indus­try events

  • “Full Speed Ahead” — FPFC North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Expo

    Just a lit­tle less than 2 hours away in Pleasan­ton, the Expo It is a great oppor­tu­nity for us to see what’s new out there. It is easy for us to take our cus­tomers with us to con­nect with grow­ers, ship­pers, and retail­ers. The Expo exhibitors pro­vide updates on their lat­est crops and prod­ucts while we get to talk to them about how and why they do what they do.

    GP Team Mem­bers David John III, Jen­nifer Ho, Ray Hoell­warth, and Linda Unden attended the FPFC Nor­Cal Expo this year. They all enjoyed it and are look­ing for­ward to more FPFC events.

    Read more about the event:

  • “Vol­un­tary“

    In the realm of fresh food prod­ucts, either retail or food­ser­vice, prod­uct recalls are not par­tic­u­larly unusual.

    A recall is the action or method of remov­ing or cor­rect­ing prod­ucts that are in vio­la­tion of laws admin­is­tered by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA).

    A food recall occurs when there is rea­son to believe that a food may cause con­sumers to become ill. A food pro­ducer ini­ti­ates the recall to take foods off the mar­ket. In some sit­u­a­tions, food recalls are requested by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Obvi­ously, prod­uct can be recalled for many rea­sons. This can include (but not be lim­ited to), the dis­cov­ery of organ­isms such as bac­te­ria like Sal­mo­nella or for­eign objects like bro­ken glass or metal. It can be due to a major aller­gen (dairy or nuts) not being dis­closed on a label.

    Most prod­uct recalls are char­ac­ter­ized as being “vol­un­tary”. This term is some­what ambigu­ous and may lead indi­vid­u­als to believe that a vol­un­tary recall is optional. That is def­i­nitely not true.

    A vol­un­tary recall is an indi­ca­tion that the man­u­fac­turer, grower or ship­per of the poten­tially harm­ful pro­duce has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion with the fed­eral agency.

  • Cheer­ing Up

    The Spring Equinox, also called the Ver­nal Equinox, has long been cel­e­brated as a time of renewal and rebirth.

    March 20th marked the first day of spring in the north­ern hemi­sphere. In nor­mal times, this gives peo­ple a chance to gather and focus on the sea­sonal events that lift us up.

    Cul­tures cel­e­brate spring fes­ti­vals and hol­i­days – like Easter and Passover – around the equinox. Sport­ing events, con­certs and the like boost our social inter­ac­tions and spir­its.

    We are not liv­ing in nor­mal times. How­ever, there are some things we can do to ease our psy­che dur­ing this chal­leng­ing period as we fol­low the edict to dis­tance our­selves from oth­ers.

    As self-​quarantines and man­dated restric­tions are fol­lowed, there is cheer­ful work to be done. Take this time to pre­pare gar­dens, flower beds and planters.

    The ground soft­ens and the dirt becomes warmer. If it’s too early to plant, take this chance to pre­pare. Groom, weed, hoe and turn the soil.
  • Cul­ti­vat­ing Change

    Giv­ing back is good. We believe in local farm­ing and we believe that sup­port­ing grow­ers in our com­mu­ni­ties is the best way to ensure a future for food.

    Cul­ti­vat­ing Change, the Greener Fields Together local farm grant pro­gram, aims to fund projects that will help local farm­ers do what they’re best at, farming.

    Grant amounts up to $30,000 will be funded on an annual basis to qual­i­fy­ing grow­ers through an online vot­ing plat­form and peer review panel.

    Cul­ti­vat­ing Change grants are open to all local farm­ers and aggre­ga­tors where pro­duce pro­duc­tion or aggre­ga­tion makes up at least fifty per­cent of their busi­ness. All appli­cants will be eli­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in the pop­u­lar vote por­tion of the con­test and only Greener Fields Together local farms will be eli­gi­ble to win by panel review.

