Mary Langford (from left) and Diana McClean of Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif., talk with Tom Wheeler of Mollie Stone’s Market, Mill Valley, Calif., during the Anaheim, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s Northern California Expo in late March. This year’s expo featured 200 exhibitors and hosted about 1,000 visitors, including store-level employees, says president Carissa Mace. The council coordinates a number of activities in the northern part of the state each year. Photo courtesy Fresh Produce & Floral Council.

Retailers, suppliers and others in the Northern California produce industry continue to find that the Anaheim, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council plays an important role in the region’s produce industry.

The FPFC has more than 400 member companies and about 1,000 individual members, president Carissa Mace said.

It’s hard to break down the membership between the northern and southern parts of the state, since many companies serve both regions, but Mace said the north supplies a “significant portion.”

The 52-year-old organization has held activities in Northern California since at least the early 2000s, she said.

The council currently hosts two luncheons, a golf tournament and a produce and floral expo in Northern California.

This year’s expo in late March featured 200 exhibitors and about 1,000 visitors, including store-level employees from chains such as Sacramento-based Raley’s Supermarkets, Emeryville-based Grocery Outlet and Pleasantville-based Safeway Inc.

The Northern California membership continues to evolve, Mace said.

“They have a strong committee that has taken a fresh look at everything,” she said.

For example, the Northern California luncheons were the first to add a post-event networking social hour.

“They realized people wanted more networking time, and there isn’t always enough before the lunches,” Mace said.

In 2016, Marvin Quebec, president and CEO of Quebec Distributing Co., Oakland, Calif., became the first FPFC member from Northern California to serve as chairman.

Quebec said membership in the council helped him grow professionally.

“When you get involved in any regional type of organization — like the FPFC — it really helps you connect with a lot of the major retailers,” he said. “These are opportunities you can’t pass up.”

The council is important for retailers, as well, said Michael Schutt, category manager at Raley’s and chairman of the FPFC’s Northern California committee.

“The (council’s) mission statement is to provide a space where supply and retail can intersect,” he said. “That’s what the FPFC excels at, through lunches or social events.”

“We’re not in L.A. with the saturation of retailers and wholesalers and distributors, so for us it provides visibility,” he added.