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PMA and United Fresh to merge in 2022

PMA and United Fresh to merge in 2022


The boards of directors of the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association have reached an agreement in principle to combine the groups by the beginning of 2022. Previous high-profile efforts to merge the two national produce associations fell short in 2012, 2007 and 1995. 

The next step will involve deciding a new name for the combined association, according to a press release. The resulting new association from the merger of United Fresh and PMA will combine resources and expertise to enhance member services, increase advocacy before government and the public, help members grow their businesses, and drive consumption of fresh produce and demand for floral products as a vital cornerstone of public health.

The two associations will continue to operate as independent organisations through 2021, with the new association to be launched January 1st 2022.  

Board chairmen Michael Muzyk of United Fresh and Dwight Ferguson of PMA said in the release: “This agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of both associations to deliver the highest level of value to members. Looking ahead, we believe we can accomplish that goal better together, building on the synergies and experience of our expert staffs, complementary education programs and member services, and a stronger voice in advocating for our industries.”

The new association will be led jointly by Burns and Stenzel as co-CEOs throughout 2022. After that time, Burns will become the sole CEO, according to release.

Stenzel said in the release: “Through my 28 years of service to our industry, I have long recognised the potential synergies of our groups building something powerful together. It is gratifying to me several years before my retirement to find a strong and committed partner in Cathy who also believes in this shared vision.  I’m looking forward to launching this new organization together, setting the stage to enhance member value while driving greater produce consumption in the years ahead.”

Burns said in the release: “Tom has been a great partner, and I truly appreciate his deep history, knowledge, and care for our industry. We, along with our talented teams, look forward to leveraging our strengths to serve our diverse and complex supply chain. I am so proud and honoured to serve the produce and floral community at such a pivotal time in our history.”

Over the coming months, Burns and Stenzel will work with their teams and board leaders to build out the new organisation. Concurrently, the two associations will begin sharing their expertise and promoting participation in each other’s events and programmes. It is anticipated that the volunteer leadership, governance and membership structure, and 2022 business plan for the new association will be in place and shared with the membership in autumn 2021, according to the organisations.


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United Fresh to host food safety meet-up for assessing suppliers

United Fresh to host food safety meet-up for assessing suppliers

© United Fresh Produce Association


The United Fresh Produce Association will hold a virtual webinar to discuss what factors should be considered when assessing a supplier’s food safety risk. The event will take place on Friday March 19 (2pm – 3pm US/Eastern). Discussion will include whether a third-party audit is enough, how to rank the risk of certain products and suppliers, how to manage this when time, financial, or other types of resources are limited.

The webinar is an opportunity for the produce food safety community to meet for informal networking to discuss these challenges and identify the types of tools and resources that would help assess risk.

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Foreign Supplier Verification Programmes by United Fresh

Foreign Supplier Verification Programmes by United Fresh © United Fresh
© United Fresh


United Fresh continues to offer training programmes for operators in the sector. The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) training courses are hosted by United Fresh and developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA). All training sessions will be taught by FSPCA FSVP lead instructors and upon completion of the course, you will receive a FSPCA FSVP certificate from IFSH, AFDO, and IFPTI. To receive an official training certificate, attendees must stay and participate throughout the duration of the course. Click here for further details.

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United Fresh launches new programme to kick off 2021

United Fresh launches new programme to kick off 2021

United Fresh Produce Association is launching the United re-Fresh Experience, a monthly series of events in January 2021 to re-Fresh your business, re-Fresh your company, and re-Fresh your life. 

“Despite the trials and tribulations across our supply chain in 2020, we’re all ready to turn the corner into brighter days,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh. “The new United re-Fresh Experience will help companies and teams explore what we’ve learned this year to build a stronger future, and what new and innovative opportunities lie ahead in 2021.”

Ten thought-provoking sessions spread across the month will bring together peers across the industry in a new and unique way. Experts will present concepts to forge success in both personal and business environments, followed immediately by break-out peer-to-peer discussions to share innovative strategies coming to life in 2021.  

Among the session topics to be addressed:

  • Solutions for Personal Well-Being in Stressful Times

  • Combining Remote and in-Person Work Environments for Success

  • Enhancing Diversity and Equality Within Your Company and Our Industry

  • Creating Flexible Supply Chains to Withstand Future Challenges

  • Building Sustainability Into Your Operations

  • Assessing the Impact of the Presidential Election

  • Managing Food Safety Through Disruption and Crisis

  • Creating Impulse Buying in Online Produce Sales

  • Adopting Direct-to-Consumer Sales Opportunities

  • Rebuilding the Restaurant and Hospitality Sector

The 2021 United re-Fresh Experience Advisory Council will be co-chaired by Kristen Reid, Executive Vice President, MIXTEC Group, and Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, Marketing and Communications, D’Arrigo California.

