United Fresh, Cornell enhance food safety collaboration amid pandemic
For more than a century, United Fresh has served as a conduit in the produce industry, bringing businesses across the full produce supply chain together to build strategic partnerships and create long-term initiatives to solve unique business challenges. One such partnership flourished not in the field, but rather, in the halls of Cornell University.
As authorities on produce education, United Fresh and Cornell University are uniquely positioned to develop leaders. United Fresh first connected its deep roots in fresh fruit and vegetables with the vines of the esteemed Ivy League institution in 2007, with the creation of the Produce Executive Development Program. Wedding the expertise of Cornell’s professors with the experience of produce industry leaders yielded a comprehensive learning and networking immersion program complete with discussions, hands-on case studies and interactive working groups. Throughout the week-long program, attendees gain knowledge of food industry trends and develop key leadership skills, including strategic thinking, competitive strategy, decision-making and more.
“For more than a decade, Cornell and United Fresh have partnered to educate the best and the brightest leaders in the produce industry. Participants learn about the most pressing issues facing their business, and they develop the strategic mindset and critical skills to lead at a high level,” said Dan Hooker, Director of External Education, Food Industry Management Program, Cornell University, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “The program has been so popular it has sold out every year since its inception.”
Boasting more than 500 graduates across the supply chain, the enduring success of the Produce Executive Development Program paved the way for future collaboration in the form of two new virtual certificate programs designed to help the industry navigate COVID-19’s devastating effects on the supply chain.
Leading through crisis
With the pandemic bringing unprecedented disruption to the world economy, leadership became more critical than ever before. United Fresh and the Cornell University Executive Education team collaborated to host a five-part workshop series during United Fresh LIVE! in June: “Leading Through Crisis: The Path Forward for the Fresh Produce Industry.” More than 100 produce professionals completed the week-long program which prepared attendees to lead through the pandemic climate, earning a prestigious certificate from Cornell in addition to new unique leadership skills.
“At a moment’s notice, the Cornell Executive Education team developed such a strong program to serve the produce industry in this extraordinary time of need,” said Amanda Griffin, United Fresh’s Vice President of Education & Program Management. “The demand for our first-ever virtual certificate collaboration with Cornell proved that the produce industry is hungry for leadership opportunities to excel in today’s challenging environment.”
Navigating the unknown
The fresh produce industry is ever evolving, and the current climate of a global pandemic has accelerated the course of change. Emerging issues impacting culture, politics and even the workplace are aligning to create a future normal for the industry. Oct. 26-30, United Fresh and Cornell University External Education/eCornell will host: “Navigating Emerging Issues in the Fresh Produce Industry.” The second virtual certificate program, once again hosted on the United Fresh LIVE! 365 platform, will explore the future of farming and food, consumer behavior, business of politics and the politics of business and managing remote teams, to name a few topics.
“This virtual learning model enables us to reach more industry members and provide learning and development opportunities at a much greater scale,” added Griffin.
As the produce industry continues to encounter new challenges, United Fresh remains committed in its mission to advance and connect the vertically integrated supply chain through collaboration opportunities both in and outside the field.
For information on United Fresh and Cornell University’s collaborative programs, or to earn a certificate on-demand, visit www.unitedfresh.org.
— Ben Massoud is the communications manager for the United Fresh Produce Association.