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There have been numerous produce growers and shippers in the news lately for reasons they would rather not be: recalls, foodborne illness outbreaks and, in one notable case, even prison terms for company principals.

“Unfortunately, the court of public opinion renders its verdict within 24 hours after the first reporter calls or the first TV camera goes on,” said Cheryl Miller, chief executive officer of Tampa, FL-based At The Table Public Relations. “How you handle the first 24 hours of a crisis can make all the difference.”

The most critical factor is having a public relations crisis communications plan in place ahead of any incident, added the company’s Bill Barlow.

“Just like the military has guns they hope they never have to fire and you have Band-Aids in your medicine chest you hope you’ll never need, you’ve got to be ready for things you can’t predict are going to happen,” Barlow said. “How you get through a crisis is can be as simple as the difference between being proactive or reactive.”

A proactive approach has a plan in place for dealing with any crisis. A reactive approach comes across to the public and media as a deer-in-the-headlights moment.

“When most people are reactive they’re huddling internally trying to sort out what to do. Meanwhile the media’s contacting them, reporters are hitting deadlines, they’re not getting answers, they’re speculating. Now the first round of coverage is speculative then it gets worse and worse and worse,” Barlow said. “If you’re proactive you meet them at the curb — you come out, you’ve got a designated spokesperson, you’ve got some stock answers and hopefully some media training and are ready to deal with the situation because you had a crisis plan in place which allows you to meet the situation head on and look like you have it under control.”

Determining how prepared a company is for a crisis is a fairly simple process. ATTPR has a five-question checklist that makes the process painless:

Do you have a written crisis plan in place now?

Do you have selected spokespersons and are they media trained?

Do you have your initial crisis team contact list developed and does everyone in your company know and understand their responsibilities during a crisis?

Do you know what to say or how to handle queries when news media contact you about your crisis?

Do you have resources in place should a crisis exceed your capabilities or outside resources that can give you objective counsel?

“If you don’t know or can’t answer or you’re not sure, it’s time to pick up the phone and call a professional,” Miller said.

“A lot of people think they don’t need a crisis plan but that’s the same as the military saying, ‘We’re not going to buy guns until someone shoots at us,’ “ Barlow said.

Whether a company handles crisis public relations communications in-house or relies on outside professionals, an independent — and unbiased —agency can help.

“We have a toolkit that helps companies make sure they have at least gone through the initial steps of preparation so when they do have a crisis they can move quickly,” Miller said. “We have out-of-the-box and custom solutions for any situation.”

Better yet, ATTPR and other professionals often offer no-cost evaluations of companies’ current crisis PR preparation plans.

“First of all you have to have an objective view of the situation,” Barlow said. “That’s something every company thinks they’re capable of but in reality — and especially under pressure — that’s usually not obtainable. Second you have to balance that plan with your corporate agenda. Third, it’s got to make reasonable sense for any situation. If you can balance those three things you can establish a good plan. But generally the objective opinion does not come from within.”

Added Miller, “In 2013, there’s no excuse to be hanging in the breeze when it comes to crisis preparation.”

