CPMA Passion for Produce Program attracts record number of attendees

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association announced the participants for the 2015 Passion for Produce Program in Montreal.

As an added value to membership, PFP was created by the CPMA in 2010 to provide rising stars in the produce industry with the opportunity to accelerate their professional development through a unique mentoring experience at the Annual Convention and Trade Show. At 19 attendees, this is the largest number of participants to date.

“We are thrilled to have so many rising stars from some of the leading companies within our industry,” said Ron Lemaire, President, CPMA. “PFP provides mentoring and education in a fast-paced but fun setting where participants learn through targeted mentoring sessions and networking events. This program also gives participants the opportunity to increase their knowledge beyond the scope of their current role within the industry.”

Over the three day Convention and Trade Show, PFP candidates are partnered with industry mentors for off-site tours, interactive sessions, networking events, and more to learn all they can about the fresh produce industry in Canada. PFP candidates gain knowledge through first-hand experiences, discussions, and networking that empowers them to return to work with an enriched understanding and renewed enthusiasm for the produce industry. Candidates develop lasting relationships with mentors, fellow candidates, and other industry leaders that will guide them through their careers.

PFP has mentored 65 candidates to date and is proud to continue growing this program.

The CPMA is proud to announce the 2015 PFP candidates:

  • Gregory Bass of Metro Richelieu Inc.
  • Lynda Dick of Red Sun Farms
  • Peter Duckett of Loblaw
  • Sarah Friesen of Vineland Growers Co-operative Ltd.
  • Jack C. Hall of The Giumarra Cos.
  • Allen Hoang of Westmoreland Sales
  • Pierre Landry of QPMA Internship/Sobeys
  • Lex (Barry) Lexchin of Richard E. Ryan & Associates Ltd.
  • Fiona McLean of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
  • Justin Meilleur of Del Monte Fresh Produce Canada Inc.
  • Dorothy Redick of First Fruits Marketing of Washington LLC
  • Michael Rojas of AMC Direct Inc.
  • Susan Sipos of Nova Agri Inc.
  • Bryson Slade of Martin's Produce Sales
  • Michael Sousa of Mann Packing Co. Inc.
  • Jean-Luc Talbot of Metro Richelieu Inc.
  • Rhaymond Tuazon of Fresh Direct Produce Ltd.
  • Ryan Thomas of Markon Cooperative
  • Joel Veri of Exeter Produce

Nominations open for CPMA’s Fresh Health Award

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association is now accepting nominations for the 2015 CPMA Fresh Health Award, which is entering into its 17th year.cpma It is presented to the company or organization that best supports and promotes the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables using the Half Your Plate or CPMA’s Freggie Children’s Program to improve population health and industry prosperity.

The award will be presented to a produce company or organization who have met the following criteria:

  • Effectively used of Half Your Plate messaging and materials to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables.
  • Use of Freggie Children’s Program to increase knowledge and understanding of fruit and vegetables within K to 6 school groups.
  • Supported the CPMA and its partners in their efforts to increase consumption to improve population health and industry prosperity.

Since its introduction in 1998, the award has been presented to 19 recipients. Past recipients include The Barn Markets, the California Strawberry Commission, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, the California Table Grape Commission, Thrifty Foods, B.C., Tree Fruits, The Oppenheimer Group, regional Produce Marketing Associations — British Columbia, Calgary, Ontario and Quebec — Pear Bureau Northwest, Sunkist Growers, Loblaw Cos., Bayshore Shippers, Timiskaming Health unit, Gambles Produce, Peak of the Market and Algoma Public Health.

Organizations wishing to be considered for the award should contact CPMA with a brief outline of how their efforts meet the aforementioned criteria. Supporting materials including photos, video or in-store advertising may also be submitted to support the outline.

The award will be presented at the CPMA Annual Convention and Trade Show on April 16. Deadline for submissions is March 20.

Former Gourmet Trading CEO joins Mission Produce

Mission Produce Inc. has hired Brian Miller as the company’s new senior vice president of sales and marketing. He comes from an extensive produce industry background, including the last 15 years when he served as president and chief executive officer of Gourmet Trading Co.

Miller will be filling the position held by Ross Wileman, who has been with the company for 31 years and will be moving into an area where he will lead Mission’s special initiatives. missionBrian Miller

At Gourmet Trading Co., Miller progressed from a position in sales in 2000, to the vice president of sales and marketing, and finally to president and CEO of the company. After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Miller joined the Oppenheimer Co. as a salesman prior to moving to Gourmet.

“Brian is highly driven and goal oriented," Steve Barnard, Mission's president and CEO, said in a press release. "He has South American, Asian and European experience, which will add great value to Mission’s future.

“This is the highest position we have ever filled here at Mission,” Barnard added.

