April 17, 2020; 5:15 pm EDT/2:15 pm PDT
Dear produce industry member:
As another week of crisis comes to a close, my team and I at Baldor Specialty Foods have been able to catch our breath just a little as we begin serving customers here in the Northeast in many new ways. I won’t accept that this is the “new normal,” but we know that our normal will be different in the future. Better news yet, our health crisis in New York is slowly improving, so the entire city and state are beginning to feel our heartbeat pick up with the prospect of re-opening business.
I know that many of you are in the same situation – responding to the urgencies of the hour but also thinking about what lies ahead.
I want to share a brief message tonight as Chairman of the United Fresh Board of Directors, as our association is doing the same thing. As you’ve seen over the past six weeks, our Board, Foundation Board, and the entire staff team have mobilized to serve your needs. We’ve focused on three goals:
- Help you in every way possible to keep the fresh produce supply chain moving to feed America and feed the world. Our relationships with government have never been more important – working with the CDC, FDA, USDA, DOL and every alphabet soup federal agency in Washington, DC. And, we’ve been able to bring produce suppliers together in partnership with large national chains, independent grocers and school nutrition professionals to support produce sales. There’s a long way to go, but we’re continuing to harvest, pack, process, distribute and sell fresh produce.
- Help drive government to first recognize, and then do something to help mitigate the financial devastation so many in the produce industry have suffered, and continue to suffer today and in days ahead. Again, our relationships with Congress, the Administration and allied produce associations enabled us to be heard above the noise, as we march in unison on industry-wide positions. We are hopeful that some relief will soon be forthcoming – not to make anyone whole, but to help keep us alive for the future.
- And third, our team has been reinventing our signature event – the annual convention and expo held since 1904. When Tom Stenzel announced our shift to United Fresh LIVE! and a virtual event, I was amazed that the United community had come together every year for 116 years, and proud to hear that 2020 would be no different. In the coming weeks, I’m going to ask you personally to get involved with United Fresh LIVE! Registration is free, so you can find community, collaboration and innovation when we most need it. And if you haven’t had an in-person exhibit booth, why would you not take advantage of this low-cost, high-value opportunity?
I know many of you are like my company, still fighting your way through these dark days in hopes of brighter times to come. I’ll leave you this weekend with a quote from Winston Churchill that has always meant a lot to me and my business.
Courage to continue is what counts. Success is never final; and failure is never fatal.