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Emily Fleischmann Tailors Almond Board’s Global Marketing Programs to Consumers Worldwide

As the senior director of Global Marketing, Emily Fleischmann oversees Almond Board of California’s (ABC) global marketing investments in eight countries, crafting individualized plans that best target consumers in key markets. Emily Fleischmann oversees Almond Board of California’s global marketing investments in eight countries. “California Almonds have a great story, and it’s exciting to make sure that story is getting to as many consumers as possible,” she said. Working through ABC’s Global Market Development Committee, Fleischmann spearheads the efforts of Almond Board staff along with domestic and international marketing agency partners to market California Almonds in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, China and South Korea. “We are working to develop nuanced marketing programs within individual markets that can best reach consumers and other audiences, including health and food professionals, to increase overall demand for almonds. ”The overseas regional managers also work with ABC’s Technical and Regulatory Affairs teams to address market access issues working with experts on individual market development issues as they arise so product can flow as freely as possible. While the Almond Board has leveraged health and nutrition research in its marketing campaigns for many years, more recently, production and environmental research has become of interest to people outside the industry. “Twenty years ago, we started planting the seed by funding research into the health benefits of almonds. We continue to build on what we know about the health benefits of almonds with an empowerment message about how almonds fit into a healthy lifestyle,”Fleischmann said. Marketing teams work across committees, including the Nutrition Research, Environmental and Production Research Committees, to ensure marketing efforts capitalize on the latest health and consumer trends. “The trend of consumers caring about where their food comes from, we are seeing that across the globe, although there are differences by region in their level of interest,” she said. “In Europe, the U.S. and Canada, there is strong interest in knowing the food they eat is having a neutral impact on the land. And in China, the emphasis is on food safety issues and consumers want assurances the food they are eating is coming from a safe source.” Telling that story also comes with challenges. In China, escalating media costs limit the ability to directly reach consumers, so Almond Board of California is focusing on Tier 1 cities, Shanghai and Beijing, with an eye on Guangzhou next year. Partnering with nut brands in China and leveraging social media channels is helping to spread the message further. Domestically, the Almond Board is also shifting its approach to better target consumers. “We are taking a hard look at who the target consumer is and what they are engaging in so we can meet them via multiple touch points,” Fleischmann said Contextually relevant ads and digital engagement are pushing the envelope and challenging traditional marketing models to reach consumers in new ways. A partnership with nfl.com, as an example, provided opportunities for direct engagement with consumers during last year’s Fantasy Football draft. California Almonds were featured on one popular page giving humorous fantasy football draft tips. Fleischmann joined the Almond Board in March 2016 and has made an effort to meet with growers and handlers and learn about the industry from the ground up. A native of the Midwest, Fleischmann brings a background in brand management, global finance and accounting to the position. She worked for eight years as a marketing manager for a large traditional consumer packaged goods company and as a marketing and business manager for a family-owned firm for four years after that. She said the Almond Board provides her with the best of all those experiences. “It couldn’t have been a better fit. I am able to leverage my experience in brand building with my passion for other cultures and be part of an industry that is impressive and puts me closer to where the food comes from,” she said.
Newsletter
Jun 15, 2017 // About the Almond Board

