December 5, 2013
In Today's Issue:
FreshFacts® on Retail, Q3 Report Now Available for Members

According to the current edition of United's FreshFacts® on Retail report, the third quarter of 2013 saw growth in fruit and vegetable dollar sales, compared to last year.  Demand for organic fruits and vegetables also grew with increases in dollar sales and volume.
Other highlights of this quarter's retail report include:

  • Nine of the top 10 fruits had increases in dollar sales this quarter. Specialty fruits had the largest dollar increase at 13.7%.
  • Nine of the top 10 vegetables also posted increases in dollar sales, again spurred by average retail price increases in many cases. Potatoes had the largest increase at 11.2%.
  • Fresh-cut fruits and value-added fruits showed growth in dollar sales and volume.
  • Among value-added vegetables, all sub-categories posted dollar and volume growth compared to Q3 2012. The value-added vegetable category with the largest dollar growth was side dish with 13.9%.

This quarter's report also features a spotlight on the top-selling holiday produce items and shares a breakdown of how different produce categories perform during the week of Christmas.  The complete FreshFacts® on Retail report is free to United Fresh members and can be accessed here.

The FreshFacts® on Retail report which is 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, deli, organic and other produce categories. For more information, please contact Shannon Young, United Fresh education manager, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405 or


Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools Brings More Fruits and Vegetables to 2,300 DC Students

United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel joins Kathy Murray, General Manager Mid-Atlantic for Revolution Foods (left), Buzz Morrissey, Vice President of Sales for Hearn Kirkwood, and Marty Quinn, National Accounts Director for Hearn Kirkwood.

Today, United Fresh hosted a news conference to commemorate the donation of salad bars to seven DC public schools by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. The lunch-time event at Burrville Elementary School in Northeast DC marked the latest in a series of salad bar donations to DC-area schools.

The salad bars dedicated today will benefit 2,300 students by increasing their access to fresh fruits and vegetables at school lunch. Kaiser Permanente and USDA praised United Fresh's leadership in improving the health and wellness of children in DC.

"United Fresh is honored to partner with Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States to improve children's eating habits and health. Salad bars are an effective strategy for increasing children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and are the easiest way for schools to meet the new federal nutrition standards for school lunch that emphasize more fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition & health, United Fresh Produce Association. 
"Through our partnership with the United Fresh Foundation, we are increasing students' daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables," said Celeste James, Director of Community Health Initiatives for Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. "If we want children to practice healthy eating behaviors we need to ensure that healthy options are readily available," added James. 

"Partners like Kaiser Permanente and the United Fresh Foundation are a vital component of the healthy changes underway in America's schools through First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative," said Audrey Rowe, USDA Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service.

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States awarded a $50,000grant to the United Fresh Foundation to provide salad bars to seven DC elementary schools. The United Fresh Foundation is a founding partner of Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools which supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation. To date, more than 2,800 schools nationwide have received salad bars from the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign.


USDA to End Plans for National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it is ending consideration of a national leafy greens marketing agreement because of FDA's rulemaking for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). A national leafy greens agreement had been proposed by members of the produce industry in 2009 to build on the success of the California marketing agreement and to bring national consistency to leafy greens production.

With the new FDA regulations for produce safety under development, USDA has determined that a separate rulemaking for a national leafy greens marketing agreement would likely be affected by FDA's action.  USDA did not rule out revisiting a potential marketing agreement after FDA rules are finalized, should the industry want to pursue that plan.

"While United had supported the concept of a national marketing agreement to provide consistency across the industry, we understand USDA's decision at this time," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president, public policy, for United Fresh. "We look forward to continuing our work with USDA and FDA to ensure food safety for fresh produce across the country."

Please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400 for more information.

Take a Moment to Urge Your Republican Lawmaker to Take Action on Immigration

United is asking members in Republican districts to voice their support for immigration reform to their elected officials. Congress has reached several milestones this year for advancing landmark immigration reform legislation, including passage of comprehensive reform in the Senate. However, with the full House of Representatives still set to take action on immigration reform, the specialty crop industry must ensure that policymakers know that consideration of immigration reform provides a much-needed opportunity for a new federal agriculture guest worker program to replace the current broken system. If the momentum of 2013 is going to carry into 2014 and lead to the change in immigration policy that we need, we HAVE to keep speaking up. 

