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New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Beef Jerky Incorrectly Produced and Shipped With The Mark Of Inspection

Delicious Beef Jerky, LLC, an Albuquerque, N.M. establishment, is recalling 8 pounds of beef jerky products because they were marked and shipped without the benefit of inspection when they were produced under a retail exemption, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The products subject to recall are 2.5 once and 5 ounce plastic bags of DELICIOUS BEEF JERKY Lemon Pepper Seasoned Beef Jerky with a use-by date of 0911155

The products, which contain the establishment number “EST. 34408” inside the USDA Mark of Inspection, were sold in small retail stores in the Albuquerque, N.M. area. All 2.5 once and 5 ounce plastic bags with a use-by date of 9-11-15 are being recalled.

The problem was discovered when a friend of an FSIS inspector purchased the product at a liquor store in Albuquerque, and the inspector recognized that the product should not bear the mark of inspection..

FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions or illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

Food Safety News

Northwest cherries expected to hit 20 million-box mark

It won’t be long before cherry producers in the Pacific Northwest are picking and grinning. This year’s harvest is expected to ramp up early, and favorable conditions during the growing season are expected to translate to fruit of exceptional quality and flavor. Producers couldn’t be happier.

“Current estimates are saying that there will be approximately 20 million boxes compared to about 14 million in 2013,” said Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers. OpenerShotSTEMILTConditions during the production season for Northwest cherries have been picture perfect. (Photo courtesy of Stemilt Growers LLC)This volume represents an increase of 39 percent from last season.

The Pacific Northwest is comprised of the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah. Washington produces 75 percent of the region’s cherries, followed by Oregon at 20 percent. Production in Idaho, Montana and Utah takes up the balance of Northwest cherry volume.

Brad Fowler, president and owner of Hood River Cherry Co., is a late-season cherry producer. Looking at the region’s forthcoming crop, he said, “I think it’s not going to be a big crop, but it will be a quality crop.”

The situation is different from the 2013 season, when a series of weather events diminished overall volume in the Pacific Northwest. “Weather has been very favorable in Washington both pre- and post-bloom,” said Brianna Shales, communications manager at Stemilt Growers LLC. “We are anticipating a nice crop of cherries starting in early June.”

Growers are optimistic about crop condition and quality. “We are hoping the weather continues cooperating, and this year’s crop is very clean and free of blemishes as it’s appearing to be on the trees at this time,” said Ron Everts, head field cherry man at Borton & Sons Inc.

Pollination has been described as good, and tree bloom has been desirable. “The crop load on trees is consistent across the various growing areas but not too heavy as to impact fruit size,” said Dan Wohlford, national marketing representative for Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers. “Therefore, if the weather continues to be normal, we should have a large but orderly harvest of good-sized fruit. The information we are getting from our field department is to expect a crop similar to 2012.”

Looking at the coming harvest, Katharine Grove, a member of CMI’s marketing team, provided some insights. “The bloom period was of short duration in most orchards, which normally results in more even color development and fruit maturity,” she stated. “The projected start in the earliest district (Tri-Cities, Washington) is June 4-6 for Chelan variety dark sweets and about a week later for Bings,” she stated. “This harvest pattern will continue over the next week or so as the southern Columbia Basin and lower Yakima Valley orchards get started. Earliest orchards have variable crop loads with Chelans anywhere from two to eight tons per acre and Bings a little higher overall.”

Suzanne Wolter, director of marketing for Rainier Fruit Co., said marketplace dynamics are shifting due to a lengthened production season. As she observed, cherries return more dollars per square foot to retailers than any other produce item during July. Retailers, she went on to say, should recognize the important contributions cherry sales can make in the produce department during August. “Retailers with the most successfully executed strategy maximized sales to the very end instead of prematurely phasing out cherries from the product department to make way for other summer fruit categories,” she commented. “There is an opportunity to change the retail mindset to align with the new reality that late season is as important if not more important than peak cherry season.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

C&S Wholesale Grocers names Mark Verdi president

C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. announced the appointment of Mark Verdi, an experienced global finance and operations executive, as president, a new position at the C&S. Verdi will assume his responsibilities March 1.

A native of Springfield, VT, Verdi joins C&S from Bain Capital, where he was a managing director and co-head of the private investment firm’s Global Portfolio Group, which works with the management teams of the businesses it owns to define and execute growth strategies, enhance their operations and improve organizational effectiveness.

