October 9, 2014
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh Launches New Floral Membership Category

The United Fresh Board of Directors voted at its meeting last month to create a new floral membership category in 2015 to enhance services to members throughout the floral supply chain. In addition, United Fresh will appoint a new Floral Advisory Board of suppliers and retailers to lead the effort.

"Our new partnership with the International Floriculture Exposition (IFE) at our show in Chicago really jumpstarts the level of value that we can provide for our members in the floral sector," said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. IFE is already serving the majority of our retail members who offer both produce and floral in their stores. Now, we will be able to provide a deeper level of value to these retail members, as well as work more closely with the more than 200 floral suppliers who are exhibitors in the IFE show."

"As the Board considered the potential benefits of deeper engagement with floral suppliers and buyers, it became very clear that there is significant synergy between the produce and floral supply chains, and many shared needs," said United Fresh Chairman Ron Carkoski, CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies. "Floral suppliers and retailers will benefit from our work on supply chain logistics, labor and immigration reform, marketing and merchandising, global trade policy, and more."

The IFE show is managed by Diversified Communications, a private show management company. In developing plans with Diversified to build the co-located IFE and United Fresh shows, both parties agreed that year-round association support services to the floral sector would be an added value of the partnership. United Fresh and Diversified will work closely with volunteer leaders within the association and the IFE Advisory Board, supporting a year-round platform of services to the floral sector that culminates in our annual celebration in June at the largest business and networking event serving the floral sector.

Floral membership for 2015 will be priced at $495 for floral suppliers selling less than $1 million in floral products to retailers, and $695 for suppliers selling more than $1 million. Most retailers will already fall within United's overall retail customer membership category, as they handle both produce and floral. New "Floral-Only" retailers who do not handle produce will pay a flat rate of $295. All floral members will receive discounts for all United Fresh events, services and publications.

"We're also pleased to extend a complimentary first-year 2015 membership to all current IFE exhibitors," Stenzel said. "These exhibitors who are the core supporters of the IFE show will be invited to sign up for an introductory year of United Fresh membership, helping them engage with customers throughout the year while they also prepare for the IFE show."

In order to deliver strong value to this floral constituency, the new Floral Advisory Board will consider a wide variety of potential projects, including research and benchmarking reports, white papers on key issues from international trade to merchandising trends, retail and supply chain tours, and more. The new Floral Advisory Board will be appointed later this fall, and hold its first meeting at United's Winter Leadership Meetings in January, together with all other United volunteer leadership groups.

Members who are interested in serving on the initial Floral Advisory Board are invited to contact Miriam Wolk at mwolk@unitedfresh.org.


United Fresh Leaders Promote Fresh Produce Opportunity at Convenience Stores

On Tuesday, United Fresh Chairman Ron Carkoski, Four Seasons Family of Companies joined with vice president of trade relations, Jeff Oberman participated in a meeting of the Fresh Convenience Task Force formed by the United Fresh Produce Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in conjunction with this year's NACS show in Las Vegas.  "The task force's mission is to boost fresh produce offerings in C-stores with a focus on three key areas, merchandising, supply chain logistics and outreach to develop education materials to help Convenience Store Retailers seize the opportunity of fresh produce," said Oberman.

The task force is co-chaired by NACS Chairman Steve Loehr, Kwik Trip, a 435-store chain based in Wisconsin, and United Fresh Chairman Ron Carkoski.  Members of the task come from both associations, representing produce shippers, fresh-cut processors and distributors, as well as convenience retail store operators and wholesale distributors.  Steve Loehr kicked off the meeting sharing "the Produce opportunity is so great for both Convenience Store Retailers and the Produce Industry."  Kwik Trip operations are known for selling 400 lbs. of bananas per day, per store, showcasing how produce can be successful at Convenience stores and help enhance the image of this channel's commitment to offer healthy products to respond to consumer demand for healthy snacking options.

Ron Carkoski added that, "I speak on behalf of the United Fresh board and member constituents who will bring our contacts throughout the fresh produce industry to bear in finding solutions to achieve this new channel growth in the Convenience Store Industry.  We can do this through expertise in new product and variety development, specific wholesale procurement and deliveries, logistics, supply chain technology and food safety consultation and support."

