Del Monte Fresh Produce's Emanuel Lazopoulos to be Honored at FreshStart Conference 2020
TUCSON, AZ - As we ease into the end of the year, we tend to reflect on what has happened in our lives the last twelve months. For some of us, it might even be an entire lifetime. United Fresh is reflecting on those that have dedicated a lifetime to the fresh produce world, and has chosen Emanuel Lazopoulos, former Senior Vice President of Del Monte Fresh Produce, as an industry visionary worthy of our consideration as we enter a new decade of fresh.
On January 15, 2020, United Fresh will be honoring Emanuel with the United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award at the FreshStart Conference. Ben Massoud, Communications Manager for United Fresh, took the time to ask Emanuel questions on what this award recognizes—a lifetime dedication to the fresh produce industry—and the impact that it has on him and the fresh produce world.
“My introduction to produce started through my brother, before I even set foot on the University of Delaware’s campus,” Emanuel started. “After taking a few classes, I was inspired by a professor who introduced me to the agriculture academic and economic theory. I was enamored by the idea of working in an industry that provided society with an essential need: fresh, healthy, and affordable produce. I have been humbled to work in an industry that touches every American’s life—whether it’s the lettuce on their fast-food burger, the fresh-cut fruit salad from their local supermarket, or raw produce they take home for a family meal.”
Emanuel credits his amiable perspective to fresh produce through the contradictions the industry presents: “the products are simple, but the risks and methods of production are varied and constantly evolving,” he continued. “These dichotomies constantly create new challenges that make going to work interesting and invigorating.”
Challenged, but humbled, Emanuel’s time with Del Monte Fresh Produce proved to be more than fruitful. As Senior Vice President North America, Emanuel compiled the perfect team, crediting them as the impetus for the growth North America experienced during his tenure—doubling sales to $3B to be exact. Emanuel was also a big part of broadening the company’s focus beyond one or two commodities. Now, the company has product lines with fresh on the mind: fresh-cut fruit; value-added vegetables; and value-added fresh services such as sandwiches, burritos, parfaits, and more.
Growing up as a second generation immigrant, Emanuel couldn’t help but feel grounded in his upbringing. Emanuel merits his humility to his parents, wife, and daughters for instilling his grounding work ethic. Which is a firm platform and contributor to his reception of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“My goal has always been to be a contributing member not just of the company I worked for, but to be a productive member of the industry, and thereby be a constructive member of my community and country. Looking back at my forty-plus years in this industry, there were sacrifices that I made—late nights, missed family dinners or trips, missed time with loved ones. I believed in the work, and truly believed that my time, efforts, and energy were serving not only the company and the many families that depended on our company for livelihood, but also serving our industry, and our society’s need for healthy, fresh fuel to continue to drive innovation, togetherness, and progress. Leadership through service and example has been a driving force in my career and life. Receiving this award feels like an affirmation not only of my hard work, but also of those values, which I believe will hold our industry and society in good stead as we enter a new decade.”
As he prepares to be honored at the FreshStart Conference, Emanuel emphasizes the importance of establishing a healthy eating lifestyle for children and their families.
“There is a focus now on protecting the environment, eating fewer animal products, and consuming antioxidants and disease-fighting foods. Our industry is ready-made to capitalize on these important, newly affirmed values and provide kids and their families with access to great-tasting fruits and vegetables.”
And for those coming into the industry looking to make changes of your own, Emanuel drops this nugget of wisdom:
“Don’t wait to get involved or engaged. You get out what you put in, which holds true in all facets of our lives. Find a mentor and when you’re confident, be a mentor. But by truly connecting with others, working hard, and fostering a mission you believe in, you will go far and inspire others.”
As we prep ourselves for another year (another decade, even), we should aim to move forward with our intentions strong and mind focused, just like Emanuel has.