September 19, 2013
In Today's Issue:
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to Address Need for Immigration Reform and Farm Bill at Washington Public Policy Conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will address the immediate need for passage of immigration reform legislation and the Farm Bill at the Opening General Session Breakfast of United’s Washington Public Policy Conference on Tuesday, October 1. Secretary Vilsack’s address comes at a critical time as lawmakers work to reconcile two very different versions of the Farm Bill, as well as pass an immigration reform measure in the House to ensure a stable workforce for the produce industry.

“We are very pleased to have Secretary Vilsack speaking to United Fresh members as our industry works for passage of the Farm Bill and immigration reform legislation,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “Secretary Vilsack provides an important voice on how we can advance legislation that is fundamental to our success as an industry.”

Secretary Vilsack and the USDA have been integral to improving child nutrition in schools across the country through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Further, the USDA’s new Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards support the availability of more healthful school snack foods to children.

Before coming to DC, Secretary Vilsack served in almost every level of government. He began in the role of mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, served in Iowa’s Senate from 1993 to 1999 and then served as Iowa’s governor from 1999 to 2007, Iowa’s first Democratic governor in more than 30 years.

Secretary Vilsack’s address will open the Washington Public Policy Conference, which brings together produce industry leaders to advocate on Capitol Hill for vital public policies needed to keep America’s produce industry competitive. During the conference, produce industry leaders meet with key members of Congress and their staffs, as well as officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

To learn more about the Washington Public Policy Conference, visit the United Fresh website at If you have questions, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

United Fresh Foundation Announces 2013 Family Business Scholarship Recipients

The United Fresh Foundation is pleased to announce the four recipients of the 2013 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarships: Bridget Bengard, Bengard Ranch Inc., Salinas, CA; Dan Henry, W. D. Henry & Sons, Eden, NY; Robert Holthouse, Holthouse Farms of Ohio Inc., Willard, OH; and Kimball Redd, Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Salt Lake City, UT.

Now in its thirteenth year, the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program provides representatives from family-owned businesses the opportunity to attend United’s Washington Public Policy Conference. The four scholarship recipients will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to participate in the conference from September 30 – October 2.

The Washington Public Policy Conference brings together produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to learn from each other and share ideas with congressional lawmakers, their staffs and top regulatory officers. Scholarship recipients will have an opportunity to network with hundreds of produce industry executives from across the country, as well as gain an understanding of the political process and how to advocate for their interests.

“The Washington Public Policy Conference is the time when key political leaders in DC hear what’s most important to our produce members,” said United Fresh Foundation Chairman Steve Grinstead, Grinstead Enterprises. “We look forward to the four scholarship recipients engaging in this grassroots event and sharing their perspectives.”

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program is made possible through a generous grant from Frieda’s, Inc. to the United Fresh Foundation. The program was founded in 2001 by sisters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in honor of their mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, to expand opportunities for representatives from family businesses to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference. Each year, applicants for the program are reviewed by the scholarship committee, based on a number of criteria including the candidate’s interest in advocacy work and commitment to the produce industry. New applications for the program are accepted each summer.
“We are incredibly thankful for the generous contribution and leadership provided by the Caplan family through this program to ensure that family-owned businesses in our industry have a strong voice,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, United Fresh Foundation. “This program brings family business members to the epicenter of policy decision-making in DC and equips them with tools to advocate for the issues directly impacting family businesses in the produce industry.”

To learn more about the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program, visit the United Fresh website. For more information about the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Fresh Produce Sales Up Again for Second Quarter of 2013

For the second quarter this year, fresh produce sales are up compared to last year’s figures. Organic fruits and vegetables lead the pack in growth with strong gains in sales and volume according to FreshFacts® on Retail, a quarterly report from United Fresh that tracks retail produce sales and performance.

Fruits and vegetables saw gains in sales this quarter, driven by strong increases in retail prices. Fruits posted the strongest growth in sales and retail prices, exceeding 2012 figures by 4.4 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively, but posted a 3.2 percent decline in volume sales.

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:

  • Eight of the top 10 fruits posted increases in dollar sales, driven in most cases by increases in retail prices.
  • Seven of the top 10 vegetables are up in dollar sales this quarter, buoyed in many cases by increases to retail prices.
  • Organic fruits and vegetables show strong growth this quarter, with increases in dollar sales of 34.9 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively.