“The United re-Fresh Experience allows our industry to start the year with enthusiasm and an open-mind as we navigate new ways of operating,” said Reid. “Claudia and I look forward to working with our peers and the United Fresh team to bring the strongest possible experience to the industry.”

To join the United re-Fresh Experience Advisory Council, contact Amanda Griffin, United Fresh Vice President, Education & Program Management at The Advisory Council will help select speakers for the sessions and ensure the greatest value to the membership and industry through this unique programming.

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United Fresh launches appeal for support

United Fresh launches appeal for support

Following the successful closure of the first digital edition of United Fresh, the organisers drew some positive conclusions for what was a memorable event. More than 12,500 attended the event, with more than 7,500 online at any one time. Over 1,000 joined the general sessions, while the workshops, coffee talk roundtables, networking receptions and morning fitness classes reached thousands more.

The Board of Directors made the decision to open up this platform free of charge, not just to United Fresh members, but to the entire industry. After debating charging a reduced fee, maybe even just $100, United Fresh decided to let attendees decide what this has been worth. No one knew what to expect in a virtual trade show and convention. Now we do.

This decision meant giving up US$1 million in direct registration revenue, and a large amount of exhibit fees were refunded to exhibitors who didn’t have the means to continue online. However, many exhibitors were able to stick by United Fresh, and there were many new exhibitors who joined in this new format. As the convention makes up 30% of the annual budget, the organisers are appealing for support from across the sector to keep it going. A statement read: “Please make an investment in our industry’s future and in United Fresh’s future so that we can continue to serve you by connecting and advancing the supply chain. The future will be different, and we think our industry will be different. But together, we can continue to increase the consumption of fresh produce and make a positive impact on the health and well-being of our world. Food will win.”

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Another Innovative Year for United Fresh

Another Innovative Year for United Fresh

The West Hall of McCormick Place in Chicago this past June was the innovation epicenter for the entire fresh supply chain. For two days, 7,500 attendees and 700 exhibitors participated in the four co-located shows: Global Cold Chain Expo, the International Floriculture Expo, and the new United FreshTEC and United FreshMKT Expos.

United’s two expos offered attendees and exhibitors a more personalized experience than years past. United FreshMKT Expo, the fastest growing segment of the annual United Fresh event, unveiled the new Organic Showcase – where more than 50 organic products were on display – providing buyers with the unique opportunity to explore everything organic in one location on the show floor, maximizing their time for discovery.

Attendees voted for the United Fresh Innovation Award Winners – an annual favorite of the trade show. Out of 46 finalists across five categories, the 2017 Produce Innovation Awards Winners are:

  • Best New Food Safety Solution: Nature’s Frequencies – Food Freshness Card

  • Best New Fruit Product: Crunch Pak – Crunch Pak Apple Rings

  • Best New Packaging: Dole Food Company – Dole GO Berries!™

  • Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Full Harvest – Full Harvest

  • Best New Vegetable Product: Veggie Noodle Co. Veggie Spirals – Veggie Noodle Co. Veggiccine

Growing from the equipment side of the trade show floor to a true tech expo focused on innovations in fresh foods technology from field harvesting to packing, packaging, processing, and refrigerated delivery to customers worldwide, United FreshTEC Expo boasted new equipment and solutions for automation, engineering, supply chain management, food safety and more.

The FutureTEC Zone was a popular attraction at the FreshTEC Expo, with more than 40 start-up companies ready to solve business challenges with their innovative solutions. Attendees found the answers to their food safety questions, including solutions to help businesses comply with FSMA and advance their food safety operations, at the Food Safety Pavilion. In addition, the University Research Poster Session featured cutting-edge research on food safety and quality aspects of fresh and fresh-cut produce, from an international range of researchers and research organizations.

The FreshMKT and FreshTEC Learning Centers were once again anchors on the show floor, giving attendees an opportunity to hear from the experts on a variety of topics in 45-minute education presentations.

Attendees and exhibitors also participated in the newest feature of the United Fresh event: the FreshMKT and FreshTEC X-Changes. During the X-Change Sessions, industry professionals who share common interests connected and participated in group discussions, exchanging perspectives on key industry issues and topics. The FreshMKT X-Change covered topics such as organics, branding, merchandising, and innovative product development. At the FreshTEC X-Change, topics included food safety, sanitation, product development, packaging, and supply chain management.

Taking place the day before the expos opened, the United FreshMKT and United FreshTEC Conferences – another new feature of this year’s event – included five hours of general session presentations from industry experts.


