Staff



EDITORIAL

Editor & Publisher
John Groh
800 Kinderkamack Road, Suite 100
Oradell, NJ 07649
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
groh@theproducenews.com
Biography

 

Associate Editor
Terry Sokol
800 Kinderkamack Road, Suite 100
Oradell, NJ 07649
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
sokol@theproducenews.com
Biography

 

Online Editor
Ryan Beckman
800 Kinderkamack Road, Suite 100
Oradell, NJ 07649
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
beckman@theproducenews.com
Biography

 

Assistant Editor
Maggie Giuffrida
800 Kinderkamack Road, Suite 100
Oradell, NJ 07649
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
giuffrida@theproducenews.com
Biography

 

Editor-At-Large
Tim Linden
17 Loma Linda Court
Orinda, CA 94563
Tel: (925) 258-0892
Fax: (925) 258-0893
tim.linden@ymail.com
Biography

 

Eastern Editor
Christina DiMartino
Tel: (212) 996-9086
writealotmail@gmail.com
Biography

 

Arizona & Midwest Editor
Tad Thompson
Tel: (215) 431-5291
tadthompson@verizon.net

 

Washington, DC, Editor
Joan Murphy
409 Old Country Road
Severna Park, MD 21146

Tel: (410) 793-5308
jfoshay@comcast.net

 


Colorado Editor
Kathleen Thomas Gaspar
888 N. Orchard Ave., #27
Canon City, CO 81212
Tel: (719) 275-5857
kathleenthomasgaspar@reagan.com
Biography

 

Western Editor
Lora Abcarian
87 Star Lane
Bailey, CO 80421

Tel: (303) 838-0485
lora.abcarian@gmail.com
Biography

 

Central Editor
Great Lakes and Midwest
Tad Thompson
Edgartown, MA 02539
Tel: (215) 431-5291
tadthompson@verizon.net

 

Floral Editor
Richard Lutes
2220 Cavell Ave. N.,
Golden Valley, MN 55427
Tel (763) 595-9559
Cell (763) 227-9928
lutes@theproducenews.com

Biography

 

Carolinas Editor
John Niblock
215 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Tel: (843)724-9888
jniblock@earthlink.net
Biography

 

Southern Editor
Chip Carter
18008 Arbor Crest Dr.
Tampa, FL 33647
Tel: (813)838-1577
carter@theproducenews.com

 


ADVERTISING SALES

President
Jack Bricker
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
bricker@theproducenews.com

 

Western Sales Manager
San Joaquin Valley and Pacific Northwest
Ed Boling
2128 Navelencia Avenue
Reedley, CA 93654
Tel: (559) 317-7985
Fax: (559) 637-4219
boling@theproducenews.com

 

Western Sales Manager
Southern California and Texas
Brian Woods
Tel: (816) 214-7037
woods@theproducenews.com

 

Arizona & Midwest Sales Manager
Tad Thompson
Tel: (215) 431-5291
tadwriter@gmail.com

 

Advertising Manager
Debbie Negron
800 Kinderkamack Road, Suite 100
Oradell, NJ 07649
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996

negron@theproducenews.com
Biography

 

Director of Video Production and
Southern Sales Manager

Chip Carter
18008 Arbor Crest Dr.
Tampa, FL 33647
Tel: (813)838-1577
carter@theproducenews.com

 


Eastern Sales Manager
Eastern U.S. and Florida
Marilena Osso
21075 Bella Vista Circle
Boca Raton, FL 33428
Tel: (561) 483-9224
Fax: (561) 483-9963
osso@theproducenews.com

 

Colorado Sales Manager
Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Colorado
Kathleen Thomas Gaspar
888 N. Orchard Ave., #27
Canon City, CO 81212
Tel: (719)275-5857
kathleenthomasgaspar@reagan.com
Biography

 

Central Sales Manager
Great Lakes & Midwest
Tad Thompson
Tel: (215) 431-5291
tadwriter@gmail.com

 

Floral Marketing Sales Manager
Richard Lutes
2220 Cavell Ave. N.,
Golden Valley, MN 55427
Tel (763) 595-9559
Cell (763) 227-9928
lutes@theproducenews.com
 

 

Carolinas Sales Manager
John Niblock
215 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Tel: (843)724-9888
jniblock@earthlink.net