Each FreshFacts® report also features a Quarterly Spotlight on an industry segment or notable trend. This quarter, an investigation of product branding within produce departments provides insight into shifts in the number of unbranded, branded and private label products. Recent trends show that the presence of branded products and private labels is growing within produce departments.

For more information about how to obtain the report, please contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405.

United CEO Urges National Academies of Science Panel to Focus on Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel encouraged a National Academies of Science Committee to focus their attention on increasing Americans’ consumption of fruits and vegetables on Monday. The committee brought together United’s Stenzel and other food supply, nutrition and environmental experts to provide key information on the current state of America’s food system.

“Despite great strides, the U.S. food system is failing the American public who today consume less than half the fruits and vegetables recommended by health authorities,” United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel told a National Academies of Sciences Committee on Monday. 

Stenzel was invited to present an overview of the fruit and vegetable industry, and make recommendations to a scientific committee of the Institute of Medicine examining the health, environmental and social effects of the U.S. food system. In his speech to the committee and about 100 other stakeholders gathered for the two-day meeting, Stenzel urged policymakers to focus on building demand for fruits and vegetables through environmental change such as the WIC program, school meals and other programs focused on children. Stenzel’s remarks included challenges facing the industry today such as labor supply and food safety. 


FDA Begins Public Meetings on Foreign Supplier, Third-Party Certification Proposed Rules

Today in Washington, DC, FDA began their series of three public meetings on the two most recent proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). During this meeting, attendees discussed the two proposed rules aimed at strengthening assurances that imported foods meets the same safety standards as foods produced domestically. The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs proposal would establish requirements for importers to verify that their foreign suppliers are implementing the modern, prevention-oriented food safety practices called for by FSMA.

The second proposed rule on the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies would strengthen the quality, objectivity and transparency of foreign food safety audits on which many U.S. food companies and importers currently rely to help manage the safety of their global food supply chains. United’s Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy, attended today’s meeting on these two important proposed rules. 

“This is an important opportunity to listen to FDA about their views of drafting these rules, and for stakeholders such as United Fresh members to provide comments on their initial thoughts about the proposed rules,” said Guenther.

In addition, FDA just announced the dates and locations of two additional public meetings being held on October 10-11 at the Hyatt Regency Miami and October 22-23 at the Hilton Long Beach Meetings Center. Comments are due on both of these proposed rules November 26, 2013. 

To learn more about the FDA FSMA rules, visit the United Fresh website and the FDA FSMA website.


Produce Executives Learn to Manage Product Recalls Successfully at United’s Recall Ready Training Workshop in Monterey
United’s Dr. David Gombas talks with Marjorie Schultz, FDA Recall Coordinator for the San Francisco District, at the Recall Ready Training Workshop

This week United Fresh staff taught produce industry leaders how to successfully manage virtually any recall situation at the Recall Ready Training Workshop in Monterey, CA. The workshop had more than 40 attendees who learned how to work with the FDA during a recall, manage customer expectations and minimize their liability.

“The strong attendance for the Recall Ready Training Workshop in Monterey included people from every segment of the supply chain, including growers, processors, distributors and retailers. This rich mix of people enabled us to discuss how different sectors of our industry are affected during a recall,” said United’s Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology.

An FDA recall official provided an overview of recall classifications, what’s expected of companies facing a recall and advice for working with FDA staff during a recall event. “I don’t want people to be afraid to call me; we can help you,” said Marjorie Schultz, district recall coordinator (San Francisco), FDA. “It’s always better to notify FDA of any concern you have. We may advise you that it’s not a reportable issue. That’s better than having an investigator write a report about your issue later.”

“Be sure you have a recall plan in place,” Schultz added in her final advice to the workshop participants.

Food safety, legal and communications experts provided participants with an understanding of the fundamentals of product recalls, as well as their rights and responsibilities during a recall. Speakers included United’s Dr. David Gombas; Amy Philpott, senior director at Watson Green and David Durkin, principal attorney for OFW Law.