The FreshMKT Conference attracted produce and fresh foods buyers, executives and trading partners across all retail and foodservice channels looking to jump start their business models and programs with innovative ideas, concepts and lessons from the future. The conference kicked off with a keynote from Ready Pac Foods’ CEO Tony Sarsam. Topics for the conference included today’s consumer trends; how innovative companies are shaping food culture; and how retail and foodservice executives can identify growth opportunities, as well a consumer panel. Speakers for the FreshMKT Conference included representatives from Google, Ibotta, Food Network, Good Housekeeping, Morning News Beat, and more.

During a break in the conference, attendees had the opportunity to network while enjoying featured fresh grab-and-go snacks from some of the industry’s most innovative companies at the Fresh Convenience Snack Break.

At the conclusion of the first FreshMKT Conference, Roger Pepperl, Marketing Director for Stemilt Growers, was presented with the FreshMKT Achievement Award for his significant innovations in the marketing and merchandising of fresh produce.

The FreshTEC Conference featured expert discussions focused on pre- and post-harvest automation; food safety in packing and processing operations; and an intense look at controlled growing environments. Taylor Farms’ CEO Bruce Taylor was the keynote speaker for the FreshTEC Conference, which also featured speakers from Compac, Yamaha Motor Ventures, Soft Robotics, Neogen Corporation, and more.

During a break in the conference, top universities from across the country shared their cutting-edge data, concepts and robotics, as well as their innovative projects in ag technology at the FreshTEC University Showcase. Attendees were able to follow-up with these companies at their exhibits on the trade show floor.

The FreshTEC Conference concluded with the presentation of the FreshTEC Achievement Award to Peter Quiring, Owner & CEO of NatureFreshTM Farms, whose leadership has helped advance the fresh produce industry through innovation in greenhouse technologies.

Other highlights from United Fresh 2017 include:

  • The Opening Party provided attendees from both United Fresh and Global Cold Chain Expo with a gorgeous backdrop for networking at the Shedd Aquarium.
  • New this year, the Joint Opening General Session was open to attendees of all four trade shows: United FreshTEC, United FreshMKT, Global Cold Chain Expo, and the International Floriculture Expo. The keynote speaker, Doug Rauch, co-CEO of Conscious Capitalism, left attendees feeling inspired and ready to make connections with produce innovators on the trade show floor.
  • Hundreds gathered to honor United Fresh’s retiring Vice President of Nutrition and Health, Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D. during the Reception Honoring Women in Produce. The reception was co-located with the Produce Forum for School Success, which brought the fifty top school foodservice directors together in Chicago to explore fresh options and solutions for feeding our nation’s children.
  • United Fresh 2017 came to a close with the Retail-Foodservice Celebrations Dinner, where the industry gathered to honor those on the front lines of produce.

See the latest in produce innovation for yourself next year at United Fresh 2018! The event is back in Chicago, June 25-27.

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United Fresh 2016 tipped to be biggest yet

United Fresh 2016 promises the chance to network with thousands of customers, suppliers and potential business partners throughout three days of stimulating education, fun social events, and industry gatherings recognising top chefs and supermarket produce managers.

Craig Boyan, president and COO of H-E-B, one of America’s largest independent food retailers, will give a key address at United Fresh 2016, being held June 20-22 in Chicago.

A major convention and expo for the fresh produce industry, United Fresh brings together companies across every segment of the fresh produce supply chain, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations.

The United Fresh Produce Association says the event will be the largest to date, showcasing creative new produce innovations and fresh food trends, cutting-edge tools and technology, business-to-business meeting suites, an expert consultation centre, produce innovation awards and industry-leading education.

In the opening breakfast session on June 21, Boyan will share Insights into the challenges and opportunities facing today’s supermarkets and the role of fresh produce in serving today’s consumers. Headquartered in Texas, H-E-B currently operates more than 370 stores in the US and Mexico and has over 86,000 employees.

Wednesday’s general session breakfast keynote speaker will be Kevin Brown, president and CEO of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.® (LEYE). Brown directs innovation and development of new concepts for LEYE, which owns more than 100 restaurants nationwide with 51 different concepts ranging from fast casual to fine dining.

Innovation in fresh foods for retail

New this year, the session Fresh Foods: The Retail Revolution, on Monday, June 20, will see top speakers offer a deeper look at how consumer demand for fresh foods is driving retail merchandising, new store formats, overall business strategies and profitability as never before. It kicks off with a presentation from Supermarket News’ Liz Webber on the results of the magazine’s new 2016 study, State of Supermarket Fresh Foods, providing the most up-to-date picture of fresh foods in retail today.

