Novemeber 7, 2013
In Today's Issue:
United Honors Joseph G. Procacci with Lifetime Achievement Award

United Fresh will honor Joseph G. (Joe) Procacci with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its 2014 Winter Leadership Meetings this January at the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami, FL. The award will be presented on January 21 at the Produce Legends Dinner, an annual event hosted by the United Fresh Foundation to recognize a career of lasting achievement in the produce industry. The evening will support the Foundation's programs that are investing in the next generation to increase their produce consumption.

Joe Procacci started his career in the produce industry at the young age of 8, when he and his brothers sold fruits and vegetables from push carts after school. In 1948, Joe and his brothers, Michael and Pat, started a tomato repacking business in the cellar of their parents' home and named the company Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation. Over time, the company diversified its products and added other fruits and vegetables, and ventured into value-added products.  In 1998, Joe became the first to market grape tomatoes coast to coast when he obtained exclusive worldwide rights to the Santa F1 Variety grape tomato seed.  In 2002, he continued to expand into proprietary varieties with the launch of the UglyRipe® Heirloom Tomato.

Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation was built on family, a tradition that continued when Joe's son, Joseph Michael (J.M.), joined the family business.  He was later joined by Joe's two daughters, Rita and Loretta.  Loretta left the company to raise her young family while J.M. and Rita remain active within the company today.

Joe, J.M. and Rita not only shared a passion for produce, but shared a desire to make a difference in their communities.  Between 1992 and 2006, they worked together through the "Friends of Brian" Foundation to help raise 1.3 million dollars to fund a chair for the Craniofacial Department at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The following year, they began working with the "Friends of Bo" Foundation and helped raise $100,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer and Hope Lodge.

Today, Joe Procacci is Chairman and CEO of Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation/Garden State Farms, Inc., and continues to work with his children in the industry he loves. The family business that began humbly now grows and ships approximately 20 percent of all tomatoes sold in the United States, and sells wholesale produce from coast to coast.

Not only has Joe been a leader in his family business, he has also been a leader in the produce industry. He is a past board member of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and is past president of the Philadelphia Food Terminal Corporation and the Philadelphia Credit Bureau. In 1995, he served as Chairman of the United Government Relations Committee, during which time he helped lead efforts to preserve the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act.

Currently, Joe serves as Chairman of the National Association of Perishable Agriculture Receivers and is on the boards of the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market, Eastern Produce Council, and The Philadelphia Produce Credit Bureau. Throughout his career he has received countless awards, including Produce Man of the Year in 1995 by The Packer and Man of the Year in 2004 by the Eastern Produce Council for the New York Area. 
"Joe Procacci is a true legend in the produce industry," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "He has not only been a leader in building the produce wholesale business, but growing the entire industry and leading it forward.  His passion for the industry, his stamina and work ethic make him an incredible role model."

"It's a great honor to receive this award," said Mr. Procacci. "I've been in the produce business my whole life, since I was a little boy. The business is in my blood and I've been so lucky to work in the industry I love with my family along my side."

The United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have showcased a career of distinguished service to the fresh produce industry; commitment and leadership in their business, community and the industry overall; significant impact on the growth and success of the industry; and demonstrated achievements that have made a lasting difference for those who will follow in their footsteps. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Frieda Rapoport Caplan of Frieda's, Inc. in 2013, Reggie Griffin of The Kroger Company in 2012, and was awarded posthumously in 2007 to Bob Grimm of Grimmway Farms.

Nominees for this year's award were solicited from among all United Fresh volunteer leaders and the honoree was selected by the Executive Committee of the United Fresh Board of Directors.

This year's Produce Legends Dinner honoring Joe Procacci will be held on Tuesday, January 21 at the Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida. Friends and associates who wish to join in honoring Joe are invited to participate in the dinner, as well as the Foundation's benefit golf tournament earlier that day.  For more information about the events, including golf, dinner tickets and sponsorships, click here.

United Volunteer Leaders Will Gather at the 2014 Winter Leadership Meetings This January

Industry leaders Matthew D'Arrigo, Vice President, D'Arrigo Brothers Company of New York, Inc. (left); Michael Muzyk, President, Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc.; Michael's wife Teresa Chaisson-Muzyk; and Harris Cutler, President, Race West Company come together for meetings, networking and camaraderie at the Winter Leadership Meetings.