Congressman David Valadao of California is circulating a letter to be sent by lawmakers to the majority leadership of the House of Representatives urging them to bring immigration reform to the full House for action during this session of Congress. It is critical that the Valadao letter have as many signatures as possible. Your help is urgently needed to urge Members of Congress to sign this letter. To send a quick email to your representative, urging him or her to sign on, click here. Please send your message to your Representative by December 11. 

If you have any questions or need additional information, feel free to contact Julie Manes at 202- 303-3404. Thank you for your help and thank you for all you do for the industry! 

Exploring Differences between European and American Retailers and Suppliers: A Conversation with Minos Athanassiadis

In his more than 20 years in the produce industry, Minos Athanassiadis, managing partner of Fresh Link Group, was instrumental in the launch of the Dole Fresh brand to the vegetable side of the produce aisle. As president of Underwood Ranches, Minos developed and established the fresh-cut mixed lettuce category and helped to launch the first packaged produce sold by Trader Joe's and Costco. United's Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations, asked Minos about differences he sees among European and American retailers and suppliers. We also discussed trends Minos sees in the industry. The full interview will be included in the upcoming Fresh Cut magazine. Below features an excerpt of the conversation.

United Fresh: You shared that you have relationships with European-based retailers and their suppliers.  Can you share an overview on the unique aspects of European retailers and their philosophy on fresh-cut product merchandising?

Minos: European consumers shop more often than US consumers, which implies that maintaining a 14-21 day shelf life is not as critical to European retailers as it is to U.S. retailers. In addition, European consumers have different culinary preferences which are often driven by national tastes.  For example, the salad mixes in Europe are made with a lot more butter lettuce and endives while iceberg lettuce salads are not very popular.  Along similar lines, shredded celery root and washed lamb's lettuce are popular items in northern Europe but difficult to find in the U.S.  
The European retail industry in general is more highly concentrated than in the U.S.  Fewer but large retailers means that these retailers can command market power over suppliers and consumers alike, which results in fewer and efficient suppliers and higher prices to consumers than in the U.S.

Finally, most European fresh-cut manufacturers don't pack their product on their own brand or label but rather in the private and controlled label of their retail customers.  This has the effect of reducing the processors' market power even further since they can be replaced and the ultimate consumer would not be aware of the change in suppliers.

United Fresh: What is the primary difference between North American and European processors in terms of servicing their clients or additional requirements they face?

Minos: While Western Europe is similar to the U.S. in terms of size, consumers in each individual country have very different tastes.  This makes it difficult from a fresh-cut processor's perspective to treat the European Union (EU) as a whole. Processors who distribute throughout the European Union have regional processing plants and logistics capabilities.

The EU is stricter in terms of regulating, inspecting and enforcing food safety rules which also include traceability procedures.  In addition, in part because of the popularity of retailer private labels, retailers are more far proactive in prescribing standard operating procedures to processors than U.S. retailers.

Finally, a major difference between U.S. and European retailers is that in the EU the supermarket chain is responsible to the consumer for poor quality or lapses in food safety, while in the U.S. supermarket chains typically refer consumers to the processor or the grower.

Check out the January issue of Fresh Cut magazine to read the complete interview with Minos Athanassiadis.


United Fresh to Exhibit and Host Member Reception at Fruit Logistica in Berlin

United Fresh will again be an exhibitor at Fruit Logistica 2014, which will be held in Berlin, Germany on February 5-7. The United Fresh Stand, located in Hall 5.2/D-11, serves as the destination for members and produce industry leaders to meet with United Fresh staff and colleagues to learn about industry opportunities at United Fresh 2014 (June 10-13 in Chicago, IL), as well as executive development programs for global produce leaders and programs in food safety and supply chain management, research in consumer trends, fresh-cut and convenience trends and more. 

United Fresh will also host its annual Global Reception on Wednesday, February 5 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the United Fresh stand. We invite all Fruit Logistica attendees to join us for an evening of good cheer with our members from around the world. Thank you to Locus Traxx for their generous sponsorship of this event. For more information about the reception or United Fresh's presence at Fruit Logistica, please contact Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410 or


Join the Produce Industry in Honoring Legend Joe Procacci

Hundreds of members of the produce industry will be coming together in Miami for the Produce Legends Dinner to honor industry icon Joe Procacci, Chairman and CEO of Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation/Garden State Farms, with the United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award on January 21, 2014. The gala is a great time to honor a legend and connect with produce industry leaders from across the country. You'll hear from Joe's colleagues, friends and family about his lasting impact on the industry, as well as Joe's recollections on his lifetime of leadership of industry involvement.