 

ART/PRODUCTION 

Creative & Production Director
Anthony Addamo
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
addamo@theproducenews.com
Biography

 

Senior Designer
Rania Cisternas
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
cisternas@theproducenews.com
Biography

Designer
Colleen Brozyniak
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
brozyniak@theproducenews.com

 

ACCOUNTING

Accounting Manager
Susan Marcus
Tel: (800) 753-9110
Tel: (201) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
marcus@theproducenews.com

Accounting Assistant
Cynthia Freeman
Tel: (212) 986-7990
Fax: (201) 986-7996
freeman@theproducenews.com


Circulation Audited By
BPA
The Business Publishers
Audit, International 

New York, NY

Mexican industry ripped by LA Times

EMPALME, SONORA – Mexico’s produce-export industry has been ripped in a four-part series that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 7-14.

If there is any positive for Mexico’s fresh produce industry in the piece, the point is made that food-safety efforts are strong. But it is also indicated that growers care about safe food more than the well-being of their employees.

Richard Marosi, author of the series, provides few, if any, positive examples of social responsibility efforts by Mexican growers. The series was supported with video and photography work by Don Bartletti. One video segment, which is now blurred, features a grower’s voice describing his positive efforts. The industry reported that the original video running during the audio showed graphically disturbing views of dirty workers. There is a mention of FairTrade practices within the story but the mention is tangential to serious commitment by an increasing number of growers.

The four-part series addresses negative situations involving labor camps, child labor and high prices at employee provision stores. Part three, which published Dec. 10, focuses on “brutal conditions at Bioparques, one of Mexico's biggest tomato exporters, which was a Wal-Mart supplier.” The subhead for this section reads: “Scorpions and bedbugs. Constant hunger. No pay for months. Finally, a bold escape leads to a government raid, exposing deplorable conditions. But justice proves elusive.”

Walmart and other American retailers were contacted by the LA Times and questioned about their knowledge of social responsibility practices by Mexican growers.

The long exposé also published an internal letter from the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas to its membership, providing public relations advice on how to deal with the LA Times reporter.

Lance Jungmeyer, president of the FPAA, told The Produce News that the LA Times piece was not representative: “I feel it portrays only the negative.”

Jungmeyer said the piece shows elements “that are not acceptable. The vast majority of the produce being exported to the U.S. comes from farms with very good standards and the LA Times really does not show both sides of the story.”

He added that the Mexican industry is placing a “very positive” emphasis on social responsibility. Growers are providing good healthcare and housing for workers. There are scholarship programs for some workers’ students and workers are being taught life skills as part of the social responsibility programs.

Jungmeyer continued that FPAA has been “proactive in the realm of accountability and transparency. Social responsibility is one of our primary areas of focus.” Food safety was an initial focus and now social responsibility has moved to the forefront.

“We have been having seminars for growers and showing what the best companies are doing — to be emulated — and we are engaging more with (other) ag associations directly. We are providing assistance on educational seminars.” FPAA is organizing tours of model work camps, showing best practices and providing guidance documents.

Jungmeyer said FPAA is participating in the creation of a new organization, the International Fresh Produce Social Responsibility Alliance, which will engage many agricultural associations to focus on these issues. This group is to be “formalized in coming weeks.”

In the second week of December, The Produce News was traveling in Mexico with Matt Mandel, the chairman of FPAA, as the LA Times feature unfolded.

Mandel said Dec. 11 that the article didn’t depict his experience with Mexico in general. When not volunteering his time for FPAA, Mandel is the vice president of sales and marketing for SunFed Produce LLC, based in Rio Rico, AZ.

Mandel noted that an Empalme, Sonora, grower, Lorenzo Bay, who met with The Produce News on Dec. 10, contracts directly with his workers. Thus, his firm, Agricola Bay Hermanos, keeps its workers removed from the labor contractors that are criticized in the LA Times article.

The same workers, by and large, work for Agricola Bay Hermanos for 11 or 12 months a year. They are off in the heat of the summer when it is too hot to grow crops in Empalme.

Mandel noted that if nothing else, worker well-being is important “in the strict business perspective” because there is increasing competition for workers. “If you don’t treat them right, they probably won’t come back.”

