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L&M Transportation Services announces new logistics office

L&M Cos. announced the opening of its newest logistics office, L&M Transportation Services Inc. located in Selah, WA.

L&M Transportation Services Inc. became fully operational March 7 with two logistics specialists in place to handle produce loads sold through L&M?s Selah office. John Drotzmann and Eddie Solis, logistics specialists, will arrange trucks and deliveries for the loads of apples, pears and cherries sold from the L&M Selah office.

The logistics presence in the L&M office marks a first for L&M Cos., combining for the first time in one common space the functions of produce sales and transportation logistics. A natural fit for the two organizations, this arrangement promises to streamline the entire sales process and increase the effectiveness of both.

The Selah office is likely to be the blueprint for similar pairings in other L&M Cos. sales offices throughout the country.

LMTS President Mike Devine foresees a very successful partnership. "This is a proud and exciting day for the L&M family of companies. By combining the synergies of LMTS and L&M Companies, we will take full advantage of the years of collective expertise in this ever-changing industry."

The L&M Cos./LMTS office is located at 304 South First St., Suite A, Selah, WA, 98942. The LMTS logistics specialists can be reached at 888/735-0927 or by fax at 509/697-5110.

Club Fresh to open new facility in Southern California

Club Fresh, a fresh produce processor and specialty manufacturer, is opening a new facility shortly in the Los Angeles distribution center of its parent company, JC Produce, based in West Sacramento, CA.

The new facility will utilize production space inside JC Produce, creating an integrated production and distribution facility.

In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the processing room will feature low-velocity fan coils to reduce wind chill. This will provide more consistent temperatures in the processing room " one of the many steps that Club Fresh has taken to ensure the best-possible shelf life of its fresh-cut foods.

As the only USDA QTV plant for fresh-cut processing in Northern California, Club Fresh maintains extremely high standards for food safety, which will continue in the new Los Angeles facility.

Club Fresh recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary in its Sacramento facility, and is excited to now begin processing in Southern California.

?We?ve been delivering to Southern California for several years. With the growing interest in our products and the increase in business, we knew it was time to build another facility," said Paul Abess, president of JC Produce. "By reducing transportation time, the new processing facility will enhance our ability to serve the state of California with products closer to the time they were cut, generally within 24 hours of the time an order is made."

In the preparation of both its foodservice and retail packs, Club Fresh creates custom cuts and does private labeling for many of its customers. With a background in food science, Club Fresh manages its fresh-cut items with a culinary eye for quality by hand-cutting most items to create a superior balance between quality and cost effectiveness.

?Having a culinary eye for quality, our people approach our fresh fruits and vegetables as food, not just product," said Mr. Abess. "And now that we?ll be closer to our Southern California customers, we believe both our products and our service will be exceptional."

U.S. Potato Board assessment to rise

After reviewing results of the U.S. Potato Board?s domestic and international marketing programs and discussing the future of those programs on budgets that have been static for more than 20 years, board members voted during the board?s annual meeting March 19 to increase the assessment.

Eighty-eight percent supported the funding increase from 2 cents per cwt. to 2.5 cents per cwt., with a delayed start date of March 1, 2006.

?This level of support speaks clearly of the industry's commitment to our strategy and programs," said Ray Meiggs, newly elected chairman of the board and a North Carolina potato grower. "We have invested grower dollars in highly successful programs during the past five years, and the recent action of the membership will allow us to respond more quickly and effectively to opportunities and unforeseen challenges."

Prior to the annual meeting, a regionally representative grower survey was commissioned to gauge the degree of grower support for the board compared to prior years, as well as awareness and attitudes toward specific aspects of its strategies and programs. The overall evaluation of the job being done by the board was positive, with "excellent? or "good? ratings outweighing unfavorable evaluations four to one. More than eight out of 10 growers said that they supported the programs funded by the per cwt. assessment. Additionally, 62 percent expressed interest in increasing resources for specific programs.

The survey was reflective of what was reported by caucuses prior to the vote on the motion for an assessment increase.

