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IFPA: The value of a single voice


Many industry insiders applaud that having a single, united voice is one of the most positive results of the merger that became the International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962.

“Our history of collaboration with a variety of stakeholders inside and outside the produce and floral industries is creating meaningful impact across all segments and geographies,” says Cathy Burns, CEO of IFPA.

“One key difference is how IFPA is being seen by external collaborators,” she points out. “We’re being invited to more tables where discussions on nutrition, sustainability, technology, and innovation are being held.

“We remain steadfast in fighting for our policy priorities on Capitol Hill—be they the Farm Bill, nutrition and growing consumption, infrastructure and transportation, fresh produce workforce, food safety, or organics—we’ve doubled our investment in this critical area.”

Steve Grinstead, CEO at FreshEdge, LLC in Indianapolis, IN, who was a longtime proponent of the merger and involved in two of the previous attempts to bring United Fresh and PMA together, agrees.

“We now have one voice in IFPA that can better position our industry and issues with U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Congress, and the Biden administration.”

“With a unified approach, we’ve seen that the industry has been able to gain more traction on important issues like labor and immigration, nutrition, and supply chain challenges,” says Mike O’Brien, vice president of Monterey Mushrooms, LLC BB #:116075 in Watsonville, CA.

“United Fresh has always been known for great advocacy work, and PMA had a clear connection to the global supply chain,” he adds. “Now, members can benefit from all of that work under one banner.”

Jin Ju Wilder, vice president of marketing and business development at Vesta Foodservice BB #:125924 in Santa Fe Springs, CA, says, “It’s led to the association having more confidence as the leading voice for our industry. The IFPA is seen as the industry partner needed at the table by government agencies and at global discussions about the future of food.”

She mentions the group’s advocacy on food policy, regulation, nutrition standards, and other topics as a strength.

O’Brien believes combining the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Foundation for Fresh Produce is similarly beneficial. “The addition of PBH to the association gives us a one-voice focus on growing consumption,” he says.

“They’re doing a good job of being the voice of the grower, especially in Washington, DC,” says Kenny Lund, executive vice president of Allen Lund Company, LLC BB #:107465 in La Canada, CA, but cautions, “They always need to remember to be the voice for everybody.”

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.