The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has now raised more than $5 million toward its $15 million goal to finance produce-specific food safety research, and to transfer research findings to industry, government and other stakeholders, during the next five years.
Two of the fresh produce industry’s leading organizations, Taylor Farms and Western Growers, are each donating $1 million to the project. The money is going toward the group’s work to fund science, find solutions and fuel change in fresh produce food safety, according to a CPS statement.
The two contributors’ business structures are very different, but their motivations for supporting CPS are the same — to safeguard consumers and the industry’s future, by improving produce safety knowledge.
Dave Puglia, president and CEO of the trade association Western Growers, ranks food safety as a “top-level threat” to the fresh produce industry. The association also contributed $1 million to CPS during a 2015 campaign.
“We are in an era of greater transparency, and the high expectations that come with transparency about how this industry operates and the standards that it adheres to,” Puglia said. “Food safety has joined a triumvirate of challenging issues that need our full attention.”
Bruce Taylor, CEO of the fresh-cut processing giant Taylor Farms noted what’s at stake for industry members and their brands. Produce safety is important to his firm, he said, because of consumer loyalty.
Taylor Farms co-founded CPS with the Produce Marketing Association in 2007 with a $2 million contribution.
“We are delighted to see the amazing progress in research and practical application of food safety knowledge that is being driven by Center for Produce Safety,” Taylor said. “We’ve seen a consistent track record of success with their research programs, and their ability to communicate to the industry. That’s just as important — research without communication doesn’t help anybody.”
Puglia connected CPS’s work to two Western Growers priorities: food safety and technology.
“For us, investing in Center for Produce Safety promises to deliver practical, science-based solutions to enhance food safety practices that will be realized by technology in many cases,” Puglia said. “On the other side, the technologies that don’t exist today can get us those practical food safety solutions. We are invested in bringing those new technologies forward quickly. The two have power together.”
Both executives called on their counterparts across the fresh produce supply chain to step up and join them in supporting Center for Produce Safety’s future.
“The practical impacts of CPS-funded research have to be understood by everybody in the industry, including the people who grow, the people who harvest, the people who market the product,” Puglia said.
As of March 1, the following companies have generously contributed to CPS’s new fundraising campaign. A current list of contributors can be viewed at here.
Diamond Level Supporters, $1,000,000+
Platinum Level Supporters, $500,000 – $999,999
Dole Fresh Vegetables/Dole Food Company
Gold Level Supporters, $250,000 – $499,999
California Fresh Fruit Association
Tanimura & Antle
Silver Level Supporters, $100,000 – $249,999
Lipman Family Farms
JV Smith Companies
Promotora Agricola El Toro
McEntire Produce, Inc.
The Giumarra Companies
Mission Produce, Inc.
Pacific International Marketing
Bronze-Plus Level Supporters, $50,000 to $99,999
The Oppenheimer Group
California Avocado Commission
New York Apple Association
Bronze Level Supporters, up to $49,999:
Bonduelle Fresh Americas
Coastline Family Farms, Inc.
Little Bear Produce
Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc.
Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association
Diversified Restaurant Systems, Inc.
Florida Tomato Committee
Pasquinelli Produce Co.
Tyger Sales and Marketing, LLC
National Watermelon Association
Blue Book Services, Inc.
Pacific Ag Pak, Inc.
The Center for Produce Safety is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. CPS is a collaborative partnership that leverages the combined expertise of industry, government and the scientific and academic communities to focus on providing research needed to continually enhance food safety. This level of collaboration allows CPS to fill the knowledge gaps on produce food safety and address both research priorities and immediate industry needs.
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