Walt Breeden says he’s had a wonderful year as the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s chairman.

“You don’t realize what kind of passionate produce people you’ll meet until you travel across the country,” said Breeden, director of sales and citrus category manager for Canada for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheier Group, and the sixth chairman from the company.

To fulfill his duties, he visited the Produce Marketing Association convention in New Orleans and the United Fresh Produce Association convention in San Diego as well as travelling from coast to coast in Canada, with frequent stops at CPMA headquarters in Ottawa.

“I can also say that CPMA staff are outstanding,” he said. “They’re talented, they’re passionate, they work well as a team together and they get things done.”

He’s especially excited about the association’s new consumer marketing campaign to be unveiled during April 3’s breakfast at the 2014 convention in Vancouver.

“I think the new campaign is going to be fantastic,” he said. “It’s a very simple message and it’s easy for everybody to do.

“We’ve already run it by some of our partners like Heart and Stroke and the Canadian Cancer Society and Health Canada and they’re all excited, so I think it will be a great message.”

He’s also pleased with the success of CPMA’s first national health summit in Ottawa last spring with public health professionals from across Canada.

“We realized we need a united message with health professionals to make it more powerful,” he said. “The summit was an outstanding first step.”

CPMA plans to host a second summit in late May in conjunction with the Canadian Public Health Association’s 2014 conference, May 26-29 in Toronto.

In the meantime, the association continues to advocate for the produce industry among members of Parliament in Ottawa.

“We have good messages. We just need more government people to realize that,” he said.

Breeden said CPMA also continues to work with the federal government on implementing a PACA-like trust in Canada.

“I know it’s been a work in progress by many chairs and we’re still not there yet, but we are going in the right direction,” he said.