congress and made clear he will continue to urge congressional leaders to take action in order to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, improve our fiscal outlook and create new opportunity for Americans everywhere.

United Fresh has organized a series of meetings between industry leaders and the offices of key lawmakers over the past few weeks to urge their support of immigration reform. The efforts will be ongoing as the Senate votes on immigration reform this week and with the House expected to take up the issue in August.

To participate in the Grassroots Action Network and speak up for access to a stable work force for the fresh produce industry, please visit www.unitedfresh.org/labor or contact Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy, at 202-303-3400.


School Snacks Standards Will Make More Fresh Produce Available to Students

More healthy fruit and vegetable snack options are coming to schools with the issuance of the new nutritional standards. AP Photo by Paul Sakuma.

United Fresh applauds USDA's Smart Snacks in School standards to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages offered for sale to students in schools. The new nutrition standards, made final on June 27, apply to all foods and beverages sold a la carte, in school vending machines, stores, and snack bars and must be implemented by July 1, 2014. The new standards will increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products for sale to students, and reduce the amount of calories, fat, sodium, and sugar. Designed to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, foods available for sale will now complement healthier school meals and help create healthier school food environments for our nation's school children.

"Increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks in schools will go a long way towards creating a healthy school food environment and improving nutrition for 32 million school children," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United's vice president of nutrition & health."In addition, this will drive opportunities for increased produce sales to schools, especially for fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in convenient single servings." 

This new school snack standard complements and supports the recent improvements to school meals and underscores United's commitment to improving child nutrition. The landmark new school lunch regulations, which were implemented at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables served every day and emphasized providing a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week.

United Fresh has championed healthier school food environments over the past decade. United is the lead advocate for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a fresh fruit and vegetable snack to more than 4 million low-income elementary school children every day. The Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, of which United is a founding member, also aims to increase children's fruit and vegetable consumption and has donated salad bars to more than 2,500 schools towards achieving that goal.

United Fresh will work with our members, nutrition advocates and stakeholders to maximize opportunities for schools to offer students more fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables options. For more information, please see USDA's information on Smart Snacks in School or contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Fresh Produce Sales, Volume Up in Q1 FreshFacts® on Retail

Fresh produce saw positive dollar and volume sales in the first quarter of 2013, a strong start to the year. Organic fruits and vegetables and value-added categories also posted positive overall dollar and volume growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest edition of FreshFacts® on Retail, the quarterly retail research report of the United Fresh Foundation.

A 4.9% increase in average retail price led to a 7% increase in average dollar sales for the produce department and a volume increase of 2% compared to Q1 2012. Fruit increased dollar sales nearly 8% in Q1 2013, with vegetable dollar growth close behind at 5.7%. Total volume for fruits and vegetables increased 1.4% and 2.1%, respectively.

The FreshFacts® on Retail report, produced in partnership with the Nielsen Perishables Group and sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce, measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities, as well as value-added, organic and other produce categories.

Highlights of this quarter's report include:

  • Nine of the top 10 fruits posted dollar growth that exceeded Q1 2012. Citrus, apples, specialty fruits and melons each experienced double-digit increases that generally corresponded with higher retail prices.
  • Half of the top 10 vegetable categories increased both dollar and volume sales compared to the same quarter last year, with nine categories showing strong increased dollar sales regardless of relatively modest retail price increases.
  • Value-added fruits increased dollar and volume sales by 10.7% and 2.9%, respectively. Fresh-cut fruit continued to dominate with 81.5% of category sales during Q1 2013.
  • Three of the top four value-added vegetable categories increased volume sales by double digits, supported by steady average retail pricing. Overall, value-added vegetables increased dollar sales 12.7% and volume sales 12.1% during Q1 2013
  • Organic fruits increased dollar sales 24.4% and organic vegetables increased dollar sales 14.9%.

The complete FreshFacts® on Retail report can be downloaded free of charge for all United Fresh members ($50 for non-members) by clicking here. For more information about how to obtain the report, please contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405 or syoung@unitedfresh.org. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.

