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NASHVILLE -- The Southeast Produce Council has been true to its mission and is in excellent health in terms of both membership and finances, SPC President John Shuman told attendees of the council's annual fall conference, held Sept. 23-25 here at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

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John Shuman, president of the Southeast Produce Council, gave the state-of-the-council address Saturday evening, Sept. 24, at the SPC fall conference, held Sept. 22-24 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. (Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg)

Mr. Shuman, who is also president of Shuman Produce Inc. in Reidsville, GA, delivered his state-of-the-council address, which has become a tradition at the fall conference, during the president's dinner-dance Saturday evening, Sept. 24.

The council has been steadfast in its mission -- to be the premier Southeast produce resource -- Mr. Shuman told delegates gathered for a night of good food, exciting entertainment and recognition of the many people and companies that have contributed to the council success during the past 12 months.

Quoting directly from the SPC mission statement, Mr. Shuman noted that the council strives "to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia through good fellowship, cooperation and mutual interest among its members."

The council also continues to "instill a high sense of professionalism and loyalty to each other," he said, and that it takes pride in supporting "charitable causes in southeastern communities."

SPC membership in 2011 stands at 151 corporate members and 274 individual members, for a total of 760 members, Mr. Shuman announced. That total represents a 20.4 percent increase over 2010 membership.

Financially, "The council's doing very well," he stated. "I'm very pleased to tell you that the Southeast Produce Council is financially sound."

Looking directly at SPC Executive Director Terry Vorhees, Mr. Shuman added, "Terry works tirelessly behind the scenes, and we are very proud to have his leadership."

Mr. Shuman also talked about the council's Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP, and the council recognized the 10 members of the program's graduating class: Kevin Hurley of Sweetbay Supermarkets, Josh Lineberger of General Produce, Mitch Murphy of KVAT (Food City), Junior Cropps of Food Lion LLC, Kevin Zirkle of Military Produce Group, Patrick Morris of Rouses Supermarkets, Jason Purvis of JH Harvey Co., Dylan Massave of Fresh Point Central Florida, Kyle Reeves of United Supermarkets Texas and Andrew Bird of Dixie Produce.

Looking ahead, Mr. Shuman said that good retail and foodservice attendance was expected for the 2012 SPC Retail and Foodservice Conference & Expo, scheduled for March 1-3 in Tampa, FL. The 2012 fall conference is scheduled for Sept. 20-22 in Asheville, NC.