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Potential new talent needs a produce industry 101

talen town hall

The fresh produce industry offers a lot of what young talent is looking for, but awareness of the depth of opportunities can prevent many job seekers from realizing it.

During the Produce Marketing Association Virtual Town Hall held Dec. 2, three participants in the Center for Growing Talent by PMA BB #:291443 shared some of the qualities that attracted them to the industry, and what the industry could do better to catch the eye of other recruits.

“I realized I wanted to be more connected or believe in what I was doing  little bit more than the normal path for Supply Chain Management graduates, so the produce industry was a great way to escape the typical cubicle land,” said Courtney Boyer of Duncan Family Farms BB #:206668.

TJ Wilson, senior business development representative for Oppy BB #:116424, agreed.

“We’re working with products that are inherently good,” he said. “I don’t know that you can discount that in any way. We are making positive contributions to our customers and our retail partners throughout the United States and globally.”

But, for someone coming from outside of perishables, there can be a steep learning curve for learning the fast pace, Boyer said.

“If there was a way someone could come in and say here’s good tips and tricks for how I’ve managed in some of the chaos you might experience every day,” she said. “Experience helps teach you those things.”

Many college students are unaware of what a career in fresh produce could look like, said Josh Lachs, a student at Cornell University.

“One thing that many still don’t have a full grasp on is just the diversity of jobs that are available within the produce industry,” he said.

Explanation videos of typical jobs, salaries, and a day-in-the-life could attract more talent.

Produce is such a diverse field that many are unaware of, Wilson said.

“I think, even talking with family and friends, a lot of them don’t understand or know all of the inner workings and what goes behind getting that apple or kiwifruit onto the shelf at retail, and all of the players involved in that,” he said. “It’s hard for, say a graduate of age 21, to know exactly what you want to do, but being able to have a better insight into all of those different opportunities that are within the industry…innovation around robotics, shelf life extension technologies, sustainable packaging, I think those offerings continue to grow.”


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.