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Produce industry comments on merger between PMA and United Fresh

Yesterday, the Boards of Directors of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) announced they reached an Agreement in Principle to create a new global trade association. Both organizations will combine their resources and expertise to enhance member services, increase advocacy before government and the public, help members grow their businesses, and drive consumption of fresh produce and demand for floral products as a vital cornerstone of public health.

“This Agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of both associations to deliver the highest level of value to members,” said Board Chairs Michael Muzyk of United Fresh and Dwight Ferguson of PMA. “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,” said Muzyk and Ferguson.

Stronger voice
FreshPlaza asked members of both produce industry organizations to comment on the merger and it is welcomed with great excitement. Mucci Farms believes the partnership with result in a stronger produce category as well as increased consumption of fresh produce. “As longstanding supporters of both the PMA and United Fresh, we would like to extend a warm congratulations to them on their merger,” says Joe Spano, VP of Sales and Marketing at Mucci Farms. “As both associations offer a variety of extensive resources to the industry, we believe this partnership will only strengthen the fresh produce category and our collective goals to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Mission Produce is also happy the two organizations have decided to merge and create a powerhouse the industry will benefit from. “I am pleased to see the two associations merge and feel it was time,” says Steve Barnard, Founder and CEO of Mission Produce. “Both associations bring high value that complement one another. By joining forces, they will better serve the industry and be a stronger voice. It also means companies who contribute to both organizations won’t be so stretched and can provide more value back to the associations. This is a huge win for the associations and the industry. We applaud the efforts of Cathy, Tom, Dwight, Michael, the staffs and other committee members that made this happen.”

Increased global presence
For Villita Avocados the announcement didn’t come as a surprise either. “We’ve had a sense this would happen before it officially did,” says Juan Escorcia with the company. He feels the two organizations merging to become a global association will be greatly beneficial. North America is a strong market but there are so many other strong and important markets in the world and the joint perspectives will cast out a much wider net regarding information, communication, market info and more. Escorcia feels the merger will also be very helpful for the Mexican avocado industry. “A global association will support spreading the reach and I think that this will give us better access and strengthen our presence globally.”

Michael Dupuis at Divine Flavor shares how both organizations are unique and how the combined force will result in good things for produce and floral. “PMA brings everyone together and keeps us connected, having provided us with a great platform over the years. United Fresh has been tremendously important when it comes to educating members on specific topics and trends related to our industry,” he said. “These resources are essential to our business.”

2021 and beyond
Throughout 2021 the two associations will continue to operate as independent organizations, with the new association to be launched January 1, 2022. The new association will be led jointly by PMA’s CEO Cathy Burns and United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel in 2022. They will report to a new Board of Directors that will blend current directors from each association and new directors committed to the success of the new association. Determining a new name will be part of the branding process the organizations will undertake this year. After 2022, Burns will become the sole CEO of the organization.

Comments Stenzel and Burns
“Through my 28 years of service to our industry, I have long recognized the potential synergies of our groups building something powerful together,” Stenzel said. “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 organization 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 honored to serve the produce and floral community at such a pivotal time in our history.”

For more information:
Mary Coppola
United Fresh Produce Association
Tel: (+1) 202-303-3425

Siobhan May
Produce Marketing Association
Tel: +1 (302) 781-5855