April 24, 2014
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh Foundation to Host Fresh Produce Pavilion at 2014 School Nutrition Convention

The United Fresh Foundation will host the first Fresh Produce Pavilion at the upcoming School Nutrition Association Annual Convention in Boston, July 14-16, establishing a destination area on the trade show floor focused exclusively on promoting fresh fruits and vegetables.

The new pavilion will include exhibits by many United Fresh member companies and an educational learning area for school foodservice directors.  The Foundation's learning area is co-sponsored by PRO*ACT, which is bringing a number of produce distribution experts to serve as consultants for schools to answer all their produce-related questions, share guidance and tips for writing produce RFPs, and talk about the wide variety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables that are ideal for school foodservice.  The learning area will display salad bars for school meals and snacking options to comply with the new "Smart Snacks in Schools" standards that go into effect next school year.

"Our goal with this pavilion is help schools maximize their success in serving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel.  "We're committed to helping school foodservice directors understand the ins and outs of purchasing produce, as well as making sure they're aware of the many fresh and fresh-cut produce items that that can appeal to the next generation of produce consumers," he said.

"We appreciate PRO*ACT's assistance in staffing the learning area, where school foodservice directors will be able to consult with experts outside of their own procurement process.  This provides a low-pressure learning opportunity when buyers are not negotiating with their own vendors, but instead are learning from distributors who are not actually competing for their business," Stenzel said.

The 1,600 sq. ft. Fresh Produce Pavilion will feature 12 booths from member companies, in addition to the education learning area.  Current exhibitors include:

Chiquita Brands

Grimmway Farms

HMC Farms

Mushroom Council

National Watermelon Promotion Board


Pear Bureau Northwest


Ready Pac Foods

Only two booths remain available in the Pavilion, and are available on a first-come, first served basis.  Interested companies should contact Andrew Marshall (202) 303-3407, for more information or to reserve a booth.


Apply Now for Specialty Crop Block Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the availability of approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research, programs to increase demand, and more. United Fresh has been a leading advocate for these grants, which are a core provision for specialty crops made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program can be used to fund programs that enhance the markets for fruits and vegetables and other specialty crops,” said Robert Guenther senior vice president of public policy.

As directed by the Farm Bill, the block grants are now allocated to U.S. states and territories based on a formula that takes into consideration both specialty crop acreage and production value. Funding for the top three states: California - $19.8 million; Florida - $4.6 million; Washington - $4.3 million. Nearly all states are seeing an increase in funds from the previous set of block grants.

"These grants can be used for a variety of projects, including increasing access and/or consumption, food safety, new varieties, controlling pests/diseases, research that can help improve profitability and sustainability, and many others,” added Guenther.

Interested applicants should apply directly to their state department of agriculture. Several states have already published their requests for proposals, and the list of FY 2014 State Requests for Proposals is available on the AMS website.

For more information visit the AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program webpage or contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.

Win $25,000 at the Salute to Leadership Raffle

At the United Fresh 2014 convention in Chicago, one lucky person will win the $25,000 Grand Prize for the “Salute to Leadership Raffle.” 

Proceeds from the raffle support the United Fresh Foundation. Tickets are just $100 and winner’s name will be drawn at the Produce Celebration Gala on June 11. 

Winners don’t need to be present to win (though it’s more fun if you’re there in person!), and you can purchase as many tickets as you like! Don’t miss your chance to win! Buy Your Tickets Today! 

For more information about the Salute to Leadership Raffle, contact United's Education Manager, Shannon Young at 202-303-3405.


See What Produce Executives Say About the Produce Inspection Training Program

Produce industry leaders are talking about United’s Produce Inspection Training Program. The course helps them understand quality standards, inspection grading, USDA produce procedures and much more! The next program will be held June 2-6, 2014 at the USDA SCI Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA.

This unique five-day course includes the fundamentals of produce inspection, covering essential knowledge, terminology and practical information. The course also includes Commodity Labs, which apply the principals learned in the fundamentals course to real produce inspections. USDA experts show hands-on examination of a range of commodities, including grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes.

Visit the United Fresh website to learn more about the program. You can also watch a video and hear from participants about their experiences in the course. Click here to register online or you can download the registration form and email it to syoung@unitedfresh.org. If you have questions, feel free to contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405.


Employers, Ready for the Affordable Care Act? United’s Webinar Can Help
An expert on compliance with the Affordable Care Act, attorney Chris Condeluci is the featured speaker for United’s April 30 webinar.

Produce industry companies of all sizes should be ready for requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Questions regarding workforce size and seasonal employment can determine if your company is subject to the “employer mandate” and required to offer an “affordable/minimum value” plan to your employees or pay a penalty tax. There are complex rules for determining whom you must offer health coverage to and what type of coverage you need to offer.

Learn your responsibilities under the ACA on this United Fresh webinar, Managing Your Responsibilities Under the Affordable Care Act, April 30 at 2 pm EDT. The webinar is offered by United’s Grower-Shipper Board and the Finance & Business Management Council. Hear from attorney Christopher Condeluci, an ACA compliance expert from the Venable law firm in Washington, DC.  Chris’ practice focuses on the ACA and its impact on stakeholders ranging from employers and private health insurance exchanges to agents/brokers and hospitals/health systems. Prior to joining Venable, Chris served as Tax and Benefits Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and participated in the development of portions of the new health care law, including the health insurance exchanges, the insurance market reforms, and all of the new taxes enacted under the law.

Register for this webinar now at the United Fresh website. The webinar is free for United members and $50 for non-members. For full more information, contact United Education Manager Shannon Young at syoung@unitedfresh.org or 202-303-3405.

Enjoy the Taste of Chicago – Register for United Fresh 2014 Today

Register today for United Fresh 2014 and you'll be automatically entered for United's Taste of Chicago giveaway. You could win a gift certificate to one of the best restaurants in Chicago! 

This week's drawing features these great Chicago restaurants: Frankie's 5th Floor Pizzeria, Maggiano's Little Italy, and R.J. Grunts.

Last week's winners were Jose Cruz of Agricola los Girasoles, Matthew DeCeault of Fresh & Easy Campus Produce, and John McClelland of Paragon Foods. Congratulations!

Every Friday through June 6, 2014, United Fresh will draw three lucky winners from the United Fresh 2014 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of Chicago's finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor Testa Produce, Inc. 

Watch for the weekly announcement from United Fresh to see if you're a winner and Register now for United Fresh 2014 for the best chance to win!


New Member Welcome

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

  • Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, Loveland, CO


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.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

Managing Your Responsibilities Under the Affordable Care Act Webinar
April 30

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