UPDATE: Nov. 2, 2021: Following their merger announcement earlier this year, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association will begin operating as the International Fresh Produce Association on Jan. 1, 2022, PMA posted on its website.
PMA claims the new global group will be the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain. When it launches, the association will feature an initiative called the Floral Marketing Alliance to boost mass-market floral sales. It will also have its own foundation, The Foundation for Fresh Produce, to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Yesterday’s association is not going to address tomorrow’s challenges,” PMA CEO Cathy Burns said in a video announcement about how the merger aims to serve the global fresh produce and floral industries.
The International Fresh Produce Association’s leadership team will have several high-level grocery executives, including Laura Himes, senior merchandising director for produce at Walmart, and Martha Hilton, vice president of produce and floral merchandising for Wegmans, on its executive committee. Executives from Albertsons, Whole Foods, Food Lion, HelloFresh and SpartanNash will serve as directors.
- The United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) are merging into a new trade group that is set to launch at the start of next year.
- The CEOs of PMA and United Fresh, Cathy Burns and Tom Stenzel, respectively, are creating the as-of-yet-unnamed association and will co-lead the new group through 2022, with Burns ultimately set to become the sole CEO. Until the new group debuts on Jan. 1, 2022, PMA and United Fresh will continue to operate separately.
- PMA said the new trade association will focus on serving the global fresh produce and floral industries. The announcement follows a long-awaited collaboration between the two associations.
The new trade association aims to streamline communication and service for the fresh produce and floral industries as it looks to boost demand for those items, according to PMA.
PMA and United Fresh have talked about merging several times since the mid-1990s, The Packer reported. Limited financial resources and disagreements over who the CEO would be were some of the biggest concerns that derailed negotiations, according to Produce Business. PMA said the merger was not prompted by financial reasons.
The organizational structure is still in development, but PMA said the new association will be led by a board of directors and volunteer leadership groups. Stenzel and Burns are sharing the CEO role while the association gets created and launched and then Burns will take the lead. Both will report to the association’s board of directors, which will include current members from both trade groups, along with new ones.
Stenzel became president and CEO of United Fresh in 1993 after serving as the president of the International Food Information Council for more than seven years. Meanwhile, Burns became PMA’s president in 2013 and CEO in 2017 after spending three decades in the grocery industry, which included having senior-level roles at Hannaford Brothers and Food Lion.
Members can expect that popular programs offered by both associations will transfer to the new one, which will also include new programming. The Center for Growing Talent, PMA’s nonprofit education foundation, which leads the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts, will still run during the transition process, and the associations plan to continue their missions, possibly with a different structure, with the new group.