( The Packer )

Industry veteran Steve Lutz plans to leave the Produce Marketing Association Aug. 2 to start his own marketing and communications company

“I truly appreciate the opportunity I had to serve the industry in my position at PMA,” Lutz said in a news release. “PMA is a great organization with a first-class staff. However, I felt a strong pull to return to the areas of marketing, research and category analytics where I excelled throughout my entire career.”

Lutz has been PMA’s vice president of the U.S. and Canada, West region, since June 2018. From 2013-18, he was vice president of marketing at Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI Orchards.

Lutz was executive vice president at Nielsen Perishables Group. He was president and CEO of the Washington Apple Commission. He was at the commission from 1992 to 2000.

Lutz said in the release that produce marketing is changing fast.

“The explosion of new brands, proprietary varieties and fragmentation of retail outlets has completely changed the game for the produce industry,” Lutz said in the release. “As consumers shift purchases from commodity products to proprietary brands and organics, the interest and opportunities — as well as the challenges — for growers have never been higher.”

PMA CEO Cathy Burns praised Lutz for his contribution to the association and said it will be filling his position.