Kevin Fiori, Sunkist Growers Inc.
Kevin Fiori, Sunkist Growers Inc.

Tim Riley is the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s current board of director’s chairman.

Tim, with the help of a specially appointed task force of volunteer leaders and strategic experts, crafted a strategic plan — a vision that focuses on building connections for members around the world to help members facilitate trade, capitalize on emerging science and technology, advance food safety, maximize talent, understand the consumer and reduce barriers to consumption.

Thank you, Tim, and the diverse team of industry leaders and business strategists who had the insight to set forth a vision that will benefit us all. It’s with great honor that I’ll continue to drive forward the initiatives you began when I accept the role as chairman of PMA’s board of directors in October.

As the strategic plan advances — and I look ahead to my year as chairman — here are my picks for the top four resources available to help produce and floral industry members grow business and build demand amid all that lies ahead.

1. Global connections — We all operate in a global marketplace — no matter what our business model or office location. Global connections are as much about sharing knowledge and best practices from industry peers across geographical borders as they are about moving product across those borders.

Even if you have no plans to import or export beyond the U.S., growth in this business comes from building connections and learning from the diverse mix of industry members operating around the globe. I found myself in China and South Africa this year with people from across the industry — wholesalers, retailers, e-commerce companies, even government officials and university members who impact our industry. This coming year will bring us connections in Atlanta and California, Brazil and the Netherlands, to name a few.

2. Science and technology — Technology will be even more important for our industry’s future and that’s why PMA has and will continue to develop member resources in this area.

This year, PMA expanded its focus beyond food safety to help us also manage supply chain efficiencies, seed technology, packing innovations and data management. With the help of PMA’s own expertise and the connections PMA is committed to making, we can navigate the tech landscape, vet what’s out there and choose what’s best for our companies.

3. Issues leadership — Issues leadership represents the approach we take on issues affecting our industry and businesses based on priorities outlined by our members — priorities like the Food Safety Modernization Act, foodborne illness outbreak investigations, global trade and nutrition.

Issues leadership is about monitoring our industry’s environment and developing actions that support our industry’s views by building relationships that help us engage and inform key stakeholders, so that together we can develop workable solutions.

We’re taking on the issues that members tell us are important and where the expertise of PMA and its volunteer leaders can be most effective. You’ll hear more about this from me at Oct. 19’s Fresh Summit general session.

4. Industry talent — Without maximizing our talent none of us are able to fully grow our business. This type of value is provided through an integrated approach with PMA and its charitable Foundation for Industry Talent.

In doing so, the PMA Foundation is expanding efforts that attract, develop and retain industry talent.

Last, but certainly not the least, PMA is supporting the industry’s overall mission to increase fresh produce consumption through the Sesame Workshop-PMA partnership called Eat Brighter!

The produce industry has an amazing opportunity to differentiate fresh fruits and vegetables in the store, strengthen sales, build customer loyalty and encourage kids and their parents to eat better. I encourage you to participate where you can and at whatever level you can.

We want to hear from you. This is your PMA and you have the ability to shape what your association does.

If you have ideas for making PMA even better at serving the produce and floral industry, I encourage you to engage us — or get more engaged in the process yourself.

In my upcoming year as chairman, I ask you to reach out to me with your ideas and feedback so we ensure PMA continues to represent the needs of the entire produce and floral industry supply chain and ensure our businesses grow and prosper.

Kevin Fiori is Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Sunkist’s vice president sales and marketing and PMA board of directors incoming chairman.

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