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University students explore Fresh Summit and produce industry opportunities

More than 40 students from 13 universities will join over 20,000 fresh produce and floral industry members in Anaheim, CA, this October for the PMA Fresh Summit Convention & Expo. As part of the PMA Foundation Career Pathways program, created in 2004 with the help of Jay and Ruthie Pack Family Foundation, college students with diverse educational backgrounds are introduced to the industry's opportunities through a series of career panel discussions, educational workshops and networking.

Participants will embark on an industry tour for the first time this year, hosted by Ready Pac Foods Inc. "Acquiring and sustaining talent is a significant issue in our industry," Tristan Simpson, Ready Pac vice president of corporate communications, said in a press release. "It's so important to invest time and effort into programs like this one, a program that can provide such valuable resources. We're looking forward to welcoming the students, and I'm sure we'll all make great connections."

"The Career Pathways program gave me various career options upon graduation, which offered a strong start to my professional journey," said Julianne Crapps, category manager for Sysco, who was a PMA Foundation Career Pathways participant in 2014. "It has also offered me various industry contacts that I remain in touch with today."

The Career Pathways program is part of the PMA Foundation's initiative to establish a workforce with the diverse skills necessary to meet the complex demands of business. The following schools will be represented:

  • Arizona State University
  • California State Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo
  • Cornell University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Michigan State University
  • St. Joseph's University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Florida
  • Pontificia Universidad Cátolica de Chile
  • University of Stellenbosch (South Africa)
  • University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • University of Queensland (Australia)
  • University of Sydney (Australia)

This year's Pack Career Pathways students will be identified by their "I AM THE FUTURE" ribbons.

For more information about the PMA Foundation Career Pathways program, contact Barbara Hochman at bhochman@pmafoundation.com. More information about the PMA Fresh Summit Convention & Expo is available at www.freshsummit.com.

Procacci Bros. joins Eat Brighter! campaign

Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., based in Philadelphia, is the newest produce company to join the Eat Brighter! campaign.

Eat Brighter! is a joint partnership between the Produce Marketing Association and the Sesame Workshop that will bring Sesame Street's lovable characters to the packaging of fresh fruits and veggies. The campaign has set its sights on increasing consumption of fruits and veggies among children aged 2-5.

Procacci Bros. will be featuring Sesame Street characters on its popular tomato products, namely its Santa Sweets authentic grape tomatoes (organic and conventional) and their UglyRipe heirloom tomatoes.

"We're thrilled to have the opportunity to feature Elmo, Big Bird and their Sesame Street friends on our products," Rick Feighery, vice president of sales at Procacci Bros., said in a press release. "Sesame Street continues to resonate as strongly as ever with children. We're looking forward to working with our retail partners to use the program to work more fruits and vegetables into children's diets."

"For many years now the connection that kids have felt with Sesame Street characters has been such a positive influence on their growing minds," Frank Paone, director of marketing, added in the press release. "This great partnership has the potential to make eating healthy fruits and veggies more fun for kids, which will in turn establish the healthy and nutritional diets that kids need, especially during their crucial developmental periods."

According to the National Poll on Children's Health conducted by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, childhood obesity was identified as the number one children's health concern by parents across the United States. Over the last three decades the childhood obesity rate has tripled and the country is now at a cross roads where the rate of children and adolescents that are classified as overweight or obese exceeds one-third.

"Parents today face huge challenges in getting their kids to eat fruits and veggies, even delicious ones like blueberries, avocados or our Santa Sweets tomatoes," Paone added in the press release. "Kids are conditioned to think that fruits and veggies are healthy, and to them healthy often means bland or bad tasting. The Sesame characters will provide an opportunity for suppliers like us to reach kids and open their eyes to the reality that fruits and veggies can be just as tasty as other snacks."

Procacci Bros. expects to launch its new Eat Brighter! packaging this fall.

Keynote breakfast a highlight of NEPC expo

NEWPORT, RI — The keynote breakfast Thursday morning, Sept. 11, was just one of the many highlights at the New England Produce Council's 2014 Produce & Floral Expo.

NEPC President Bob McGowan of Northeast Produce Sales welcomed everyone to the breakfast, beginning with a moment of silence in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on the United States back on Sept. 11, 2001.

He noted that 2014 represents "our 15th annual NEPC expo," adding,nepc1535Krista Neher "We really appreciate the support of all our sponsors."

Krista Neher, author, social media pioneer and chief executive officer of Boot Camp Digital, delivered the keynote address, focusing on the role of social media and how businesses can utilize this expanding phenomenon.

