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Mann Packing prepping for inaugural Tour de Fresh ride to Anaheim

Mann Packing Co. is sponsoring a three-man team in the first Tour de Fresh event next month.

The four-day cycling event will take produce industry member participants 275 miles along the California coast, traveling to Anaheim, CA, for the PMA Fresh Summit show.Tour-de-Fresh-logo

Not only will this ride be a test of endurance for the 40 riders, but it serves as a cause marketing event. The funds raised will benefit the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign by placing salad bars in 40 schools across the country.

“This is a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts at Mann Packing,” Craig Grantham, rider and team captain for Team Mann, said in a press release. “In the spirit of Mann’s history of philanthropy, what better an opportunity to help influence the health and well-being of children than providing them with an opportunity to have a healthful and nutritious lunch each day at school.

“Myself, and fellow Mann team members Rodman Bittner and Danny Goforth, are excited for this opportunity to represent Mann’s — and to represent the produce industry in this worthy cause,” he said.

The rider’s will leave Carmel, CA, on Monday, Oct. 13 and arrive in Anaheim on Thursday, Oct. 16. More information about the event is available at www.tourdefresh.com. Donations starting at $5 may be made through this website.

Additionally Mann’s will be having a fundraising lunch on Friday, Sept. 26. at  Mann’s cooler facility and offices located at 1250 Hansen Street in Salinas, CA, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  A donation of $10 will buy a barbecue lunch, including a Swiss sausage sandwich, fresh vegetables, chips, cookie and water.

Van Eeghen leaving Church Bros.

After seven years with Church Bros. in Salinas, CA, Ernst Van Eeghen, vice president of marketing and product development, is leaving the firm to take a position in San Antonio, TX, with a non-produce industry organization.

In an email to friends and colleagues, Van Eeghen said he was making the move to be closer to family. He characterized the new organization as "outside the produce industry, yet involved with manufacturing of food products."

He told The Produce News Sept. 23 that he was finishing up his work at Church by the end of week "and the movers are coming the next day." He said his wife is from the South and it has been a family goal to return to that region for many years.

"But I wasn't going to leave without a great job," he said. "I love being in the produce industry and it hurts to leave. I was one of the few people lucky enough to love driving to work every day."

He will begin a similar marketing position in his new company, Twang Partners. Van Eeghen described it as a "premium manufacturer of flavored salts and seasonings for the food and beverage industry."

He said he expects to cross paths with the produce industry in the future as his new company is working on salad and fruit toppings that do have applicability to fresh produce.

Church Bros. President Steve Church said, "Ernst did a fantastic job for us and will be missed."

He added that the firm was currently searching for a replacement but he had no announcement to make at this time.

Van Eeghen began his produce industry career with Mann Packing Co. in Salinas, spending five years there before joining Church Bros.

Fresh Produce Alliance fears that Canadian produce industry on the verge of losing preferential status in U.S. markets

Canadian fresh fruit and vegetables suppliers will soon lose preferential status when exporting to the United States if the Canadian government fails to follow through on its commitment under the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council. In 2011, the government committed to establish a comparable Canadian approach to protecting produce suppliers from buyers that default on their payment obligations, but little progress has been made, according to a press release issued by the Fresh Produce Alliance, a joint initiative of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Horticulture Council and the Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp.

"According to data collected by the Fresh Produce Alliance, American suppliers are losing at minimum $10 million annually through Canadian buyer insolvency," Anne Fowlie, executive vice president of Canadian Horticultural Council, said in the press release. "This is, coincidentally, about the same amount that Canadian suppliers are recovering each year through the U.S. Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Trust. Hundreds more Canadian suppliers depend on the security PACA offers for ease of mind in their trade relationships."

Until now, Canadians exporting to the United States have had the same rights under the PACA Trust system as American suppliers to recover payments easily and quickly if a buyer refuses to pay or declares bankruptcy with unpaid bills to produce suppliers. U.S. officials are warning that Canada's special status may soon be revoked if the Canadian government does not implement a reciprocal payment protection program in Canada.

Removal of benefits could be announced any day, according to the Sept. 23 press release, putting Canada's $1.6 billion in produce exports to the U.S. at higher risk of payment default.

"Canadian industry can ill afford to take on added costs, given that three-quarters of Canada's 10,000 fruit and vegetable producers are small businesses with average sales of less than $85,000 per year," Jim DiMenna, president and chief executive officer of Red Sun Farms, added in the press release. "Canadian exporters will be hit extremely hard because they will have to meet costly bonding requirements to achieve the same level of U.S. PACA trust protection they have enjoyed in the past."

