Mexico's Produce Industry Unites for 48th Annual Produce Convention and Golf Tournament
- by Jessica Donnel
NOGALES, AZ - When I tell my friends and family how much I love visiting Nogales, it's not uncommon for me to get a few wide-eyed looks. People tell you that Nogales is one of the largest entry points for Mexican produce in the country, but you really don’t get a sense of how much this city lives and breathes the produce industry until you are thrown right into the deep end. This past weekend I returned to the city for the annual Fresh Produce Association of the America’s (FPAA) Convention, and again got a taste of what makes this hub of produce powerhouses tick.
With over 1,000 people registered to attend this year’s convention and golf tournament, from importers, suppliers, city officials, to logistics providers and distributors, this was truly an opportunity to meet the “who’s who” of the Mexican produce industry.
"At FPAA we are very pleased with the results of this year’s convention,all sessions and activities were very well attended and many participants clearly stated their satisfaction," FPAA's President, Lance Jungmeyer, told me. "There were over 1000 registered for the various activities that the convention involved, including our newest culinary showcase and a 5K fun run. These two were also open to the local community and they were both extremely well-received. We believe that the community is an essential part of what we do as an industry, we are neighbors, friends, suppliers and as such, we must strengthen our relationships by celebrating our successes together and supporting one another."
Kicking off on Thursday November 3rd at the striking Tubac Golf Resort and Spa, the convention brought the opportunity to visit educational sessions focused on key industry issues, as well as a keynote address by Dede Murcer Moffett, Speaker/Author of the book: "SNAP Yes!: The Art of Seeing New Achievable Possibilties in Business and Life."
The sessions themselves included, "Focus on Food Safety," a look at what kind of food safety training and certifications your company will need to comply with FSMA, as well as a, "2016-17 Season Kickoff," where attendees discovered trends in the import industry from FPAA's new Import Report, with statistics showing which items are gaining and losing in the market. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on the latter!
The next two days of fiestas, networking, warehouse tours, and golf that followed made for short trip that I will not soon forget. After the first night of an absolutely packed Opening Fiesta, the real highlight of the convention for me was Friday night’s Gala Event and Pillars of the FPAA Award Ceremony.
This year’s award recipient was James F. Manson, a third generation Owner and President at Pacific Brokerage Company, a major leader in brokerage along the U.S.-Mexican border, and nationwide.
Also at the dinner, Jungmeyer, John Toner, Vice President, Convention & Industry Collaboration for United Fresh, and FPAA Chairman, Gonzalo Avila, presented the donation of salad bars to several area schools.
"We have taken our roles as an opportunity to instill in the children in our communites not only to eat healthy at a young age," Avila said upon the donation of the salad bars, "but also to see opportunities in our industry.
And that wasn't all the action packed 3 days offered. In addition to a golf tournament with winners yet-to-be-announced, the Association introduced two new components this year, a 5K Run/Walk for Salad Bars to Schools and a Culinary Showcase.
The new 5K Run/Walk took participants through the beautiful area surrounding the Tubac Golf Resort. Not only did they get to catch a great view, but this even also helped raise further money to fund salad bar equipment for area schools.
The Culinary Showcase, an event held in conjunction with the Consulate General of Mexico in Nogales, Arizona helped highlight the importance of Nogales, Arizona, as a main gateway of Mexican produce into the U.S. and a shared cultural heritage. Over nine chefs served not only industry attendees, but the open community.
Thank you to the FPAA for another chance to visit one of my favorite events produce has to offer, as well as continuing to teach me about our ever changing industry. Here’s to an always growing Mexican growing sector, and to marking a save the date on my calendar for next year.