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Local PMA Fresh Summit ideal for California Avocado Commission

The California Avocado Commission is putting plans in place for the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit that will be held in CAC’s “backyard” at the Anaheim Convention Center Oct. 17-19. With the venue so close to California avocado groves, CAC expects many local growers to attend the show and will have a grower in its booth to answer attendee questions about the growing practices of the fruit.

CAC’s Fresh Summit Booth No. 2438 will focus on the care and craftsmanship that goes into cultivating California avocados and everything the new California avocado label represents.Michelle-Dudash-large-horizMichelle Dudash The label was introduced this year to help consumers distinguish the origin of the fruit at point of purchase. Consumer videos titled “A Look Behind the Label” and valuable avocado category data will be presented to existing and potential California avocado customers at the venue.

“CAC welcomes retailers and other Fresh Summit attendees to visit the California avocado booth to sample delicious avocado dishes, learn about the California avocado 'fresh to market advantage' and get a preview of our 2015 plans,” Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president of marketing, said in a press release.

Michelle Dudash, a registered dietitian nutritionist and author, will be in CAC’s Fresh Summit booth to share delicious, nutritious dishes featuring California avocados.

Dudash is an award-winning nutritionist and Cordon-Bleu-certified chef who is a frequent guest on television and radio shows. She is a best-selling author, whose three principles for everyday food choices, “clean, fresh, and fast,” were the foundation for her book, "Clean Eating for Busy Families." Dudash, a fan of California avocados, has served as a commission nutrition spokesperson for the past three years.

CAC also will be active on social media in advance of and during PMA Fresh Summit, leveraging event activities to connect with California avocado fans.

“CAC has participated in PMA’s Fresh Summit for more than 30 years and has experienced the benefits from strengthening connections and making new ones through networking and events,” said DeLyser. “The California Avocado Commission team is really looking forward to continuing that experience this year in our own backyard.”

Veracruz-Philly ocean service is 'in the red zone'

"When you have a band of stubborn, bull-headed, determined entrepreneurs, they make things happen," said Fred Sorbello, who recently stepped down from his role as president of Ship Philly First.

Such a position is quickly driving a direct refrigerated ocean freight service between Veracruz, Mexico, and the Philadelphia port community.

On Sept. 4, as many as 20 Ship Philly First members were holding a "call-a-thon" to develop southbound trade for a round-trip link, which is already rich in promised northbound refrigerated cargo. Between 250 and 300 prospective exporters would be contacted, Sorbello said.2014-6-23-Philadelphia-on-hThe Delaware River, seen here from the deck of a break bulk ship docked in the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ, cumulatively makes one of the largest fruit ports in the United States.

Sorbello said the aforementioned aggressive membership of Ship Philly First has done a great deal of due diligence for steamship lines that potentially will offer a regular route between Mexico's east coast and the region that is the keystone for the greatest population center in the United States.

"Many steamship lines are interested and are doing their due diligence" toward creating the new service, he said.

Ship Philly First members' groundwork provides a strong lead for steamship companies' new business plans.

Sorbello said the first step toward fulfilling this concept was to talk to Philadelphia-area service providers — including government agencies — to confirm service from Veracruz was wanted, needed and practical. There was broad support at home, so work began with Mexico.

Ship Philly First is a non-profit, membership organization of private business owners who operate port-related companies in the Delaware Valley, the Mexican consulate of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and ProMexico, the economic development arm of Mexico.

The Mexican leaders helped open lines of communication in Mexico. The climax of this was a July 16-18 trade meeting in Veracruz. As The Produce News reported in July, the summit was a tremendous success, according to Carlos Giralt, Mexican consul of Philadelphia, and other Ship Philly First leaders who were involved in the meeting.  

On Sept. 4, Sorbello recounted that Mexican shippers of fresh fruits and vegetables — as well as other commodities — were extremely enthusiastic about having a direct, weekly refrigerated ocean container service to Philadelphia.

"There is no question that Mexicans want this service and they want it now," Sorbello said.

One produce shipper guaranteed that he would export 150 containers per week, 52 weeks a year, on such a service. Such an offer immediately "gets you to second base" in planning northbound cargo service from Veracruz, Sorbello said.

Going into the July meeting, Sorbello expected Mexican produce shippers to have seasonal offerings but he was pleasantly surprised by the ability there to ship fresh fruits and vegetables 52 weeks a year. Limes, pineapples and avocados are key year-round Mexican commodities for the U.S. market.

