McALLEN, Texas — Jimmy Bassetti, founder and owner of J&D Produce Inc., Edinburg, received The Packer’s 2013 Importer of the Year Award March 7 at the America Trades Produce conference.

The Packer names Importer of the Year“He has a really broad perspective about the industry,” said Bret Erickson, president of Mission-based Texas International Produce Association, which co-sponsors the event in cooperation with the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.

Bassetti said the U.S. is fortunate to have Mexico as a trade partner and source of high quality fruits and vegetables. He urged suppliers and shippers to help educate U.S. consumers about technology advances in growing, shipping and food safety south of the border.

“He’s the go-to guy for input on improving the industry,” Erickson said of Bassetti, who is a member of Texas association’s board of directors.

Jeff Brechler, salesman for J&D, said Bassetti has an instinctive feel for the fruit and vegetable market and Bassetti instills a culture of family at J&D.

As an example, Brechler said J&D has employee appreciation events such as barbecues and prize drawings, including a fishing boat one time.

Bassetti founded J&D produce in 1985 with his wife, Diane.

J&D is a year-round grower and shipper of of fruits and vegetables in Texas and Mexico, hailing itself as “home of the maroon carrot” and marketing under the Little Bear brand.

The company offers a broad lineup of fruits and vegetables including limes, eggplants, peppers, greens cabbage, onions, melons and mangoes.