The United Fresh Foundation has begun accepting nominations for the 2012 United Fresh Retail Produce Manager awards program.

Twenty-five produce managers will be recognized at the United Fresh 2012 Convention and Exposition May 1-3 in Dallas, according to a news release.

Five of the honorees will be selected as grand prize winners, and each of the five will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Established in 2005 by founding sponsor Ready Pac Foods, Inc., the awards program has honored more than 150 produce managers representing nearly 60 retailers.

“These outstanding men and women, serving everyday on the front line, are the face to our customers, and their positive work can have a powerful impact on the entire supply chain,” Michael Solomon, president and chief executive officer of Ready Pac Foods, said in the release.

The awards program has helped to bring to the forefront the link between producers, retailers and consumers, said Randy Scott, vice chairman of United’s Retail-Foodservice Board and category manager of produce for Delhaize America, Salisbury, N.C.

“Not only has this program raised the bar of excellence for produce managers everywhere, it has helped exemplify to retailers and the produce industry the critical role that these managers play in reaching the consumer,” he said in the release.