Prior to joining Boston-based Bain Capital in 2004, Verdi led the Financial Services Business Transformation Group at IBM Global Services, and he was a member of the leadership team that spearheaded the acquisition and integration of the consulting arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers into IBM. From 1996 to 2001, Verdi was senior vice president of finance and operations of Mainspring Inc., a publicly held strategy consulting firm. He started his career at Pricewaterhouse in 1988, holding positions of increasing responsibility.

“Mark Verdi is a great addition to our management team who brings world class leadership and management skills and has a proven track record of strengthening teams and improving operations at large, fast-growing companies and global brands,” said Rick Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer of C&S. “I have gotten to know Mark well over the last two years and am confident he will take our strategic execution and day-to-day operations to a new level as we continue to accelerate our growth, deliver exceptional service and value to our customers, and create rewarding career opportunities for our employees.”

Cohen will remain fully engaged in driving the success of the business by focusing primarily on driving strategy and innovation, and on finding new ways to grow and provide extraordinary service to the entire C&S family of customers.

“I am delighted to partner with Rick and the management team of this extraordinarily successful company at an exciting time in its development,” Verdi said. “I have spent most of my career working with management teams across a variety of industries to execute growth strategies and improve operational excellence. I am excited to be a part of C&S as I wanted my next career chapter to be a leadership role in a growing company that has great opportunities ahead. And, this is in many ways a homecoming as my family is elated to return to the area where we grew up.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Hass Avocado Board launches Spanish-language mark and website

The Hass Avocado Board announced Saborea Uno Hoy, its new Spanish-language mark and website to offer information to Hispanic consumers in the United States and encourage them to include fresh Hass avocados in their everyday meals.saborea prim tag

The new mark visually invites consumers to enjoy the avocado’s unique and satisfying flavor by including the words “aguacates frescos,” and highlights some of the Hass avocado’s nutritional benefits — “naturalmente grasas buenas + sin colesterol.”

The HAB’s first Spanish website, www.SaboreaUnoHoy.com, features nutritional and research information, tips and a great variety of recipes, all of which make it the new avocado information and recipe hub for Spanish-speaking health professionals and consumers.

Additionally, HAB enlisted renowned nutritionist Malena Perdomo as spokesperson of Saborea Uno Hoy in order to provide Hispanic consumers with expert advice and more ideas on how to use and enjoy fresh Hass Avocados.

Malena developed original recipes for the whole family, like chicken, black beans and avocado arepas with avocado dressing and pear baby puree; each recipe includes fresh Hass avocados.

“I’m delighted to be partnering with HAB in their effort to provide information to the Hispanic community in our own language,” Perdomo said in a press release. “The recipes I developed truly celebrate the richness of, and the culture behind, the avocado. For many Latinos, myself included, this rich ingredient reminds us of home, so it seemed only natural to create recipes that reflect our traditional foods.

“The taste of the avocado is one like no other, and for many Hispanics it’s a kitchen staple,” Perdomo added in the press release. “However, avocados also contribute naturally good fats to one’s diet and are cholesterol free. One-fifth of a medium avocado has 50 calories and contains nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, making it a good choice to help meet nutrient needs. And avocados are not just to be enjoyed by adults. The avocado’s smooth, creamy consistency makes it one of the first fresh foods a baby can enjoy.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Eggs in Nationwide 2010 Recall Had USDA Mark of Quality

This article was originally published on July 31 by The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting as part of a series titled “Cracks in the System.”

In August 2010, Wright County Egg of Galt, IA, announced a nationwide voluntary recall of shell eggs. Later that month, another Iowa farm owned by Wright County Egg conducted a nationwide recall as well.

Iowa is home to more than 52 million laying hens and is the number-one egg producing state. Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms were owned by DeCoster Egg Farms, which operated facilities in multiple states at the time. At the time of the recall, DeCoster was the third-largest egg producer in the United States.

After several illnesses had been linked to DeCoster eggs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected multiple environmental samples from the Iowa farms to test for Salmonella strains. Salmonella-positive samples were collected from manure, as well as from traffic areas such as walkways, equipment, other surfaces, and from the feed mill at Wright County Egg.

The feed was provided to pullets (young hens) and older hens raised at the facilities. Pullets were distributed to all premises at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. A positive sample also was collected from egg water wash in a packing facility at Hillandale Farms.

These findings indicated that Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms were the likely sources of the contaminated shell eggs. FDA did not find that the contaminated feed was distributed to any companies other than Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.

