Statewide tour shows industry concerns - The Packer

Statewide tour shows industry concerns

03/29/2013 08:57:00 AM
Tom Stenzel

As we prepare to celebrate the donation of 350 salad bars to California schools, there is something about fresh produce that will never be matched by any other foods!

As I think about the passion for produce I saw throughout this trip, I have to mention four special individuals I was able to meet along the way. It was my privilege to personally congratulate four of our winners in this year’s Produce Managers Awards program by visiting their stores in Visalia, Elk Grove and Auburn, Calif.

These guys, and the 21 other men and women from across the country to be honored in this United/Ready Pac program at our San Diego convention, are truly the front line of our industry.

Congrats to Darren Estermann, Save Mart/FoodMAXX; James Gordy, Safeway; and Corey Watkins and Ryan Acosta; Raley’s. I’ll see you soon in San Diego! It is their passion for produce that we should all emulate.

Looking back, it was a great two weeks out of the D.C. office, in the real world of produce. But I have to say it wouldn’t be possible without our great staff that kept up with all the Congressional meetings, talking with FDA, and planning our many education programs.

They told me I had to end the tour doing something crazy to promote our opening night party on the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego harbor.

I’ve done a lot of crazy things over the years, but jumping out of an airplane was certainly a first. I think I’ll now go back to town hall luncheons!

Tom Stenzel is president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.

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