October 19, 2022

Fresh produce organizations donate to Center for Produce Safety’s food-safety research fund

Almost two dozen organizations from across the fresh produce supply chain have contributed from $100,000 up to $250,000 so far to Center for Produce Safety’s (CPS) latest campaign to fund fresh produce food-safety research.

CPS reports that two of those industry leaders recently came together to explain why they support CPS, and what they get out of the relationship: Calavo President and CEO Brian Kocher, and The Giumarra Companies President Tim Riley. They pointed to the unique food safety challenges facing fresh produce, and to the unique role CPS plays in answering those challenges and stoking consumer confidence.

The Giumarra Companies’ Riley highlighted the food safety challenges facing fresh produce compared to other foods, and the importance of delivering safe produce to consumers.

“How fresh produce is grown, harvested and packed presents our industry with unique challenges unlike any other. It’s imperative that we always fund academic research in the area of food safety,” said Riley. “Continuous advancements in food safety help us ensure the products we sell to consumers are safe, in addition to being healthy.”

Calavo’s Kocher noted the responsibility that puts on industry to prioritize produce safety.

“We live food safety so that our customers, our consumers, don’t have to question or worry about it,” Kocher said. “So food safety is our bedrock promise to them. It’s part of our DNA, a goal we can never stop working towards. We’re never finished.”

CPS’s research capital campaign will finance the center’s work for five years, allowing CPS to continue its mission to fund science, find solutions and fuel change in produce safety. To date, 66 organizations from across the fresh produce supply chain have contributed.

Here’s how that CPS funding works: Each year, the center’s Technical Committee identifies industry’s top produce-safety questions, then calls on researchers to answer them. Learnings are shared with industry, government, public health and other produce safety stakeholders. Those knowledge transfer channels include: a searchable online research database; a research symposium each year, and key learnings and other resources that boil out from them; emails and webinars; columns in produce-centric trade media outlets; and CPS social media feeds.

Since its founding in 2007, Center for Produce Safety has invested $40.1 million to date in 225 produce-centric food safety research projects. In September, CPS announced funding of 14 new projects starting in 2023, valued at just over $3.9 million. Those projects are designed to answer industry questions about, for example, evaluating and mitigating risk from Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, controlling Cyclospora, and sanitizing harvesting bins and picking bags.

Calavo’s Kocher reports his company makes a very intentional effort to learn from Center for Produce Safety, including reviewing CPS research, and attending symposia and webinars.

“I think you’re a better HR person, a better finance person, if you know more about your business – it makes us a better company when our talent can get educated,” said Kocher.

Kocher and Riley called on other industry leaders to join them in supporting CPS, stressing that industry accomplishes more together than it can alone.

“The Giumarra Companies contributes to CPS because its efforts are critical to our business. Food safety has been one of our top priorities since it became known to the industry,” said Riley. “The resources and events put forth by CPS support our internal efforts in a way that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish on our own.”

“What’s good for food safety is good for the entire produce industry,” said Kocher. “It’s not why would you be involved with CPS, it’s why wouldn’t you?”

Contributors to date
As of Oct. 3, the following companies have generously contributed to CPS’s latest fundraising campaign. A current list of contributors can be viewed at www.centerforproducesafety.org/2020-campaign.php.

Diamond Level Supporters, $1,000,000+
Taylor Farms
Western Growers

Platinum Level Supporters, $500,000 – $999,999
Dole Fresh Vegetables/Dole Food Company
California Citrus Quality Council
Fresh Express

Gold Level Supporters, $250,000 – $499,999
California Fresh Fruit Association
Tanimura & Antle
Washington State Tree Fruit Association

Silver Level Supporters, $100,000 – $249,999
Lipman Family Farms
California Cantaloupe Advisory Board/California Melon Research Board
JV Smith Companies
Promotora Agricola El Toro
Western Precooling
Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic
Wawona Frozen Foods
McEntire Produce Inc.
Calavo Growers Inc.
Costco Wholesale
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
Food Safety Net Services (FSNS)
The Giumarra Companies
GreenGate Fresh
iFoodDecisionSciences Inc.
Markon Cooperative Inc.
Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association
Mission Produce Inc.
Pacific International Marketing
Robinson Fresh
Steinbeck Country Produce
The Produce News, media partner

Bronze-Plus Level Supporters, $50,000 to $99,999
International Fresh Produce Association
The Oppenheimer Group
Bonduelle Fresh Americas
California Avocado Commission
DiMare Fresh
L&M Companies
New York Apple Association
The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation
Food Safety News, media partner

Bronze Level Supporters, up to $49,999:
Church Brothers Farms
Coastline Family Farms Inc.
Little Bear Produce
Texas International Produce Association
Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc.
Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association
International Paper
Vesta Foodservice
Diversified Restaurant Systems, Inc.
Florida Tomato Committee
Pasquinelli Produce Co.
IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group
Tyger Sales and Marketing LLC
Wish Farms
National Watermelon Association
Azzule / PrimusLabs
Blue Book Services Inc.
Pacific Ag Pak Inc.


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