The wait is over. Though the announcement was made just this March, excitement has built into great anticipation of the official merger of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the United Fresh Produce Association. Now it’s official. In a conference held yesterday afternoon, the two industry forces re-introduced themselves as the singular International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), set to launch in January 2022.
During the conference, we heard from Co-Chief Executive Officers Cathy Burns and Tom Stenzel, as well as IFPA Board Chair Bruce Taylor, United Fresh Chair Danny Dumas, PMA Chair Dwight Ferguson, and many more. A central component for both PMA and United have been the continuation of industry trade shows, which Burns addressed directly.
“We have had great financial management over the many years of our existence. We made good strategic choices, fast decisions, and continued to create value for our members for the long run. We had a generous contribution from some exhibitors that donated to the organization, that once again continues to strengthen us. Many exhibitors also rolled over their investment to next year,” she noted. “This is incredibly helpful for the strong foundation of the organization to take us into the future. We are absolutely excited about the Global Fresh Produce and Floral Show in 2022.”
For a full list of IFPA events, please visit the association’s page here.
The new association also outlined its Board of Directors in a press release. The team will work in partnership with experienced staff at the new association to provide guidance and expertise for industry members across the produce and floral supply chains.
“As an association, it is important for us to not only lead from the front by engaging with the challenges ahead of our industry to clear barriers, but also to support each member’s growth and success. It’s important to ensure that every point on the supply chain is represented not only in the work we do, but with a voice at the table,” said Ferguson.
Bruce Taylor also spoke to this point.
“It’s important to me that I truly believed in the strategy and vision of the International Fresh Produce Association, because the challenges ahead of us and our industry are complex and unprecedented. That word, unprecedented, has been exhausted over the past year and a half, but it was an important word for me when considering another term as chair of an association. If what we face is unlike anything we’ve seen before, then our solution cannot be a product of incremental change. It must be a transformation,” Taylor explained. “The work that is ahead of us will require all of us, everyone from agile and industrious entrepreneurs to established and well-resourced multinational companies. The International Fresh Produce Association has a place for everyone.”
I had the opportunity to ask how the new association will create further value for industry members and what new opportunities may lie ahead.
“The beauty of these two organizations coming together is the complementary nature of what we each did individually and now bringing them together collectively. We committed to having one trade show, which has eliminated duplication for the industry,” Cathy continued. “We used the challenges of the past 18 months as an opportunity to create value in terms of how the industry can respond. This showed the agility of both organizations, and we are absolutely taking that forward.”
Chair Elect Laura Himes also chimed in.
“What excites me the most is the amount of volunteer leadership and different councils composed of many market members and committees,” she said. “Those are going to produce, I think, an incredible amount of value for the industry. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they are going to produce.”
I also got to hear from Dwight Ferguson on the topic.
“Each time we’ve met to discuss this new association, we did a pretty deep dive into each of the capabilities of the two organizations,” he concluded. “By putting these two organizations together, we can capitalize on each of our strengths with more resources, whether it’s advocacy or talking directly to consumers about fresh produce consumption. It’s a fantastic opportunity to combine the resources and the effort in a couple of new directions.”