The 2014 Winter Leadership Meetings will bring together over 300 industry leaders and volunteer members who serve on United Fresh boards and expert councils. These volunteer leaders represent United member companies throughout the entire produce supply chain. The Winter Leadership Meetings will be held at Trump National Doral Miami on January 22-23. The meetings will follow The Salute to Joe Procacci Golf Tournament, Produce Legends Dinner and Industry Tours on January 21.

The following market segment boards and expert councils will be holding meetings:

  • United Fresh Board of Directors
  • Finance & Business Management Council
  • Food Safety & Technology Council
  • Foundation Board of Directors
  • Fresh-Cut Processor Board
  • Government Relations Council
  • Grower-Shipper Board
  • Member Relations Task Force
  • Nutrition & Health Council
  • Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council
  • Retail-Foodservice Board
  • Supply Chain Logistics Council
  • Wholesaler-Distributor Board

If you do not currently serve on one of the United Fresh volunteer boards or councils, and are interested in sitting in on the meetings to gain a deeper understanding of the work these volunteer leaders do that benefit the broader United Fresh membership, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Maureen Torrey Marshall Shares Immigration Reform Strategies with USDA and Agriculture Industry Leaders

Maureen Torrey Marshall, 2006 United Fresh co-chairwoman and Torrey Farms co-owner, shared how current immigration policies have impacted her family farm as part of a distinguished panel of USDA officials and industry leaders this week. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz led the discussion with agriculture and farm labor leaders on efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Marshall shared with the group how Torrey Farms, a 10,000-acre fresh market vegetable, dairy and grain farm operation, has been forced to shift its production because of an unreliable workforce.

"The current labor situation is turning growers away from labor intensive crops," said Marshall. "In my business that has meant diverting a thousand acres of onions to a thousand acres of field corn. As a result, 48 people are out of work."

Marshall explained that educating legislators about how farms in their districts are being affected by current immigration policies is critical to helping pass immigration reform legislation. Marshall discussed effective strategies she has used to connect with her elected officials, including fly-in visits with Washington legislators and meetings with urban Chambers of Commerce to discuss how the unstable agricultural workforce affects their districts. Marshall also meets with agricultural industry leaders throughout the supply chain who rely on producers as their customers, such as farm machinery retailers, to explain how they will be impacted if current immigration policies aren't modified.

Marshall is a longtime advocate for public policies that impact the produce industry, including immigration reform and the Farm Bill. This year, United honored Marshall with the 2013 Grower Achievement Award for the outstanding work Torrey Farms owners have done on behalf of the produce industry.

During the discussion, USDA leaders encouraged agricultural industry leaders to continue telling their stories to legislators because legislators need to understand the importance of passing immigration reform as soon as possible. United's Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy, agrees that time is of the essence.

"The House is in only in session for 16 more days in 2013," said Guenther. "We need to keep talking with elected officials and advocating for immigration reform so we don't lose the momentum we've gained for passing comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate."

United CEO Discusses Ag Policy with Monterey Community Leaders

Members of the 2013 AgKnowledge Class learn about Monterey County environmental issues.

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel joined former California Secretary of Agriculture Bill Lyons last week to discuss national and state perspectives on agricultural policy with the graduating fellows of the Monterey, CA-based AgKnowledge program. AgKnowledge is a year-long agricultural educational program for community leaders outside of agriculture, sponsored by Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner and the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California Foundation.

"I can't think of a more on-target endeavor than reaching out to non-ag leaders to share the real-world challenges of growing fresh fruits and vegetables," said Stenzel. "Bill is a long-time friend, and it was great for us to sit and talk about our industry's challenges with these community leaders and see their understanding and appreciation grows for what our members do every day to bring the healthiest and greatest-tasting fruits and vegetables to the public. Congratulations to Ag Commissioner Eric Lauritzen, Jim Bogart and the Grower-Shipper Association for hosting this important program."

To learn more about the program, please visit the Grower-Shipper Association website at


Members Learn Best Strategies for Working with FDA at Recall Ready Workshop

From left, Anne Johnson, acting district director, FDA, discusses recall planning with David Durkin, United Fresh counsel; David Lennon, Dole Fresh Fruit; and Pepe Martinez, Dole Food Co., at United's Recall Ready Training Workshop in Philadelphia.

United Fresh members learned valuable recall advice, directly from FDA staff and industry experts, during United's Recall Ready Training Workshop this week in Philadelphia. United's Recall Ready team shared critical advice for how to successfully manage a variety of recall situations during United's final recall workshop of the year. Attendees learned how to work with the FDA during a recall, manage customer expectations and minimize their liability.

