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WASHINGTON -- The United Fresh Foundation, through its Center for Leadership Excellence, has announced the introduction of a national produce industry compensation tool to assist industry members in providing critical compensation benchmarks.

Starting the first week in February, United will launch a survey to measure compensation and benefits levels for 30 positions within the produce industry using a new, proprietary on-line survey. This on-line survey, prepared by expert research firm Industry Insights, confidentially collects data from U.S.- based produce companies on a range of full-time positions, including sales and marketing; production and operations; quality control and assurance; administration; finance and accounting; and executives.

"Our members have told us that they want reliable metrics on the salaries and benefits of several critical positions within the produce industry," Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services for the foundation, said in a Jan. 31 press release. "In fact, this new survey tool has been developed in direct response to input from United's Grower-Shipper Board and our members who have expressed a desire to ensure their competiveness in the marketplace and employment of the highest quality executives and workforce."

The survey is now available at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com and is open to any produce industry employers including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler- distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors. The survey will be open until March 15, and the final report will be available in early May, to coincide with United Fresh 2011, the association's annual convention and expo, May 2-5 in New Orleans.

"Employee turnover and new employee training costs companies thousands of dollars every year," Ms. Backer said in the release. "This new compensation and benefits tool offers an efficient way for produce industry employers to know if they are paying their top employees competitively."

Companies that participate in submitting data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully customized report for their company at a discounted rate of $195. Non-participants can order a survey report for $495 for United Fresh members and $695 for non-members. For more information on the survey, contact Ms. Backer at 202/303-3400, ext. 408 or vbacker@unitedfresh.org.