Technology, operations advances incoming chairman’s goals - The Packer

Technology, operations advances incoming chairman’s goals

09/26/2013 10:57:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Courtesy Produce Marketing AssociationIncoming Produce Marketing Association chairman, Tim Riley, will focus on technology and operations in the produce industry.As Tim Riley takes his position as the newest Produce Marketing Association chairman, his technology and operations focus could help arm the organization and industry in its fight for consumer attention.

Riley, president of The Giumarra Cos., says the industry needs to better compete for global and domestic consumer sales and challenge other food industries vying for the same share of consumers’ stomachs.

One of his goals is to help guide the industry as the PMA implements its strategic plan, which continues the PMA’s focus in strategic areas, including global trade and technology, he said.

As Riley worked to keep Giumarra, a Los Angeles-based grower-shipper, distributor, importer and exporter, at the forefront of technology and operations, he said the industry’s adoption of international networking, infrastructure and technology would benefit growers and their customers.

While serving on a PMA governance task force, Riley said he saw how improving global connections through technology could help his own company and be a bigger benefit to the industry.

Simplifying food safety standards was one of the opportunities of truly being a global industry, Riley said.

He pointed to the U.S. and European produce industries developing different standards, which is causing numerous and duplicative audits.

“I believe technology is a tool the industry needs to succeed,” Riley said. “We as an industry have been five to 10 years behind the consumer packaged goods industry in technology. Look at the technology those groups use, whether Coca Cola or Frito Lay. They’re ahead of us.

“We hear people in our industry complaining about how people will buy candy bars vs. grapes. If we want to truly go out there and compete, we need to play on the same scale, and we’re not quite there. Technology will enable us in the next five or six years to play on that scale.”

Riley said he plans to focus PMA’s attention on helping its members make better use of technology, which remains the baseline the industry needs to help build confidence and efficiency.

Riley said adopting technological tools, ranging from advances in food safety to modern back office systems, could help increase demand and change the way the industry distributes its products worldwide.

Riley’s grounding in technology and operations should help the industry as he succeeds chairwoman Jan DeLyser, said Bryan Silbermann, PMA’s president and chief executive officer.

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