"You had better call your lawyer before you agree to a ‘hold harmless’ or indemnification clause in your customer agreement because you are essentially betting the company,” said Durkin in his presentation on limiting liability in recalls.

On the first day of the workshop, participants developed a crisis management plan and went through an interactive traceability training exercise. During the second day, participants experienced a recall simulation that gave them a sample of the stressful challenges that must be managed during a fast-paced recall event.

“The simulation is a chance for participants to think on their feet and apply what they learned in the workshop,” said United’s Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication. “This workshop underscores how vital it is to have a robust recall plan and to conduct regular recall simulations for your company team.”

Limited space is still available for the next Recall Ready Training Workshop being held in Philadelphia, PA on November 6-7. To learn more about registering for the workshop in Philadelphia or future workshops, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.  Visit United’s website to learn more about all of the Recall Ready services for the produce industry.


United Fresh Highlights Food Safety, Ag Policy and New Sales Opportunities in School Foodservice at EPC-NEPC Alliance Event

Tom Stenzel gives the inaugural address to a packed ballroom at the New England and Eastern Produce Council's Alliance event in Mystic, CT.

Tuesday, United Fresh joined members of the Eastern Produce Council and New England Produce Council (EPC-NEPC) in Mystic, CT for their first ever alliance event.  United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel provided an update on the current state of affairs on reauthorization of the Farm Bill, immigration reform and FDA’s draft regulations for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Additionally, Stenzel hosted Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Steven Reviczky and New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher in a discussion of what fresh produce means to each state’s economy. They also explored how Commissioner Reviczky and Secretary Fisher interact with the produce industry in their respective states, and the opportunities and challenges facing both states. Stenzel and the audience asked questions ranging from how growers in their states are reacting to FSMA and planning for implementation to the current labor situation. Audience members also asked about what they are doing to advocate for immigration reform, the “locally grown” phenomenon, new ways to increase produce consumption in schools and how they work with the wholesale and retail segments of our industry. 

Following the panel with Commissioner Reviczky and Secretary Fisher, United’s Andrew Marshall, grassroots and policy manager, led a discussion with local school foodservice directors on current policy changes that are creating opportunities to expand school foodservice.  The panel included three foodservice directors from Connecticut schools: Tim Cipriano, Farmington Public Schools; Tim Prosinski, Berlin Public Schools; Gail Sharry, New Haven Public Schools and Stephen O’Brien, the current director of food and menu management for the New York City Department of Education Office of School Food.  Rich Adams, vice president of sales, FreshPoint Connecticut, also participated on the panel to share his company’s experience with increasing produce sales to schools. EPC and NEPC members learned about new policy changes in school meals that are dramatically increasing the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables that must be served at school lunch, as well as other school food programs where more fresh fruit and vegetables will have to be served. 

To learn how United Fresh and local schools are working together to increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, please contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.


Doctors Prescribe Patients Fruits and Vegetables In New Program

In New York City, doctors are giving their patients prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables to alleviate their health issues. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program gives community healthcare providers fruit and vegetable prescriptions, which doctors can give to their patients. These patients can redeem their prescriptions at local farmers markets. Wholesome Wave, hospitals, farmers markets and New York City officials are piloting this program in underserved communities across the city.

“We all know that eating more fruits and vegetables can make us healthier. The prescription program is a great way for doctors to send the message to their patients that eating fresh fruits and vegetables is critical to living a healthy life,” said United’s Ray Gilmer, senior vice president of issues management & communication.

A feasibility study found that the prescription program had a significant effect on participants’ shopping and eating habits, as well as their knowledge about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Wholesome Wave has successfully piloted the program in many states across the nation, including Massachusetts, Maine, California, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.


New Member Welcome

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

  • Advanced Biological Marketing, Inc., Van Wert, OH
  • Forever Fresh, LLC, Pittsgrove, NJ
  • GloriAnn Farms, Inc., Tracy, CA
  • Hispanic Women in Agriculture Co-Op Inc., Vale, NC

United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the association and the produce industry. For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Upcoming United Fresh Events
day planner
Join us for events designed to grow your business:

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

2013 Fall Leadership Alumni Dinner (Invitation Only Event)
Oct 1, Clyde's of Gallery Place, Washington, DC

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

United Fresh 2014
June 10-13, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL