March 6, 2014
In Today's Issue:
WIC Improvements Mean More Fruits and Vegetables for Young Children

United Fresh applauds USDA’s commitment to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, and their infants and young children who participate in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)program.  Last Friday, USDA published the Final Rule on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Revisions to the WIC Food Package.

The rule increases the cash-value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers for children to $8 per month; allows WIC mothers to receive a voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred baby foods for their older infants; and allows WIC mothers to add cash (split tender) at check out to their fruit and vegetable vouchers to maximize their purchases.

“All of these provisions will increase fruit and vegetable consumption among WIC mothers and their young children,” said United President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “Our only disappointment is that we continue to believe that WIC vouchers should include all fresh fruits and vegetables, without added fats, sugar or sodium, including fresh white potatoes.”      

For more than a decade, United Fresh has been a leading advocate for including fruits and vegetables in the WIC food packages. United played a leadership role in urging USDA and Congress to update WIC food packages to include fruits and vegetables, and has worked with the National WIC Association and advocates to increase the value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers for mothers and children.  

The CDC has recently recognized the important role that the WIC Program’s nutrition education and food package changes that added healthy items like fruits and vegetables has played in decreasing childhood obesity by 43 percent among 2-5 year olds.     

To learn more about United’s efforts to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables across the country, contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3403.


Dole-Meijer Partnership Yields Salad Bars for Five Detroit Schools

Dole and Meijer representatives celebrate their salad bar donation to the Cornerstone Charter Health High School in Detroit March 4. Those attending include Tom Willis (from left), CEO, Cornerstone Charter Schools; Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications, Dole; Brian Coates, senior produce buyer, Meijer; Cornerstone students; Tom Stenzel, CEO, United Fresh; Michael Griffie, school principal; and Diane Golzynski, Michigan Department of Education

Brian Coates, senior produce buyer, Meijer; Greg Taylor, US vice president sales, Dole Food Company; and Tom Stenzel, CEO, United Fresh, tour a Meijer store following the salad bar donation.

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel joined representatives from the Dole Food Company and Meijer in Detroit Tuesday for a press conference at the Cornerstone Charter Health High School highlighting the two companies’ donation of five salad bars in the area. 

The new donations advance the United Fresh Foundation’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to MIDWEST Schools  campaign working to donate salad bars in six Midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The Midwest campaign is in support of United’s upcoming convention this June in Chicago.

“Meijer is best known for the freshness it offers in the grocery aisles, and we are pleased to partner with Dole to improve access to fresh produce with these salad bars,” said Meijer Senior Produce Buyer Brian Coates at the press conference. “With these salad bars, Meijer aims to really impact the lives of students by making healthy food options readily available at school.”

Following the school event, Coates, Stenzel and Dole US Vice President of Sales Greg Taylor toured the new Meijer store on 8 Mile Road in Detroit to see how the company is bringing fresh produce to this underserved community. 

To learn more about United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools campaign, click here or contact Andrew Marshall at (202) 303-3407.

Healthier School Lunches Increase Vegetable and Fruit Consumption

A Harvard study published this week shows that healthier school lunch standards result in student’s selecting and consuming more fruits and vegetables and that healthier nutrition standards have not increased plate waste. This study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health is the first to examine the implications of the new school meal nutrition standards on student selection, consumption and plate waste.  

“This study provides evidence that the new school lunch standards are improving student’s eating habits and that students are eating more fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United vice president of nutrition and health. “United Fresh supports the new school lunch and breakfast standards which significantly increase the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables served every day.  Schools nationwide are improving the healthfulness of school meals and working to create healthier school food environments. As this study points out, legislation to weaken the new nutrition standards is not warranted.”

USDA’s new nutrition standards for the National School Lunch went into effect at the beginning of school-year 2012-13. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examined student eating behavior in   four low-income urban schools in Massachusetts before and after the new USDA guidelines went into effect.