?We all know that the industry is going through difficult times right now because we are all in this together," said Kraig Knutzen, a potato grower from Washington and the board?s immediate past chairman.

The newly formed grower cooperative is focused on solving the oversupply issues affecting the industry, he said.

?We have time to see them make great strides to solve the supply issues before the increase goes into effect. That?s why we timed it the way we did," Mr. Knutzen said. "But the growers, after reviewing and analyzing the USPB demand-building programs, were committed to the assessment increase, knowing that the potential return to growers far exceeds the investment."

In addition to Mr. Meiggs, who is sales manager for Keystone Potato Products LLC in Elizabeth City, NC, other appointments to the board?s executive committee were:

? Larry Alsum, president of Alsum Produce Inc. in Friesland, WI, who represents the north-central district.

? Boyd Foster, president of Foster Agro Inc. in Rigby, ID, and Nelson Cox, owner of Nelson Cox Farms Inc. in Warden, WA, who represent the northwest district.

? William Brooks Jr., owner of Dusty Lane Farms in Elmer, NJ, who represents the northeast district.

? Buzz Shahan of Queen Creek Potato Co. in Mesa, AZ, who represents the southwest district.

? Carla Worley, co-owner of Worley Seed and Hi-Land Potato Co. Inc. in Monte Vista, CO, who represents the south-central district.

Alex Ott named executive director of the California Apple Commission

FRESNO, CA " Alex Ott, director of government relations for the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, has been named to head the California Apple Commission, here.

His selection was approved by the commission?s board of directors at a March 7 meeting, according to Kenton Kidd, who will be retiring as president of the commission on April 1. Mr. Ott?s title will be executive director.

Mr. Ott told The Produce News that he has been with the league for about five-and-a-half years. Prior to that, he worked for California Assemblyman Mike Briggs as agriculture and water issues director for the Central Valley. "Before that I was with Congressman John Doolittle?s office," and prior to that with Assemblyman Keith Olberg?s office, he said. In both positions, he worked on water and agriculture issues along with "various other constituent matters."

Among the issues with which he has been involved since 1994 are ag labor, environmental resource issues, food safety, food security, pesticide issues and international issues, particularly as they relate to food safety and food security.

A graduate of Sacramento State University with a bachelor?s degree in government, Mr. Ott has since pursued post-graduate studies at California State University at Fresno. "I will be graduating in approximately six weeks from Fresno State with a master?s [degree] in international relations," he said. Mr. Ott is also involved with his in-laws in farming some Thompson seedless grapes.

In his new position with the California Apple Commission, Mr. Ott said that he is "looking forward to a great opportunity with a lot of challenges." The industry faces "several challenges here in the state " regulatory and legislative " and here in the United States."

But in addition, he said, "we now have market forces abroad. It is a global market. I look forward to the challenge of using my legislative experience and my political experience as well as some of my agricultural experience to try to open new markets and new directions, and at the same time see if we can get some of these regulations off our back."

Cornell study: Apples could reduce risk of breast cancer

An apple a day can help keep breast cancer away, according to a study published recently by food scientists at Cornell University.

It's the latest in a series of new university research from around the world supporting the dramatic health benefits of eating apples.

?We found that tumor incidence was reduced by 17, 39 and 44 percent in rats fed the human equivalent of one, three or six apples a day, respectively, over 24 weeks," said Rui Hai Liu, Cornell associate professor of food science at the university?s agricultural experiment station in Geneva, NY.

?Many women have a real fear of breast cancer, and this research is important because it proves that healthy natural foods like New York apples are truly a weapon against disease," said Linda Quinn, a nutritionist for the New York Apple Association. "Natural wholesome foods like New York apples are actually the foot soldiers against disease and illness. It is very empowering for women to know that they can take action to improve and protect their health."

The Cornell researchers treated a group of rats with a known mammary carcinogen and then fed them either whole apple extracts or control extracts. The report will be published later this month in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

?Our findings suggest that consumers may gain more significant health benefits by eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods than in consuming expensive dietary supplements, which do not contain the same array of balanced, complex components," Dr. Liu said.