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Oppy's Anderson earns lifetime achievement award

At the 17th annual Friend of Chile Awards Luncheon, the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia honored accomplished business leaders, including John Anderson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Oppenheimer Group, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anderson was acknowledged for several achievements, including Oppy’s status as the top North American importer of Chilean stone fruit, bringing millions of dollars in business through the ports along the Delaware River.John-with-M-Welch--M-StackMartin Welch, chief operating officer of emerging markets for Aramark; Senator Mike Stack, Pennsylvania lieutenant governor elect; and John Anderson, chairman, president and CEO of The Oppenheimer Group. As well, Anderson was officially documented in the state of Pennsylvania by Senator and Lieutenant Governor-elect Mike Stack as a person who has made a difference to the well-being of the people living and working in the state.

The awardees have charted new territory in the realm of international connections and business innovation between the United States and Chile. Benjamin Leavenworth, Consul of Chile, Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and Sen. Stack joined the chamber in offering commendations to the honorees.

“For nearly 40 years, Anderson’s finely honed business instincts have left an indelible mark on a global industry, while building Oppy into a strong and successful produce marketing enterprise,” Ricardo Maldonado, executive director of the chamber, said in a press release.

The Oppenheimer Group currently utilizes all four major facilities on the Delaware River: Holt Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ; Tioga Marine Terminal and Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia; and the port of Wilmington, DE, to import grapes, berries, cherries, citrus, kiwifruit and stone fruit from Chile. In a typical year, the Oppenheimer Group receives 4.5 to 5 million cartons of Chilean produce through these port facilities.

Recently, Anderson was honored with the coveted 2014 BC CEO of the Year Award for a major private company. He was named Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for Canada’s Pacific region in 2002, and in 2013 Anderson was recognized by the B.C. chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth with a Dealmaker of the Year Award.

Under his leadership, The Oppenheimer Group has been named as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies since 2001, and has been part of its esteemed Platinum Club since 2008.

The Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia is a non-profit, apolitical membership organization created to foster increased and improved commercial and trade relations between the Republic of Chile and the Greater Philadelphia region. The chamber brings together people and businesses with an interest in reaching this goal through participation in a variety of activities and programs.

Will Obama's immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) "Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?" he asked.

"Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law," he continued. "But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just," he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

"The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don't support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people's elected representatives," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

"We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president's actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation," Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. "Some in Congress will argue that the president's action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation."

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

"As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers' future labor needs," it said in a statement.

Record sales and revenue for Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond Growers' global almond sales soared to $1.2 billion, up $189 million in fiscal year 2012-13. Value-added sales volume increased by 14 percent, even with a crop that was 7 percent smaller, according to Mark Jansen, president and chief executive officer, who addressed the cooperative's grower owners at the 103rd annual meeting. Value-added sales now represent more than 60 percent of the co-op's revenue, including manufactured ingredients and consumer retail products.bludia

"We accelerated our transformation into a global branded food manufacturing company, while making significant investments to ensure continued profitable growth," Jansen said in the release. "In April we opened our Almond Innovation Center on our Sacramento campus followed by the June grand opening of our Turlock plant, the largest single investment in the history of the California almond industry. We will lead the world tree nut industry in almond product innovation and double our capacity with cutting edge plant technology designed for producing the highest quality almond products in the world."

"There's no other way to express the 2012 crop results than to say, 'excellence delivered,'" said Chairman of the board Clinton Shick, a grower from McFarland. "This is the third year in a row for returning record revenue per acre to Blue Diamond growers. The 2012 crop exceeded the 2011 record by 21 percent, making the final total grower payment of $828 million the largest single payment ever made to almond growers."

Margin enhancement projects included improved manufacturing yields and faster processing lines, resulting in cost reductions of $11.3 million, for a three-year compounded savings of $38 million. "Margin enhancements fuel our investments in new facilities, breakthrough advertising, and global markets," Jansen explained. "It also allows us to pay our growers industry-leading returns."

Energized by enhanced advertising investments and new products, sales thrived in 2012-13. In North America, the branded consumer business increased 30 percent to $469 million. Over 15 new products emerged that included Iced Coffee Almond Breeze, Artisan Nut*Thins and coffee- and fruit-flavored snack almonds. Snack Almond sales jumped 22 percent versus prior year, while Chilled Almond Breeze sales skyrocketed 74 percent and Aseptic Almond Breeze climbed 40 percent. Artisan Nut*Thins were up 38 percent over the same period.

