United Fresh Produce Association establishes new Supply Chain Technology & Logistics Program

United Fresh Produce Association has announced that the association will establish a new Supply Chain Technology & Logistics Program to serve its members in all areas of supply chain management, including transportation, cold chain quality control, information technologies and systems for traceability, facilities management, packing and packaging needs and related areas. President and CEO Tom Stenzel made the announcement during a presentation to the Board of Directors of the International Foodservice Distributors Association on produce traceability and supply chain issues.

“From the increasing costs of distribution to the need to enhance traceability and quality control as produce moves from farm to table, our members are facing significant challenges to their profitability,” said United Fresh Chairman of the Board Tom Lovelace of McEntire Produce. “Yet, with appropriate investments in technology and sound management practices, we can increase efficiencies, reduce the potential costs of product recalls and deliver to consumers even better tasting, higher quality produce,” he said.

The new program is made possible in part through a major grant from C.H. Robinson to the Center for Business Management within the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation. The Robinson grant will support a new initiative to develop education programs and tools to assist industry members with the rising cost and complexity of transportation, including trucking, rail, air and ocean shipping. The initiative will also include an increased focus on transportation and logistics solutions at the United Fresh convention April 22-24, 2009 in Las Vegas. Stenzel announced that the association will hire a new full-time staff expert to lead the Supply Chain Technology & Logistics Program.

“At C.H. Robinson, we know the importance of effective distribution management as a key to overall industry profitability,” said Jim Lemke, senior vice president. “We are pleased to support United Fresh in expanding its capability to assist our industry in meeting these challenges. In today’s environment, we believe effective management of distribution and logistics is key to companies’ success throughout the entire supply and demand chain.”

In addition to new education programs supported by the Robinson grant, United Fresh will launch a new legislative and regulatory initiative related to policy issues in transportation and distribution. According to Robert Guenther, senior vice president for public policy, United’s new Vice President of Legislative and Government Affairs Kam Quarles will bring a specific focus to transportation policy issues. “Kam will quickly establish strong relationships with federal regulatory agencies such as the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and individual congressional members who may potentially affect transportation capacity and supply chain flow,” Guenther said.

“Both Kam and the individual chosen to lead our new supply chain management program will work closely with United’s new Transportation & Logistics Council, chaired by David Dever, CEO of Pandol Brothers,” Stenzel said. “We’ve been working over the past several months to secure the member expertise we want to lead this Council and look forward to convening the first council meeting before the end of the year.”

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