January 2, 2014
In Today's Issue:
United Webinar Focuses on Limiting Legal Exposure in Recalls

United members and the produce industry are invited to register for this webinar, hosted by the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board. Each month, United's volunteer leader groups will tackle a new topic on key issues impacting the industry.  January's webinar, hosted by the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board, will address "Strategies for Limiting Your Legal Exposure in Recalls."  It will take place on Thursday, January 16 at 11:00 AM Pacific / 2:00 PM Eastern.

This one-hour webinar will help produce companies understand the legal consequences from recall events and identify strategies that companies can use to avoid staggering financial losses and criminal charges in the future.

Attorneys David Durkin, Olsson, Frank & Weeda, and Danny Gurwitz, Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez, will examine the scope of America's food safety laws, review real-world case studies showing successful legal strategies, and address the most critical civil and criminal liability issues facing fresh produce companies today.

Registration for this valuable webinar is free to United Fresh members and $50 for non-members.  Pre-registration is required and registration is limited.

The next webinar in the series, hosted by the Food Safety & Technology Council, is scheduled for Friday, February 21. It will address how to use FDA's Quantitative Risk Assessment to validate alternative food safety limits to those published in the proposed Produce Safety Rule.

For more information on the January 16th webinar, visit http://www.unitedfresh.org/webinar1. For questions about the webinar series, please contact Shannon Young, Education Manager, at 202-303-3405.

New Guide from United Helps Fresh Produce Operations Search and Destroy Listeria

Two recent outbreaks have demonstrated the vulnerability of some fresh and fresh-cut operations to Listeria harborage leading to product contamination. Some customers and supplier operations have implemented Listeria testing programs without a good understanding of their scientific validity. While the processed foods industry and FDA have long had guidance for Listeria monitoring and control, guidance applicable to the unique conditions of fresh produce handling operations has been lacking. The United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council has developed a document, Guidance on Environmental Monitoring and Control of Listeria for the Fresh Produce Industry, that helps guide the fresh produce industry in developing practical and scientifically sound "search and destroy" programs for Listeria. The guide is free and available online for United members and non-members.

The guide is applicable to all fresh and fresh-cut produce operations, including field and field packing, packinghouse and other produce handling operations such as re-pack, value-added and transport/distribution to retail/foodservice. All produce handling operations are encouraged to use this guide to 1) determine their level of vulnerability to Listeria harborage that may lead to produce contamination, and 2) if vulnerable, to develop and implement an effective Listeria monitoring and control program.

To download a free copy of the Guidance on Environmental Monitoring and Control of Listeria for the Fresh Produce Industry, visit the United website. If you have questions regarding food safety, please contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3411.


Act Today and Save $500 on Registration for the 2014 Produce Executive Development Program

Don’t miss out on early registration for the 2014 Produce Executive Development Program at Cornell University. The deadline is January 17, 2014 to receive the early registration discount of more than $500. The produce industry is rapidly evolving and demands on executives are more heightened than ever. Success in today's ever-changing business environment requires thoughtful and decisive executive leadership. The Produce Executive Development Program, presented in partnership with the esteemed Cornell University Food Industry Management Program, is specifically designed to help today's produce industry leaders sharpen their business expertise and executive skill set. The program is a game-changing experience that sets up participants for personal and career success.

Watch the video to hear what industry leaders are saying about their Cornell experience. Space is limited to 40 participants, so register today! For more information, please contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405.


Submit Your Nominations Today for the 2014 Retail Produce Manager Awards

Send in your nomination today to honor exceptional produce managers on the front line in supermarkets working every day to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. United Fresh will award 25 of the industry’s top retail produce managers with the 2014 Retail Produce Managers Awards. These managers will be honored for their commitment to fresh produce, innovative merchandising, community service and customer satisfaction. Award winners will be recognized at the United Fresh 2014 Convention in Chicago, IL.

The 25 winning produce managers and their corporate produce directors will receive complimentary roundtrip airfare to Chicago for the United Fresh 2014 Convention, full conference registration for the convention, two nights lodging, a commemorative plaque and recognition at the Produce Celebration Gala held at the convention. Five grand prize winners will also receive $1,000. 

Nominations forms must be received no later than February 28, 2014. Nomination forms can be downloaded from the United website and submitted online

Join Us in Honoring Joseph G. Procacci with United’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Join us in honoring produce industry legend Joseph G. Procacci with United’s Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2014 Winter Leadership Meetings this January at the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami. 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. All proceeds from the event support United Fresh Foundation programs that increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to children – a critical step in launching a lifetime of healthy choices!

The United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals with a career of distinguished service to the fresh produce industry; commitment and leadership in their businesses, 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. 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. If you have questions, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


The State of the Fresh-Cut Industry in 2014

The end of 2013 provides a great opportunity for us to explore current state of the fresh-cut industry from the fresh-cut processor perspective. What challenges and obstacles does the industry need to overcome? Where does opportunity lie? United’s Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, spoke with several leaders in the fresh-cut industry to find answers to these questions and many more. These leaders include Brent Scattini, vice president of sales for Gold Coast Packing;  Pat Mele III, executive vice president and CFO of RLB Food Distributors/FreshPro; and Katy Blowers, Business Development Project Manager for Church Brothers Produce. Below is an excerpt of a lively discussion from those who have a finger on the pulse of the fresh-cut industry.

