Year in Produce: People in the news - The Packer

Year in Produce: People in the news

12/23/2011 10:33:00 AM
Dan Galbraith


  • California Gov. Jerry Brown appoints Karen Ross to the post of secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
  • Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, Moses Lake, earns The Packer’s Potato Man of the Year award.
  • Fritz Koontz, longtime partner in Watsonville, Calif.-based Beach Street Farms, leaves to launch Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co. in Watsonville.
  • Chandler Copps, produce director for Copps Co. in Wisconsin and The Packer’s Produce Man of the Year in 1968, dies.


  • First lady Michelle Obama pushes restaurants to include more fresh produce on their menus as part of her Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign that aims to add 6,000 salad bars to schools over three years.


  • Ron Lemaire, former executive vice president and director of marketing for the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association, returns to the association as its next president, succeeding Danny Dempster, who retired May 1.
  • Jim Schmidt, co-owner of SunTerra Produce Traders Inc., La Quinta, Calif., takes over as president of the National Watermelon Association.
  • Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals LLC brings in beverage industry veteran Greg Smith to succeed retiring Craig Wheeling as chief executive officer.
  • Edinburg, Texas-based Frontera Produce Ltd. president Will Steele wins The Packer’s first Importer of the Year award during the inaugural America Trades Produce conference.


  • The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention pays tribute to outgoing president Danny Dempster, who served the association for 28 years as president and 34 years overall.
  •  Jim DiMenna, president of Leamington, Ontario-based JD Marketing, Golden Gem and Jem D International, accepts The Packer’s 2011 Canadian Produce Man of the Year award.


  • Steffanie Smith, chief executive officer of River Point Farms, earns The Packer’s Woman of the Year award at United Fresh 2011.


  • Stephen Whitney, president and chief executive officer of Ottawa-based Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp., announces plans to step down at year’s end.


  • Adrian Abbott, former chairman of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, is the new director of operations for Jem-D International Greenhouse Vegetables, Leamington, Ontario.
  • Ex-Wal-Mart executive Bruce Peterson joins Bland Farms LLC, as interim chief executive officer.
  • Jim Heeren, co-owner of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based wholesaler Heeren Bros. Inc., and three other family members die July 7 in a mass murder in Grand Rapids.
  • Jack Gyben, vice president and partner at Progressive Produce Corp., Commerce, Calif., wins the Norman H. “Buz” Bolstad Produce Award.
  • Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, Olympic silver medalist and spokesman for Idaho-eastern Oregon onions, dies July 25 of an apparent suicide.
  • Tina Fitzgerald, director of produce and corporate responsibility for Subway procurer Independent Purchasing Cooperative, wins The Packer’s Foodservice Achievement award.

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