    All appli­cants must use grant money for the pur­pose spec­i­fied on their appli­ca­tion, share project results, and if selected, agree to the usage of their name and like­ness in mar­ket­ing and pub­lic rela­tions collateral.

  • Cul­ti­vat­ing Change

    Cul­ti­vat­ing Change is a local farm grant pro­gram offered by Greener Fields Together.

    It aims to fund projects and pur­suits that will help local farm­ers do what they’re best at– farm­ing.

    Qual­i­fied grow­ers and aggre­ga­tors are able to win fund­ing based through an online vot­ing plat­form and peer review panel.

    As farm­ers applied for this cur­rent Jan­u­ary pro­gram, they were required to apply for a spe­cific fund­ing cat­e­gory to enhance an area of oper­a­tions. Demands for all farms and ranches requires a con­tin­u­ous state of improve­ment for sus­tain­abil­ity.

    Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions is one fund cat­e­gory that assists with organic, food safety, non-​GMO, fair trade, bio­dy­namic or other daunt­ing reg­u­la­tory require­ments. This is an avenue of com­pet­i­tive advan­tage for many growers.
  • Esca­lated & Weak

    We all read the updates on weekly mar­ket con­di­tions. Weak, strong, up, down, esca­lated, Acts of God, legs, no legs. All pro­duce lingo to inform end users on the state of let­tuce, berries and veg­eta­bles.

    It all sounds fine in an update on paper. Real­ity sets in when we as con­sumers shop and take our fruits and veg­eta­bles home for meals pre­pared in our own kitchens.

    For the past sev­eral weeks, exces­sive and pro­longed heat (triple digit tem­per­a­tures) in our prime grow­ing areas is news­wor­thy. Next came the head­lines of mul­ti­ple fires through­out Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton. Smoke and ash con­tinue to push air qual­ity in to unhealthy ranges.

    Warn­ings of short sup­plies, higher prices and tight mar­kets are a direct result of those late sum­mer events. Har­vest dis­rup­tions due to lack of labor or min­i­mum time avail­able to pick, sort and pack have worked against grow­ers.

    Prod­uct alerts tell retail­ers and chefs to order tight or “truck to shelf or truck to plate”. Valen­cia oranges have suf­fered from heat stress. Romaine, ice­berg and leafy let­tuces are now show­ing the affects of insect dam­age and high tem­per­a­tures.

    Grow­ers do their best to mit­i­gate all qual­ity con­cerns in every crop. It makes good sense for the farmer to want to make the most of their sales. Still, unavoid­able cir­cum­stances have pre­vailed this sum­mer to give grow­ers more headaches than usual.

    Since most meals are now being made or con­sumed at home under COVID restric­tions, pro­duc­tion dis­rup­tions hit close to home on food waste and the wal­let. Fewer store trips for mar­ket­ing mean the per­ish­ables need to last and go farther.
  • Keep on Truckin’

    Mar­ket­place trends are hot top­ics for dis­cus­sion when lean­ing in on the fresh pro­duce busi­ness.

    Sim­i­lar to other indus­tries where mov­ing prod­ucts from “Point A to Point B” is nec­es­sary, the fac­tor of trans­porta­tion is crit­i­cal to agri­cul­ture.

    So much is hap­pen­ing in the truck­ing indus­try right now, that it is a chal­lenge just to keep up with activ­ity. Con­vey­ing the impact of truck­ing to fresh mar­ket stake­hold­ers is another mat­ter alto­gether.

    Tech­nol­ogy advance­ments, new reg­u­la­tory require­ments, dri­ver short­ages, increases in freight rates and dete­ri­o­rat­ing high­ways are top of mind for all truck­ing com­pa­nies and dri­vers.

    Start­ing on Decem­ber 18th of this year, the com­pli­ance phase of the ELD (Elec­tronic Log­ging Device) man­date begins as dri­vers and fleets must start using Fed­eral Motor Car­rier Safety Admin­is­tra­tion (FMSCA) approved ELDs in their vehicles.
  • New Rules

    The vast major­ity of Amer­i­can con­sumers agree that their lives have been dis­rupted by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

    Along with mas­sive dis­rup­tion has been a cer­tain degree of anx­i­ety, con­cern and fear.

