ATLANTA — Called the face of the U.S. avocado industry, Jan DeLyser is The Packer’s Produce Marketer of the Year.
DeLyser, vice president of the California Avocado Commission who’s in line to become chairwoman of the Produce Marketing Association, accepted the award during the Oct. 16 morning general session at PMA’s Fresh Summit 2011.
“Today’s winner has been described as the consummate marketer. An incredible thinker. Subtle, but very effective. The ultimate consensus builder. The face of the avocado industry,” said Greg Johnson, editor of The Packer.
Johnson noted how DeLyser served on the Fresh Produce and Floral Council’s staff, board and as chairwoman. She was on the board of the United Fresh Produce Association and at PMA, DeLyser volunteered her services in many capacities, including serving on the group’s main board, its retail division board, governance task force, rebranding task force and executive committee.
“In her association work, she’s known as someone who asks tough questions and raises issues, whether they’re her opinions or not,” Johnson said. “She strives to get fellow board members engaged, involved and energized.”
A longtime Southern California produce marketer and merchandiser, DeLyser said she was surprised to receive the recognition.
“It’s incredible and I’m really honored,” she said. “Working at the California Avocado Commission is really a marketer’s dream. Not only is it a great experience, it is an honor and a privilege to work in this industry, a fantastic honor. Remember how much fun and privilege we have to be part of the best industry in the world.”
DeLyser traced her entrance into the industry she’s worked in for more than three decades to sitting in a University of Kansas journalism class in 1976 when Jim Connell, the former publisher of The Packer, spoke to students about working for a trade publication. At that time, the newspaper’s writers sold advertising and wrote stories.
“I knew he was talking to me out of the 40 kids in the class,” DeLyser said. “I really had to do a sales job during the interview. Not that they didn’t want to hire a woman, they just weren’t sure if it would work out to send a woman out into the produce industry.”
DeLyser worked the north, central and western regions as territory manager and in 1979, joined the Los Angeles-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council's staff as public relations director and would later become executive vice president.
In 1993, DeLyser became the Los Angeles-based western merchandiser and director of marketing for Coachella, Calif.-based Sun World International Inc., before moving to a sales position at Los Angeles-based Westlake Distributors Inc., where she sold avocados, grapes and kiwifruit. In 1998, DeLyser joined the Irvine-based avocado commission as director of marketing, a newly created position.