FSMA Files: Straight Talk from the Experts, Part 3

This month we address when the written disclosure requirements under the Produce Safety rule apply. Please keep your questions coming! You can send them to Tim Birmingham at tbirmingham@almondboard.com with the subject line “FSMA Files.”  Question: I understand that growers can be exempt from the Produce Safety rule if their almonds receive commercial processing and they provide certain disclosure statements that accompany their almonds during distribution. Do these requirements apply when a company is vertically integrated?  Straight Talk: At this point in time, yes, the requirement to provide a written disclosure statement in order to be exempt from the Produce Safety rule would apply to operations that are vertically integrated and share common ownership. Explanation: Under the Produce Safety rule, produce that would otherwise be covered by the rule is eligible for an exemption from the requirements of the produce safety regulation if it receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance and certain disclosure and assurance conditions are met. For this “commercial processing exemption” to apply, the farm that produces the produce must, among other things, disclose in documents accompanying the produce, in accordance with the practice of the trade, that the food is “not processed to adequately reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance” (“disclosure statement”). In addition, the farm must receive a “written assurance” of commercial processing further down the supply chain, though FDA has delayed implementation of this provision for two years while it addresses feasibility concerns with the requirement. In the almond industry, product often is transferred between various entities, but it is not sold and ownership is not transferred. In addition, there are many operations (growers, huller/shellers, handlers and/or manufacturers) that share common ownership. Unfortunately, the Produce Safety rule is not clear about whether the requirement to provide a disclosure statement only applies when product is sold to a customer. Based on a strict reading of the regulation, the requirement applies whenever the product is received by another party in the distribution chain. Therefore, until we get greater clarity from FDA, the requirement to provide a written disclosure statement in order to be exempt from the Produce Safety rule would apply to operations that are vertically integrated and share common ownership.  As discussed in our March column, the Almond Board of California (ABC) has been engaged with FDA on what a grower exemption would look like. The agency has been asked to clarify its intent on whether, under the Produce Safety rule, (1) disclosure statements only need to be provided to “customers”; and, (2) if so, whether a “customer” is someone to whom product is sold and ownership transferred.  We will keep you posted on any information we receive on this topic. This column was prepared by Elizabeth Fawell and Maile Hermida, who are lawyers with Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC. The FSMA Files column is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. 
Newsletter
Jun 15, 2017 // Quality and Food Safety

The Almond Conference: Call for Papers by July 14

For the second time in The Almond Conference’s history, potential speakers may submit proposals to present at The Almond Conference in December on selected topics. Proposals are due by July 14 and will be considered on the following topics: Estate Planning Estate planning can be difficult, especially for farmers. To help make the process easier, this one-hour session should include high-level discussion on considerations and decisions needed for a business to survive into the future, and how those decisions may affect almond growers’ land, assets and family. Worker Safety Worker safety is a constant and never-ending concern for almond business owners and operators. This session may include components related to heat illness prevention, tractor or forklift operations, night worker safety, sexual harassment, etc. Regulatory updates and considerations almond growers or processors need to account for in their daily operations may also be a component of this session. Human Resources Topics may include hiring decisions, compliance with labor laws and employment standards, administration of employee benefits, recruitment and dismissal, etc. Labor Topics may include employment and safety (including but not limited to Cal/OSHA) laws and regulations, farm labor opportunities and constraints, and more. Succession Planning Thinking about the future of an almond operation is serious business; this session should focus on the thinking and decisions behind creating a shared vision for a family business and how to construct a plan to put that vision into action. Almond Food Safety This session should provide insight into the food safety landscape impacting almond handlers or growers, and may include topics covering consumer demands and food safety, regulatory considerations, novel approaches for pathogen control and/or application of science/technology in the food safety arena. By submitting a proposal, speakers are confirming that if selected, they have the necessary approvals, can travel to Sacramento and have the authority to present on the proposed topic. It is the speaker’s responsibility to obtain the necessary approvals from within their organization to speak about the topic outlined in the proposal prior to submitting. All selected speakers will be provided (1) free, all-access pass to The 2017 Almond Conference, being held December 5-7, 2017 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Presentations will be 60 minutes in length and includes any Q&A .Travel and hotel expenses are the responsibility of the speakers. Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AlmondConferenceSessionSubmission to submit a proposal before the Friday, July 14 deadline.
Newsletter
Jun 15, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Environmental Stewardship Tour Highlighted Almond Lifecycle

