Wednesday at United Fresh 2012 in Dallas

May 3, 2012

Wednesday marked another full day at United Fresh 2012 in Dallas.

Between a busy morning breakfast gathering that included awards and a speech from former first lady Laura Bush, a day full of educational sessions, a trade show floor that was buzzing with activity and the reception honoring women in produce, the day passed quickly.

During the morning breakfast session, graduates of the latest Produce Industry Leadership Class were recognized and members of the incoming class were announced. New chairman David Krause addressed the crowd, noting that talks of a possible merger between United Fresh and Produce Marketing Association continue.

“You have my commitment to always place our members’ needs first,” said Krause, just beginning his year as chairman. Ron Midget, president of Apia, is chairman elect and will succeed Krause next year.

Safety and product quality and innovation continued to be prominent themes in educational sessions.

Jeffrey Brecht, Ph.D., of the University of Florida, Gainesville, said during a session on food safety and quality research that a study he’s conducted on stressing tomatoes to enhance their nutritional value could bode especially well for fresh-cut produce.

“Fresh-cut products are actually superior to whole produce because of this stress response,” he said.

In the study, Brecht briefly immersed tomatoes in hot water. Cutting vegetables also causes stress, he said, and could yield the same results. Another scientist is studying that right now, he said.

“He’s been exploring this as a way to boost phytonutrients that could be extracted from vegetables for dietary supplements,” Brecht said. “I think it’s conceivable at some point to be able to make the claim that fresh cut has higher antioxidant content. It seems quite possible.”

At a reception honoring women in produce, Dan’l Mackey Almy, founder and president of DMA Solutions, Inc., was recognized. Chairman of the United Fresh Nutrition & Health Council, she was instrumental in helping procure support from donors to announce this week that United Fresh is donating 100 salad bars to Texas schools.

And by the way, we bet no one is going to be asking for the recipe for the French toast entree at breakfast.