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PMA’s record-setting foodservice conference
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Eastern Washington cherry and apple crop updates
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Fresh & Easy rebranded in new marketing campaign
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Cherry crop update from Domex
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PMA launches redesigned website, provides better access to resources
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Protecting the 2014 Pacific Northwest cherry crop
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Good season expected for Pacific Northwest cherries
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Wish Farms' consumer program features recipe videos
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Domex Superfresh Growers' orchard tech
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Produce Alliance leads fundraising campaign for children’s hospital
Produce Alliance LLC, one of the larger produce management services companies in the United States, leverages its national distribution and grower-shipper network to lead an annual philanthropic campaign benefitting one of Chicago’s premiere Children’s... Read more
Local sponsorship fuels national health and fitness messaging for California Giant
California Giant Berry Farms has teamed up with the local D-League Basketball Team for the Golden State Warriors this season and launched a kids club to promote health and fitness to fans. The partnership with the Santa Cruz Warriors D-League team resulted... Read more
CMI's high-quality KIKU apples
From picking at the peak of ripeness, to polishing and preserving freshness, to packing, there are a lot of steps involved in making sure that "KIKU" brand apples are high in quality and exceptionally sweet. Columbia Marketing International provided... Read more
E. Armata completes renovation of Hunts Point facility
E. Armata, a fourth-generation family-run fruit and vegetable wholesaler located in the Hunts Point terminal market in the Bronx, NY, has been in business for over 100 years. Today, it is a tenant of major significance on the market... Read more
Limited supplies of Kanzi apples hit the market
Washington-grown "Kanzi" brand apples are hitting U.S. markets this week. Due to high demand for this premium apple — in combination with limited early production on young trees — supplies are limited. An unfortunate hail event last season eliminated... Read more
Super Bowl spud challenge a win-win for food banks
During the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, several challenges have been made by fans of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks — including a major wager between the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee and the Washington State Potato Commission. The... Read more
Florida's wintertime strawberry production leads the nation
Florida Strawberry Growers Association Executive Director Ted Campbell talks about Florida’s $400 million winter strawberry deal as the season ramps up to full volume this month. The area within a 20-mile radius of FSGA headquarters in Plant City, FL,... Read more
Atlanta’s General Produce named Georgia Family Business of the Year
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Georgia Pecan season in full swing during National Pecan Month
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Sunview has increases in proprietary Stella Bella and Gem grape varieties
Sunview Marketing International in Delano, CA, exclusive marketing agent for Sunview Vineyards of California, will have volume increases in two proprietary grape varieties this season — one a red seedless called Gem and the other a green seedless called Stella Bella. Both varieties have been in the development process for some time. Stella Bella debuted commercially last year after being selected out of the company’s in-house breeding program about six years earlier.... Read more
Simonian Fruit offers specialty Champaign grapes from July into September
Simonian Fruit Co. in Fowler, CA, which grows, packs and ships an assortment of California tree fruit and grapes, will start off the grape season with some specialty grapes, according to Jeff Simonian, vice president of sales. “We will have the red Champagne grapes” beginning the week following the Fourth of July, Simonian told The Produce News. Those will be followed a week later with some green Champagne grapes. “That is the front part of our grape deal.” Simonian... Read more
Jasmine’s summer and fall grape  programs span wide range of varieties
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Mastronardi Produce helps children by leading through example
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Oneonta makes it easy for children to eat and play the healthy way
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Gold Coast is big on product customization for foodservice trade
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Bland Farms sweet potatoes join Vidalia Brands lineup  along with new value-added sweet onion products
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Giorgio to showcase foodservice pack of stuffed Baby Bellas at PMA Fresh Summit
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Jim DiMenna, president of Red Sun Farms, formerly JemD Farms, headquartered in Kingsville, Ontario, will be exhibiting at the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo in Monterey, CA, on July 25-27 at Booth No. 1. Jim Cathey, sales and sourcing manager for the company, will be attending to represent the company. “We’ll be featuring our specialty produce in a foodservice-friendly format along with menu development assistance,” said DiMenna. “We’ll also be discussing... Read more
Movement steady in Aspen’s 12-month potato program
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Stevco Inc., which is headquartered in Los Angeles and has branch offices in Nogales, AZ, and in Coachella and Bakersfield, CA, continues to have an increase in producing acreage across most grape varieties throughout the season, but as with the industry as a whole, “most of our growth as a company has been in the late varieties,” said Jared Lane, vice president of sales and marketing, in an interview with The Produce News. This year’s volume growth in some varieties... Read more
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Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons in Richgrove, CA, which had its first commercial crop last year of a licensed proprietary green seedless grape variety called Sweet Sunshine, will have increased production of the variety this year, according to John Zaninovich, president of the company. “We will start shipping” that variety “the week of the 21st of July, and our volume has increased from last year,” Zaninovich told The Produce News. “The quality is even better... Read more
The Chuck Olsen Co. in Visalia, CA, expects production increases in two newer red seedless grape varieties for the 2014 season, as young plantings come into fuller production, according to Jeff Olsen, vice president of the company. Sweet Scarlets will increase about 25 percent for the company, he said July 8. “This is their fourth leaf. We actually had them last year, but bunch size was so small we basically snack-packed all of them.” The company will also enjoy... Read more
Bari Produce LLC in Madera, CA, expects to harvest and pack around 1.25 million boxes of fresh grapes this year, according to Justin Bedwell, managing partner. “That is up a little bit from last year,” but it is due to production increases in existing acreage, not to new acreage, he said. The biggest production increases for the company will be in the Scarlet Royal and Autumn King varieties, he added. Bari Produce began its 2014 grape harvest around July 8 with... Read more
Fruit Royale Inc. in Delano, CA, has increases in several grape varieties for the latter part of the season, according to Louie Galvan, a partner in the company. “Our biggest increases are going to be in Scarlet Royal and Autumn King,” he said July 7. Autumn King, a late season green seedless variety that for Fruit Royale follows the mid-season Princess variety, has seen a great deal of growth industry-wide in the last year or so. “It has really done well for us,”... Read more
“Everybody is saying it is going to be a good quality year,” said Clint Lucas, an inspector at RJO Produce Marketing Inc. in Fresno, CA, in interview with The Produce News, with regard to the 2014 California grape season. But there has been some variation in yields early in the season, with generally early start dates followed by lower volumes in the early harvest than expected and considerable variance in grape size. On the Flame crop, for example, “it seems... Read more
Increased emphasis on fingerlings,  specialty onions at Strohauer Farms
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Western Fumigation is actively involved in a number of approaches to enhance the business climate for the ports of the Delaware River. Miriam Borja-Fisher, senior business development manager for the Parsippany, NJ-based firm, also serves on the board of — or is otherwise actively engaged in — several associations, including Ship Philly First, the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and the World Trade Association of Greater Philadelphia.... Read more
PHILADELPHIA — The ports of the Delaware River are primarily known as the major gateway for U.S. perishable imports from the Southern Hemisphere. In starting his own customs brokerage, Lawrence (Larry) Antonucci Jr., who had 25 years of experience in the industry, recognized the opportunities in perishables. On Jan. 1, 2012, Antonucci’s new enterprise, 721 Logistics LLC, opened a new division: J&K Fresh East. In using the J&K Fresh name, Antonucci uses... Read more