Recalled eggs had been distributed to grocery distribution centers, retail grocery stores and food service companies located in 14 states: Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

Three months later, in November 2010, another recall was announced, this time affecting nearly 290,000 eggs shipped from Ohio Fresh Eggs in Croton, OH, to Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the nation’s largest egg producer and distributor. Ohio is the nation’s number-two egg-producing state, with 28 million layers being housed there.

More than 90 percent of the egg cartons containing the adulterated eggs carried the U.S. Department of Agriculture grade mark for quality.

Agricultural Marketing Service was not notified by either FDA or the egg company about a Salmonella E. positive test. Rather, officials learned of the recall from the FDA Website, according to a 2012 federal audit by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General.

The report said that a federal inspector at one of the egg-laying facilities involved in the recall learned of the positive test after the egg-laying barn had been emptied and was being disinfected. The eggs had been shipped.

At the receiving location, this led to the grade mark being applied without the Agricultural Marketing Service worker there knowing of the positive test or recall at the laying barn.

In the wake of a criminal investigation and civil lawsuits, DeCoster Egg Farms closed its doors in 2011. Centrum Valley Farms has leased the Iowa properties involved in the 2010 recall.

The head of DeCoster Egg Farms, Austin “Jack” DeCoster, and his son Peter, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in September 2010.

No federal charges have been filed against DeCoster; however, there were more than 100 civil lawsuits filed against the egg company by people who were sickened by the contaminated eggs. The DeCosters said very little during the recall due to the pending litigation.

DeCoster was not a stranger to the courtroom. According to multiple online articles, DeCoster and other company employees were convicted in 2003 for hiring illegal immigrant workers and charged with bribing a USDA inspector in 2010. DeCoster also paid more than $ 130,000 to settle an animal cruelty case at a Maine farm.

Safety not a factor in inspections for egg quality

The 2010 recall of more than 500 million shell eggs illustrates the lack of communication and coordination among federal agencies involved in the egg-inspection process. It also demonstrates the confusing structure of the system that provides authority and establishes which agencies have oversight when it comes to egg safety.

The three different offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Food and Safety Inspection Service – were not communicating with each other or the department’s general counsel, a 2012 audit found.

And the Agriculture Department was not communicating well with the independent FDA, which had been given lead authority for egg safety.

Shortly after the August 2010 recall, an Ohio-based producer recalled more than 280,000 eggs – of which 90 percent contained the official USDA grade mark for quality. Likewise, so did most of the half a billion eggs recalled in August 2010.

“We look strictly at the quality of the egg, not the safety,” said Sam Jones, a spokesman for Agricultural Marketing Service. “Safety inspection of the egg is the responsibility of either FDA or FSIS.”

A 2012 federal audit by USDA’s Office of Inspector General – released in December – questioned the standards used by Jones’ office when applying the grade mark for quality to egg cartons. It handles the grading of eggs as “Grade A” or “Jumbo,” for example.

Larger egg producers, about one-third of the industry, pay Agricultural Marketing Service to provide onsite certification personnel. Jones is quick to clarify that the USDA grade mark for quality is just that – for quality.

Quality, according to Jones’ office, is reflected in the size, appearance and condition of the egg. An egg containing Salmonella E. could still be marked as grade AA and certified by quality inspectors.

However, the audit asserts that the grade mark is also an indication that the eggs are “fit for human food” and that Agricultural Marketing Service practices should be updated.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is an independent, nonprofit newsroom devoted to coverage of agribusiness and related topics such as government programs, environment and energy. Visit them at www.investigatemidwest.org.

Food Safety News

Sunkist’s Mark Tompkins retires, Brian Slagel new director of North American sales

Mark Tompkins, director of North American sales, is retiring from Sunkist. He began his career with Sunkist Growers 50 years ago in Calgary.  

“We will miss the wisdom, steady leadership, dependability and humility that Mark Tompkins has brought to Sunkist,” Kevin Fiori, vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “Mark’s contributions are many and very much appreciated by Sunkist. His legacy will live on in the people he mentored who sell Sunkist’s citrus every day. We wish him and his family all the best in retirement.”

SlagelBrian SlagelTompkins’ position will be assumed by Brian Slagel, who is being promoted to director of North American sales, effective August 5.

