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

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
Record crowd packs Reunion golf courses for SEPC Tom Page Classic
Close to 300 duffers churned up the Reunion Resort golf courses Feb. 26 for the Southeast Produce Council’s annual Tom Page Golf Classic at the Southern Exposure trades how and expo in Orlando, FL. What did we learn? There’s a reason... Read more
Southern Exposure kicks off in Orlando
  The Southeast Produce Council 2015 Southern Exposure trade show and expo kicked off Wednesday night with dinner for the executive council and guests at Orlando’s exclusive Eleven, a rooftop restaurant at the Reunion Grand Resort Club. SEPC... Read more
Celebrity ad campaign and ‘iconic’ branding of fruits and vegetables
WASHINGTON — The Produce Marketing Association has approved $1 million to launch a new, celebrity-endorsed fruit and vegetable marketing blitz, called FNV, that will be tested in Fresno, CA, and Hampton Roads, VA, this spring. Some details of... Read more
First lady stars with Big Bird and Billy Eichner in ‘eat brighter!’ video
First lady Michele Obama, Sesame Street’s Big Bird and comedian Billy Eichner of Billy on the Street star in a Funny or Die video released this morning touting the consumption of fruits and vegetables and the Produce Marketing Association’s... Read more
AFM Super Bowl ad airs during big game
Avocados from Mexico became the first fresh produce brand to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1 during the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The 60-second spot, called The Very First Draft, aired... Read more
New Products Showcase: Stemilt Fresh Blenders provide convenience to consumers
A healthy, nutritious breakfast is just a fingertip away with Stemilt Growers’ new “Fresh Blenders” line of apples. “It became quite evident to us through consumer research and engagement that people were using apples in their juicers and blenders at... Read more
Commitment to quality, innovation drives Potandon
Potandon Produce LLC, headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, has carefully crafted a business model that can be summarized this way: Excellence beyond expectation. Senior Vice President of Sales Dick Thomas said that attention to the smallest detail gives... Read more
Sunkist's  S’alternative Citrus Hack
Sunkist has released a new Citrus Hacks video that focuses on its S’alternative program, which is aimed at educating consumers on how they can reduce sodium intake by seasoning their food with fresh lemon. "We’ve received a great response to our Sunkist... Read more
New consumer pack released by Owyhee Produce
A new mesh sleeve consumer pack designed to minimize onion skin flaking is now available from Owyhee Produce of Nyssa, OR. In describing the Sleeve Pack, which holds onions in a single column, Owyhee General Manager Shay Myers said the benefits... Read more
Sunkist's Citrus Hack video series
Sunkist has developed a video series called Sunkist Citrus Hacks to inspire consumers to get creative this citrus season. "The videos are a spin-off of 'life hacks' — the popular clever life solutions that have garnered so much online traction," said... Read more
Stemilt brings locales to life in new Rushing Rivers Pear video
Stemilt is giving consumers a look at its world renowned pear locales in a new video that highlights the company’s heritage and its position growing and packing pears in Washington state’s Wenatchee and Entiat river valleys. The video features... Read more
IPC launches new national television commercial
For the past two years, the Idaho Potato Commission's national television commercial has featured the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck and a perplexed potato farmer who can't seem to keep tabs on it and its fun-loving Tater Team. Now, the IPC has... Read more
PMA TV recaps Fresh Summit 2014
Two years after a record-breaking convention in Anaheim, CA, PMA Fresh Summit returned to the city with a new record number of exhibitors and produce industry members from more than 60 countries around the world. Oct. 17 Oct. 18 Oct. 19 ... Read more
New POM Wonderful TV campaign to kick off pomegranate season
POM Wonderful, one of the world’s larger producers of Wonderful variety pomegranates and a leading premium refrigerated juice company, is celebrating fresh pomegranate season. For the first time in three years, POM Wonderful is returning to television... Read more
Whole Foods Market and Instacart partner to offer one-hour delivery across 15 major U.S. cities
Whole Foods Market and one-hour grocery delivery service Instacart announced a new partnership that enables customers to have Whole Foods products delivered in as little as one hour. Customers will soon also have the option to place orders via... 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

15th annual World Floral Expo
The 2015 World Floral Expo filled the Los Angeles Convention Center with beautiful blooms March 11-13 and brought together all segments of the floral chain, from importers to retail florists. There were... Read more
PBH meets for annual conference
The Produce for Better Health Foundation held its annual conference, ‘The Consumer Connection,” March 16-18 at the Valley Ho Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ. A Fresno State marketing team won a PBH Formula 5... Read more
Bozzuto's holds 2015 trade show and awards gala
MASHANTUCKET, CT — Bozzuto's Inc. held its 2015 Independent Retailer Conference March 10-11 at Foxwoods, here, with the annual Excellence Awards gala just one of the highlights. Another highlight was the... Read more
Dole and House Foods sponsor first EPC meeting of 2015
HACKENSACK, NJ — Eastern Produce Council members shook off the winter doldrums and gathered March 10 at the Stony Hill Inn, here, for the council’s first meeting of the year, which was sponsored by Dole... Read more
FPFC holds annual Day at the Races
While many people around the country were still digging out of snow drifts, around 700 produce professionals and their families "braved" temperatures in the upper 80s on Saturday, March 7, to attend the... Read more
Rawl honors employees, customers at 90th anniversary celebration
ORLANDO, FL — About 80 employees and customers of W.P Rawl & Sons Inc., a greens grower-packer-shipper in Pelion, SC, gathered here Feb. 26 in a family reunion atmosphere to celebrate the company’s... Read more
Southern Exposure 2015
The Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure 2015 drew more people than ever before, setting records for over all attendance as well as for participation by the retail and foodservice sectors of the... Read more
Picabo Street addresses Southern Roots luncheon
ORLANDO, FL — Picabo Street, World Cup Alpine skier and Olympic gold and silver medalist, spoke Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Southern Roots luncheon, one of many events of the Southeast Produce Council's... Read more
NEPC's annual dinner dance
The New England Produce Council held its annual dinner dance gala — with the theme Moonlight Garden — at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. This year's event was especially memorable, as 2015 marks... Read more
FPFC meets in Northern California
The Fresh Produce & Floral Council held its semi-annual Northern California luncheon meeting Feb. 19 at the Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton. The event drew a crowd to listen to a keynote address... Read more