Social media "is about the people you want to connect with," she said, and retailers "can use social media as well." There is an "inherent trust in brands [that] people have heard of," so "get in front of them," she said. "We like people and products the more we see them."

nepc1547CeCe Krumrine was honored at the NEPC 2014 Produce & Floral Expo as the New England Person of the Year. Shown with her were her husband, Mike (right); her daughter and son-in-law, Nicci and Chris Rheault; and her granddaughter, Chase. (Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg)She said that a key to success is getting out a message that is really useful and creative, not simply a static one.

Following the keynote address, CeCe Krumrine was announced as the New England Person of the Year. Krumrine has been a merchandiser for a number of commodity boards during her career, and she co-founded the New England Produce Council back in 1995.

"I love this industry," said Krumrine, who was moved to tears by the award, especially as members of her family gathered around her. "You have all been mentors to me. Wow."

The trade show, set up outside under tents, followed the keynote breakfast.

Devon Beer named president and COO of Freshway Foods

SIDNEY, OH — Freshway Foods announced Sept. 12 that Devon Beer has been named president and chief operating officer of Freshway Foods. In his new role, Beer will lead all of the day-to-day activities of both Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics. The company's executive team will report directly to Beer, and he will lead execution of the company's strategic plans, including revenue growth and expense control initiatives.

Beer joined Freshway Foods in 2000 as chief financial officer.Devon Beer-pressreleaseDevon Beer "Devon has brought a set of standards, guiding principles and disciplines to Freshway that have been a significant part of our growth and success during these past 14 years," company owner Frank Gilardi said in a Sept. 12 press release. "During his time at Freshway, Devon has filled a role well beyond that of his official duties. I have confidence in his abilities and his commitment to serve our values, mission and vision as we move forward."

Freshway Foods has experienced significant growth over the past few years, and this organizational change will position the company to continue this positive trajectory. Beer's new role will enable company owners Frank Gilardi and Phil Gilardi to focus on strategic planning for the business, develop key customer and supplier relationships, and develop new business opportunities for continuous improvement and growth.

Phil Gilardi emphasized that this organizational change will be seamless for the company's customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. "What will not change is our focus on providing value to our customers and a positive work environment for our associates," he said in the release. "Devon will be supported during this transition by our team of over 400 associates, all of whom are dedicated to the success of the company."

Beer, a certified public accountant, holds a bachelor of arts degree from Wittenberg University and a master of business administration from The Ohio State University.

Headquartered in Sidney, Freshway Foods is a fresh fruit and vegetable processor, repacker, distributor and logistics provider. For over 25 years, the company has focused on providing customized, value-added product and service solutions to foodservice and retail customers that span the eastern half of the United States.

For more information, visit www.freshwayfoods.com.

United Fresh Produce Association honors Paramount Citrus

The United Fresh Produce Association honored Paramount Citrus as the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year earlier this week at its Washington Conference. Paramount Citrus has been a long-time leader in the public policy arena, serving on several of United’s boards and councils, including United’s board of directors.uflogo

Additionally, Paramount Citrus executives have been major supporters of the United FreshPAC, and the company has consistently sponsored events at United’s annual Washington policy conference. Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association president and chief executive officer, presented the award to David Krause, president of Paramount Citrus.

“Paramount Citrus has been a leader in the public policy arena at United for many years,” Stenzel said in a press release. “Their consistent support of United’s public policy programs, including sponsorships at the Washington Conference and United’s annual conventions, demonstrates the commitment of Paramount Citrus and their partners in the Roll Corporation for advancing produce industry priorities here in Washington, DC.”

Paramount Citrus is a major supporter of United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which, in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, donates salad bars to schools to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables for the nation’s children. The salad bar initiative is just one part of United’s public policy agenda for improving child nutrition through increased consumption of fresh produce.

The United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one United Fresh member each year that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry. Honorees are leading companies and associations that make an impact and drive the industry forward.

Past award winners include the following:

  • 2013 - Del Monte Fresh Produce
  • 2012 - Four Seasons Family of Cos.
  • 2011 - Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association; National Watermelon Association
  • 2010 - C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.
  • 2009 - Pro*Act LLC
  • 2008 - Walter P. Rawl & Sons
  • 2007 - New York Apple Association Inc.
  • 2006 - Sunkist Growers Inc.
  • 2005 - L&M Cos.
  • 2004 - Produce for Better Health Foundation
  • 2003 - Tanimura & Antle
  • 2002 - Capital City Fruit Co. Inc.