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Bonuses a major part of produce executive compensation

by Press Release | July 22, 2011

On average, bonuses account for 30 percent of C-suite executive (chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief financial officer) compensation, according to a new survey of produce industry compensation and benefits released by the United Fresh Foundation through its Center for Leadership Excellence.

The confidential survey of 119 produce industry companies measured employee compensation and benefit data for a wide range of full-time positions including sales and marketing, production and operations, quality control and assurance, administration, finance and accounting, and executives.

The survey was open to U.S.-based produce industry employers, including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors.

“This new report offers compensation data from multiple market segments across the nation,” United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer said in a July 19 press release. “This is a terrific yardstick by which produce companies can gauge their salary and benefit levels to ensure their competitiveness within the industry, increase profitability and not only attract new talent, but also retain the valuable employees already on the team.”

United’s compensation survey shows detailed salary and benefit information on companies, sorted by ownership type, type of business, produce sales volume, number of full-time employees and geography.

The survey represents a wide range of the industry with regard to company size, with 32 percent of responses coming from companies with between 100 and 499 full-time employees, and almost 17 percent coming from companies with fewer than 20 full-time employees.

Also represented is a large range of sales volumes, including 30 percent of responses from companies doing more than $100 million in annual volume, and 22 percent from companies doing less than $15 million in sales annually.

Additional information in the compensation report includes:

• Adjustments to salary structure during the current fiscal year and anticipated adjustments for the coming year.

• Basic health care plans provided by companies.

• Retirement plans offered by companies.

The survey concept was developed by the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board, which identified an important need for a national compensation survey for the fresh produce industry.

To help ensure the broadest and most beneficial input for the produce supply chain, a task force with members from the United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board, Fresh-Cut Processor Board, and Wholesaler-Distributor Board was formed in December 2010. The Task Force reviewed and provided input to help determine the top 30 positions within the industry that would be most valuable to industry members.

In February, the survey was sent to the industry and 119 surveys were completed. Industry Insights, an Ohio-based company that specializes in industry compensation research, administered the survey on behalf of United’s foundation.

“The produce industry competes with other industries for attracting and keeping the best talent,” Fred Williamson, president of Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and chairman of United’s Grower-Shipper Board, added in the release. “United’s Grower-Shipper Board strongly supported the idea of conducting a national compensation survey to help industry employers stay competitive in the workplace.”

The final survey report is now available to members of United Fresh for $495 and non-members for $695. Companies who participated in the survey receive an additional discount. More information is available by contacting Victoria Backer at 202/303-3400, ext. 408, or