Planes, Trains and Produce Trucks Are No Match for the Polar Vortex

Weather has been a huge factor for the produce industry this year with multiple winter storms and droughts that have impacted key growing regions across the country. United’s Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations, discussed issues facing the produce industry with United Retail Foodservice Board Chairman Randy Scott and Vice Chairman Sean Picquelle. Below is a segment from that discussion.

Oberman: Due to the nature of these record-setting cold temperatures, how was the supply chain compromised in comparison to other weather related emergencies (i.e., snow storms, hurricanes, heat waves)?

Scott: This one was a little different in that it impacted the entire country as opposed to just one region. In the past a Midwest snowstorm may impact our inbound trucks, but nothing else. A freeze in the West would impact product availability only. This one impacted our product availability, our inbound trucks, our outbound trucks, and all of this on top of increased demand due to the weather in our immediate operating areas.

Picquelle: In terms of raw material, so far the impact has not been as bad as it could have been. I was watching the weather the last couple of days to see how far south the cold would reach. The two commodities for our supply chain that are coming out of Florida are bell peppers and tomatoes at this time. Bell peppers have increased in pricing due to freeze damage in Belle Glade, FL but they are starting to come back down after a couple of weeks of demand exceeded supplies. Tomatoes have not experienced any sort of market spikes yet. Should this type of weather continue, the tomatoes could become a supply issue. During this time of year, Mexico exports these two commodities, along with other winter vegetables to the United States. Their weather has been stable so they have ramped up supplies in order to keep markets from skyrocketing.

Read the complete discussion in the upcoming Winter 2014 Retail-Foodservice Newsletter. The newsletter also offers stories on the Retail Produce Manager Award Program and the New Fresh Insights for Foodservice Report.


Don’t Miss Your Chance to Connect with Customers and Help Your Company Succeed

No matter which segment of the industry you’re in, United Fresh 2014 will connect you with customers and help your company grow and succeed! There’s something for everyone on the United Fresh 2014 show floor - innovative fresh produce marketers, leading tools and technology for the fresh produce processing and packing industries, food safety industry solutions and business suites for driving valuable conversations.

Planning your trip to Chicago has never been easier. United has compiled a number of tips and activities that will make your trip simple and hassle free. United Fresh 2014 attendees can take advantage of a wide range of hotel options – giving you plenty of options and rates so you can choose the hotel best for you and your team. Book your housing online today – discounts end May 16.

Register today for United Fresh 2014!

Learn How to Limit Your Liability and Manage Customer Expectations in a Recall Situation

United’s Recall Ready Training Workshops cover the essential elements you'll need to manage a recall. Sign up today for the United Fresh Recall Ready Training Workshop in Issaquah, WA on April 9-10. Meeting facilities have been generously provided by Costco at their corporate headquarters.

The workshop will help your team learn the fundamentals of a recall, the role of the FDA and how to work with them, and strategies for limiting your liability and managing customer expectations. You will also learn the importance of using a communications plan to effectively communicate to the industry, your customers, consumers and news media in the event of a recall.

United’s workshops combine recall protocols and communication management principles to ensure that both your technical food safety team and communication and marketing team work together effectively during the entire recall event. Register Your Team Today! Visit the Recall Ready web page to learn more about recall plan review and development, mock recall training and other services offered through United’s Recall Ready Program.


New Member Welcome

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

  • Compac Sorting Equipment Inc., Visalia, CA
  • Nicho Produce Co., Inc., Edinburg, TX

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:

  • Organicgirl
  • Coast Citrus Distributors
  • The Fresh Group, Ltd.
  • Windset Farms

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:

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

Produce GAPs Harmonization Post-Harvest Operations Train the Trainer Workshop
March 11-12, Taco Bell Headquarters, Irvine, CA

Technical Working Group Meeting
March 13, Taco Bell Headquarters, Irvine, CA

Spring Government Relations Council Meeting
April 8-10, Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, DC

Recall Ready Training Workshop
April 9-10, Costco Headquarters, Issaquah, WA

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