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United Fresh announces second annual marketing and merchandising conference

The United Fresh Produce Association announced that its second annual Retail Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference will be held June 12-13 in Chicago, immediately following the United Fresh and FMI Retail Connect shows.

The conference will be hosted by United's Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council, the association's volunteer leadership group consisting of more than 30 marketing experts across the produce and retail industry.

"We're excited about the innovation and expertise that members of our council will bring to this conference," Roger Pepperl, chairman of the council and marketing director for Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, WA, said in a press release. "These individuals represent leading companies in our industry, and we share a commitment to building deeper retail/produce engagement to grow sales opportunities and increase fresh produce consumption. Our second conference will be designed to take advantage of United's co-location with FMI Retail Connect, fostering synergies between marketing and merchandising experts that move the supplier/buyer relationship beyond 'buy-sell' to 'win-win' for consumer impact and growth."

United's PMMC was organized by the board of directors in 2012 after several years analyzing the needs of different professional groups within the association's membership.

"We had already seen tremendous synergies with our other councils, when experts in various disciplines such as food safety or supply chain logistics come together to tackle industry challenges," United Chairman Ron Midyett, chief executive officer of Apio in Guadalupe, CA, added in the press release. "That analysis led to formation of the PMMC, bringing together the professionals who can truly drive best practices that enhance business for all."

United also formed a new Finance & Business Management Council at that time to bring together chief financial officers, human resource experts and general management professionals. Each of United's expert councils is responsible for developing content and programming to benefit colleagues within the broader membership.

The 2014 Retail Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference will kick off with a networking reception on the evening of June 12, following the conclusion of the United Fresh and FMI Retail Connect shows.

"Members who have been busy throughout the trade show can catch their breath and relax with professional colleagues," Cindy Jewell, vice chair of the PMMC and director of marketing for California Giant Berry Farms in Watsonville, CA, added in the press release.

The educational conference then continues all day Friday, concluding that afternoon.

"I'm particularly pleased to see the passion and energy the council members are bringing to the challenge of growing produce and retail connections to better serve consumers and expand our markets," Ron Carkoski, United chairman-elect and CEO of Four Seasons Family of Cos. in Ephrata, PA, added in the press release. "The creative energy these experts are bringing to our industry is impressive, and I look forward to working with them as United's chairman in the future."

Registration for the 2014 Retail Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference is included in the All-Access Package registration for United Fresh 2014. Attendees can also register for the conference a la carte. Registration is now available online at