While fresh-cut produce has survived food safety crises in the past, a new challenge could confront fruit and vegetable processors at any time and the entire industry might find itself faced with unexpected regulatory and media scrutiny.

That's why the International Fresh-cut Produce Association has enlisted two nationally known crisis management experts to provide fresh-cut produce executives with a one-day seminar entitled “Surviving… and Thriving through a Crisis” on Nov. 12, 2003 in Washington, D.C. The event will help give processors insight into what to expect and how to deal with a crisis typical of those that could befall fresh-cut.

Gene Grabowski, a seasoned marketing communications professional with a reputation for creating and implementing top-quality crisis communications plans, will explain “The Crisis Cycle: Defining the Who, What, When and Why's of Crisis Management.” While every crisis is different, each has a “life cycle” companies can predict and prepare for in advance, he says.

Currently vice president of Washington, D.C.-based Levick Strategic Communications, Grabowski formerly served with the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the world's largest food trade group representing brand name food, beverage and consumer products companies. He is an expert on a variety of high profile communications issues including food safety, obesity and biotechnology.

Media-hyped attacks

Following Grabowski on the program, Eric Dezenhall of Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Group, one of the nation's leading crisis management firms, will tell fresh-cut managers “Who Gets Attacked, Who Survives and Why?” He has developed a model for how media-hyped attacks on businesses and public figures are “packaged” to include “Villains, Victims and Vindicators” that fit in a pre-cast entertainment format.

Dezenhall is author of “Nail ‘Em! Confronting High Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses” (Prometheus Books, 1999), a text widely cited in business, media and academic circles.

In separate presentations, both Brian Zomorodi, technical vice president of Ready Pac Produce, Inc. and a senior FDA official will offer practical advice on “Working through a Crisis” and will participate in a panel discussion on the same subject.

The seminar will conclude with a breakout session and mock crisis scenario entitled “How Will You Handle the Next Crisis?” moderated by Grabowski.

Registration fees are $345 for IFPA members who sign up prior to Oct. 24 and $444 for non-members and will be subject to a $50 late charge after that. The seminar will be held at Washington, D.C.'s Fairmont Hotel, (202) 429-2400 with rooms discounted at $175 per night. A detailed program and registration is available on IFPA's Web site at http://www.fresh-cuts.org/events.php. For further information, contact IFPA at (703) 299-6282.