"This task force meeting held its first meeting at United Fresh 2014 in Chicago and is currently working on the development of various programs, events and tools that will ultimately help sell more fresh produce, ultimately benefitting the Convenience Store and Produce industries," said Oberman who leads retail, foodservice and new channel development programs at United Fresh.

For more details on the Fresh Convenience task force effort, contact Jeff Oberman.


United Fresh Announces Staff Changes to Grow New Foundation, Enhance Member Service

The United Fresh Produce Association President and CEO Tom Stenzel announced today several staff promotions to create strong team alignment to enhance service to its members.

Victoria Backer is promoted to Executive Vice President of the association, with a mandate to lead the association in all aspects of organizational development, management and operations. Ms. Backer will have several key areas of responsibility, including staff and organizational development and volunteer leadership development. She will also lead the new United Fresh Start Foundation and its mission to increase children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables. 

In supporting our new United Foundation, Andrew Marshall is promoted to Director, Foundation Programs & Partnerships. Mr. Marshall has been very effective in building United's Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative and its school foodservice programs, and will now lead these efforts for the new Foundation. Dr. Lorelei DiSogra will continue her collaboration with Backer and Marshall as United's nutrition policy leader in the public health and policy community. In addition, United Fresh Vice President Jeff Oberman will add to his current portfolio in trade relations, working with Backer in fundraising to help grow the Foundation and member involvement.

Miriam Wolk will become Vice President, Member Services, adding direct program responsibility to her membership recruitment and retention portfolio. She will drive member engagement in United's core programs such as the Produce Industry Leadership Program, Cornell Produce Executive Development Program, USDA Inspection Training, Retail Managers and Foodservice awards, convention education programs, and more.

John Toner will now lead United's multi-disciplinary staff team that works on the United Fresh convention as Vice President, Convention and Industry Collaboration. As United's partnerships with the Food Marketing Institute, the International Floral Exposition, and potentially new partners expand, John will coordinate collaborative efforts to better serve United Fresh members.

"Congratulations to these team leaders on their increasing responsibilities to deliver the highest possible value to our members," Stenzel said. "These new assignments will further enable United's talented staff to enhance and expand their service to the association in many key areas as they work to foster innovation and growth for our members."


Watch United's Webinar on the FSMA Supplementary Proposals

Did you miss United's informative webinar on Monday that reviewed the four Supplementary Proposals to rules published by FDA in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)?  Now, you and your food safety team can watch the webinar recording to stay informed on FDA's plans for these critical rules.

On the one-hour webinar, United's Dr. David Gombas, senior VP of food safety and technology, and FDA's Rebecca Buckner, FSMA, chief implementation manager, were among the experts providing insights on the supplementary proposals. The supplementary proposals include several revisions to four of FDA's original draft rules.

The FDA is accepting comments on the proposed revisions until December 15, 2014FDA 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.

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 www.UnitedFresh.org/FSMA.

Please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402 or egrether@unitedfresh.org for more information or assistance watching the webinar recording.


EPA Extends Comment Period on Embattled Waters Rule Proposal

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday that it is extending the comment period for its proposed "waters of the United States" rule, a controversial proposal that would give regulators greater powers. The proposal would extend the agency's jurisdiction to regulate smaller bodies of water, such as streams and rivers, that flow into larger water sources that are already protected. The extended comment period will end Nov. 14.
The EPA's Scientific Advisory Board is finishing work on a report on the connectivity of small bodies of water such as streams and wetlands, and says the extended time is to allow the public more time to comment on the results of the report once it is released.
Information about the proposed rule can be found at www.epa.gov/uswaters.

Submitting comments on the proposed rule, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880, can be done by one of the following methods:

  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email: ow-docket@epa.gov. Include EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Send the original and three copies of comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

Please contact United's Julie Manes, director of government relations, at 202-303-3400 for more information.

New Member Welcome

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

  • FreshBlooms of the Delaware Valley Floral Group, Sewell, NJ

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:

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