PMA Foundation Women's Fresh Perspectives Reception
The Produce Marketing Association Foundation for Industry Talent held its Women's Fresh Perspectives Reception Saturday, July 26 at the Monterey Mariott in Monterey, CA. The event, which was sold out as... Read more
Christopher Ranch Garlic Party
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PMA Foodservice a wild success
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Fresno Food Expo new date a huge success
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Allegiance Retail Services holds annual holiday food show
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Record crowd attends FPFC Expo
The Fresh Produce & Floral Council held its annual Southern California Fresh Produce and Floral Expo on Tuesday, July 15 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA, where a record 1,500 attendees enjoyed... Read more
STEP-UPP class visits Philadelphia and New Jersey produce areas
The Southeast Produce Council's 2014 STEP-UPP class visited produce facilities and farms July 8-11 in the Philadelphia and southern New Jersey areas as part of its ongoing learning experience for class... Read more
 George Tanimura's 100th birthday celebration
George Tanimura of Tanimura & Antle celebrated his milestone centennial birthday this weekend. Family, business partners and friends joined together to honor Tanimura at a gala dinner, which was held... Read more
Watermelon Night a success
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60th Summer Fancy Food Show
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Industry members remember fallen SPC leader Terry Vorhees
The passing of Terry Vorhees, executive director and co-founder of the Southeast Produce Council, at age 64 the evening of July 30 sparked an outpouring of grief and respect from stunned peers and colleagues as the news spread rapidly through the produce industry. The Produce News reached out to industry influencers and Southeast Produce Council members and... Read more
PMA, Sesame Workshop seek bright, healthy future for children
Current collaborations between producers of fresh produce, trade organizations and government officials will pave the way for a healthier America in the future. Last October, First Lady Michelle Obama — honorary chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America — announced that the Produce Marketing Association and Sesame Workshop had joined forces with the organization... Read more
Expoalimentaria to draw global exhibitors and attendees to Peru
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Terry Vorhees dies at 64
Terry Vorhees, executive director of the Southeast Produce Council, died Wednesday night, July 30, after a short battle with lung cancer. He was 64 years old and a resident of Ruskin, FL. Mr. Vorhees had a long and successful career in the produce industry, including serving as a representative of the California Tree Fruit Agreement for many years. But his professional... Read more
Chilean Fresh Fruit Association wins Sensory Experience Contest at PMA Expo
A recipe entered by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association won top honors at the Produce Marketing Association’s Sensory Experience Contest at this year’s PMA Foodservice Expo. The recipe, created for CFFA by Executive Chef Don Cortes, is Chilean Fruit Medley Gazpacho with Grape, Bacon and Brie Melt, an innovative interpretation of the classic soup-and-sandwich... Read more
A couple of Baltimore-area businesses are taking the lead in a national movement, ‘eat brighter!’ to inspire young children and their families to eat healthier. With the help of friends from Sesame Street, Savage, MD-based fresh produce supplier East Coast Fresh and grocery retailer Mars Supermarkets are putting emphasis — and marketing — in the produce department... Read more
Stemilt begins sixth season of all-organic peaches and nectarines
Harvest is under way for Stemilt’s all-organic peach and nectarine crop in Washington state, and natural farming methods are proving yet again to deliver summer fruits with true dessert flavors. “This is the sixth season that our entire peach and nectarine crop is grown and certified as organic," Roger Pepperl, Stemilt's marketing director, said in a press release.... Read more
A court hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 15 in connection with charges filed against two top officials at Mucci Farms, headquartered in Kingsville, ON. General Manager Danny Mucci and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joe Spano face charges of defrauding the public and three major grocery store chains by misrepresenting the country of origin of greenhouse... Read more
