Tom BurfieldJeff Miller (left), president of Los Angeles-based Westlake Produce Co. and 2011 chairman of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, passes the gavel to 2012 chairman Rick Cruz, manager of division operations for produce at the Santa Fe Springs, Calif., location of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Vons/Safeway supermarkets, during the council’s annual dinner dance in Long Beach Jan. 28.LONG BEACH, Calif. — If the U.S. had as good a year in 2011 as the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, the country would be in great shape.
“The FPFC is in real good condition,” said Jeff Miller, president of Los Angeles-based Westlake Produce Co. and 2011 chairman of the La Mirada, Calif.-based council. “We are financially solid.”
Miller made the assessment as he welcomed 2012 FPFC chairman Rick Cruz, manager of division operations for produce at the Santa Fe Springs, Calif., location of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Vons/Safeway supermarkets.
Cruz and other officers and directors were formally introduced to FPFC members Jan. 28 at a dinner dance at the Westin Hotel.
This year’s chairman-elect is Mike Casazza, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Guadalupe, Calif.-based Apio Inc. Secretary/treasurer is Rich Van Valkenburg, partner and chief operating officer at Deminski, Van Valkenburg & Associates, Corona, Calif.
Carissa Mace is chief staff officer and president of the council.
“Last year was a real good year,” Miller said, noting growth in the council’s membership and expansion into Northern California.
“I like the direction we are going,” he said.
The FPFC also moved to increase support of produce-related causes, like the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the Produce Marketing Association’s Foundation for Industry Talent Career Pathways program and the United Fresh Produce Association’s school salad bar program, Miller said.
“I think we exited the past year in a real good position,” he said. “And with Rick Cruz as the (incoming chairman), I think you’ll see every bit as much growth in 2012.”
Tom BurfieldFrieda Caplan (from left), founder and chairman of the board of Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif.; Greg Corrigan, senior director of produce and floral for Raley’s Supermarkets, Sacramento, Calif.; and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, vice president and business development manager at Frieda’s, turn out for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s annual dinner dance in Long Beach Jan. 28.Cruz has attended FPFC events for more than 20 years and has served on Day at the Races, bowling tournament and golf tournament committees. He also has been involved in fundraising for the City of Hope cancer research center and hospital in Duarte, Calif.
Cruz said he accepted the chairmanship because he wants to “become more involved with the FPFC and the decision-making process and to help grow the membership.”
His two main goals as chairman are to find ways to get children to eat more fresh produce, which he hopes to accomplish through the council’s support of the United Fresh salad bar program, and he plans to increase the council’s membership by “getting more of the independents involved.”