The United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have showcased a career of distinguished service to the fresh produce industry, and leadership in their business, community and the industry overall. All the proceeds from the event support the United Fresh Foundation's programs to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to children. For more information about the Produce Legends Dinner, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416. 


The Program That Is a Game-Changing Experience

The 2014 United Fresh Produce Executive Development Program is an intense five-day program that focuses on issues critical to both personal development and the larger challenges and opportunities faced by today's executives. Each day's sessions comes to life through guest speakers, case study exploration, working groups and discussion. Prior to the program, attendees will complete personal assessment tools to help ensure a customized experience and personalized feedback.
Jon-Christopher Myers, Director of Business Development at Eurofresh, believed participating in this program was a game changing experience. "Not only did it have a major impact on my business outlook, but the lessons also resonated in my personal life," said Myers. "I highly recommend it to anyone who is ready to challenge themselves in a new way.

Watch a video to hear what other industry leaders are saying about their Cornell experience.

The Executive Development Program takes place March 9-14, 2014 at the Cornell University Statler Hotel & Executive Conference Center in Ithaca, NY. Registration for the course is limited to 40 attendees to ensure a dynamic yet intimate learning environment. Register before January 17, 2014 and save over $500 on tuition.

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.


USDA Announces Call for Nominations to the 2013-2015 Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee

USDA recently announced a call for nominations to the 2013-2015 Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee.  The Committee examines a broad range of issues impacting the fruit and vegetable industry and provides counsel and recommendations to the USDA on how its programs can better meet industry needs.

The Committee has up to 25 members who serve terms of two or three years.  Committee members represent the full fruit and vegetable industry supply chain, including growers, shippers, wholesalers, brokers, retailers, processors, fresh cut processors and foodservice suppliers.  Members also include representatives of state agencies involved in organic and non-organic fresh fruits and vegetables at the local, regional and national levels; and state departments of agriculture and trade associations.

"This Committee is extremely valuable for the expertise and real-life perspective the members bring to USDA about what's happening in the industry and how the Department of Agriculture's policies make it easier or more difficult for our members to do their jobs.  USDA takes the input from Committee members very seriously and it is great to see the Committee being rechartered," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh.

United Fresh will be submitting a list of recommended nominees. If you wish to be added to the United Fresh list of recommended nominees, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416  by 5 pm on December 20. All nominations must also be submitted directly to USDA by the individual, to submit your nomination click here. For further information or questions, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3409.


United Member Maureen Torrey Marshall Says Being an Effective Educator Is Just as Important as Being a Good Farmer

United features members spotlights on its website that showcase the diverse experience and perspectives of our members. Below is a preview of United's current member spotlight: Maureen Torrey Marshall.

Maureen Torrey Marshall, 2006 United Fresh co-chairwoman and Torrey Farms co-owner, believes the main challenge facing the produce industry is educating policymakers who shape agricultural policies and regulations. "We need to educate the people making these decisions," said Maureen. "They don't realize the impact their decisions have on agricultural producers."  She explains that it takes personal interaction with lawmakers and telling them our story. Maureen has used a number of strategies to connect with her elected officials, including fly-in visits with Washington legislators and meetings with members of urban Chambers of Commerce to discuss how having an unstable agricultural workforce affects their districts.

Maureen has been a strong supporter of the produce industry as a long-time member and former chairwoman of United Fresh. "My time spent on the United Fresh Board of Directors and as chairwoman was a great, rewarding experience," said Maureen. "I had the opportunity to partner with outstanding, dedicated volunteers and staff working together on issues that face the produce industry everyday and in the future." This year, Growing Produce magazine honored Marshall with the 2013 Grower Achievement Award for the outstanding work Torrey Farms owners have done on behalf of the produce industry at United's Washington Public Policy Conference.

What is Maureen's advice for the next generation? "Stay in tune to what's happening in the business and the consumer marketplace," she explains. "And realize that being an effective educator and communicator it just as important as being a good farmer."

Read more about Maureen Torrey Marshall in the member spotlight "If You Know Maureen, You Know United" on United's website


Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2014 Supporters

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 this week to the 2014 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • Andrew Smith Company
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
  • Crunch Pak Sliced Apples
  • Mann Packing Company
  • The Nunes Company
  • Wiers Farm/Dutch Maid Logistics
  • Winter Garden Produce
  • Yerecic Label

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