Dan: How would you describe the state of the fresh-cut industry?

Katy: It’s all about convenience. People want healthy choices that are convenient and easy to prepare and eat. The growing options and variety of fresh-cut products are stimulating the growth of our industry and encouraging more and more people to eat fresh.

Brent: Consumers also seem to be embracing the latest product introductions in a way we haven’t seen before. Some of the ideas that producers were working on 5 to 7 years ago with limited success, have now become major components in their product lines.

Dan: What are the major opportunities and strengths of fresh cut?

Katy: I think our nation’s interest in reducing childhood obesity has also created an opportunity for our industry. It’s the perfect time for the fresh-cut industry to grow and promote fresh produce. We can provide healthy options that not only taste good, but are easy to incorporate into our daily diets! Our industry has so much variety, that it’s just a matter of exposing children and adults to all of the healthy options in an accessible way.

Pat:  We definitely have an opportunity to reach out to kids with a greater variety of healthy, fresh foods. There is an incredible opportunity to target school lunch programs with more fresh produce. I believe there will be long-term growth in demand as we continue to teach young children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Dan: What are the major threats and challenges?

Brent: Food safety is probably our greatest challenge. The Food Safety Modernization Act will present challenges for producers both large and small – and will dictate how many of us conduct our business in the future. The ultimate cost of implementing these programs could affect cost structures in a way that will not be welcome by the consumer. It’s a double-edged sword. We are committed to safe, healthy, wholesome products for the consumer; however, it has to be done in an economically feasible fashion that the consumer can afford.

Dan: How are fresh-cut products going to be more profitable in the future?

Katy: The question becomes how much is your time and your health worth? People often use their busy schedules and hectic lives as excuses for not making healthy food choices. A fresh-cut product provides a healthy option and nutritional benefits in a quick and convenient way. By eliminating the time and effort to prepare the healthier choice, we are creating a win-win situation!

Pat: It all goes back to convenience. We believe the consumer is paying a higher price for the convenience we offer them. The high quality gets them to buy it again at that particular outlet and creates outlet loyalty. The challenge is that first purchase is based on price. When quality is higher and price is higher, buyers will often hesitate on buying the product.

To read the complete article in the February issue of Fresh Cut magazine, visit the Fresh Cut magazine website. If you have questions, please contact Dan Vaché at 425-629-6271.

Make Your 2014 New Year's Resolution to Be More Sustainable

Let 2014 be the year of sustainability for your business! United’s Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment tool can help producers better understand sustainability principles and learn how to enhance them in their operations. This free guide can help producers catalog many of the sustainable practices they are already engaged in, and track progress over time. The Guide assists producers in understanding four key areas of sustainability - stewardship of resources, environmental impacts, social accountability, and economic success/viability. The Guide also helps producers share their story about practices and processes that many already incorporate into their operations.

Starting this month, United’s grower-shippers are also invited to participate in a pilot group for United’s Sustainability Guide. Growers who participate in the 2014 pilot group will use the Guide in their operations and then provide feedback and suggestions to help shape improvements for future guidance. Use of the Guide is voluntary and growers will not be asked to submit their own sustainability data.

The Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment was developed by the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Global Produce Sustainability, with the contributions of the Center's Sustainability Advisory Board, a group of United Fresh volunteer leaders representing a broad spectrum of the produce industry.

More information about the United Foundation’s Center for Global Sustainability can be found on the United Fresh Foundation website. United members can download a copy of the Guide for no charge. To sign up for the pilot group, please contact Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3425.


FDA Discusses the Food Sources of Foodborne Illnesses in Upcoming Webinar

The FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are offering a free webinar on attributing foodborne illnesses to food sources on Friday, January 10, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EST). The webinar, Are Outbreak Illnesses Representative of Sporadic Illnesses?, will describe the most recent activities of the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), a tri-agency partnership focused on projects related to foodborne illnesses. Presenters will share an analysis comparing the characteristics of illnesses associated with foodborne outbreaks with those that are not linked to outbreaks.

The free webinar is open to the public, but attendees must register on or before January 6, 2014. To register for the presentation, visit the IFSAC website.


New Member Welcome

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

  • Patterson Companies, Plant City, FL

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.


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:

  • Euler Hermes
  • FreshPoint Inc.
  • Monsanto
  • Renaissance Food Group
  • Sunkist Growers, Inc.

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

2014 Winter Leadership Meetings
Jan 21-23, Trump National Doral Miami, Miami, FL

The Salute to Joe Procacci Golf Tournament and Produce Legends Dinner
Jan 21, 2014, Trump National Doral Miami, Miami, FL

United Fresh Special Activities at Fruit Logistica 2014
Feb 5-7, 2014, Berlin, Germany

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