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, senior vice president, food safety and technology; Amy Philpott, senior director at Watson Green and David Durkin, principal attorney for OFW Law.

A highlight of the workshop was the presentation by Anne Johnson, acting district director (Philadelphia) for the FDA. Ms. Johnson gave a candid overview of FDA's objectives when investigating potential recalls, and offered advice for how to prepare for FDA inspections or other actions. "The law provides the responsible party an opportunity to voluntarily cease distribution and recall a food," said Johnson in her presentation. "If the responsible party refuses within the time and manner prescribed, the FDA can now mandate or order a recall."

Durkin addressed the authority of FDA to bring criminal cases such as the recent prosecution of the principals of Jensen Farms. "FDA has always had this authority and brings a few of these prosecutions every year, not just in foods, but also in medical devices and drugs."

Durkin added further advice for how to work with FDA inspectors. "If you hear 'failure to permit inspection' from the FDA, you should take a step back, call your lawyer and untangle the situation. Not permitting FDA to conduct an inspection is a prohibited act."

On the first day of the workshop, participants learned the process for developing 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 workshop participants probably learn as much from each other as they do from the recall experts," said United's Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication. "Going through the workshop process of tracing product, responding to FDA and news media, communicating with customers and consumers, plus understanding the complexities of contracts and insurance is essential experience for facing an actual recall."

United's Recall Ready suite of services includes recall plan review and development, and on-site training. Additionally, United's Recall Ready team can be retained to respond, on a 24/7 basis, to guide you in recall situations. Visit United's website to learn more about all of the Recall Ready services for the produce industry. If you have questions, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402. 


Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Holds First Harmonized Post-Harvest Training Session in Florida

The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative held its first training for the post-harvest harmonized standard, attracting more than 40 growers, buyers, retailers, state and private sector auditors and extension specialists to last week's workshop in Maitland, FL at Florida Fruit and Vegetables Association and Florida Tomato Exchange.

The workshop featured official training materials developed by the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Calibration Committee, designed to standardize food safety auditors' expectations of post-harvest packing, holding and cooling operations using the Harmonized Standards. Workshop leaders included Mario Velasco, Quality Certification Services; Michael Hari, Equicert; Jennifer Dougherty, USDA AMS Specialty Crops Inspection Division and Dr. David Gombas, United senior vice president of food safety and technology.

"The industry has gotten used to complying with a prescriptive checklist instead of building a food safety program that works with their culture," said Gombas. "The Harmonized Standards were designed to do the latter, allowing for flexibility while assuring that operations have considered all conditions and procedures important for food safety. The Post-harvest Operations Harmonized Standards were developed by the fresh produce industry to apply to any operation that holds, cools or packs fresh produce, and we continue to encourage audit operations to adopt them."

For more information about the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative and who is accepting audits using the Harmonized Standards, contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3411.


Brambles CEO Tom Gorman Addresses U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on Global Trade Policies

Last week, Tom Gorman, CEO of Brambles, addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on global supply chains and trade policies as part of the CEO Leadership Series in Washington, DC. Gorman discussed how trade agreements, such as the Transpacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, can contribute to a stronger global economy. He also emphasized the importance of an efficient and cost-effective supply chain worldwide.

United President & CEO Tom Stenzel and United Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner V met with Gorman at the event. "This was a great opportunity to learn more about the parent company's vision of CHEP and IFCO for the future," said Toner. "Their commitment to working with their produce partners has never been stronger when it comes to moving produce efficiently through the supply chain and their activities surrounding food waste."

Brambles is the world's leading provider of pallets, crates and containers through the CHEP and IFCO brands, and provider of information management solutions through the Recall brand. Brambles employs approximately 17,000 people in more than 50 countries.


Strube Celery & Vegetable Company Celebrates 100 Years of Business

Rob Strube (United Fresh Leadership Class 5) and TJ Fleming (United Fresh Leadership Class 10) talking with a local Chicago TV news outlet about the 60,000 lbs. of fresh produce donated.