Sorbello said eight of Mexico's top meat exporters were involved in the Veracruz meeting and gave a great deal of support to "a more affordable delivery of goods" via a direct ocean service to the northeastern United States.

Sorbello's private company is Mullica Hill Group Cos., a Mullica Hill, NJ-based operation that specializes in warehousing meat.

Sorbello said the drought in the western United States has reduced herd sizes to modern-record all-time lows. Meanwhile, meat exporters Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico are gearing up to enjoy all-time high meat prices in the U.S. It will be at least a couple of years until the U.S. meat imbalance will correct itself, Sorbello said.

The Sept. 4 call-a-thon was an extension of the third step in preliminary diligence to create this service by finding adequate southbound cargo. Sorbello said that businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and southern New York state ship $10 billion in goods to Mexico each year. A fair portion of that would be suited for this new ocean service, he added. Fresh and frozen poultry and meat, auto parts, machinery and possibly pharmaceuticals are all potential southbound cargo from the Philadelphia area.

The southbound cargo may not be as time-sensitive as produce on the northbound route, which would run five days from port to port. Thus, steamship companies maybe don't need a direct route when returning to Mexico.

Sorbello outlined the advantages of this route. First, he said it offers an alternative to trucking. This was expressed by potential Mexican trade partners as a very key consideration. Using ocean freight not only reduces cost, but the Mexicans — and others — feel "there is only such much trade with border crossings only. It is more cost effective to go to the northeast U.S. directly from Veracruz to Philadelphia."

A regularly scheduled service is very attractive to traders. For example, if a ship discharges every Tuesday, importers can plan long-range sales programs accordingly.

Sealed ocean container shipping from plant to plant avoids problems with sealed tractor-trailers being opened for inspection at border crossing. There, the cold chain is broken and there is the potential for a security breach.    

Ship Philly First plans a follow-up export seminar in Philadelphia in October.    

Sorbello used a football analogy to describe Ship Philly First progress toward a direct link with Veracruz: "I feel we are definitely down in the red zone. We are about to get over the goal line."

Of course, that "band of stubborn, bull-headed, determined entrepreneurs" make an excellent offensive line.

Fresh Insights: What every produce industry consultant and supervisor needs to know

From the moment you decide to enter the world of produce, you are being evaluated by someone. The boss, client, company and the customer all have a stake in your performance.

What is that individual’s opinion of you? Perhaps you are one of the brazen souls who believe it does not matter what others think of you. Nothing could be further from the truth. The future of the organization you represent hangs on the spirit you bring to it.

Each day businesses across the globe close their doors because other people besides you had that same thought: “It does not matter what people think.” It does matter and, in fact, it matters a great deal.

In the competitive produce industry, your performance determines the outcome of the company you work for or the sustainability of the business you represent. How important is that income sustainability to your family?

Business respect and integrity is not made in the big deals. It is made in the smaller deals made on a day-to-day basis. The delivery of a quality service by a consultant or a supervisor is what sets you apart in competition.

Also, administering your responsibility well determines if your company can reach its success quotient. What role will you play in the success or failure of your organization?

Many people who leave the produce industry think they got a raw deal, when in reality they were the raw deal. Their attitude determined their outcome.

People need two qualities to reach a level of excellence in any business: They need to be approachable and they need to be teachable. If they are neither, they remain running a marathon but their feet never go forward. They stay in the spot they started and wonder why.

Consultants must master themselves before mastering their trade. Every supervisor must master his or her own performance before he or she should expect others to master theirs. The team you lead looks at how you perform far more than what you say.

It is refreshing to meet consultants and supervisors who are forthright about their strengths and weaknesses. Develop that honesty in yourself and be positive. You don’t have to be the fix, you have to find the fix.

What are the deal breakers that make consultants get turned down by clients? Why does upper management pass you over for a supervisory role? Here are some key reasons:

Are you approachable?

Will you allow another individual to talk to you about improving your performance or do you take an immediate defensive position? Clients and supervisors need to communicate and improve outcomes. You are being paid to listen and be approachable. If you can’t swallow your ego and hear what they are saying without a defensive spirit, then dooms day is coming and it’s just around the corner.

Are you attentive to details?

Do you delude yourself into thinking you can keep all the facts in your head and not write anything down?

Most individuals who are not good at details don’t even know it. The truth is all people need to utilize a system for reminders to ensure they can remember the details that are important to others.

The reason most people fail at this is they don’t know they have a problem, since the details they forgot were not important to them. This is a make-or-break issue for your business, whether a consultant or supervisor. Be responsible for what others ask of you.

Are you dedicated?