“Ross will be involved with specific company initiatives which include food safety, global quality control and standardization from a sales point of view," Barnard said. "Ross will also continue with industry affairs.”

Mission has operations in the U.S., Mexico, Chile, Peru, Canada and The Netherlands as well as eight value-added ripe centers across North America.

Mission is currently involved with major construction projects in California and Peru, where two new packing plants are nearing completion. The company is also growing its own avocados in Peru where significant planting has taken place over the last five years.

“The avocado category has grown at 10 percent, compounded annually for 15 straight years, and the numbers are even higher this year," Barnard said in the release. "With demand for the fruit at all-time highs, sourcing and growing is more important than ever. Concerning our Peruvian operation, we have invested heavily into the production of avocados, transportation and logistics. These moves were all essential in addressing the current demand.”

Mission has also made strong Asian connections and has developed that area into a significant marketplace for avocados. The European market is growing substantially as well, where Mission plans another ripe center in Rotterdam in the very near future.

Mexican asparagus veteran describes odd year

NOGALES, AZ — Bob Shipley, founder of Shipley Sales LLC in Nogales, has exported Mexican-grown asparagus to northern neighbors more than 20 years. In Caborca, Sonora, he has been an asparagus grower for as long as 15 years. He explained that the tomatoes and vegetables that account for the vast preponderance of Nogales’ volume are shipped in mixed loads with reefer trailers set in the range of 40-50 degrees.Reed-Bob-ShipleyReed Shipley, a salesman for Shipley Sales LLC in Nogales, AZ, with his father, Bob Shipley, who founded the company.

Asparagus needs to be shipped at 36 degrees and “there are not too many cold trucks” leaving Nogales to suit that temperature.

For this logistical reason, the Mexican asparagus deal has generally not flowed through Nogales. But this spring, several Nogales produce distributors are handling asparagus.

Much of the asparagus is grown in a wide area around Caborca, which is 100 miles to the west-southwest of Nogales. Northwest of Caborca are Mexicali and San Luis, which are near the leafy greens production of Yuma, AZ, and El Centro, CA.

Those thousands of leafy green trailers roll to market with temperatures that are ideal for asparagus. Because of the cost of California labor, El Centro’s asparagus volume has mostly moved south across the border, according to Shipley.

It happens that this season other Nogales companies are becoming involved, although all agree there is a challenge with a poor-yielding Mexican asparagus crop.

Up and down field temperatures starting in December seemed to throw the spear production out of whack.

Shipley said one theory on low asparagus production is that this season some growers burned off the cut ferns too early, preventing normal growth and dormancy.

Whatever the cause, the Mexican growers in that region are harvesting between half or as little as one-third of a regular crop.

Shipley said the northern Mexico asparagus deal usually starts in January, “but this year there was not much until the end of January. Some growers say it will catch up in March, but maybe that is wishful thinking. I don’t know how miracle tonnage can happen this late. March is the last big month for Mexico.”

There is some production in early April, he added, and “with Easter on April 5 this year, the growers should expect to enjoy a good Easter market. With reduced supplies, though, this year apparently won’t have sufficient volume for Easter ads.”

In late February, the asparagus market was in the mid- to high $30s for the 28-pound pack.

Wegmans, Whole Foods and Publix make Fortune's top 100 list

Fortune magazine's list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” includes retailers Wegmans, Whole Foods and Publix. Wegmans led the group, coming in at No. 7. Whole Foods was ranked 55th, and Publix came in at No. 81. All three companies have been on the list since it began in 1998, something only nine other companies have accomplished.

"I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: Our employees make Wegmans a place where customers feel happy and cared about, and my job is to make sure our employees feel that way, too,” Danny Wegman, chief executive officer, said in a press release.

“Employees of (the) family-owned supermarket chain wear name tags that bear the number of years of ‘incredible service’ they have accumulated," Fortune said about Wegmans. "Hundreds of them visit the company’s own 50-acre organic farm each year. Consumer Reports rates Wegmans as the best grocery store in America.”

Wegmans customers and employees will celebrate the honor on Saturday, March 7, when cake will be served at every Wegmans store at a time selected by individual stores. If customers prefer a healthy option instead of cake, Clementine tangerines will be offered. Stores will announce the time on signs posted in each store’s entryway.

Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on a survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees. The survey asks questions related to their attitudes about the management's credibility, job satisfaction and camaraderie. The remaining third is based on a company’s responses to the Culture Audit questionnaire, which asks detailed questions about pay and benefits programs, and open-ended questions about hiring, communication and diversity.

"As we celebrate a company milestone this year, I'm proud to reflect on our commitment to our people, culture and communities over the past 85 years," Ed Crenshaw, CEO of Publix, said in a release. "We are humbled to be recognized by Fortune for 18 consecutive years as a great place to work. The secret to our success is our associates — company owners themselves — who’ve been making Publix a great place to work for 85 years."