PMA, United Fresh new ‘force to be reckoned with’
After decades of occasional negotiations which had even included a few highly publicized efforts that failed, the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association are slated to officially merge at the beginning of 2022.
These two individually successful beacons of produce announced just before the first of April that they have agreed in principle to combine forces.
Michael Muzyk, United Fresh’s board chairman, told the media in a call that the combined association will be a “force to be reckoned with.” Stressing the strength of the union, he explained that “better together” is the forthcoming mission mantra.
PMA’s board chairman Dwight Ferguson said that while more work needs to be done and the details fleshed out, “We have the team in place that will enable that to happen.”
The new association will be led jointly throughout 2022 by PMA’s CEO, Cathy Burns, and United Fresh’s CEO, Tom Stenzel. The co-CEOs will report to a new board of directors that will blend each association’s current directors and new directors committed to the new association. After that time Burns will become the sole CEO.
Neither COVID-19 nor financial reasons drove the merger. Rather, the alignment grew from the growing and friendly relationship of Burns and Stenzel with trust and mutual acknowledgement of their individual strengths. Stenzel noted that their recent collaborations in food safety and labor practices pushed the organizations even closer. Burns particularly recognized their shared visions.
The name of the new organization has yet to be decided. Burns and Stenzel assured the branding process will be thorough. Burns offered, “For a skinny minute Tom and I tried to name the association and we said, ‘Oh my gosh people smarter than us need to be involved in this.’”
Talks and interim steps will be announced as the merge progresses.
Burns pointed out, “We need events now more than ever.”
“I’m looking forward to Fresh Summit in October,” Stenzel added, “I hope that we’re standing there on the stage together and we roll out the whole picture.”
Strategic commitments for the new association already include: all sectors of the global fresh produce and floral supply chains; advocacy for a positive business climate; engagement with international bodies; expertise in food safety, technology, supply chain management, marketing; sales and connections; bringing the supply chain together for support efficiency and profitability; creation of demand to inspire consumer embracement of produce and floral products; and more.
The websites of both organizations contain a FAQ page for additional merger information.