September 25, 2014
In Today's Issue:
Fresh and Value-Added Produce Show Dollar Sales Growth at Retail in Q2 2014

Fresh and value-added produce experienced dollar gains in the second quarter of 2014, resulting in produce department average weekly dollar sales increases by 4.5 percent for the period, according to the latest FreshFacts® on Retail report issued today by the United Fresh Produce Association. For Q2 of 2014, increased retail prices for fresh produce drove produce dollar gains, with most fruit and vegetable categories showing increased average retail prices compared to the same period last year.

Value-added fruits and vegetables experienced dollar sales and volume increases for most sub-categories despite increases in average retail price. Value-added fruits posted higher overall dollar and volume sales than value-added vegetables during Q2 2014, however, the volume and dollar sales growth rate for value-added vegetables outpaced that of value-added fruit.

This quarter's FreshFacts® report also debuts a new feature called the "Category Deep Dive" with expanded data for berry, citrus and packaged salad categories. The report shows that strawberries generated 54 percent of overall berry sales, with increases in both volume and dollar sales. For citrus, limes showed an increase in average retail price of 63 percent, resulting in a dollar sales increase of 50 percent. And for salads, organic salads and completes/kits both had double-digit growth in dollars and volume.

"The recommendation to expand the data in these larger produce categories came from the members of our Retail-Foodservice board," said Jeff Oberman, VP, Trade Relations, and liaison to United's Retail-Foodservice board. "Our retail members have found this report to be an invaluable resource. We're always looking to enhance the value of these reports and will continue to explore deep data dives and other commodities in future issues."

In addition, this edition's Quarterly Spotlight focuses on beverages and juices found in the produce department. The data shows that shoppers are increasingly looking to the produce department for fresh beverages, including fresh fruit juices, smoothies and ciders.
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 Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president, member services, at 202-303-3400 ext. 408 or For questions about specific data contained in the report, please contact Cara Ammon at Nielsen Perishables Group at 773-769-3550


Water Testing, Compost Use, Farm Definition and More Get Changes in FDA’s Supplementary FSMA Proposals

The four supplementary proposals, released last Friday by FDA, include several revisions to four of FDA’s original draft rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in January of 2011. The four updated proposals are for the rules on: produce-safety, preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, and the foreign supplier verification program.

In response to public comments, the FDA is proposing to revise the water quality testing provisions in the proposed produce safety rule to account for natural variations in water sources and to adjust its approach to manure and compost used in crop production pending further research on this issue.

The FDA also is proposing a new definition of which farms would be subject to the produce-safety rule. The proposed rule would not apply to farms with $25,000 or less in produce sales, rather than setting the threshold based on sales of all foods produced on the farm. The updated proposed rules also propose to simplify which entities are covered by the produce safety rule and which would be covered by the preventive controls rules.
Key provisions in the supplementary proposals:

  • Revision of the testing frequencies for water sources used in-field.
  • Inclusion of a “die-off” provision for water that does not meet the standard.
  • Revision of the compost pre-harvest interval and a promise to establish a science-based, pre-harvest interval for non-composted soil amendments of animal origin (i.e., manure) before the rule is finalized. 
  • The Preventive Controls for Animal Feed now clarifies that human food by-products (e.g., culls and produce waste from fresh and fresh-cut produce operations) are not required to establish food safety plans for such products if intended for animal feed, but must abide by basic GMPs to prevent such products from becoming contaminated (e.g., by chemicals and trash). 
  • For Preventive Controls for Human Food, a redefinition of farms to include more activities as “farming”, and an allowance for farms to pack produce that was not grown on the same farm and still be considered a farm under the Produce Safety rule. 
  • On the other hand, new proposals to mandate supplier approval programs, product testing and environmental monitoring at all operations subject to the Preventive Controls rules.
  • Standalone packinghouses and storage/distribution operations that only handle raw agricultural commodities still proposed to be under Preventive Controls because of facility registration, with all the requirements for a written hazard analysis, food safety plan, monitoring and corrective action records, validation of identified preventive controls, supplier approval programs, product testing and environmental monitoring.  On-farm packinghouses and storage/distribution operations are still proposed to be under Produce Safety, with almost none of these requirements. 
  • Foreign Supplier draft rule still expressly proposes to require importers of raw agricultural commodities to perform a hazard analysis beyond the requirements of the Produce Safety rule, and to perform or review an on-site audit of foreign suppliers before accepting product.
  • Importers are not required to perform such when sourcing from exempt foreign suppliers (e.g., less than $25,000 annual produce sales)


