your-news image

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.

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.

Food safety, immigration and nutrition top issues at United’s Washington conference

WASHINGTON — With the latest changes to federal food-safety regulations due out any day, produce industry representatives will be listening closely to Mike Taylor, food safety chief at the Food & Drug Administration, when he speaks at United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington conference.

Some 500 produce industry representatives are signed up to attend the United Fresh Washington Conference, Sept. 8-10, here, and their message to Congress during the two-day visits will be focused on the need for immigration reform and to hold firm on school nutrition. California folks are expected to add the water crisis to the list of must-haves during the visits.

While perhaps not on the congressional agenda for this year, the produce industry will be eagerly awaiting Taylor’s comments on the Food Safety Modernization Act rules that touch on food imports, produce safety and preventive controls, all of which have been sitting at the White House for weeks.

“We hope to have a preview of what to expect,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management and communication for United Fresh, referring to Taylor’s speech on Sept. 10.

United Fresh has also scheduled a Wednesday meeting at FDA’s College Park, MD, headquarters with the FDA produce staff charged with writing the new rules.

“The face-to-face time is critically important,” Gilmer noted.

On Sept. 9, United Fresh is hosting, for the first time, a session on genetically modified foods and how that debate affects the fruit and vegetable industry. Cathleen Enright, executive vice president at the Biotechnology Industry Association, and Randal Giroux, vice president at Cargill Inc., will discuss the ramifications.

At a recent session on produce marketing, Gilmer said it took only a few minutes for speakers to be peppered with questions about GM crops. Produce businesses are wondering whether the technology will be embraced by the industry and/or consumers.

“I think this is something the produce industry needs to talk about more openly,” Gilmer said. The issue of market acceptance is likely to get hotter as the technology is viewed as one weapon in the battle of citrus greening.

In another session, three of the nation’s leading school-nutrition advocates will discuss the need to maintain the new school meal standards, instead of allowing some school districts to be given waivers from the stricter nutrition standards.

James Barnett Jr., a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, will discuss Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit group of military elite who are advocating for good nutrition to fight the nation’s obesity crisis and keep the nation’s military fit for service. Other speakers from the American Heart Association and the National PTA will discuss the need to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools.

No meeting is complete without a session on immigration reform. United Fresh is lobbying for the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill, and Gilmer said the group has no comment at this point on the Obama administration’s plan to make changes administratively, thereby bypassing Congress.

Oscar Gonzales, deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Juliet Potrykus, aide to Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), will field questions on prospects for immigration reform.

“We want the momentum rekindled,” Gilmer said, adding that there is talk that immigration reform may have to wait until after the midterm elections.

Gilmer acknowledged some industry members are becoming increasingly frustrated by lack of momentum on key issues in Congress, especially the long battle for a legal workforce.

But he added, “You can’t sit it out.” Lawmakers need to hear from growers the real-world impact of not being able to harvest because of labor shortages. “We can’t back down from that,” he said.

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.

Early start, normal volume expected for Wonderful pomegranates

Field supervisors continue to anticipate normal volume but an early start for the Wonderful variety pomegranate. This popular variety accounts for more than 80 percent of the pomegranates shipped from California.

As of Sept. 2, orchards from Fresno south were still running a week early, with an anticipated start harvest date in the last week of September.

"The early varieties have moved smoothly into the distribution channels and the decks are now cleared for the Wonderful variety," Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit said in a press release. "Retailers are finding strong demand for the early varieties, but there are still some retailers who hold heavy promotion until the Wonderfuls arrive."

According to Tom Rouse of PomWonderful, the largest pomegranate grower in the world and an exclusive Wonderful shipper, said, "We like the larger size, high color and superior sugar found in this variety. We'll start shipping the first week of October, with the harvest continuing until early November, if Mother Nature cooperates. We anticipate peaking on 22/30, but will be able to supply promotable quantities of all sizes."

He added that "an increasing percentage of their shipments are going out in the very popular self shipper. The stand-alone unit provides incremental profit in previously unused floor space in the produce section, or near the check-out. Pomegranates are a high-impulse purchase item, so it's important to put them in a high traffic location where shoppers can find them."

"California is expected to harvest and ship more than 6 million fresh-market boxes of pomegranates this season," Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Sonoma, CA-based Pomegranate Council, added in the press release.

Tjerandsen said approximately 40 percent of California's pomegranates are exported, principally to Canada, South Korea and Taiwan. Russia had been a rapidly growing market, but with the continuing help of the MAP program, other developing export markets will replace that volume."

The foodservice industry continues to find new ways to use pomegranates. The new easy-to-use tray-packed or cup arils can be used to add color to salads, mixed drinks and all plate presentations. Patrons appreciate the addition of this exceptionally high-nutrition component.

Many new products are being launched with a pomegranate component. They range from nutritional supplements and juices, to skin care products. Continuing consumes and general efficacy testing will result in many more products that will take advantage of the rapidly growing popularity of pomegranates.