The United Fresh Produce Association will honor Joseph G. (Joe) Procacci with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its 2014 Winter Leadership Meetings this January at the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami. The award will be presented Jan. 21 at the Produce Legends Dinner, an annual event hosted by the United Fresh Foundation to recognize a career of lasting achievement in the produce industry. The evening will support the foundation’s programs that are investing in the next generation to increase their produce consumption.
Procacci started his career in the produce industry at the young age of 8, when he and his brothers sold fruits and vegetables from push carts after school. In 1948, Procacci and his brothers, Michael and Pat, started a tomato repacking business in the cellar of their parents’ home and named the company Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. Over time, the company diversified its products and added other fruits and vegetables, and ventured into value-added products. In 1998, Procacci became the first to market grape tomatoes coast to coast when he obtained exclusive worldwide rights to the Santa F1 Variety grape tomato seed. In 2002, he continued to expand into proprietary varieties with the launch of the UglyRipe Heirloom Tomato.
Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. was built on family, a tradition that continued when Procacci’s son, Joseph Michael (J.M.), joined the family business. He was later joined by Procacci’s two daughters, Rita and Loretta. Loretta left the company to raise her young family while J.M. and Rita remain active within the company today.
Procacci, J.M. and Rita not only shared a passion for produce, but shared a desire to make a difference in their communities. Between 1992 and 2006, they worked together through the “Friends of Brian” Foundation to help raise $1.3 million to fund a chair for the Craniofacial Department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The following year, they began working with the “Friends of Bo” Foundation and helped raise $100,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer and Hope Lodge.
Today, Procacci is chairman and CEO of Procacci Bros. Sales Corp./Garden State Farms Inc., and continues to work with his children in the industry he loves. The family business that began humbly now grows and ships approximately 20 percent of all tomatoes sold in the United States, and it sells wholesale produce from coast to coast.
Not only has Procacci been a leader in his family business, he has also been a leader in the produce industry. He is a past board member of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and is past president of the Philadelphia Food Terminal Corp. and the Philadelphia Credit Bureau. In 1995, he served as chairman of the United Government Relations Committee, during which time he helped lead efforts to preserve the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act.
Currently, Procacci serves as chairman of the National Association of Perishable Agriculture Receivers and is on the boards of the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market, Eastern Produce Council and The Philadelphia Produce Credit Bureau. Throughout his career he has received countless awards, including Man of the Year in 2004 by the Eastern Produce Council for the New York area.
“Joe Procacci is a true legend in the produce industry,” United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel said in a press release. “He has not only been a leader in building the produce wholesale business, but growing the entire industry and leading it forward. His passion for the industry, his stamina and work ethic make him an incredible role model.”
“It’s a great honor to receive this award,” said Procacci. “I’ve been in the produce business my whole life, since I was a little boy. The business is in my blood and I’ve been so lucky to work in the industry I love with my family along my side.”
The United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have showcased a career of distinguished service to the fresh produce industry; commitment and leadership in their business, community and the industry overall; significant impact on the growth and success of the industry; and demonstrated achievements that have made a lasting difference for those who will follow in their footsteps. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Frieda Rapoport Caplan of Frieda’s Inc. in 2013, Reggie Griffin of The Kroger Co. in 2012, and was awarded posthumously in 2007 to Bob Grimm of Grimmway Farms.
Nominees for this year’s award were solicited from among all United Fresh volunteer leaders and the honoree was selected by the executive committee of the United Fresh board of directors.
This year’s Produce Legends Dinner honoring Procacci will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at the Trump National Doral in Miami. Friends and associates who wish to join in honoring Procacci are invited to participate in the dinner, as well as the foundation’s benefit golf tournament earlier that day. More information about the events, including golf, dinner tickets and sponsorships is available here.