The United Fresh Produce Association Research & Education Foundation will form a new Center for Global Produce Sustainability to help companies across the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain enhance business through sustainability.

The Center will initially be funded through a $1.1 million endowment grant over four years from Bayer CropScience.

“United has been working with a number of allied partners to better understand and define sustainability as it pertains to our fresh produce supply chain,” said Tom Lovelace, United Fresh Produce Association chairman of the board.

The financial support from Bayer CropScience will enable the United Foundation to intensify efforts, and begin developing real tools and programs to help companies from grower through retail and foodservice to proactively manage sustainability in the businesses, Lovelace said.

The Center for Global Produce Sustainability will join three other centers within the United Foundation – the Center for Leadership Development, Center for Business Management and Center for Food Safety, Quality and Nutrition.

Each center develops its own programs, which in the aggregate, are designed to enhance the ability of the fresh produce industry to provide healthy, safe, and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to consumers around the world.

“Bayer CropScience is pleased to make this commitment to the United Foundation to collaborate with the fruit and vegetable industry in enhancing sustainability,” said John Smith, Bayer Crop Science’s director of its horticulture region.

Understanding the views of the entire food production supply chain, Smith said, is critical to producing enough safe and affordable food for the ever-expanding world while protecting and enhancing the environment for the future, Smith said.

“We cannot achieve our goal alone, which is why this Center will focus on enhancing relationships with fruit and vegetable growers, the food chain and research partners in the U.S., and globally to ensure meaningful dialogue and advances with regard to sustainability,” Smith said.

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel says Bayer’s support of the Center will provide focus and resources to enhance strategic work of United Fresh with allied partners in the areas of sustainability, including industry associations, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and others.