January 16, 2014
In Today's Issue:
$1 Trillion Bill Would Provide 2014 Funding for Federal Government Functions Critical to Agriculture

Earlier this week, negotiators for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees announced an agreement on a $1 trillion comprehensive spending bill for Fiscal Year 2014. The measure will provide funding for all functions of the federal government, including those highly relevant to agriculture. The House passed the omnibus spending measure Tuesday. The Senate is expected to consider the measure before the end of the week. If the measure passes the Senate and is signed by the President, it would remove the risk of another government shutdown in 2014.

Here are some highlights from the bill and accompanying explanatory statement.

  • $20 million is allocated to combat citrus greening
  • Over $24 million is allocated for the National Clean Plant Network to provide clean plant materials to orchard, vineyard and other growers
  • Over $900 million is allocated for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
  • Over $19 billion is allocated for child nutrition programs

The authors of the bill expressed concern that the FDA cost estimates for implementing provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), particularly Preventive Controls, are significantly underestimated. They urge the agency to ensure food safety improvements are economically feasible to the agency and industry.

"It is certainly encouraging to see members of the House and Senate come together in a too-rare display of bipartisanship," said Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at United Fresh. "Getting this measure passed and signed into law, would ensure that key government agencies that regulate the produce industry are funded and that some regular order will return to the government funding process. It means that, along with every other federal agency, USDA and FDA will be funded and produce providers will not have to deal with the challenge of trying to do business while the government agencies they work with the most are operating on short-term, uncertain funding."


United Urges Increase in Produce Consumption in Testimony to 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee

On Tuesday, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United's vice president of nutrition and health, presented oral testimony on the importance of strong fruit and vegetable recommendations to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in Bethesda, MD. The Committee, which consists of 15 nationally known experts, is reviewing current scientific evidence in order to develop recommendations for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).

In her testimony, Dr. DiSogra noted that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides important health promotion and disease prevention benefits. She explained that all Americans need to significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption. She also emphasized the connection between the Dietary Guidelines and public policy, highlighting how strong fruit and vegetable dietary recommendations have resulted in doubling the amount of fruits and vegetables in school meals. She also said the Dietary Guidelines lead to the inclusion of fruits and vegetables into the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food packages, supplemental foods provided to women and children who are at nutritional risk.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans isupdated every five years and published jointly by the USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These guidelines serve as the foundation for federal nutrition programs, standards and education. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is expected to be published in early 2015.
Learn more about the Dietary Guidelines by visiting their website. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3403.


Southeastern State Teams Identify Strategies to Combat Childhood Obesity through Increased Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

John Alpers (L), Royal Food Service, and Andrew Marshall, United Fresh, meet with the Tennessee state team during the Southeast Fruit and Vegetable Summit.

This week, United Fresh participated in the Southeast Fruit and Vegetable Training Summit: Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Access and Consumption in Schools, in Atlanta. The Summit, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brought together teams from eight southeast states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Summit explored new strategies and best practices to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in schools.

United Fresh member and a keynote speaker at the Summit, John Alpers, Vice President of Sales, Royal Food Service, in Atlanta, GA, discussed the importance of fostering business partnerships between produce distributors and school buyers and how produce distributors are working to source more local produce for schools through programs like PRO * ACT's Greener Fields Together.

Andrew Marshall, United's lead for Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, and Linette Dodson, Director of School Nutrition, Carrollton City Schools in Carrollton, GA, discussed how salad bars increase student's consumption of fruits and vegetables and encouraged state teams to promote salad bars.

CDC sponsored the Summit because the southeast has high rates of childhood obesity and children have inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption. United Fresh staff had worked with the CDC and the Association of Public Health Nutritionists to plan the Southeast Summit and hope that it can become a model for the rest of the country. Schools nationwide are now required to serve more fruits and vegetables and increasing student consumption is a big priority.

For more information, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3403 or Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.


Protect Your Customers and Your Business from Listeria

Deadly listeriosis outbreaks in 2010 and 2011, linked to fresh and fresh-cut produce, were a wake-up call for our industry that fresh produce handling facilities can be vulnerable to Listeria harborage leading to product contamination. United's new Guidance on Environmental Monitoring and Control of Listeria for the Fresh Produce Industry can help businesses develop 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 and foodservice outlets.

To download a free copy of the Listeria guide, visit our website. If you have questions regarding food safety, please contract Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3411.

Study Finds Four of the Top Five Produce Items Sold in the Deli Come from the Salads Category

A recent 2013 FreshFacts® on Retail study found that during the third quarter of that year, four of the top five produce items sold in the deli came from the deli salads category. Potato salad, cole slaw, potato sides, and other lettuce salads all increased in dollar sales. The only item that did not increase in sales during this time was deli salad bar. Learn more about the changes in retail produce sales and performance in the latest FreshFacts® on Retail.

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.

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 at 202-303-3405. For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Kelli Beckel at the Perishables Group at 773-929-7013.


Supermarket Executives Focus on Fresh Produce and Other Key Industry Issues

United President and CEO Tom Stenzel and United Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman participated this week in the annual FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, which brings together more than 500 retail executives to address key issues facing the industry.

"This is truly a senior level, 'top-to-top' event, allowing us the chance to talk informally with senior management of supermarket chains and independent retailers," said Stenzel.

The conference featured a number of sessions focused on the excitement and profitability of healthful products spearheaded by fruits and vegetables to showcase our industry at store level.

"Our partnership with the supermarket industry through FMI will help our members build ties with their retail customers outside of day-to-day sales pressures to better drive supply chain collaboration," said Oberman.