Ready Pac celebrates new Wrap Kits with vacation giveaway
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I Love Produce donates money to local Peru village school
I Love Produce, a pioneer in importation of organic ginger from Peru, took part in a new harvest celebration and ceremony to commemorate its donation of $13,440 to the local village school called the "Antonio Raymondi" secondary school. The school donation program was initiated by I Love Produce to give back to the local native Asháninka Community of Churingaveni... Read more
Sage Fruit teams up with Marvel to 'snack like a super hero'
Sage Fruit announced the release of an exciting new product line that will feature Marvel characters. Beginning July 2014, Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man cherry packaging will be available at retailers nationwide. This will include Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man pouch bags, as well as Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man point-of-purchase display bins. Based on recent Q... Read more
NatureSweet Tomatoes announced the return of the Glorys Homegrown Tomato & Chef’s Challenge tour for 2014 on July 28. The contests will put green thumbs and cooking skills to the test with four events beginning Aug. 9 and concluding Sept. 6. This year, the tour kicks off in Indianapolis, marking the 53rd challenge conducted to date. Since 2003, NatureSweet... Read more
T&A introduces George T's Special Colossal Romaine Heart
Tanimura & Antle introduced a new lettuce variety, George T's Special Colossal Romaine Heart, in honor of company co-founder George Tanimura, who is celebrating his 100th year in 2014. This new seed variety combines two of George Tanimura's favorite lettuces — Iceberg and Romaine Hearts — and offers superior flavor, improved sustainable value and impressive... Read more
Driscoll's once again partnered with Wegmans Food Markets to sponsor the eighth annual Strawberry Days fundraiser to benefit The Children's Home Society of New Jersey. The three-day fundraising event aims to promote a healthy summer snack while raising awareness and critical funds for the at-risk babies, children and families of New Jersey. For each carton of... Read more
Lantao opens new fruit import distribution facility
Lantao, which imports premium fruit from around the world into China, has opened its seventh fresh fruit import distribution facility in Qingdao, Shandong Province. Jim Provost of I Love Produce LLC and John Wang, chief executive officer of Lantao, were on-hand to help kick off the celebration. Shandong is one of the top farm export provinces in China,... Read more
Peach harvest in southwest Michigan is under way. “A few are in now,” said Barry Winkel, the partner and general manager of Benton Harbor, MI-based Greg Orchards & Produce Inc. The volume will grow in the last days of July. Red Haven peach harvest will begin from this area in the first week of August, Winkel said. Southwest Michigan’s peach trees were... Read more
After months of discussions, the primary food-safety agencies for the United States and Mexico signed a statement of intent July 21 to form a partnership to promote the safety of fresh agricultural products. Officials from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, along with Mexico’s National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety & Quality, and... Read more
Growers throughout California's Central Valley are reporting optimal growing conditions for pomegranates. Ralph Melendez, field operations manager for Slaydeco Inc., a principal grower of early season varieties, expects the company's Granada’s to start shipping by the end of the last week of July. “A consistently warm summer has moved our traditional start date... Read more
PMA Foodservice show reaches new heights
MONTEREY, CA — For a show that already is one of the favorites among produce industry members, the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo managed to set the bar even higher this year, reaching new heights in a number of different categories. The 33rd year of this popular event, held July 25-27, here, saw a record number of attendees (1,821), foodservice operators... Read more
Retail View: Bolthouse launches refrigerated retail snack program for kids
Beginning with seven new fruit- or vegetable-forward offerings, Bolthouse Farms in Bakersfield, CA, has launched a new line of kid snacks designed to be sold in a healthy kids section of the produce department. Suzanne Ginestro, vice president of strategic marketing at Bolthouse Farms, which is one of the larger producers of baby carrots and premium juice beverages... Read more