(Dec. 14) Mexico’s first Produce Marketing Association Country Council meeting in Mexico City brought together produce industry leaders to discuss trends and challenges the Mexican produce industry faces.

“We had a 100% turnout; it is very difficult to reunite everyone, especially when they all come from different parts of the country,” said Alejandro Larreategui, PMA representative in Mexico.

PMA Mexico’s 12 council members touched on key issues such as market trends in Mexico’s fruit and vegetable industry, as well as the challenges affecting business now and over the next five years.

“We exchanged ideas and discussed proposals about what advantages PMA Mexico can offer our 61 member companies,” Larreategui said.

Issues such as food safety and cold-chain optimization were at the top of everyone’s agenda, although education and training turned out to be other main points discussed during the meeting.

Nancy Tucker, vice president of global business development for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, who attended the meeting, emphasized the importance of training.

“There is a huge need for training on all levels and in all markets from the very basic to the more sophisticated, from wholesale managers, to handling, and maintaining the cold-chain distribution,” Tucker said.

“We were able to see the need to create proposals and work together in issues such as education and training, starting with the growers until the produce reaches the market,” Larreategui said.

Following the lead of the PMA Australia-New Zealand Country Council, which held its first meeting in May, Mexico formed its PMA Country Council to open greater produce industry opportunities.

The founding members of PMA Mexico Country Council represent growers, importers, exporters, industry service providers, wholesalers and retailers.