Seven Produce Innovation Award winners were recognized at United Fresh 2018 in Chicago in late June. This year’s honorees were selected by show attendees from a total of 36 contestants across seven categories: Best New Food Safety Solution; Best New Fruit Product; Best New Packaging; Best New Packing/Processing Equipment; Best New Vegetable Product; and two new categories for 2018—Best New Indoor Growing Technology and Best New Field Technology.
“This year’s Innovation Awards winners won from a field of excellent and qualified competitors,” said John Toner, United Fresh’s VP of convention and industry collaboration. “The exceptional creativity of these seven winners helped them stand out at United Fresh 2018, the home of fresh produce innovation.”
This year’s winners are:
Best New Food Safety Solution: Natures Natural Solutions LLC, Industrial Size Food Freshness Card
Best New Fruit Product: Apeel Sciences, Apeel
Best New Packaging: Mucci Farms, CuteCumber Poppers
Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Volm Companies Inc., Volmpack Pouch Bagger
Best New Vegetable Product: Mastronardi Produce/Sunset, Sunset Aloha Peppers
Best New Indoor Growing Technology: Iunu, Luna
Best New Field Technology: Food-Origins, Food Origins Data Collection Platform
“Innovation starts at United Fresh,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. “The innovation of our member companies shape the entire produce industry, and show attendees have the unique opportunity to see that ingenuity up close at United Fresh. Congratulations to this year’s winners and thank you to all participants for showcasing your creativity.”
United Fresh Foundation to increase children’s access to fresh produce
Also this week, the United Fresh Start Foundation announced the launch of a three-year fundraising campaign that aims to secure $5 million in commitments to support the foundation’s mission of increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The new campaign was announced by United Fresh Chairman of the Board Cindy Jewell in her chairman’s remarks during the United Fresh 2018 opening general session.
“As a nonprofit, we’re dependent on the generous funding of our industry and other contributors committed to children’s health,” said Phil Muir, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees. “Long-term financial commitments will not only allow us to grow our impact today, but also build multi-year collaborations with other organizations that will grow and deepen our impact for years to come.”
“The United Fresh Start Foundation focuses on three core mission areas where it can make the most impact on our nation’s children: in schools, in communities and connecting our businesses to make a difference in local communities,” said Kate Olender, senior director of health and wellness.
The foundation is best known for its flagship Salad Bars to Schools Program, which has placed more than 5,000 salad bars in schools in all 50 states, benefitting nearly three million children. The foundation’s Community Grants Program, now in its second year, has provided $100,000 to community organizations that increase kids’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables after school, on weekends and throughout the summer. Each year, during the United Fresh Expo & Conference, the foundation hosts more than 50 school foodservice directors for the annual School Foodservice Forum, a two-day interactive event that connects school foodservice with fresh produce industry leaders.
“We have been contributing to the United Fresh Start Foundation for many years,” said Lisa McNeece, VP of foodservice and industrial sales at Grimmway Enterprises Inc. “The impact I’ve personally witnessed has been tremendous. Barbara Grimm-Marshall has been a true champion of the Edible Garden in our very own community. This along with Grimmway’s corporate contribution to the foundation has allowed us to expand that reach and provide access for more kids across the country. The benefits are truly immeasurable.”
“What makes our foundation successful is that we harness the power and passion of our entire industry to ensure kids can eat fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Olender.