The Almond Board’s 14th annual Environmental Stewardship Tour in May showcased the lifecycle of an almond orchard — from the importance of state-of-the-art breeding techniques all the way to the care of a mature orchard. Duarte Nursey in Hughson hosted the tour, which was attended by more than 50 attendees from local, state and federal regulatory agencies, along with media, elected officials and various almond industry members. Gabriele Ludwig, the Almond Board’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, John Duarte of Duarte Nursery and Almond Board’s President & CEO Richard Waycott explain the lifecycle of an almond orchard at the 14th annual Environmental Stewardship Tour. Almond Board Environmental Committee Chair Rob Kiss greeted the attendees and noted this was the first time the annual tour had featured a nursery. “Our goal is to show the lifecycle of an orchard in order to give you, as regulators, a better understanding of all of the factors that go into producing almonds.” The rootstock selected, the almond variety chosen by the grower, the irrigation system, soil pest management and insect management are all important factors in managing the production of almonds, explained Kiss. Host John Duarte and Duarte Nursery’s Director of Research Dr. Javier Castillon led a tour through Dry Creek Labs, noting the clean rooms offer the perfect environment for clonally propagating rootstock from tissue culture. “With clonal rootstocks you will see increased uniformity, higher disease resistance, larger more vigorous trees and increased yields,” said Castillon. By using the USDA-run Plant Material Center, Duarte nursery tries to start off with virus-free trees, which improves the long-term health of the orchard, noted Duarte. To highlight how genetics can play a role in managing soil borne diseases, the tour next visited orchards managed by Scott Long from Pacific Coat Producers. These soils contain Armillaria (oak root fungus) which is a devastating disease that persists in the soil for many years and for which there is no cure, though soil fumigation may help. The tour visited a rootstock trial to assess whether any have resistance to Armillaria. UCCE farm advisor David Doll said the trial was monitoring root infection and tree mortality and noted it took seven years before symptoms of Armillaria showed up. Doll also highlighted the partnership in research between growers, UC extension and grower organizations, such as the Almond Board of California, to conduct research on how to better grow almonds. Ron Nydam of Waterford Irrigation Company discussed the preparation for a new almond orchard going in next to Duarte’s home and the importance of irrigation design and installation based on the soil type, availability of water (frequency and how delivered), frost risks and other factors. While a drip system may be more water-use efficient, for many soils, microsprinklers are a better choice for water penetration. To ensure optimal irrigation, soil moisture monitors gauge the amount of water needed to accelerate growth. This method keeps the trees hydrated and reduces stress. “The younger trees don’t take nearly the amount of water that a mature orchard needs," pointed out Nydam. Gabriele Ludwig, the Almond Board’s Director, Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, told guests the Board has been funding almond breeding program research for over 40 years. “The varieties and rootstocks relied upon by almond growers are largely influenced by long-term breeding research by University of California, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service,” she said, “and then the efforts by UC Cooperative Extension to monitor how the rootstocks and varieties do in the real world of the orchard. Traits of the rootstocks and the varieties can help deal with some important environmental issues.” Unfortunately, as UC Davis almond breeder Dr. Tom Gradziel, noted, it takes at least 10 years of testing in the field before a variety may be deemed acceptable for use by growers.  
Newsletter
Jun 08, 2017 // Environmental Sustainability

The Almond Conference: Call for Papers

For the second time in The Almond Conference’s history, potential speakers may submit proposals to present at The Almond Conference in December on selected topics. Proposals are due by July 14 and will be considered on the following topics: Estate Planning Estate planning can be difficult, especially for farmers. To help make the process easier, this one-hour session should include high-level discussion on considerations and decisions needed for a business to survive into the future, and how those decisions may affect almond growers’ land, assets and family. Worker Safety Worker safety is a constant and never-ending concern for almond business owners and operators. This session may include components related to heat illness prevention, tractor or forklift operations, night worker safety, sexual harassment, etc. Regulatory updates and considerations almond growers or processors need to account for in their daily operations may also be a component of this session. Human Resources Topics may include hiring decisions, compliance with labor laws and employment standards, administration of employee benefits, recruitment and dismissal, etc. Labor Topics may include employment and safety (including but not limited to Cal/OSHA) laws and regulations, farm labor opportunities and constraints, and more. Succession Planning Thinking about the future of an almond operation is serious business; this session should focus on the thinking and decisions behind creating a shared vision for a family business and how to construct a plan to put that vision into action. Almond Food Safety This session should provide insight into the food safety landscape impacting almond handlers or growers, and may include topics covering consumer demands and food safety, regulatory considerations, novel approaches for pathogen control and/or application of science/technology in the food safety arena. By submitting a proposal, speakers are confirming that if selected, they have the necessary approvals, can travel to Sacramento and have the authority to present on the proposed topic. It is the speaker’s responsibility to obtain the necessary approvals from within their organization to speak about the topic outlined in the proposal prior to submitting. All selected speakers will be provided (1) free, all-access pass to The 2017 Almond Conference, being held December 5-7, 2017 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Presentations will be 60 minutes in length and includes any Q&A .Travel and hotel expenses are the responsibility of the speakers. Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AlmondConferenceSessionSubmission to submit a proposal before the Friday, July 14 deadline.  
Newsletter
Jun 08, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Executive Orders Watched for Industry Benefits

