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Matt Simis promoted to director of strategy at T&A

Tanimura & Antle in Spreckles, CA, announced July 27 that Matt Simis has been promoted to director of strategy, reporting directly to CEO Rick Antle, whom he will assist in developing strategic direction for Tanimura & Antle and its affiliated companies.

Mr. Simis will continue to support senior T&A management operational and financial teams, assisting them in developing and refining analytical and technology-based tools that further improve Tanimura & Antle's ability to deliver high-quality products in todays competitive and challenging produce industry business environment.

Mr. Simis began his career at Tanimura & Antle in 1993 as an intern at Salad Time and then full time in June 1994 after completing his MBA in agricultural business at Santa Clara University. During his tenure at Tanimura & Antle, he has held various support and analysts roles and was most recently sales financial analyst manager.

New PMA foodservice board takes office in Monterey

NEWARK, DE -- The Produce Marketing Association welcomed its 2005-06 foodservice board of directors, which took office during the PMA Foodservice Conference, Tours & Expo, July 23-25, in Monterey, CA.

Foodservice Board Chairman Gene Harris, senior p urchasing manager for Denny's Corp. in Spartanburg, SC, is joined by 16 directors. They are:

* Leonard Batti, vice president of production and processing at NewStar in Salinas, CA.

* Steve Bleeker, corporate manager of sourcing and procurement at The Walt Disney Co. in Orlando, FL.

* Chris Ciruli, partner at Ciruli Bros. in Tucson, AZ.

* Kevin Donovan, sales manager at Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA.

* Mark Erickson, vice president of continuing education at the Culinary Institute of America in Saint Helena, CA.

* R. David Figeuroa, director of materials at Juice Harvest Corp. in San Bernardino, CA.

* Albert R. Green, director of operations/food safety at Six L's Packing Co. Inc. in Immokalee, FL.

* Anne Kimball, director of supply chain management at Jamba Juice Co. in San Francisco.

* Rob Mumma, vice president at Belair Produce Inc. in Hanover, MD.

* Kenny Myers, vice president at Kegel's Produce Inc. in Lancaster, PA.

* Chris Puentes, president of Interfresh in Fullerton, CA. * Greg Reinaur, vice president of sales and marketing at Amerifresh in Seattle.

* Norman Saville, president of Produce Source Partners in Newport News, VA.

* Michael Simonetta, chief executive officer of Perfection Fresh Australia in New South Wales, Australia.

* Michael Spinazzola, president of Diversified Restaurant Systems in San Diego, CA.

* Maurice Totty, produce category manager at Foodbuy in Charlotte, NC.

Retiring from the foodservice board are Mitch A rdantz, director of sales and marketing at Bonipak Produce Co. in Santa Maria, CA; David Gill, partner at Gills Onions in Oxnard, CA; Joe Murphy, director of produce procurement at Fresh Horizons Procurement in Huntersville, NC; Brian Sturgeon, president and chief operations officer at FreshPoint Inc. in Houston; Mikel R. Weber, director of purchasing at Golden Corral Corp. in Raleigh, NC..

Pear Bureau Northwest to sponsor local Olympic athlete

The Pear Bureau Northwest will sponsor local U.S. National Ski Team athlete Torin Koos during the 2005-06 season.

Mr. Koos, a native resident of Leavenworth, WA, is a premiere Nordic ski athlete who will compete at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. As part of the

sponsorship, he will make appearances at schools and other events as a spokesperson for USA Pears.

About selecting Mr. Koos as a spokesperson, Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of the Pear Bureau Northwest, said, "Torin grew up in pear country, and as a professional athlete, he lives the messages we're trying to impart about good nutrition being an integral part of an overall healthy lifestyle. His commitment to his sport and desire to teach others about healthy living connects to our objective of reaching out to consumers with health and nutrition messages that pertain to fresh pears."

About the relationship with the group that markets Northwest pears, Mr. Koos said, "I was fortunate to grow up in an area that provided great opportunities for outdoor activities and access to locally grown produce. I am looking forward to helping the pear bureau reach consumers nationwide who are interested in making positive changes to their life such as choosing to exercise and making healthy food choices.

In addition to making personal appearances, Mr. Koos will contribute to the bureau's consumer web site (www.usapears.org) and other related materials.