Sales are expected to stay firm as Blue Diamond partners with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to be the official snack nut of the U.S. ski, snowboarding and freeskiing teams as they prepare for the Winter Olympics Season in 2014. Blue Diamond Almonds will be integrated into the athletes' nutritional meals at the USSA Center of Excellence and on the road at training camps, competitions and the U.S. Team's mobile kitchen in Europe.

Internationally, Blue Diamond's branded sales were up 90 percent in volume versus the prior year, while net sales were up 95 percent. For the first time in the cooperative's history, branded advertising aired on three continents: North America, Australia and Europe.

Blue Diamond Global Ingredients sold fewer commodity almonds in a short crop but still managed to grow its manufactured ingredient business volume by 14 percent. This business has doubled in size over the last four years.

"I am most proud of the employees of Blue Diamond," said Jansen. "We often use the metaphor of a duck on the water. Above the water or outside the organization, the changes they execute may look easy. Under the water, or inside the organization, their feet are vigorously paddling. The fact is they work hard delivering the benefits of almonds to the world."

Food Lion Feeds launches campaign to help feed families in need

This holiday season, Food Lion is partnering with customers in its more than 1,100 stores, Nov. 19-Dec. 23, to help solve hunger through its Food Lion Feeds "Holidays Without Hunger" campaign.

Through the campaign, customers can purchase and donate a specially marked "Holidays Without Hunger" food box for $5, while supplies last, or make a cash donation at checkout. All of the cash donations benefit Feeding America, one of the largest domestic hunger relief charities, and its network of local food banks. Food boxes are donated directly to a local hunger relief food bank or agency.

Through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion is working to create a better tomorrow by uniting with customers and partners to help eliminate the difficult choices many families are forced to make when they are struggling with hunger. Working toward its commitment to provide 500 million meals by the end of 2020, Food Lion Feeds has already donated approximately 40 million meals through in-store campaigns, like "Holidays Without Hunger," its food donation program and local donations and volunteerism.

C.H. Robinson collaboration results in Twin Cities Food Fight

C.H. Robinson has teamed up with Twin Cities NBC affiliate KARE 11 to create a one-day food and fund drive called the KARE 11 Food Fight. The unique collaboration aims to fight hunger in Minnesota with all donations benefitting Second Harvest Heartland. During the 2013 event, more than 860,000 pounds of food was collected.chrob

The Food Fight, which takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., pits four KARE 11 anchors — Belinda Jensen, Julie Nelson, Eric Perkins and Randy Shaver — against each other in a friendly competition to see who can collect the most food.

As a co-creator of the event, C.H. Robinson staffs each location throughout the day and provides the transportation needed to collect the donations and deliver them to Second Harvest Heartland. Since 1905, C.H. Robinson has served the food industry through the company’s logistics services and produce business brand, Robinson Fresh. In addition, preventing hunger and providing food assistance are charitable priorities of the C.H. Robinson Foundation. By staffing the Food Fight, and providing employee donations and a monetary gift from the Foundation, C.H. Robinson will donate over 200 volunteer hours and more than 25,000 pounds of food for the event.

“The Food Fight is a creative, fun and festive way for local residents and companies to give back to their own community,” Angie Freeman, vice president of human resources at C.H. Robinson, said in a press release. “Each donation, large or small, allows us to take another step forward in preventing hunger, especially during the holiday season.”

As one of the nation’s larger food banks, Second Harvest Heartland serves more than 530,000 people each year, 33 percent of which are individuals younger than 18 years old. The donations from the Food Fight also lessen the economic burden of purchasing food, since 84 percent of Second Harvest Heartland clients earn less than $30,000 per year. For every 1.2 pounds of food donated, Second Harvest Heartland can provide one meal to those Minnesotans experiencing the stress of hunger.

The community-wide competition encourages individuals, companies, and groups to bring food and cash donations to one of the designated locations: Whole Foods in Maple Grove, Byerly’s in Minnetonka, Cub Foods in Eagan and Kowalski’s in Woodbury. Special guests and fun activities will be at all four locations throughout the day.

Individuals can also follow the progress of the event through social media by tracking the following hashtags: #KARE11FoodFight, #TeamBel, #TeamJulie, #TeamPerk and #TeamRandy. For those unable to attend the event, online donations can be made at Second Harvest Heartland’s website.