Beyond that, decency is critically important, Mandel noted. “They are people with feelings like you and me. From the ethical and moral side, you should be taking care of your people. People in the Mexican produce industry understand that. Very much so.” The ugly situations reported by the LA Times “are deplorable. That is entirely unacceptable.”

Mandel said the FPAA’s purpose is to “disseminate information and improve the industry as a whole.” The association holds educational sessions on best practices in an effort “to do anything we can do to raise the bar. We really represent the Mexican produce industry. Our association, more than any other, is the authority on what goes on with Mexican agriculture. This is one of those situations that you can’t necessarily speak to because there are differences from company to company. We can provide guidance to companies and show them how to improve.”

FPAA “is proactive,” Mandel said, and was working to raise the level of social responsibility long before the LA Times article appeared. “We encourage every company to look at their own practices and verify what should be done is actually done. If you don’t verify, what good is it?”

Mandel noted if the Mexican industry has any mistreatment of workers “we 110 percent condemn that.”

Videos All Video Articles

VIDEOS

SEPC duffers hit the links at Terry Vorhees Golf Classic
A rollicking casino night that raised $50,000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta on day one of the second annual Terry Vorhees Charity Golf Classic was just a build up to the main event. The following morning, some 130 Southeast Produce Council... Read more
SEPC's casino night at the Terry Vorhees Charity Golf Classic
More than 130 Southeast Produce Council golfers descended on Alpharetta, GA, earlier this month for the second annual Terry Vorhees Charity Golf Classic, raising more than $100,000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The festivities opened... Read more
Peachy times ahead for Georgia as season begins
Georgia might not be tops in production these days — that distinction belongs to South Carolina — but state mottos and license plates all agree it's still the Peach State. The Produce News recently visited Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley... Read more
CPMA's more than business — the social side of Montreal
The 90th annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Montreal was 72 hours of non-stop business April 15-17. But there was time for a little fun. In the last installment of our CPMA video series, we take a look at the social side of... Read more
Vidalia celebrates history and heritage as 2015 season begins
The 2015 Vidalia onion season officially got under way April 27. Earlier in the month we spent some time in the field with the people who've been growing Vidalias for decades, discovering the history and heritage behind the world's most famous ... Read more
 PMA Fresh Connections: Retail
More than 150 members of the fresh produce and floral supply chain gathered in Philadelphia in April for Produce Marketing Association Fresh Connections: Retail. The event gave industry members a platform to network and discuss industry trends and... Read more
Mary Blackmon gets cooking with Food Network Chef Roger Mooking
Star chefs were abundant at the 90th annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Montreal April 15-17, from new CPMA Half Your Plate Campaign ambassador Michael Smith to Food Network Canada’s Roger Mooking, who hosts three... Read more
Sarah Hoxie compares apples to apples at CPMA
An apple a day is always good policy. But as Sarah Hoxie found out at the 90th annual Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention April 15-17 in Montreal, you could go a couple of weeks without ever eating the same variety twice. Here she... Read more
Day two from the CPMA expo floor
Our video series from the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's 90th annual convention April 15-17 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal continues with a look at the second day of the expo from the trade show floor. Representatives from seven nations... Read more
CPMA open for business on the expo floor
Record numbers of attendees and exhibitors packed the Palais des congrès de Montréal April 15-17 for the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's 90th annual convention and trade show. Our CPMA video series continues with a look at day one of... Read more
CPMA 2015 convention and trade show kicks off with spectacular soiree
  The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s 90th annual convention and trade show kicked off April 15 with the Chair’s Welcoming Reception at the spectacular Montreal Science Centre. The Produce News caught up with key players in the Canadian... Read more
 FPFC holds Northern California Expo
PLEASANTON, CA — The Fresh Produce & Floral Council held its annual Northern California Expo April 8 at the Alameda Fairgrounds, here. The event featured more than 150 booths with over 200 companies exhibiting. The crowd of retail and foodservice... Read more
Consumers dish on Vidalia onions and upcoming season
VIDALIA, GA — Vidalia onion season officially starts two weeks from today. It's a rite of spring that consumers everywhere look forward to, and there is no better place to talk to shoppers about Vidalias, the sweet onion category and the upcoming... Read more
Vidalia onion crop straight from the fields
VIDALIA, GA — Short supplies of sweet onions from elsewhere have the market primed for the annual Vidalia onion crop, which by all accounts is shaping up to be the best in four years. The Produce News spent some time in early April visiting... Read more
Hoxie, Seald Sweet's Desana discuss Mexican grape deal
Most people know Seald Sweet International for citrus. But the company and its global partner Univeg have made major moves in grape and tree fruit markets. Seald Sweet's Chris DeSana recently talked with Sarah Hoxie about the upcoming Mexican grape... Read more
Marzetti video series connects to consumers, gives to charities
Marzetti, a leader in refrigerated dressings and produce dips, is reaching out to consumers with a four-part video series. The company will donate up to $5,000 to four different charities in connection with the videos. “Marzetti is about... Read more
SEPC gets down to business at trade show
After two days of play, the Southeast Produce Council 2015 Southern Exposure trade show and expo got down to business Feb. 28 at the Caribe Resort in Orlando, FL. Our Mary Blackmon hit the expo floor for a whirlwind tour... Read more
SEPC goes back to the 1950s at gala
Car hops and ice cream shops, leather jackets and poodle skirts — was it really the Southeast Produce Council 2015 Southern Exposure fabulous Friday night gala at the Caribe Resort in Orlando, FL? Our Mary Blackmon found out that — despite... Read more
Legendary QB talks football and Manning family values
Archie Manning was a football legend in the Southeastern Conference long before he was the keynote speaker at the Southeast Produce Council Southern Exposure Expo 2015. He had a stellar career as an NFL quarterback, but you... Read more
Gold medal skier Picabo Street taps into 'Southern Roots' at SEPC women’s luncheon
The Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Roots program for women in produce kicked off at the organization’s fall meeting in 2014 and continued with a Feb. 26 luncheon at the SEPC Southern Exposure expo in Orlando, FL at the Caribe Resort. Olympic... Read more