The world of a produce industry consultant or supervisor can be cutthroat since there is a lot of competition. He who meets the needs of the client or company wins, and that may take working more than someone else every so often.

Very few people are interested in the nickel-and-dime guy who counts every minute on the clock and complains continuously. Clients and companies are looking for the person who gets the job done without all the reminders.

In today’s economy, there are countless people looking for jobs. That attitude will only land you out there with them. Think bigger if you want to succeed. Be different on purpose.

Are you a person of your word?

Are you trustworthy? Take that word apart for a minute — trust and worthy. Are you worthy of being trusted? If you make casual statements like “I will take care of it,” and then you do nothing, you have become untrustworthy.

Trust is built on being a person of your word. If you make a commitment, keep it. Write it down so you don’t forget when committing to return a call. If you can’t be trusted to deliver on the small matters, no one will trust you on the big dealings. Keep your word. Your reputation and advancement depend on it.

Are you teachable?

Every good supervisor can spot potential in the people they oversee. Sometimes that potential is so good the supervisor knows an individual may eventually pass them by. But if you burn one supervisor thinking you know more, the supervisor above him knows it can happen again.

Potential tends to run in certain pockets, so teamwork and learning in new areas are crucial to company success. You might be great in one area and weak in another. Deliver instead of complain and learn instead of lag. Be a student in every situation by truly listening and learning.

Individuals are free to perform correctly or not. Be the person that others are eager to see walk in a room because you are approachable, attentive, dedicated, trustworthy and a positive team player. You will be noticed and you will succeed! The world awaits.

AMHPAC convention looks toward future of Mexican protected agricultural production

Focused upon strengthening and sustaining its thriving industry, the Mexican Association of Protected Horticulture, commonly known by the Spanish acronym AMHPAC, held its seventh annual convention.

More than 330 participants attended the Aug. 28-29 meeting, which was held in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, on the Gulf of California about 15 miles northeast of the famous resort town of Cabo San Lucas.

A Sept. 3 press release indicated that convention participants came from five countries, while domestic attendees came from 20 Mexican states.

"Over 100 representatives from 42 produce growing companies under protected schemes were reunited," with most of these being tomato growers, according to the release. Furthermore, "51 supplier companies took advantage of this setting to promote their inputs and services."

The opening session was a workshop regarding "Case studies in the daily operation of tomato export." This highlighted a detailed discussion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's tomato suspension agreement, including related workings of the Mexican mechanism of operation registration in SAGARPA, the national department of agriculture. Mexico's Ministry of Economy has an automatic notice of export, which was also detailed.

In the opening general meeting, Juan Ariel Reyes, AMHPAC's president, stated, "We are focused in making the Mexican protected horticulture industry to become a solid and sustainable guild with international recognition".

Enrique Julio Zorrilla Fullaondo, general manager of corporate banking for Mexico at Scotiabank, provided an analysis of Mexico's economic and financial environment.

A long list of speakers also gave important presentations on Aug. 29.

National Mango Board appoints new executive director

The National Mango Board has appointed Manuel Michel as its new executive director. William Watson will remain active executive director of the NMB until Dec. 31, working side by side with Michel as he becomes integrated into his new role.nmblogo

Michel comes to the NMB with extensive background and experience in agriculture and issues that affect the industry, including crop production, management, business development, marketing, food safety and government relations.

“On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank William Watson for his unparalleled contribution to the NMB and dedicated work for the success of the industry,” Bill Vogel, chairman of the NMB, said in a press release. “I feel confident that Manuel Michel will take this role to the next level and make an important and meaningful impact as he guides the board through the new phases of growth that the mango industry will face in coming years.”

Most recently, Michel provided regulatory oversight to several federal government commodity programs as a marketing order specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Order & Agreement Division. Prior to that, he managed quality assurance and food-safety programs for L&J Farms and Jackpot in California's Salinas Valley. Michel was also a managing associate attorney with the Whittenburg Law Firm in Texas. He has been a member of the Texas State Bar since 2008. Other professional experience includes working as a field inspector and commerce development analyst for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, and as a produce consultant and food-safety auditor for Davis Fresh Technologies.

Michel attended Oregon State University, where he received a bachelor's degree in agricultural business management, a bachelor's degree in international studies in agriculture, and a minor in crop science. He also earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Tech University School of Law.

Throughout his career, Michel has received several awards and recognitions. His strong work ethic, integrity and passion for agriculture have earned him the respect and confidence of the people and industries he has worked with. 

Michel and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter. They enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends.