FPAA Annual Conference Highlights Social Responsibility
Nogales, AZ- The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA), representing over 100 member companies involved in importing distributing fresh produce across North America, held its 46th Annual Convention in Tubac, Arizona from October 30-November 1. Over 800 industry representatives from the U.S. and Mexico attended the event.
The conference began with a bonus learning lunch featuring industry and government leaders sharing their perspectives on the role of social responsibility in Mexico's fresh produce industry. Moderated by Martin Ley, President, Fresh Evolution, panelists included: Guillermo Martinez, Del Campo Supreme; Alicia Martin, Wilson Produce; Juan Laborin, Hermosillo Grape Growers Association (AALPUM), and Berenice Martinez from Mexico Calidad Suprema.
Martin Ley began his remarks by noting that "now is the time to be more pro-active in sharing the story of our long term commitment to our employees and their development. It is the right thing to do for the employee, for the industry and for our community. They are searching for information that verifies the fresh produce they purchase for their families is grown in a socially responsible and sustainable manner."
The panelists all agreed that social responsibility represents both a challenge and an opportunity. In addition to telling our story more effectively, it was noted that while leading growers hold stringent social responsibility certifications like Fair Trade, more work is needed to raise awareness of the importance of responsible worker treatment across all fresh produce sector. "Continued partnerships between the government and industry will play an important role in ensuring widespread adoption," noted Laborin.
Martinez shared how Del Campo's socially responsible programs are rooted in his great grandfather's legacy of hard work and respect. "He came to Mexico at 12 years old as a stowaway. He was successful because he never lost sight of the importance of treating all employees fairly."
After highlighting several programs that offer Wilson Produce workers opportunities for advancement, Martin observed "It is interesting to hear how our motivations to treat our workers fairly are so similar," added Martin. At Wilson Produce, we have multiple generations of the same family working for us. They come back to our farms year after year because they know they will be treated with respect. We understand that when our workers are strong, our business prospers."
Other conference highlights include presentations by Bruce McEvoy, former CEO of Seald Sweet on how to build a global sourcing strategy, and former Congressman Jim Kolbe on how Arizona will succeed as a trading partner with Mexico.
For additional information on the conference topics, or to request an interview with a speaker, contact: Lance Jungmeyer, (520) 287-2707.
About the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas: The FPAA is a nonprofit trade association headquartered in Nogales, Arizona, that represents over 120 U.S. member companies involved in growing, packing, sales and transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico. The FPAA leverages the efforts of private companies and partner-associations to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetable from Mexico. The Mariposa Port of Entry located in Nogales, Arizona, is the largest port of entry for fresh produce imported into the U.S. from Mexico.