In an interview for Veggies From Mexico, Miriam Miller Wolk shares with us why you have to be in Guadalajara on May 17 and 18 to attend The Mexico Conference.
“The Mexico Conference is where you want to be if you want to be among industry leaders who are innovating and shaping the future of produce. Retailers, importers, exporters, suppliers, technology and logistics providers will come together to engage in business connections and learn about the issues and opportunities that will impact their businesses. If you are looking to connect with the Mexico market, or promote the market to interested stakeholders, you’ll want to be in Guadalajara in May”
We invite you to read the full interview:
1. Could you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
I have worked as an association executive and membership professional for twenty years and have served the fresh produce & floral industries for 15 of those years. In 2008, I joined United Fresh Produce Association as the Director of Membership. When IFPA launched in January of 2022, I was honored to take on the role of Chief Membership Officer. In this role, I am strategically responsible for all activities related to the recruitment, retention and engagement of our member companies in more than 40 countries around the world.
2. What does it mean to you to be part of the International Fresh Produce Association?
The International Fresh Produce Association is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain, and the only to seamlessly integrate world-facing advocacy and industry-facing support. We exist to create a vibrant future for all, and to do so with our members’ prosperity in mind.
I love getting up for work every day knowing that I am supporting our member companies who are bringing fresh fruit, vegetable and floral products to the world. Our members and their products truly have the ability to change lives. The whole supply chain works together with a common goal. It’s an amazing opportunity to help facilitate that by bringing programs and resources to our members to help them succeed.
3. What was the purpose of creating a single organization for the industry such as IFPA out of two important organizations such as the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the United Fresh Produce Association?
The leaders of the former PMA and United Fresh believed that today’s industry members needed an association that speaks with a more unified, authoritative voice; demonstrates its relevance to the world at large; advocates for member interests; and unleashes a new understanding of fresh produce and floral.
Recognizing that need, the organizations chose not to merge, but rather to create an entirely new organization to supersede their organizations. While IFPA is built on the legacy of United Fresh and Produce Marketing Association, it is not just a combination. It is transformational. With our combined legacy resources, along with the new investments we’ve made globally in advocacy, food safety and sustainability, IFPA is positioned to do more than ever before to support the fresh produce & floral industries.
4. Why do you think it is important for growers to be members of IFPA, and what benefits does it have?
From the upheaval of the pandemic on consumer behavior to our changing climate to increasingly complex regulatory, trade and supply chain environments, this is a challenging time for growers worldwide. IFPA is uniquely positioned as a full supply chain organization to support the specific needs of growers, as well as make sure they are connected to the rest of the industry.
This starts with helping growers connect to potential customers as well as solution partners. Whether its attending one of our signature events or meeting with our membership team to help build relationships with other members, IFPA helps growers connect with the industry.
IFPA also advocates for our growers on key issues that impact trade, production and consumption, including food safety and supply chain issues and support for research and technology development.
In addition, IFPA guides our members on the information they need to have a successful business – this includes consumer trends, economic trends, food safety, sustainability, new technologies, supply chain management and more.
5. What are the main areas/services that IPFA has for promotion focus for the fresh produce and floral industry?
Increasing consumption of fresh produce and floral is key for the success of our industry, and all of our association activities will lead towards achieving this goal. As we move through 2023, you can look to IFPA to make sure our members and industry are represented in key activities and platforms that influence our industry globally. We’ll also continue our work on sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as build out the work of The Foundation for Fresh Produce. And we also remain committed to driving high value education, networking and business connection opportunities such as the Global Produce & Floral Show, The Foodservice Conference and The Retail Conference and our full calendar of signature events.
6. What activities do you carry out internationally to promote the industry?
IFPA has members in 40 countries around the world, and it’s important that we engage with our members globally. In 2023, IFPA will deliver signature events in Mexico, Australia, South Africa and Brazil. This past February, we held our second Executive Leadership Summit in Berlin, Germany, where 100 attendees from 26 countries came together to discuss global economic, consumer, retail and sustainability trends.
IFPA is also active globally in advocacy activities, participating in the Global Coalition for Fresh Produce, International Federation for Produce Standards, the Consumer Goods Forum, CODEX Alimentarius and more. Our goal is to make sure IFPA’s members have a voice in any arena that impacts fresh produce and floral globally.
7.The Mexico Conference is coming up, could you tell us a little about the event and how it benefits the membership?
The Mexico Conference is where you want to be if you want to be among industry leaders who are innovating and shaping the future of produce. Retailers, importers, exporters, suppliers, technology and logistics providers will come together to engage in business connections and learn about the issues and opportunities that will impact their businesses. If you are looking to connect with the Mexico market, or promote the market to interested stakeholders, you’ll want to be in Guadalajara in May.
8.What are the main objectives and activities at the event?
We’ll start on the evening of May 16 with a VIP Reception exclusively for our members. On May 17, I’ll kick off the program with a State of The Industry that focuses on key issues affecting the global industry, and what it means for Mexico. We’ll also hear from Tamara Muruetagoiena, IFPA’s Director of Sustainability, on sustainability global trends. Dr. Emily Moyer, IFPA’s Vice President of Regulatory Compliance & Global Food Safety Standards, will lead a panel discussion on produce safety tools and insights for successful trade. We’ll also hear a critical update on FSMA 204 and FDA’s Traceability Requirements, which will affect all fruits and vegetables being shipped to US buyers. Our final presentation will come from Beatriz Torres from Euromonitor, who will speak to the Top 10 Global Consumer trends for 2023.
Of course we know that networking and business connections are a key highlight for our attendees, so there will be ample time on both conference days to explore the business zone and participate in networking activities.
9. What are the main trends will influence the industry in the coming years?
IFPA recently released our five forces affecting produce & floral for 2023. This includes the economy and how consumers will change their spending habits, a consumer desire to return “back to normal” post-pandemic, the challenges of a tight labor market and exploration into automation solutions, the rise of “Generation Z” as a powerful economic force and increasing interest in sustainability and regenerative agriculture.
10. Are there any other comments you would like to add?
Associations like IFPA exist to help members do more together than they could do on their own, and one of the best ways to benefit from the work the association does is to engage with IFPA and our members in person. The Mexico Conference will be a fantastic opportunity for the industry to come together to make connections, gain insights and find solutions. I look forward to seeing you there!