There's a lot of excitement at retail about our return to Chicago for the United Fresh and FMI Connect shows this June. United Fresh thanks Melissa's/World Variety Produce for providing gift baskets for the senior retail executives at the conference to encourage produce executives and buyers to attend the upcoming 2014 United Fresh Show June 10-13 in Chicago.

This Hands-On Workshop Will Help You Develop a Food Safety Plan Tailored to Fit Your Operation

United Fresh is partnering with the University of Georgia to offer a three-day workshop, GAPs, GMPs & HACCP Food Safety for the Fresh Produce Industry, on February 18-20, 2014 in Athens, GA. The produce-specific HACCP certification program is designed to teach participants how to develop and document Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Management Practices (GMPs) for farm and field operations, packing facilities, cold storage operations and produce shippers. Participants who successfully complete the course and the exam will receive HACCP certification.

"This is a great course for industry leaders who want to receive food safety training from leading experts in industry, government and academia," said Dr. David Gombas, United's senior vice president of food safety and technology. "It's also a great opportunity to get HACCP certification, which many buyers are now requiring of fresh produce suppliers."

Registration for the short course closes on February 5, 2014, so be sure to register today! To learn more about the short course and to register online, visit our website. If you have questions, please contact Eve Mayes at 706-542-2574.


United Fresh 2014: Are You Ready to Celebrate?

The fresh produce and retail industries will come together June 10 – 13 in Chicago. Get ready to celebrate Chicago style at United Fresh 2014!

Co-located with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), United Fresh 2014 will offer produce and retail executives unprecedented value in the opportunity to engage with customers and industry counterparts. An expanded show floor, featuring the newly added Midwest Produce Pavilion, Food Safety & Traceability Pavilion and the Expert Consultation Center, make it even easier even easier for buyers and sellers to connect. Education, networking and the great city of Chicago will round out an exceptional industry experience that will bring value to your business.

Watch your mailbox for the show preview!  For more information about United Fresh 2014, contact John Toner at 202-303-3424.


Now's Your Chance to Pay Tribute to Chefs that Creatively Showcase Fresh Produce in Their Dishes

Submit your nomination today for the 2014 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award. The award honors the industry's innovative chefs and foodservice operators across the country, and has honored more than 30 different individuals for their exceptional work in incorporating fresh produce in menu development, proper food safety and handling, engaging in community outreach and building an overall positive dining experience with fresh produce as a centerpiece.

This year, the Business in Industry & Colleges category will be expanded into two separate categories, "Business in Industry" and "Colleges & Universities." Chefs will also be honored in each of the following categories: Casual and Family Dining, Fine Dining Restaurants, Hotels & Healthcare Industry, K-12 Foodservice and Quick Service Restaurants.

The winning chefs and their corporate executives receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2014 on June 10-13 in Chicago. The winners will be honored at the Produce Celebration Gala, and the chefs will also participate in the education program at United Fresh 2014 to share their views on produce trends in foodservice. PRO*ACT will also make a donation to a charitable organization of each winner's choice.

Nominations must be submitted by February 28, 2014. More information on the nomination process is available online. For more information about the award program, please contact Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Interested in Learning More About the Retail Produce Managers Awards? Join Our Free Webinar!

Join United for a free webinar to learn about the Retail Produce Manager Awards Program and how to submit award nominations. This event will provide an overview of the program, offer advice on how to submit nominations, and review criteria used by the awards committee to select the winning retail produce managers.

The 2014 Retail Produce Managers Awards Program will recognize 25 outstanding retail produce managers. Winners will be honored at the United Fresh 2014 convention held in Chicago on June 10-13. The nomination period is now open until February 28, 2014.

The webinar will be held on Thursday, February 6. 2014 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. US/Eastern time. To learn more about the webinar and register online, visit our website.


Join Us for Fun in the Sun Next Week in Miami for the Produce Legends Dinner Honoring Joe Procacci

Join us on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at Trump National Doral Miami to honor Joe Procacci at the Produce Legends Dinner. Earlier that day, The Salute to Joe Procacci Golf Tournament will be held on the championship golf course. All proceeds from the events 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!

Limited tickets are still available for the Produce Legends Dinner and golf tournament. Don't wait to order your tickets today! For more information about purchasing tickets, please contact Angela Tiwari, United's political affairs manager, at atiwari@unitedfresh.org.


Only One Week Left to Submit Offer to AMS to Sell Fresh Fruit for the National School Lunch Program

USDA is soliciting offers to sell fresh fruit for use in the National School Lunch Program and other federal food and nutrition assistance programs. Offers are due to USDA by January 22, 2014 at 1 pm Central Time. USDA plans to announce successful offers by midnight on January 30, 2014.

This solicitation is focused on small business vendors with a business size of 500 employees or less. Vendors or subcontractors who are supplying fresh fruit are required to complete the USDA AMS FVP Fresh Produce Branch Good Handling Practices certification process. They also are required to undergo the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

To view the solicitation, click here. You can learn more about USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service Fruit and Vegetable Programs by visiting their website.

New Member Welcome

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

  • COLEAD America Inc., Albany, CA
  • Factor IV Solutions, Atascadero, CA
  • Sunsation Farms, Inc., Monterey, CA
  • Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), Alexandria, VA

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:

  • Fox Packaging
  • McEntire Produce
  • San Miguel Produce

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

United Fresh Webinar Series: Strategies for Limiting Your Legal Exposure in Recalls
Jan 16

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