Fresh Marketplace & FreshTech learning centres

The grand opening of the United Fresh Marketplace and United FreshTech expos takes place on Tuesday morning. Fresh Marketplace is where marketers highlight what’s new in fresh foods, produce merchandising and sales solutions, while at FreshTech, innovators debut supply chain technologies, packing and processing equipment, and food safety solutions.

These are also the places to gain critical business insights in daily education sessions held right on the show floor. Topics include:

• How “Food Waste” is Changing the Retail Landscape
• Organic Produce: What’s Driving This Growing Sector
• Supermarket Innovators – Increasing Fresh Produce Sales to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Families
• Who’s Buying Your Produce? Understanding Consumer Behaviors
• Chef Insights: Foodservice & Restaurant Trends from the Kitchen
• Women in Produce: Overcoming Challenges in the Workplace
• Produce Manager Insights: Retail Merchandising Strategies from the Front Lines
• Selling to Schools – Understanding the Needs of the Largest “Restaurant” in Town
• FSMA: A Comprehensive Update
• Attracting & Retaining Frontline Workers
• Training Employees: How Understanding the “Why” Behind Food Safety Motivates Culture Change
• Does Mandatory GMO Labeling Affect You?
• Sanitary Design, Sanitation Practices and Listeria Control

United Fresh workshops

These educational ‘power-hours’ aim to advance business and professional growth. Topics include:

  • The Food Renaissance: Creating “Brand Love”
  • Leadership Lessons from the Corner Office
  • Negotiating Strategies to Improve Your Sales Performance
  • An Insider’s Look into Congress and the Administration
  • The Keys to Successful Succession Planning

Co-located partners’ expos

United Fresh will again be co-located with the International Floriculture Expo and the Food Marketing Institute’s FMI Connect, as well as a new partner this year, the Global Cold Chain Expo, which is designed specifically for executives and managers of cold storage facilities and refrigerated transportation.

“By co-locating with FMI Connect, the International Floriculture Expo and the new Global Cold Chain Expo, United Fresh 2016 is the single destination event for the total fresh supply chain. You’ll experience four trade shows, unlimited networking opportunities, education across the supply chain and tangible value to take back to your day-to-day,” the United Fresh Produce Association said.

Find out more at United Fresh 2016 at:

Image source: United Fresh show

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United Fresh & GLOBALG.A.P. important industry conference June 11 in Chicago

“The Sense and Nonsense of Farm Certification”  United Fresh and GLOBALG.A.P. invite the fresh produce industry to challenge the business case of the certification industry.

GLOBALG.A.P., the world’s largest and most trusted farm certification standards organization, and United Fresh, the nation’s leading produce trade association, invite United Fresh Convention (June 8-10) attendees to stay in Chicago for an exciting one-day conference, Thursday, June 11, with leading agricultural industry and government representatives.

The “TOUR 2015” event from 9am–1p.m. in the McCormick Place Convention Center features a keynote address by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor on the FDA’s view of the role of on-farm audits in the coming era of the landmark Food Safty Modernization Act (FSMA) legislation.

Audit fatigue reduction also on the agenda

The first session examines food safety harmonization and audit fatigue reduction. Moderated by United Fresh’s Senior Vice President of Food Safety, David Gombas, the session’s panelists include Alpine Fresh’s Peter Hill; Costco’s Craig Wilson; Florida Tomato Exchange’s Reggie Brown; Moreland Fruit Farm’s Fred Finney; Walmart’s Kerry Bridges; and Wegmans’ Bill Pool.

Going beyond food safety

Up next, GLOBALG.A.P. explores the rising trend of going “Beyond Food Safety” with a look into sustainability and worker welfare concernsEnvironmental consultant Robert Denny will moderate this session with panelists Gavin Bailey of Walmart; Mary O’Rourke of the U.S. Department of Labor; Chris Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America; Driscoll’s Strawberry Associates’ Tamara Muruetagoiena; and Costco’s Craig Wilson.

Future role of third-party audits in farm certification

The third session looks ahead to the future role of third-party audits in the changing landscape of farm certification, and includes such panelists as the USDA’s Ken Peterson; the Equitable Food Initiative’s Peter O’Driscoll; SQFI’s LeAnn Chuboff; Equicert’s Michael Hari; and sustainability consultant Roberta Anderson.

Key issues for the sector

“These are critical issues for our industry, so I encourage you to consider extending your stay through Thursday’s conference.” said United Fresh’s CEO Tom Stenzel.

GLOBALG.A.P.’s President Kristian Moeller noted: “We greatly value our partnership with United Fresh and are pleased to offer our first North American TOUR event in conjunction with their convention.”

For more information about the program and to register, visit
Note, registration for this event is separate from registration for the 2015 United Fresh convention.