“We continue to appreciate FDA’s transparency during this rulemaking process, giving us a look at what they gleaned from initial comments and their updated thinking,” said David Gombas, senior vice president, food safety and technology.  “While growers subject to the Produce Safety rule should be happier with FDA’s proposed “safe harbor” for water source testing and elimination of a pre-harvest interval for compost use, it is apparent that FDA and the fresh produce industry need to take a closer look at the proposed Preventive Controls and Foreign Supplier rules as they relate to post-harvest handling and importing of fresh produce.  Clearly, FDA still intends to take a one-size-fits-all approach in these rules as well, and has not considered the consequences to the fresh produce supply chain by treating fresh produce raw agricultural commodities the same as manufactured ingredients and products.”
While the official publication in the Federal Register of the four supplementary proposals for the FSMA draft rules is scheduled for September 29, the pre-publication documents are available for download now in PDF format.

 Please use the following links to access the pre-publication documents and related fact sheets:

Produce Safety and Fact Sheet

Preventive Controls for Human Food and Fact Sheet

Preventive Controls for Animal Feed and Fact Sheet

Foreign Supplier Verification Programs and Fact Sheet

The FDA is accepting comments on the proposed revisions of the four rules for 75 days. FDA’s Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, tells United Fresh that no extensions of the comment period are likely to be granted. FDA continues to review comments already received on the provisions of the proposed rules that are staying the same. FDA says it will consider both sets of comments before issuing final rules in 2015.

United Fresh has formed working groups to review all four supplementary proposals and welcomes members to participate in the review process. Please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402 for more information about United’s working groups.

United Fresh will conduct a webinar for members reviewing the FDA’s supplementary proposals. We will announce a date for that webinar soon.

For more information on the FDA’s FSMA activities, visit the FDA website. More information about United’s comments on the FSMA rules can be found at You may also contact Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president, food safety and technology, 202-303-3411.


United Fresh Announces Board of Trustees to Lead the New United Fresh Start Foundation

The United Fresh Produce Association has announced the Board of Trustees to lead the new United Fresh Start Foundation. The members were appointed by the United Fresh Board of Directors at their September 11 meeting in Washington, DC. The mission of the new United Fresh Start Foundation, focused on increasing children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables, comes as a result of more than two years of strategic planning by the United Fresh Board of Directors. Building on the leadership and work of United's Nutrition and Health Council and all of United's policy and outreach programs over the recent years, the Board decided to refocus and reposition the United Research and Education Foundation to focus solely on nutrition and health.

The new United Fresh Start Foundation will create a unique platform to provide a fresh start for kids by increasing their access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and to help grow United's impact in serving this important mission.

The Foundation will be led by the inaugural Board of Trustees:

  • Jim Lemke, Senior Vice President, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Foundation Board Chairman
  • Kenny Avery, Global Commercial Lead, Monsanto
  • Karen Caplan, President & CEO, Frieda's, Inc.
  • Robert Gordon, President, FreshPoint, Inc.
  • Emanuel Lazopoulos, Senior Vice President, N.A. Sales & Product Management, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc.
  • Dan'l Mackey Almy, President & CEO, DMA Solutions, Inc.
  • Lisa McNeece, Vice President, Foodservice and Industrial Sales, Grimmway Enterprises, Inc.
  • Phil Muir, President & CEO, Muir Copper Canyon Farms
  • Lee Anne Oxford, Director of Marketing, L & M Companies
  • Steffanie Smith, CEO, Colorful Harvest, LLC
  • Hugh Topper, Group V.P. Fresh, H-E-B

"In looking at board members to lead the new Foundation, we sought industry leaders who are passionate and committed to the mission and will be strong public advocates for the organization," said United Chairman Ron Carkoski, president & CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies. "I'm confident that the collective talent of this group will bring an energy and passion that will not only accelerate our mission, but significantly change the landscape of our children's health and the future of our nation."
In addition to the Board of Trustees, the Foundation efforts will be supported by program committees focused directly on key initiatives, including United's leadership of the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign and school foodservice outreach programs. The Foundation will be soliciting volunteers for industry members to serve on the different committees.