Kate Maehr, Executive Director & CEO of the Great Chicago Food Depository; Bob Strube, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Strube; and United's John Toner, vice president of convention and industry relations

It was a big week for Strube Celery & Vegetable Company as it celebrated 100 years of business. To kick off the festivities, the Chicago-based wholesaler donated two tractor trailer loads of fresh produce to the Great Chicago Food Depository, a food bank founded by Bob Strube to fight hunger in the Cook County area. The Strube family collected the fresh produce from growers who donated their products to food bank, and the Strube family is incredibly thankful for the generous contributions.

United's Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, and United's John Toner V, vice president of convention and industry relations, joined in the celebrations and met with members of the market.

"It was great to be on hand as the Strube and Fleming families celebrated their history in fresh produce," said Toner. "Their commitment to their city and to the fresh produce industry that they love is second to none. It will be great for the industry to come together for United Fresh 2014 in Chicago and help them re-live the celebration."

Strube Celery & Vegetable Company is Chicago's largest and oldest receiver and distributor of a fresh fruits and vegetables. The company was established in 1913 by Fred Strube, and has grown over the years to become a nationally recognized model of a successful family business and produce wholesaler.




Rabobank Joins California Education Officials to Dedicate Salad Bar at Ventura County School

Tuesday, Rabobank executives visited Blanche Reynolds Elementary School in Ventura County to participate in a salad bar ribbon cutting ceremony with students, school administrators and officials from the California Department of Education (CDE). Rabobank and CDE officials met with students using the salad bar and discussed the importance of selecting fresh fruits and vegetable every day. The salad bar at Blanche Reynolds Elementary benefits over 400 students, providing children with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable options, from which they can pick and choose. This salad bar, along with 10 others, was donated by Rabobank to schools in Ventura, Kern and Hickman.

The donations supported the United Fresh Foundation’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools campaign, a special campaign organized last year by United Fresh to support salad bars for schools throughout California. At the campaign’s end, salad bars were donated to 436 California schools and Rabobank was a leading supporter.     
The salad bar at Blanche Reynolds Elementary, and other schools throughout the Ventura Unified School District, provides students with a wide range of healthy products, including lettuce mix, jicama, corn, black beans, tomato salsa, sliced oranges, carrots, beets, persimmons and apples, as well as other fruits and veggies that change throughout the year.

“With the salad bars and new federal standards for school meals requiring schools to dramatically increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables served each day, many school districts in California and across the country are using salad bars as an effective strategy for increasing children’s produce consumption”, said Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots manager. “It’s always a great day when produce companies can visit the school that’s received their salad bar donation, and experience the excitement on children’s faces as they make their own salad bar choices.”

Many in the California produce industry leaders have stepped forward to support salad bars for interested schools. There are currently over 100 California schools across the state interested in having salad bars for their students. California State Superintendent of Education Tom Torlakson has made salad bars a priority as part of his TEAM California for Healthy Kids initiative. Torlakson has engaged corporations, foundations and community groups to support school salad bars, while also ensuring training and other technical assistance is available from state child nutrition staff.  For more information about Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools or how to support salad bars for schools in your community, contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.

Five Days That Could Change Your Career

The 2014 United Fresh Produce Executive Development Program offers an exclusive opportunity to collaborate for five days with produce industry leaders and Ivy League professors dedicated to your learning experience. The program is presented in partnership with the Cornell University Food Industry Management Program, a program renowned for its teaching, research and executive education. The program takes place March 9-14 at the Cornell University Statler Hotel & Executive Conference Center in Ithaca, NY. Registration is limited to 40 participants. Don’t miss your chance to take part in this career-changing experience. Register today!

This program is designed to help today’s produce industry executives sharpen their business acumen and enhance their executive leadership skills. Participants can include mid- to senior-level produce executives, including presidents, CEOs, CFOs, senior vice presidents, vice president, directors and others with management experience.
To learn more about the 2014 Produce Executive Program, visit United’s website. If you have questions, feel free to contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405.


Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2013 Supporters
day planner

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 2014 Chairman’s Roundtable:

  • Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, OR
  • Four Seasons Family of Companies, Ephrata, PA
  • NatureSeal, Westport, CT

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 Senior Director of Membership Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.



Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

Produce Inspection Training Program
Jan 13-17, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

The Salute to Joe Procacci Golf Tournament and Produce Legends Dinner
Jan 21, Trump National Doral Miami, Miami, FL

2014 Produce Executive Development Program
Mar 9-14, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Produce Inspection Training Program
Jun 2-6, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

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

2014 Washington Public Policy Conference
Sep 8-10, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Produce Inspection Training Program
Sep 22-26, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA