FPAA annual meeting targets trade, food safetyTUBAC, Ariz. — Serious business about international trade, food safety, school nutrition and the tomato suspension agreement crowded out the sun, golf and dining Nov. 7-9 at the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas’ 45th annual convention.

FPAA president Lance Jungmeyer said the strong attendance was probably due to the wide variety of business topics and networking available. He said 560 were registered for Nov. 7 and 320 for Nov. 8, which were higher numbers than any recent year.

The event started with a meeting on the tomato suspension agreement. Jungmeyer said Judy Rudman from the U.S. Department of Commerce and Brian Wright from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodity Act updated about 60 members on compliance and enforcement of the agreement.

Bob Hathaway, executive vice president of the FPAA from 1989-96, was honored in the Fourth annual Pillars of FPAA award.

Association chairman Alejandro Canelos of Apache Produce, presented Hathaway the award Nov. 8 and said his work gaining influence for FPAA members in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City, was unprecedented.

Hathaway was leader when FPAA transitioned from the West Mexico Vegetable Distributors Association in 1993 to reflect the changing nature of the business.

Also celebrated at the Nov. 8 award dinner, the FPAA, through a sponsorship with the Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association, donated a salad bar to Lincoln Elementary school in Nogales. It was part of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

In the education program Nov. 7, Canadian Produce Marketing Association president Ron Lemaire said Canada is moving along with the same food safety track as the U.S. is with its Food Safety Modernization Act.

However, “traceability will be a piece of the legislation, which is ahead of the U.S.,” he said. Lemaire expects the Canadian rules to incorporate what’s already in the Produce Traceability Initiative.

The Packer’s Retail Editor and Produce Retailer magazine Editor Pamela Riemenschneider gave attendees ideas for making more meaningful retail interactions, such more colorful and descriptive shipping containers so retailers can put them right out in the produce department.

She said quick-response codes are effective on packaging, but shippers should say what the code goes to in order to entice consumers to use them.

“Link back for a coupon or a promotion. That makes it cheaper than printing them,” Riemenschneider said. “Do not link to your webpage, and don’t be afraid to be personal.”

She said consumers want to see real people, even if it’s just the guy who picks the peppers.
Next year’s convention is scheduled for Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Tubac.