    Vir­tu­ally all pub­lic busi­ness sec­tors have a expe­ri­enced some sort of change, dis­rup­tion or mod­i­fi­ca­tion to work­place pro­to­cols.

    Restric­tions have been most evi­dent for “essen­tial ser­vice” providers like retail gro­cery stores. For any­one with respon­si­bil­ity for doing house­hold shop­ping, notice­able efforts to calm wor­ried shop­pers are evi­dent.

    Retail gro­cers were quick to adopt: Shop­ping cart san­i­tiz­ing, 6’ rule of self-​distancing, rec­om­mended wear­ing of face masks and gloves, plex­i­glass bar­rier pro­tec­tion at check­out and restric­tions of num­ber of shop­pers by size of store.

    Active in-​store food demon­stra­tions, self-​serve salad and soup bars and bulk food bins were at once ban­ished. Fur­ther adap­ta­tions have seen direc­tional aisles, spec­i­fied hours for vul­ner­a­ble shop­pers and floor stamps and mark­ers for COVID-​19 mes­sag­ing.

    Obvi­ously, new rules at retail are some­what com­fort­ing to shop­pers. Most shop­pers grade the store and if they elect to shop there again by what they see as health safety mea­sures being fol­lowed. A sim­ple thing like ban­ning re-​useable bags took awhile to take hold.
  • Retail Mad­ness

    If you are the pri­mary gro­cery shop­per for your house­hold, you’ve had a taste of what retail mad­ness feels like.

    For all oth­ers, it’s only a wild tale of unprece­dented activ­ity. It may rein­force why you leave the shop­ping to oth­ers.

    Long lines to get in to stores. Longer lines to check­out. Empty shelves for more than paper tow­els and toi­let paper. Eggs are at a pre­mium if you can find them.

    Major chain stores have now imposed lim­its on cer­tain items to pre­vent hoard­ing. This comes later than nec­es­sary. We hear about indi­vid­u­als stock­pil­ing paper goods, hand san­i­tiz­ers and clean­ing sup­plies.

    Costco, Kroger’s, Whole Foods and oth­ers have dis­con­tin­ued prod­uct sam­pling. No free nib­bles.

    The spike in “social dis­tanc­ing” does not yet seem to apply to retail envi­ron­ments. Pan­icked shop­pers crowd aisles and fill carts with every­thing from ramen to Spam. Even if those things are not what is nor­mally eaten for din­ner, there is some illog­i­cal ratio­nale for pur­chas­ing them.
  • United Fresh Retail Pro­duce Man­ager Award

    CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS RYAN BLANCAS!

    The United Fresh Retail Pro­duce Man­ager Awards Pro­gram pays spe­cial recog­ni­tion to pro­duce man­agers on the front lines in super­mar­kets work­ing every day to increase sales and con­sump­tion of fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles. Gen­eral Pro­duce is hon­ored to have nom­i­nated yet another win­ner, Ryan Blan­cas of Beale AFB Commissary.

    In June, Ryan, along with Gen­eral Pro­duce team mem­bers, will attend the United Fresh Pro­duce Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence in Chicago. United Fresh will honor 25 of the industry’s top retail pro­duce man­agers for their com­mit­ment to fresh pro­duce, inno­v­a­tive mer­chan­dis­ing, com­mu­nity ser­vice and cus­tomer satisfaction.

    Left to right:
    Mar­lon Walker, Store Direc­tor, Beale AFB Com­mis­sary
    Alan Edi­ger, VP Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, Dole Fresh Veg­eta­bles
    Ryan Blan­cas, Pro­duce Man­ager, Beale AFB Com­mis­sary, 2016 Retail Pro­duce Man­ager Award Win­ner
    Jeff Ober­man, VP Trade Rela­tions, United Fresh Pro­duce Association