"We've made incredible progress with salad bars and advancing healthy eating in schools over the past five years," said Tom Stenzel, president & CEO, United Fresh Produce Association. "But we still have much work to be done to reach our national objective that "Half the Plate" consists of fruits and vegetables. We are working to double fresh fruit and vegetable consumption by the next generation!"
"The United Board of Directors has challenged us with some very lofty goals," said Foundation Chairman Jim Lemke, CH Robinson Worldwide. "And I am confident that this new Board of Trustees will help lead the charge and make a real difference. The livelihood of our country is dependent upon having a healthy generation to lead us forward, and we are committed to making that happen."

The Board of Trustees will meet later this year to begin developing the key goals and strategic vision for the Foundation.


New Report Shows Retail Incentives Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

Results of the Healthy Incentive Pilot (HIP) published last week by USDA demonstrate the effectiveness of providing SNAP participants with an incentive of 30 cents for every dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables at participating retailers. The HIP study was conducted in Hampden County, Massachusetts between November 2011 and December 2012 with approximately 55,000 SNAP households.

“United Fresh supports scaling up supermarket programs that provide financial incentives for low income families to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh’s Vice President of Nutrition and Health. “Produce incentives are an effective strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and improve nutrition for families participating in the SNAP program and that evidence gained at retail will shape SNAP reform in the future,” added Dr. DiSogra. 

Key findings of the Healthy Incentive Pilot report:

  • HIP participants consumed more targeted fruits and vegetables (F/V), especially dark green and red/orange vegetables  
  • HIP participants spent more SNAP benefits on targeted F/V
  • HIP households were more likely to have F/V available at home and to spend more on F/V than non-HIP households. 
  • Most retailers did not find HIP difficult to operate
  • More than half of the retailers increased shelf space for F/V, received more F/V shipments from their suppliers and increased the frequency of restocking the display floor.   


With the goal of moving the Healthy Food Incentives field forward, United Fresh has played a leadership role in planning a series of workshops to explore the state of the practice in nutrition incentive farmers markets and grocery projects;  bring together program and policy stakeholders, representatives of the food retail sector, and research leaders to identify feasible, effective strategies; and identify opportunities to bring multiple sectors together to support program practice, research and evaluation. In collaboration with the CDC, USDA, Fair Food Network and Wholesome Wave and funded by the National Collaborative to Reduce Childhood Obesity, workshops were held on May 28, July 10 and Sept 22, 2014.  

“The workshop series was a prelude to the much anticipated Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) competitive grants from USDA, which will provide $100 million over 5 years to create incentives for SNAP recipients to buy more fruits and vegetables and opportunities to scale up incentive programs at grocery,” noted DiSogra. USDA is expected to publish the Request for Applications (RFA) for the FINI grants any day and United Fresh encourages retailers to engage and explore the potential within their own operations.

For more information about FINI grants and produce incentives, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.


Bring Top Marketing Expertise to Your Desktop with United’s Marketing Conference Videos

Were you in Chicago when the produce industry’s leading marketers gathered for United’s Retail Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference in June? The full-day agenda included presentations from nationally-known marketing experts, kicked-off with a rapid-fire presentation by Al Ries, regarded as a retail branding pioneer. United’s Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council worked to make the conference a must-attend event for industry leaders committed to building sales.

Now, experience the value from these cutting-edge presentations right on your desktop with United’s video on demand series. These seven powerful presentations can enlighten and inspire you and your team to boost the performance of your marketing and merchandising programs. Topics include building brand awareness, innovative product packaging design, new ideas for point-of-purchase merchandising and post-purchase consumer engagement strategies.

Get started today by visiting Conference attendees can contact United’s John Toner, 202-303-3424, for special pricing.


Are You and Your Friends in The Washington Conference Photo Gallery?

Were you among the 500 produce industry leaders who attended The Washington Conference this month? If so, you know it was another powerful event for advancing produce industry priorities in the nation’s capital. Here’s your chance to see the newly updated photo highlights from this year’s conference – just visit The Washington Conference photo gallery to browse through hundreds of pictures, all available for download.

While enjoying the photos, be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s conference, September 28-30, 2015!

New Member Welcome

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

  • Cascades Sonoco, Hartsville, SC
  • Ossid LLC, Battleboro, NC

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:

United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament
Sep 29, Oasis Golf Club, Loveland, OH

Produce Inspection Training Program
Jan 26-30, 2015, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

2015 Produce Executive Development Program
Mar 8-13, 2015, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Produce Inspection Training Program
Jun 1-5, 2015, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

United Fresh 2015

Jun 9-11, 2015, McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, IL