 

Tampa PR firm says crisis public relations plan is essential

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.”

SIGHTINGS

EPC's last meeting of the season
The Eastern Produce Council's May 19 meeting, held at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ, was sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. This was the last EPC meeting before its traditional summer... Read more
Northern California site of FPFC Golf Tourney
The Fresh Produce & Floral Council held its annual Northern California Golf Tournament at picturesque Callipe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton, CA, on May 15.  The scramble format resulted in... Read more
Baldor’s 'Think Global, Source Local' event
A large group of Baldor Specialty Foods’ customers and partners celebrated the launch of the Bronx, NY-based company’s new totally transparent website: baldorfood.com. The celebration, titled “Think Global,... Read more
SEPC raises $100,000 for charity
About 160 people attended the Southeast Produce Council's second annual Terry Vorhees Charity Golf Classic, and 127 golfers participated in the tournament, held at the beautiful Atlanta National Golf Club.... Read more
Produce industry shows support of Boys & Girls Club
TUBAC, AZ — To benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County, the produce industry again showed dominant leadership in presenting the annual Fiesta de Mayo Weekend. Nogales-area produce distributors... Read more
EPC celebrates Cinco de Mayo at Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market
PHILADELPHIA — The Eastern Produce Council celebrated Cinco de Mayo during its third annual meeting at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, here. A variety of sponsors provided delicious foods and... Read more
Sonora grape industry convenes for annual meeting
HERMOSILLO, SONORA — About 250 Mexican industry growers and related suppliers gathered April 23-24 for the Sonora Spring Summit 2015. The annual Sonora grape marketing meeting involved vineyard tours,... Read more
South Carolina Peach Council raises $130,600 in auction
The South Carolina Peach Council gathered in Myrtle Beach, SC, April 18 and raised $130,600 in a live auction for the council’s work in research and promotion in the year ahead. The auction offered... Read more
PMA Foundation's 2015 Women's Fresh Perspectives Conference
The PMA Foundation for Industry Talent's Women's Fresh Perspectives Conference kicked off April 26 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego. Participants will benefit from a powerhouse speaker lineup... Read more
CAC hosts tour of California avocado industry
The California Avocado Commission hosted a media tour April 25-26. It encompassed stops at a leading avocado nursery, a longtime avocado grower and the country's largest packinghouse, giving attendees... Read more