February 7, 2013

United sets priorities, forms new councils

The United Fresh Produce Association Board of Directors has set priorities for 2013 at its annual winter leadership meeting.

The priorities will focus on four main areas: leadership in food safety law implementation; passing legislation to reform immigration policy and secure a new guest worker program; writing and passing the 2013 Farm Bill; and shaping nutrition policy and USDA regulations.

“Our most important task as board members is to direct the resources invested by our members to those most critical needs facing our industry,” said United Fresh Chairman David Krause, president of Paramount Citrus.

The board also announced the formation of two new expert advisory councils, which will bring together industry experts from across the supply chain to address important priorities for member companies.

The Produce Marketing and Merchandising Council will focus on the needs of marketing professionals within the membership, addressing priority issues to enhance the sales and profitability of the industry. With an overall goal to better understand and serve the end consumer who chooses fresh produce at retail stores or restaurants, the new council will bring together marketing and merchandising experts from grower-shippers, processors, wholesalers and retail and foodservice companies. This council will work to develop United programs that drive value in consumer marketing, branding, advertising, social media, product promotion, point-of-sale strategies, retail partnership programs, and other merchandising components. Roger Pepperl, marketing director at Stemilt Growers, will be the first chairman of the council.

The Finance and Business Management Council will bring together C-suite finance, business and HR leaders to address critical issues in their areas of responsibility. The Council will address financial and strategic business planning, family business and estate transfer, financing and investment, human resources issues such as insurance and health care, and other critical business functions. The first chairman will be Scott Danner, COO of Liberty Fruit.

United is now seeking member volunteers to serve on one of the two new councils. Interested members should contact Victoria Backer at [email protected] or 202-303-3408.

With growing attention to the subject of biotechnology in the food supply, the board approved formation of a new task force charged with helping the board understand industry views and set clear and transparent policy for the association. United’s ongoing policy related to production methods for fruits and vegetables is “technology neutral,” supporting the industry’s ability to use both conventional and organic production as well as the use of any new technology such as genetically modified varieties that are approved by the government. However, issues surrounding potential labeling and marketing of biotech varieties require greater attention to help develop a clear and consistent approach.

Also during the meeting, Lorri Koster, CEO & chairman at Mann Packing, was named as the board’s acting secretary-treasurer, replacing Joe Huston who left board service at this meeting due to a change in business position.

Prior to the business meetings, Frieda Rapoport Caplan was honored at United’s annual Produce Legends Dinner on January 28. Hundreds of produce industry colleagues celebrated the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Caplan, which recognized her for her exceptional contributions to the fresh produce industry. In 1962, Caplan established Frieda’s Finest/Produce Specialties on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. At that time, Caplan was one of the first women to own and operate a U.S. produce business. She has since introduced countless specialty produce items with her pioneering marketing savvy and signature purple branding.

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