UC president, others embrace RFID technology

University of California President Robert Dynes expressed his enthusiasm after witnessing a recent Radio Frequency Identification presentation at NewStar Fresh Foods LLC in Salinas, site of the nation's first RFID cold-chain produce testing center.

Sausalito, CA-based QLM Consulting and Michigan State University operate the facility on behalf of Eden Prairie, MN-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide and NewStar -- one of C.H. Robinson's preferred providers.

Mr. Dynes' enthusiasm was understandable to the small group that discussed RFID at NewStar after his departure.

Michael McCartney, principal of QLM Consulting and chairman of Produce Marketing Association's RFID produce action group, said that generation II RFID products are just now starting to be introduced on the market. The generation II protocol is a "talk and listen" protocol that offers the ability for faster reads and interrogations. The increased efficiency of the protocol is promising for RFID reads on mixed pallets -- a more likely scenario for foodservice with different cases on a pallet, Mr. McCartney said. A major advantage of generation II is interoperability, which will drive down costs, he said.

Within the next few months, C.H. Robinson will line up a middleware provider, which "will set the standard for produce, Mr. McCartney said. Any grower would want to get behind a $4.5 billion company such as C.H. Robinson, which sources for the Albertson's supermarket chain, he said. FoodSource -- C.H. Robinson's Monterey-based subsidiary -- handles Trader Joe's Co.

Ballantine Produce Co. Inc. in Reedley, CA, has installed Manhattan Associates' software, which is a big vote of confidence in Manhattan as an RFID middleware and management system provider, Mr. McCartney said.

In addition to Mr. McCartney, on hand for the RFID discussion was NewStar's Steve McShane, director of new product development; Lloyd Ligier, vice president of business development for Monterey, CA-based Pro*Act, an industry leader in foodservice produce supply-chain management; Ken Choi, chief technical consultant for QLM; Mark McDonald, Alien Technology Corp.'s director of product management for battery-assisted passive products; and Maria Kaganov, product marketing specialist for Alien Technology. Alien Technology is a leading provider of Radio Frequency Identification products for global customers.

Mr. Ligier said that Pro*Act doesn't want to be the first -- or last -- to use RFID, but that the company is interested in identifying where RFID has applications for restaurant operators.

The next wave of 200 suppliers to Wal-Mart is due to be on board with RFID technology by January, which would bring to 337 the total number of Wal-Mart suppliers on board with RFID.


California Fresh Cut to close plant
About one-third of Soledad, CA-based California Fresh Cut will be absorbed into B&P Packing in Soledad by the end of the year. Both carrot-processing operations are co-owned by Bob Bigiogni and his sister, Janet Rianda.

The five-year-old California Fresh Cut -- which handles mini-peel one-pound baby carrots -- produces 1,500 cases of mini carrots a day. The company distributes independently and through nearby Gonzales, CA-based Foxy Foods.

An inability to relocate the business within Soledad was overlapped by a building moratorium in that city, which led to the decision to consolidate, Mr. Bigiogni said. The baby carrot end of the business will disappear. B&P Packing will peel larger carrots and concentrate on foodservice for companies that use carrot sticks and shredded carrots. B&P has about 60 employees, and California Fresh Cut has 45. After the consolidation, B&P will have 70-75 employees, Mr. Bigiogni said.

Contact Western Editor Brian Gaylord at briangaylord@sbcglobal.net or 831/757-4000.

More than 1,500 attend PMA foodservice conference

NEWARK, DE -- More than 1,500 produce industry professionals, including double the number of foodservice buyers as last year, gathered at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference, Tours & Exposition held July 23 to 25 in Monterey, CA.

"Restaurant operators at the Foodservice Conference are up in caliber and number," PMA foodservice board Chairman Gene Harris, senior purchasing manager of Denny's Corp., said in a July 27 statement. "This reflects PMA's industry leadership and the significance that produce plays on their customer's plate."

Fresh Origins, a grower-shipper and first-time exhibitor, won the PMA Best of Show Expo contest. Fresh Origins took top honors out of a field of 140 exhibitors for its effectiveness at promoting its company brand, the outstanding visual appeal of its booth, product presentation, and for the professionalism of its booth personnel. Prizes awarded to Fresh Origins included first choice of booth space for the 2006 foodservice expo.

(Full coverage of this event will appear in the Aug. 1 issue of The Produce News.)