(Nogales, AZ) – In order to expand its national reach and influence, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas has added the services of industry veterans John Toner and Phil Gruszka as Business Development Directors.  

“FPAA is the home for distributors of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico, no matter whether a company crosses its produce in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or  California,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “Food safety issues, USDA inspections and other market access issues occur at all ports of entry, and FPAA provides a national voice for all distributors of fresh produce from Mexico.” 

While FPAA has maintained a strong focus in Nogales since it was founded in 1944, the FPAA in 2022 conducted a Strategic Review, in which FPAA members identified the value in being a national trade association.   The members saw this move as aligning the FPAA with the high-level work they were already doing on behalf of the industry at large.   

After the Strategic Review, FPAA’s new Mission is to: Ensure market access for imported fresh fruits and vegetables by informing and advocating with government and industry on behalf of Members, thereby providing consistent expertise and support. 

To provide a stronger network of support, FPAA is working to expand the ranks of its membership from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Toner Insights and Gruszka Consulting will play key roles. 

“In this endeavor, we are proud to work with John Toner and Phil Gruszka, accomplished industry veterans,” Jungmeyer said. 

Toner made his industry mark at the United Fresh Produce Association, and later at the International Fresh Produce Association, where he was Vice President of Political Affairs. Now, he is founder and CEO of Toner Insights, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in trade show management, exhibitor strategy, event marketing and relationship building. He also acts as Vice President at Produce Business Magazine, where he works on the New York Produce Show and Conference. Toner may be reached at jtoner@freshfrommexico.com. Toner Insights will work with companies which have headquarters East of the Pacific Region, and which are international. 

Founded in 2011 by Phil Gruszka, Gruszka Consulting is a California based full-service marketing and sales consultancy focusing on the food and beverage sectors. The consulting business was founded with the principles of helping produce companies tackle marketplace challenges, build successful teams, and improve their company’s consumer presence. In his years in fresh produce, Gruszka has served in roles with Grimmway Farms, among others. Gruszka may be reached at philg@freshfrommexico.com. Gruszka Consulting will work with companies with headquarters in the Pacific Region, including California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, and Alaska. 

Toner and Gruszka said they are eager to engage with the industry. 

“I am looking forward to helping the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas expand a national footprint to service fresh produce industry members doing business on and through the border,” said Toner. “Together working with the entire industry, we can advocate for better working conditions and transit/inspection times.” 

For Western shippers and distributors, the growing importance of Mexican fresh produce in their supply chains highlights an opportunity, Gruszka said. 

“California and other Western companies have made large investments in expanding their Mexican imports. Because of FPAA’s work in keeping the border running efficiently, joining the FPAA is a great way to safeguard that work,” said Gruszka. 

Learn more about FPAA at www.freshfrommexico.com