David Krause, Paramount Citrus
David Krause, Paramount Citrus

Of all the people who walked the show floor at the United Fresh 2012 convention in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, it was young Ryan Powell, a Dallas-area student, who made one of the biggest impressions.

Ryan attended United Fresh’s celebration for donating 100 salad bars to Texas schools. He already knows the impact that salad bars can have for improving the health of youngsters, and he said as much to a local TV reporter.

“The salad bar came in (to school), a lot of kids actually started eating their food and there are more empty trays now, instead of just piled with other junk food,” Powell said.

Those 100 new salad bars will be improving the dietary choices for Ryan and 60,000 Texas kids, every one of them a future produce consumer.

Many of them will have kids of their own who will learn about the flavors and nutritional benefits afforded by fruits and vegetables.

Thanks to the 60-plus donor companies who stepped up to make this happen.

Nationwide, the salad bar campaign has placed 1,600 salad bars across the country, and more are on the way.

Millions of kids will be enjoying fresh produce at school for years to come.

Standing next to Ryan at United Fresh’s salad bar celebration was United Fresh board member Dan’l Mackey Almy, who provided leadership for reaching the Texas salad bar donation goal.

She wasted no time in looking ahead to United Fresh’s 2013 convention in San Diego and laying down the challenge for California’s produce industry to donate an additional 100 salad bars by next May.

Within 24 hours of that challenge, United Fresh staff were already hearing from members who wanted to lead the California salad bar charge.

It’s really gratifying to see that kind of enthusiasm and commitment for making a difference for our industry. I saw that same passion among the winners of United Fresh’s Produce Manager Awards and Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards.

Wow, what a great group of innovators. These heroes work every day to build consumer excitement in produce departments, restaurants and cafeterias.

The event where we recognize these retail and foodservice champs marks a highlight for every United convention, and kudos to Ready Pac and Pro*Act for their ongoing sponsorship.

Reggie Griffin, in his final convention address as United Fresh’s chairman, challenged us all to keep the produce industry growing by staying focused on the consumer.

He knows we have to own the consumer’s confidence and trust — in safety, quality and value.

There’s no way I can adequately express my appreciation and gratitude to Reggie for his leadership this past year.

No one else in this industry is more respected, so it’s a huge honor to be following in his footsteps as United Fresh’s chairman.

Get involved

Looking ahead, there’s a lot of work to do. We’re poised to work closely with the Food and Drug Administration when their draft food safety rules are released.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have already started crafting a new farm bill that can benefit the produce industry.

United Fresh works every day to help ensure it’s the best possible legislation for advancing research, marketing, nutrition and many other industry priorities.

There are also many other critical industry issues that demand our attention. We can keep the momentum going by working together. Make plans to join United Fresh at the Washington Public Policy Conference Oct. 1-3.

Mark your calendars for United Fresh’s next convention in San Diego, May 14-16, 2013. Be sure to visit United Fresh’s website to read recaps of the events and watch video highlights.

As United Fresh’s chairman, I eagerly look forward to working with you in the year ahead.

David Krause is president of Paramount Citrus, Delano, Calif., and chairman of the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

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