Home News Fresh produce industry welcomes global trade body

Fresh produce industry welcomes global trade body

The global fresh produce market has, in recent years, seen massive growth. Now, the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association are joining forces to create a new global trade association

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While its impact on South Africa’s fresh produce industry is still uncertain, the announcement of a merger between the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association has been widely welcomed.

Last night, the boards of directors of both the PMA and United Fresh announced that a new global trade association would be formed. For this, the two fresh produce giants will combine their resources and expertise to, among others, drive the consumption of fresh produce.

From 2023, PMA chief executive Cathy Burns will take the reins of the new association. For the rest of 2021 the two associations will continue to operate as independent organisations.

The new association will only be officially launched on 1 January 2022.

Cathy Burns, the chief executive of the Produce Marketing Association, will in 2023 become the sole CEO of a global trade association. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Cathy Burns, the chief executive of the Produce Marketing Association, will in 2023 become the sole CEO of a global trade association. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“This agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of both associations to deliver the highest level of value to members,” said board chairpersons Michael Muzyk of United Fresh and Dwight Ferguson of PMA in a joint statement.

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“Looking ahead, we believe we can accomplish that goal better together building on the synergies and experience of our expert staffs, complementary education programs and member services, and a stronger voice in advocating for our industries.”

Over the past several months, Burns and United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel have worked with a group of board leaders from each association to develop the strategic commitments for the new association. This now serves as the core of the merger agreement.

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Promoting worldwide growth

Among others, PMA and United Fresh have pledged their commitment towards serving all sectors of the global fresh produce and floral supply chains, growing their global membership and participation.

The two giants are also committed to global engagement with international bodies and allied organisations to promote free and fair trade, international harmonisation of standards, and worldwide growth in consumption.

Furthermore, they have pledged their commitment to providing expertise and business solutions in food safety, new technology, supply chain management, sustainability, leadership and talent development, business operations, marketing and more.

In recent years, various factors have accounted for the massive growth of the global fresh produce market. These include the increasing middle-class population, rise in disposable income, rapid urbanisation and consumer lifestyle preferences. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
In recent years, various factors have accounted for the massive growth of the global fresh produce market. These include the increasing middle-class population, rise in disposable income, rapid urbanisation and consumer lifestyle preferences. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The new association will be led jointly by Burns and Stenzel as co-CEOs throughout 2022. After that time, Burns will become the sole CEO.

“Through my 28 years of service to our industry, I have long recognised the potential synergies of our groups building something powerful together,” Stenzel said.

United Fresh Produce Association chief executive Tom Stenzel. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
United Fresh Produce Association chief executive Tom Stenzel. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“It is gratifying to me, several years before my retirement, to find a strong and committed partner in Cathy who also believes in this shared vision.

“I’m looking forward to launching this new organisation together, setting the stage to enhance member value while driving greater produce consumption in the years ahead.”

“By joining forces, we will continue to support our members with the services, insights, and connections they seek to grow their businesses while ensuring our role and voice as an industry has an even greater impact,” Burns said.

“Tom has been a great partner, and I truly appreciate his deep history, knowledge, and care for our industry. We, along with our talented teams, look forward to leveraging our strengths to serve our diverse and complex supply chain. I am so proud and honoured to serve the produce and floral community at such a pivotal time in our history.”

The road ahead

Over the coming months, Burns and Stenzel will work with their respective teams and boards to shape the new organisation. Concurrently, the two associations will begin sharing their expertise and promoting participation in each other’s events and programmes.

It is anticipated that the volunteer leadership, governance and membership structure, and 2022 business plan for the new association will be in place and shared with the membership later this year.

ALSO READ: Rebuilding fresh produce industry post Covid-19

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Staff Reporter
Staff Reporter
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