Two produce industry groups that announced merger plans in March have revealed their new name and leadership.

The United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association have combined into the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) with Bruce Taylor of Taylor Farms as the chair.

“We will absolutely be better together,” said Cathy Burns, who along with Tom Stenzel will be co-CEO of IFPA.

As a group representing all aspects of produce and floral production, with a heavy concentration in North America, IFPA has identified seven driving principles including serving all sectors of the supply chain, engaging on issues of free and fair trade around the world, offering expertise and business solutions for food safety, supply chain management, sustainability and talent development and creating demand that inspires consumers to “embrace produce and floral products as essential parts of their lives,” according to a list presented at a virtual press event Thursday.

The new entity will also continue work the two groups were previously doing separately, such as pushing for more diversity, equity and inclusion in the sector.

“We know that's lacking,” said Laura Himes, who served on PMA’s DEI committee over the past year. “We need to be bolder in there.” 

Himes, who works in produce merchandising for Walmart, is also part of IFPA’s inaugural executive committee. In addition to Taylor, the others are Courchesne Larose USA President Danny Dumas, California Agricultural Foundation CEO Dwight Ferguson, Wegmans floral and produce merchandising vice president Martha Hilton and Patrick Vizzone, head of food, beverage and agribusiness for ANZ banking.

The IFPA is planning its first global fresh produce and floral show in October 2022 in Orlando; Burns said the consolidation of two annual events into one may be the most visible impact of the merger. She said combining the two groups led to some staffing overlap. IFPA currently employs about 80 people.

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The group announced the simultaneous creation of the Foundation for Fresh Produce, which will further the previous foundations' work to encourage a healthier world through increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables to combat “nutritional insecurity,” said Hilton, who will lead the foundation.

“The challenges ahead of us for our industry are complex and unprecedented,” Taylor said, pausing to note that “unprecedented” is a word that has been “exhausted” during the past 18 months. “If what we face is unlike anything we've seen before, then our solution cannot be a product of incremental change,” he said, “it must be a transformation.”

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