Court Sets Timeline for FSMA Implementation

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California this week issued a timeline for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The schedule is the result of the August 2012 action of two consumer groups that sued FDA alleging that the implementation of FSMA was unnecessarily delayed.

"It's clear some are frustrated at the FSMA rulemaking process, but we can't be sure that this ruling will expedite the timeline," said Ray Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of issues management & communication. "We are continuing to gather input from  the industry and will submit comments from our thorough review process soon."

The court-issued schedule of deadlines is:

  • November 30, 2013: Publication in the Federal Register of all proposed rules not yet published
  • March 31, 2014: Close of all comment periods
  • June 30, 2016: Publication in the Federal Register of all final regulations
For more information, please visit www.unitedfresh.org/fsma or contact Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology, at 202-303-3400.

Membership Task Force Co-Chair Takes Immigration Reform to Heart

Jarrod Snider, pictured here with one of his sons, doesn't shy away from taking action in support of immigration reform.

Ever since Jarrod Snider attended the Washington Public Policy Conference for the first time more than a decade ago, immigration reform has been his top priority. He found that the trips to DC have helped to keep the issue at the forefront of discussion in Congress. As the Director of Vegetable Category Development for Richter & Company, Jarrod's concern is valid: he has to have product to deliver to his customers. Richter & Company is a "Family of Farms" that harvests peaches, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and Vidalia onions in Georgia, South Carolina, and West Virginia for distribution throughout the United States and to Mexico and Canada.

"Probably the single most important issue affecting our company right now is labor," he explained.  "Comprehensive immigration reform is something near and dear to my heart and we've been working closely with United to advance reform."

When Jarrod can't be in DC, he is still able to remind lawmakers that this legislation should be their top priority. "United is doing a lot of great things on our behalf to make this reform happen, but through the Grassroots Action Network, it is so easy to send the message to our senators and representatives. I see that email and I know we have to take action – and in three steps, fifteen seconds, I've contacted Capitol Hill and told them to get this done. That was huge."

His initiative and dedication to advancing the produce industry's top priorities make Jarrod 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 Jarrod, you know United.

To read more about Jarrod's industry involvement and his work at Richter & Company, continue reading his profile here. For perspectives from other industry leaders, click here.

Apply Now to Represent Your Family Business on Capitol Hill

The 2012 Caplan Family Business Scholarship Recipients with Karen Caplan (far left) and Jackie Caplan Wiggins (far right).

The United Fresh Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2013 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. The program awards up to four scholarships for employees of family-owned businesses to attend United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Public Policy Conference (WPPC) in October.

Scholarship recipients will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the WPPC, September 30 – October 2 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Washington Public Policy Conference brings together hundreds of produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to interact personally and share ideas with administration officials, congressional leaders and industry colleagues.

"This scholarship afforded such a unique opportunity to connect with our nation's lawmakers and gain a deeper understanding of the policy-making process, and how those policies impact my family business," said 2012 scholarship recipient TJ Rahll, Edward G. Rahll & Sons, Inc. "Walking the halls of Congress was an incredible experience and one that highlighted how important it is to be engaged so that our industry's voice is heard in DC." 

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. to the United Fresh Foundation by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in honor of their mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan. The program is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

To apply for a 2013 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, participants must complete an application form and written submission outlining why they want to attend the WPPC and what they hope to gain from the experience. Applicants must be employed by a family-owned business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing; the program is open to first-time attendees of the Washington Public Policy Conference.  The application can be downloaded here and must be received by July 31.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405, and for more information about WPPC, or to register, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

Recall Ready Webinar: Managing Risk for Contamination and Recall Events
July 10, Webinar

Produce Inspection Training Program
Sept 16-20, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Recall Ready Training Workshop
Sept 18-19, Embassy Suites Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA

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

Recall Ready Training Workshop
Nov 6-7, Hilton Hotel, Philadelphia, PA