Pat Calabretta has had a busy year.
As well as keeping up with industry issues and working on the 2013 Quebec Produce Marketing Association convention in Montreal from Aug. 22-24, the outgoing QPMA president changed jobs.
After 15 years at Sobeys, Calabretta’s title since March has been senior director merchandising for Montreal-based Metro Inc., Canada’s third largest grocer after Loblaw Cos. Ltd. and Sobeys.
“It’s a new company and a new challenge,” he said. “I’m taking care of the Metro and the Super C discount banner, which represent two different visions.”
The rest of his new job is familiar, he said. “You want good quality produce at a good price, you want to be innovative and first to market, and you’re always giving consumers reasons and ways to consume more fruits and vegetables.”
Encouraging Quebecers through social media to eat more fruits and vegetables was one of his goals as QPMA president. In its first two months, the association’s new “I love 5 to 10 servings a day” Facebook page attracted 5,000 fans, considered a strong start.
In May, QPMA received two Excellence awards from the Quebec Association of Public Relations Professionals for its Madeleine toolkit. The colorful brochure and poster encourage kids younger than 5 to discover and savor the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables through their five senses.
On the political front, Calabretta said QPMA is working more closely with the provincial government and the national CPMA to defend industry interests.
“Everyone says fruits and vegetables are good for us,” he said, “but I don’t think governments really know who we are or what we do.”
He said QPMA also plays an important role in bringing together people from all sides of the produce industry.
“The events we organize at QPMA are primarily social,” he said, “and we don’t have booths or a trade show at our convention, but it’s the best place for networking and for sharing information on industrywide issues.”
He said the three speakers chosen for this year’s convention reflect the theme for his one-year term.
Saturday’s industry brunch speaker, long-time Quebec TV host Pierre Bruneau, has raised more than $40 million for cancer research to honor his young son Charles, who died of leukemia 25 years ago.
The cause resonates with Calabretta, whose eldest son beat the disease and who raises money annually through Leucan for leukemia research.
“For me,” he said, “Pierre Bruneau and the other guest speakers exemplify my theme for the year: Get involved, commit and achieve.”