In the first 100 days of President Trump’s administration, he has signed 33 Executive Orders and 27 Presidential Memoranda. Both have the same legal weight, but have different processes for issuance. Many of these documents will have no impact on the California Almond industry. However, some will and some have already. One of the first Presidential Memoranda released was the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, an agreement supported by many agricultural commodities. The Executive Orders (EO) have covered many areas, but a few that we are watching include the recent EO creating an interagency task force led by our new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes to promote economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life in rural America. It’s a big task, and it will be interesting to see the recommendations submitted. A similar EO was signed enlisting several cabinet members to review existing trade agreements to identify violations or abuses; unfair treatment by partners that is harming American workers; and where agreements have failed to create jobs, result in favorable trade balance, expand markets, lower trade barriers or increase U.S. exports; and then to provide lawful and appropriate actions to remedy or correct these deficiencies. Trade agreements provide different benefits, depending on the sector. For example, ag crops like almonds may be impacted by phytosanitary requirements, but that might not be relevant for the manufacturing sector or intellectual property. Almond growers benefit from expanded access to export markets, which brings jobs to the Central Valley and creates stable demand for increased almond production. Clearly, it will be important to monitor these discussions and how they may impact the almond industry.
Newsletter
Jun 08, 2017 // Government Affairs

FSMA Files: Straight Talk from the Experts, Part 4

Welcome to the fourth edition of the FSMA Files column. This month, we’re focusing on questions we’ve received regarding the foreign supplier verification requirements under FSMA. These questions are timely, as the first compliance date for FDA’s Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) regulation was May 30. This column is a complement to the discussion of how the supplier verification rules affect the almond industry, which appeared in the April column, so we recommend reviewing that discussion if you have questions on these issues. Please keep your questions coming! You can send them to Tim Birmingham at tbirmingham@almondboard.com with the subject line “FSMA Files.”  Question: In what circumstances does the FSVP rule apply? How is it likely to affect the California Almond industry? Straight Talk: The FSVP rule applies only to imported food. Because California Almonds are grown domestically, the industry should only be affected by FSVP for imported ingredients used in value added products. Explanation: There are two supplier-verification rules under FSMA: FSVP and the supply-chain program under Preventive Controls (sometimes called “Subpart G”). FSVP applies to imported food, regardless of whether the product is a finished food or an ingredient for further processing. Subpart G under Preventive Controls applies to all ingredients that will be used for further processing under a Food Safety Plan. There is overlap in the scope of the two rules; however, the FSVP rule provides that if an imported ingredient will be further processed in a facility in compliance with Preventive Controls, you do not need to conduct supplier verification for that food under FSVP. Thus, FSVP tends to affect imported finished foods, while all other ingredients (regardless of whether they are sourced domestically or internationally) are subject to supplier verification under Preventive Controls. California Almonds will never be subject to FSVP because they are not imported. However, ingredients used for value-added products made with California Almonds may be subject to supplier verification under FSVP or Preventive Controls. The basic principle underlying FSMA supplier verification is that an ingredient requires verification when you rely on your supplier to control a hazard in the food. For example, if you are using a spice blend to season almonds and apply the seasoning post-lethality, you would need to engage in supplier verification to ensure that the spice blend is safe because you are not subjecting it to a kill step. Question: I’ve heard that there are changes at the border due to FSVP. Can you explain what’s happening? Straight Talk: All imported foods now need to make additional declarations at the border to account for FSVP. This is the case even when the importer is deemed in compliance with FSVP, because supplier verification is conducted under Preventive Controls. Imports will be rejected if this new information is not provided at entry. These requirements typically will only affect companies in the almond supply chain if they are directly importing an ingredient that will be used in manufacturing or processing almonds. Explanation: The FSVP requirements apply to the FSVP importer. This is defined as the entity in the U.S. that owns the food, has purchased the food or has agreed in writing to purchase the food at the time of entry. (If no one in the U.S. meets this definition, then the foreign owner has to identify a U.S. agent to serve as the FSVP importer.) There can be more than one entity in the supply chain that meets the FSVP importer definition, in which case the various parties that qualify need to confer to determine which entity will be identified to CBP at entry. For foods that fall under FSVP, including imported foods for which the importer is conducting supplier verification under the Preventive Controls regulation, the FSVP importer must electronically provide their name, email address and unique facility identifier recognized as acceptable by FDA when filing entry with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). FDA has affirmed the use of Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) numbers as the acceptable unique facility identifiers for this purpose. When a food product under FDA oversight is offered for entry into the United States, the CBP Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system will prompt the filer to transmit one of the following codes: An entity role code (FSV) which will send a signal to the ACE system indicating the entry line is subject to the FSVP regulation; for these foods, the FSVP importer’s name, email address and DUNS number must be provided; or The “affirmation of compliance” code (FSX) which can be used for food exempt from FSVP (e.g., food under juice HACCP) or food for which the FSVP compliance date has not yet occurred; or The affirmation of compliance code (RNE) which can be submitted at entry for food for research and evaluation that falls within the corresponding FSVP exemption In the event that the FSVP importer’s DUNS number is not available, FDA is also temporarily allowing filers to submit the value UNK (unknown) in the unique facility identifier field for the FSVP importer. FDA intends to contact those FSVP importers for whom UNK was transmitted in place of the DUNS number and “will provide additional information to help ensure that FSVP importers understand this FSVP regulation requirement and take the appropriate steps to obtain a UFI.” FDA will provide a communication to importers at a future date when use of the UNK value is discontinued. Keep in mind that the FSVP importer identified at entry is the entity that FDA will hold responsible for FSVP compliance. Therefore, it is important for all companies that receive imported food (either finished products or ingredients) to determine those circumstances in which they meet the definition of FSVP importer (i.e., they either own, have purchased or have a written agreement to purchase the food at the time of entry). When more than one entity meets the definition of FSVP importer, companies will need to work with their supply chain to determine who will assume FSVP responsibility and therefore be identified as the FSVP importer to FDA through the CBP ACE system. Companies in the almond supply chain that use imported ingredients but do not handle importation of these ingredients may want to contact their suppliers to confirm who will be handling FSVP for these ingredients. This column was prepared by Elizabeth Fawell and Maile Hermida, who are lawyers with Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, D.C. The FSMA Files column is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Newsletter
Jun 08, 2017 // Quality and Food Safety

