Patrick Kelly Discusses Produce Advocacy, Networking, and More
TAMPA, FL - From the field to the stage, the radio waves to the written word, if it connects and potentially advocates for our industry, chances are you have seen Patrick Kelly at it. So I was thrilled when an opportunity recently opened up to get to know the Founder of The Produce Industry Podcast a little better. What I found is that while his passion for the business started early on in the orchards, it has—pun totally intended—only grown from there on.
“Although I grew up in the citrus industry, and continue to work with citrus companies, I’m driven to foster a community of like-minded produce professionals across our supply chain who work passionately to advance the industry,” Patrick recently shared with me.
That pursuit has led him through a number of channels, from several weekly shows on the podcast, a YouTube channel, and LinkedIn events, to speaking engagements and the co-authorship of a book, Millennial Boom, with Hans Finzel.
“The fresh produce supply chain is experiencing a renaissance; an awakening. Through my generational work co-authoring Millennial Boom I explored how Millennials and Boomers could build mutually-beneficial working relationships, each bringing unique and valuable experiences to the table,” Patrick said of the changes in our industry that compelled the book. “If you look at the community of produce professionals who support The Produce Industry Podcast, you’ll see that I’ve created a space for exploration and understanding where professionals from all generations interact and learn from one another. I believe we will advance as an industry when we accept our differences and begin to appreciate the value in all perspectives.”
This topic reminded me of how, whenever I see Patrick, it is usually at the head of an invitation of some kind.
“I host monthly networking calls which are open for anyone in the industry to join,” he agreed. “I’ve found that in-person events also have afforded me the opportunity to bring people together who have only met online. My career has taken me to where I am today because the people in my network have been willing to support my endeavors. This is a cultural behavior that I want to foster through The Produce Industry Podcast.”
Not only does Patrick see opportunity in learning from folks outside of produce as well as leaders in companies across our own chain, but he shared how bringing people together regularly through networking Zooms is one way to maintain an open industry dialogue.
“The intangible benefits of the networking events I host all depend on the participants’ efforts after the calls. On each call, people are quick to drop an introduction and contact information into the chat. I hear regularly that new relationships made on my networking calls result in new business for the participants. As I learn about these relationships, the more driven I am to create additional opportunities for this to happen,” Patrick said.
In fact, he plans to organize more in-person events, so that a larger group of produce professionals might experience the culture of The Produce Industry Podcast community.
“Grower, Entrepreneur, Author, and Podcaster are all hats that I wear, but the most important is as a produce and supply chain advocate. My passion for creating The Produce Industry Podcast came from the desire to connect the supply chain, specifically during the start of the pandemic,” he explained.
Since its April 2020 launch, Patrick’s listenership has grown to reach a global audience, averaging 4,000 weekly downloads of podcast episodes and has become an overarching brand to house a number of others. Fresh From the Field Fridays partners Patrick with retail veteran Dan Avakian to continue to voice his merchandising expertise in promoting produce, and recent addition of Juanita Gaglio hosts global perspectives from produce leaders around the world on Wednesdays. Meanwhile, Patrick complements these offerings with visual content through the Produce Industry Show on YouTube.
“Wearing so many hats afforded me the perspective to create new content channels, and I’ve had the privilege of speaking at both the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure and the Fresh Produce and Floral Council’s Luncheon, engaging the industry from the stage. There are no limits to when and where I advocate for the industry; I am here and ready to serve the produce supply chain,” he said with enthusiasm. An enthusiasm that is already impacting the next generation close to home. “I’ve introduced my son to my passion, and he often joins me in sampling produce and giving product reactions from his tween perspective. It fills my cup to nurture the next generation of produce advocates as he learns about our industry and the supply chain.”
It all comes back to a purpose we see as kindred at AndNowUKnow: advancing the fresh produce industry in every possible way.