Those who believe the merger that led to International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962 has been positive for the industry cite the streamlining of member services and the logistics of membership as a key advantage.
“For our members, the combined association has removed the duplication of efforts—be they advocacy or trade shows and conferences or other programs, for example—which then provides stronger forums for supply chain leaders to come together to connect and do business,” says Cathy Burns, CEO of IFPA.
“We continue to see strong interest in joining IFPA from those who are not members already,” she adds.
Less is more
The streamlining has made it easier to support the organization’s initiatives, some industry leaders say.
“There’s more focus from the industry on how to best participate and support our industry-leading association, since we don’t have to allocate resources and/or allegiances to more than one now,” observes Jin Ju Wilder, vice president of marketing and business development at Vesta Foodservice BB #:125924 in Santa Fe Springs, CA, and a former chair of PMA’s board of directors.
“What I’ve seen with IFPA is that the single association has benefitted from the combined staff’s varied experiences and perspectives,” she continues.
“The expanded network of relationships and resources has increased opportunities for the organization to learn from and also influence key stakeholders both within and outside the industry.
“I think the organization continues to improve in providing data analysis and consumer insights that help member companies be better informed and make good decisions,” Wilder says.
Steve Grinstead, CEO at FreshEdge, LLC in Indianapolis, IN, is of the same mind. “The combined association eliminated the need for many companies to have to choose between being a member of one or the other.
“The IFPA has carried on most events from both associations,” he says, “which has allowed many members to experience new events they did not previously attend, providing for new experiences and new relationships.”
Mike O’Brien, vice president of Monterey Mushrooms, LLC BB #:116075 in Watsonville, CA, concurs, especially on having a single list of signature events, a single set of dues, and a single foundation.
“The IFPA has carried through a variety of events and networking opportunities,” he says, “which has let industry members who may have attended only United Fresh or only PMA events participate more and make new connections.”
Kevin Brooks, chief revenue and marketing officer at Procurant BB #:355257 in Watsonville, CA, puts it this way: “As a sponsor and attendee of the shows, it’s much nicer that they’re together—there’s less duplication of events.”
One criticism that Kenny Lund, executive vice president of Allen Lund Company, LLC BB #:107465 in La Canada, CA, has about the early shows right after the merger was the placement of long-time exhibitors.
“They wanted the sellers to be prominent, but they forgot about ancillary companies like ours,” he recalls. “The companies that have supported both organizations deserve to be noticed.”
He notes, however, that IFPA staff has been communicative and supportive about issues such as these. “They listened and have taken great pains to address everyone’s concerns.”
This is an excerpt from the cover story in the September/October 2023 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.