Industry Dollars Hard at Work

The Finance and Audit Committee (F&AC) reviews all budgetary recommendations and the revenue/ assessment rate prior to consideration by the Board of Directors. The committee also reviews all monthly and annual financial statements as well as the Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) annual external audits. In my role as chair of F&AC, a TRAC committee member and a member of the Board, I have an opportunity to not only be involved in the creation of the annual budgets but also their critique and review. The F&AC typically meets twice a year, in May and November. The November meeting is focused on the analysis of the year-end financial results, as well as the findings of the annual financial audits. The May meeting is dedicated to reviewing the Almond Board’s budget proposals for the coming fiscal year and to considering other financial forecasting. After the May meeting, a consolidated budget is prepared and recommended by the F&AC to the Board of Directors for its consideration and adoption at its June meeting. ABC’s financial health is essential for the success of our work. The F&AC continues to work to ensure that every assessment dollar is invested wisely. The Committee has a long tradition of providing fiscal oversight, and ABC has an equally long tradition of clean, annual financial audits and sound financial management. Sincerely,   Holly A. King, Chairwoman Finance and Audit Committee  
Newsletter
Jun 08, 2017 // About the Almond Board

2017 Almond Conference Hotels Open Aug. 1

Hotel rooms for the 2017 Almond Conference will open on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at 9 a.m. PDT. Rooms may be reserved online at almondconference.com or by calling the hotels directly. Visit the Location/Hotel Information tab for local hotels offering a discounted rate for Almond Conference attendees. Pre-registration is open now and can be completed on the same website. Registration is complimentary with no charge to attend. Please note that at the time you reserve your accommodations, a non-refundable deposit equal to one (1) night's stay (plus taxes) will be charged. No refund will be given for this night if the reservation is cancelled at any time. Participants are required to manage their own hotel reservations.  Although we acknowledge this reservation policy is strict, please understand that in the past, the Almond Board has been charged for all cancelled guest rooms. In addition, a maximum of three rooms can be booked in one person’s name. Now in its 45th year, The Almond Conference reached several notable milestones in 2016 including surpassing 3,500 registrants and 260 exhibitors. As the largest event for almond industry professionals in the world, The Almond Conference is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with the people, the science, the products and the trends at the forefront of the global almond community. The Almond Conference will take place Dec. 5-7, 2017, at the Sacramento Convention Center.  
Newsletter
Jun 08, 2017 // About the Almond Board
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