Slagel joined Sunkist at the Pittsburgh sales office in 1991 shortly after graduating from Penn State University. After leaving Sunkist to work in sales for Dole Citrus, Slagel returned to Sunkist as the manager of the Cleveland sales office in 1997. He was part of the Sunkist sales network expansion, opening the cooperative’s first Florida office in Orlando in 1998. This latest promotion for Slagel follows a series of advancements with Sunkist, as the director of the central region in 2003 and director of business development in 2008.

“We are pleased to be filling this important leadership role from within our strong talent pool at Sunkist,” said Fiori. “Brian Slagel has a proven track record of growth and success and we are confident that he and Sunkist are poised for further success with him leading our North American sales division.”

McMillanLance McMillanAnother prominent advancement within the organization is Lance McMillan’s promotion to Director of National Accounts. McMillan has worked in the produce industry for over 15 years and is a second-generation Sunkist family member, previously working in Sunkist-affiliated packinghouses and running his own agricultural marketing business before joining Sunkist as the senior account manager for national accounts in 2002. He is a graduate of San Diego State University and was honored as a Dupont Fellow of the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program’s Class of 2000.

DrakeCassie DrakeAdditionally, Cassie Drake, who has been with Sunkist since 2010, has been promoted to manager of corporate category management. She has been working closely with key major retail customers on their citrus category data and merchandising programs. Before joining Sunkist, Drake worked in category management at California Tree Fruit Agreement and in various marketing and financial roles in the San Joaquin Valley region. She holds a degree in agriculture economics from California State University in Fresno.

“At the root of Sunkist’s rich 120-year history is our people,” added Fiori. “We are pleased to recognize the contributions of Brian Slagel, Lance McMillan and Cassie Drake with these well-deserved promotions.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Wonderful almonds now carrying Heart-Check mark

Wonderful-AlmondsWonderful almonds joined sister brand Wonderful pistachios in carrying the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark, a trusted symbol for shoppers who are navigating the grocery store looking for heart-healthy products.

To earn the widely recognized healthy food icon, Wonderful almonds went through the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check certification process, and earned the Heart-Check mark based on the fact that almonds naturally contain healthy fats, beneficial nutrients, sodium content, and zero cholesterol, trans fat and sugars.  

Appearing on packages now, the Heart-Check mark reminds consumers that a serving of Wonderful almonds can be a healthfully delicious fit for a healthy eating plan.

“This is big news,” Maggie Moon, senior nutrition communications manager for Paramount Farms, said in a press release. “Having nuts officially included in AHA’s Heart-Check mark Program means it’ll be that much easier for people to find heart-smart snacks. Americans are seeking healthier options, and this symbol makes that process simpler.”

Almost 90 percent of the fat found in almonds is the healthy unsaturated kind, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the better types that may play a role in cardiovascular wellness.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Tasti Lee tomatoes receive Heart-Check Mark

Bejo Seeds Inc. Tasti Lee tomatoes are now certified as part of the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Food Certification.

The Heart-Check Mark helps consumers to easily identify foods in retail stores that meet the nutritional standards of the American Heart Association to promote healthy eating habits.

Tasti Lee is a new hybrid variety of round beefsteak-style tomato developed at the University of Florida by Dr. Jay Scott.

Scott worked to develop this variety for more than 10 years, resulting in significant improvements to health, flavor and freshness.

For health, Tasti Lee was bred to have high levels of lycopene — 50 percent more — which is recognized for its antioxidant properties as well as providing rich red color inside and out.

The American Heart Association designed the Heart-Check Mark program back in 1995 as a good first step to healthy eating patterns. Among the 900 products that have been screened and certified to meet the proper nutritional criteria, Tasti Lee promotes heart-healthy eating habits through the Heart-Check Mark to people of all ages.

Tasti Lee tomatoes are grown outdoors in rich, healthy soil, with fresh air and clean water until they are vine-ripened by sunshine, and both conventional and organic Tasti Lee tomatoes have been certified by the American Heart Association.

Deardorff Family Farms, the West Coast grower for Tasti Lee is set to launch heart-healthy locally grown Organic Tasti Lee tomatoes in August 2013.

Consumers can find heart-healthy recipes at www.tasti-lee.com.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

2013 Power 50: Mark Bittman, No. 8 in Associations/Government/Public Sphere

For many years, consumers’ growing interest in natural and organic foods — and in healthier foods in general — has brought about changes in the kinds of products sold on supermarket shelves. The changes have come as the upsurge in obesity and diet-related health concerns have led shoppers to learn how to replace conventional food choices with healthier options. Guiding that education process has been a proliferation of articles, books, TV shows and documentaries …

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