Fresh Produce Association of the Americas Celebrates Successful 49th Annual Nogales Produce Convention
NOGALES, AZ - With the beautiful Tubac Golf Resort as its backdrop, the produce industry descended upon Nogales, Arizona this week, uniting once again for this the 49th Annual Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) Annual Produce Convention and Golf Tournament. As one of the largest entry points for Mexican produce in the United States, Nogales lent the perfect arena for discussing everything from the latest on NAFTA and expanding produce consumption, to our own CEO Robert Lambert touting some of the innovations we’ve seen throughout the produce industry.
Serving the needs of more than 100 North American companies involved in the growth, harvest, marketing, import, and distribution of Mexican produce, this year, like the years before it, provided a powerful voice for improvement and sustainability.
Kicking off on November 2 with a welcoming lunch and a session from ANUK’s CEO Robert Lambert, who offered insights on everything from from robotic harvesting to optical sorting and beyond. Those at the session followed along on their mobile devices with our proprietary real-time survey feature, engaging in some of the best and brightest innovations the industry has to offer.
Next, attendees were treated to one of the most comprehensive looks into the recent NAFTA modernization efforts that our industry has to offer, with panelists featuring President of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association Ron Lemaire, President of Fresh Evolution Martin Ley, Managing Member at Fresh International Javier Badillo; and Trade Economist for American Farm Bureau Federation Veronica Nigh and moderated by FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. These highly respected representatives of the fresh produce industry from across sectors of the industry joined together to discuss what they would like to see in the revamped trade agreement.
And this was just the beginning of the educational sessions offered on day one. Wilson Produce gave a case study on how it has learned its company’s strengths as it has forged a future in the produce industry. With James Martin of Wilson Produce taking on a yearlong process of mapping the company’s history and attributes, Wilson Produce portrayed it visually in a mural-esque animated video that showed the company’s unified and singular mission.
Next, friend of AndNowUKnow Lori Taylor of The Produce Moms offered her insights on just exactly what moms think of Mexican produce. Touching on what moms look for as they shop in the fresh produce department, Taylor surveyed her online audience and shared the results with FPAA’s knowledge-hungry attendees.
Last but not least on the education front at FPAA was keynote Rick Stein, Vice President of Fresh Foods at FMI. Stein offered his thoughts on consumers in the fresh produce department, sharing with those at the show exactly what they buy more of and why through FMI’s yearly Power of Produce Study.
Ending the night with the always bustling and boisterous Opening Fiesta and Networking Event in the Ball Room, the FPAA crew was well-prepared for another day of knowledge, networking, and, as always, the annual golf tournament.
Following the Shotgun Start of the tournament at 9:30 am, some of the sleepier attendees made their way to the FPAA’s 2nd annual Culinary Showcase, featuring top dishes out of Mexico’s top produce categories. Offering samples of unique and delicious culinary creations from chefs and culinary teams, the event sponsored by the FPAA and the Mexican Consulate of Nogales brought a flavorful twist to the end of a day of learning.
As the day closed out with the annual Gala Event and “Pillars of the FPAA” Awards Ceremony, this year honoring James and Sylvia Chamberlain, Founders of J-C Distributing, a distributor of vegetable and tomato products from its 90,000-sq.-ft. facility operated out of Nogales.
Those at the Gala had an elegant sit-down dinner, danced the night away to musical entertainment, and sent off the ceremony with the Pillars of the FPAA recognition award ceremony and the annual United Fresh Salad Bar Program presentation, which highlighted the organization's recent 5,000th salad bar donation.
Thank you to our friends at FPAA for another chance to give the produce industry a look into this thriving border community. Here’s to an always growing Mexican growing sector, and to keeping this date on our calendars year-after-year.