Natural Foods Merchandiser

Veneman Names Committee

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman named 23 members to the Department of Agriculture's newly formed Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, and Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda's Inc., is an appointee.

"I feel honored to be selected," said Caplan, who will serve a two-year, unpaid term on the committee. "There are a lot of growers, mostly small but some large, that want to have their voices heard in Washington," she said. Frieda's of Los Alamitos, Calif., is a leading marketer and distributor of specialty produce in the United States.

The committee will examine fruit and vegetable issues and provide suggestions and ideas to the secretary on how the USDA can meet the industry's needs, Caplan said. She added that the exchange of views and information between industry representatives and the USDA should help the agency staff understand the impact of its programs on the fruit and vegetable industry.

The 23 members appointed by Veneman were selected from 179 individuals nominated by their peers in industry. The appointees include:

  • Four fresh fruit and vegetable wholesalers (Caplan of Frieda's, Jan Fleming of Strube Celery and Vegetable, Alan Siger of Consumers Produce Co. and Walter Strickland of Strickland's Supreme Salads);
  • Seven fresh fruit and vegetable growers or shippers (Tony DiMare of DiMare Inc., Carl Fields of Monterey Mushrooms, Camille Hukari of Hood River Grower Shipper Assoc., Maureen Marshall of Torrey Farms, Mike Martin of Rio Queen Citrus Inc., Stephen Martori of Martori Farms and Dennis Parnagian of Fowler Packing);
  • Two brokers (Grant Hunt of Grant J. Hunt Co. and Jim Lemke of C.H. Robinson Co.);
  • Two retailers (Bruce Peterson of Wal-Mart and David Corsi of Wegman's);
  • Four fruit and vegetable processors and fresh-cut processors (Dave Eldredge of Tanimura and Antle, Mahipal Kunduru of Dole Fresh Vegetables, Steve Taylor of Fresh Express and Stephen Wright of Agrilink Foods);
  • Two foodservice suppliers (Mike Kemp of SuperValue Inc. and Joseph Murphy of U.S. Foodservice Inc.);
  • One trade association representative (Thomas Stenzel of United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association);
  • One state department of agriculture official (Dan Wyant of the Michigan Department of Agriculture).

The committee's first meeting is scheduled for April 16-17 in Washington, D.C.

Steve Taormina is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 4/p. 12

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