Serving as chairman of the United Fresh Produce Association was an eye-opening experience for Reggie Griffin, whose term ends when David Krause takes over in May.
Griffin, who late last year retired as vice president of produce and floral merchandising and procurement for The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, said he has enjoyed his time as chairman.
“This has been an incredible journey, and I’ve been exposed to parts of our industry and supply chain on a much deeper level than at my previous job,” Griffin said.
He thinks his perspective from the buyer’s side brought a new dynamic to meetings, making discussions interesting and insightful.
Griffin said he appreciates the way different segments of the produce supply chain come together to confront industry issues, despite the fact that not everyone sees the end result in the same way.
“We need to continue to work to illustrate the overarching challenges and the effect they could have on everyone so that the collective industry members can see the benefit to them of industry collaboration,” Griffin said.
He said he is proud that United Fresh board members and staff were able to continue the expansion of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools program and work with Congress on specific needs of the industry instead of waiting for government regulation.
“In any business, which includes industry associations, there are always victories and some setbacks,” Griffin said. “The challenge is to have more of the former and less of the latter, and during this year we have had both.”
He said he especially enjoyed interaction with various industry segments.
“We work and make our living in an incredible industry and there are great people everywhere,” he said.
For the future, Griffin said he hopes to see more funding to continue the association’s efforts in food safety and public policy, areas that have potential major costs for the industry if not managed carefully.
“We continue to make in-roads with Congress on letting them know our concerns over individual state’s immigration laws and the economic fallout,” Griffin said.
Since retiring from Kroger in October, he has taken a step back to consider his options for the future. He said he hopes to continue working with produce in some way.
“I dearly love the industry and would like to stay involved at some level in the future,” he said.