The Canadian industry has requested the establishment of a limited statutory deemed trust, modeled on what currently exists in the United States, which would provide effective, inclusive protection that takes into account the unique characteristics of trade in perishable products. If movement towards establishing this limited statutory deemed trust is not soon demonstrated, the consequences may prove disastrous for Canadian produce exporters and the communities where they operate, according to the alliance.  

The Canadian fresh fruit and vegetable sector and its supply chain supported 147,900 jobs and created $11.4 billion in real GDP in 2013. Over 85 percent of the value of Canada's vegetables and fruit are grown in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Rural communities in these provinces are at greatest risk from produce buyer insolvency.

C.H. Robinson supports nationwide hunger-relief efforts

C.H. Robinson and recently rebranded produce division Robinson Fresh have utilized their strengths to support two nationwide hunger-relief efforts. In recognition of a unique and collaborative effort, C.H. Robinson was presented with Second Harvest Heartland’s 2014 Hunger Hero Innovation Award for the company’s contribution to a large-scale agricultural rescue project.

Through an innovative pilot program, C.H. Robinson helped Second Harvest Heartland boost transportation efficiencies and played an integral role in the shipment of almost 1 million pounds of sweet corn to participating food banks throughout North America.

As member of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks serving every state in the United States, Second Harvest Heartland relies on the support of its vast network of community partners, volunteers and donors who are dedicated to this particular cause.

“With C.H. Robinson’s help we were able to improve on an important aspect of our business — getting food to those who need it the most,” Rob Zeaske, chief executive officer of Second Harvest Heartland, said in a press release. “C.H. Robinson received our Innovation honor because of their willingness and ability to go above and beyond to create new and effective solutions.”

Throughout 2013 and 2014, Robinson Fresh used its fresh produce knowledge and brand power to promote AARP and AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger campaign. The initiative aims to raise awareness and funds to address the problem of hunger that exists among nearly 9 million Americans who are 50 years or older.

C.H. Robinson sourced and shipped more than 2.5 million pounds of Tropicana clementines in specially designed packaging that featured the campaign’s spokesperson, four-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, and raised more than $70,000 for the AARP Foundation.

“Since AARP and AARP Foundation launched Drive to End Hunger, the initiative has donated more than 20 million meals and we couldn’t have done it without help,” Lisa Marsh Ryerson, AARP Foundation president, said in the release. “We are so thankful for the dynamic support that we received from Robinson Fresh and how successful their unique model was in helping us raise awareness.”

Fairway Market names new CEO: Jack Murphy, co-founder of Fresh Fields

Fairway Group Holdings Corp. has named Jack Murphy, a seasoned retail executive with strong experience in specialty food retailing, as its chief executive officer. Murphy was a co-founder of natural foods grocer Fresh Fields Inc. before it was sold to Whole Foods Inc., and most recently he served as CEO of Earth Fare Inc., an organics and natural food chain with locations in the Southeast and Midwest.

"We believe that Jack brings very strong leadership to Fairway and possesses highly relevant marketing and merchandising skills that are complementary to our organization," Charles Santoro, chairman of Fairway Market, said in a press release. "Jack has developed and implemented business strategies for unique and highly differentiated brands, and brings great enthusiasm, perspective and leadership to the company."

"I am very excited to lead this iconic food retailer, known for its longstanding and unwavering commitment to providing a huge selection of high-quality foods at great values to its millions of customers," Murphy said in the release. "Fairway Market is a true industry leader in innovative and exciting foods of all types. I'm honored to join this very special retail company and look forward to working with the entire Fairway Market team."

In addition to co-founding and serving as chief operating officer of Fresh Fields and as CEO of Earth Fare, Murphy was an operating partner at McCown Deleeuw & Co., a private equity firm that owned the 24 Hour Fitness chain, as well as vice president of operations at Purity Supreme Supermarkets.

Bill Sanford, who was appointed interim CEO in February while the company undertook a search for a new CEO, has decided to leave the company to pursue other interests. Sanford joined the company in 2008 as chief administrative officer and then served as chief financial officer and president before becoming interim CEO.

"Bill has made significant contributions as a member of Fairway's management team for the last six years, and we greatly appreciate his leadership and commitment throughout his time at Fairway," Santoro said.