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United Fresh, PMA mum on merger talksDALLAS — The United Fresh Produce Association remains in serious merger discussions with the Produce Marketing Association.

But whether those discussions will cut short the term of incoming United Fresh chairman David Krause was not clear.

“Those discussions are continuing and you have my commitment to always place our members’ needs first,” Krause, president of Paramount Citrus, said during his address to the general session May 2.

John Keeling, president of the National Potato Council, Washington, D.C., and member of the United Fresh board of directors, wouldn’t comment about rumors that the boards of the two groups have a plan that will be discussed in June.

“You can see clearly that people are trying to come up with a process for the two groups to be more effective serving the industry,” Keeling said.

United Fresh, PMA mum on merger talksSteffanie Smith, immediate past chairwoman of United Fresh and chief executive officer of River Point Farms LLC, Hermiston, Ore., and Mike O’Brien, past chairman of PMA and vice president of produce for St. Louis- based Schnuck Markets Inc., lead a task force on the merger discussions.

Those discussions began last year when the two associations formed a joint task force to look at potential synergies of combining the groups.

In a May 2 statement, Smith and O’Brien said the boards are continuing discussions about the best way to serve members.

“No final decisions have been made and published reports implying otherwise are incorrect,” according to the statement. “While we appreciate that there is interest in our discussions, we respectively request a chance to complete our work in confidence. We will report to and engage in dialogue with all our members as they have the final decision.”