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08/30/2021

Officers of New Produce Association Named

Slate includes execs from Walmart and Wegmans
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Goldschmidt profile picture
Officers of New Produce Association Named PMA United Fresh
Volunteer and member input has been key to the decision-making and planning for both PMA and United Fresh and will continue to be a fundamental aspect of leadership in new combined trade organization.

Cathy Burns, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, have appointed members of the executive committee who will serve as officers of the new combined produce industry association slated to launch on Jan. 1, 2022. Burns and Stenzel will be co-CEOs of the new association. 

Bruce Taylor, CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, will be the first chair of the new association. Taylor is also a past chair of  Newark, Del.-based PMA and has held several leadership roles across associations and organizations dedicated to the produce industry, which he first came to in 1981. Over the next several months, he and his fellow executive committee members will work with Burns and Stenzel on the launch of the new association.

Also tapped for the executive committee are current PMA chair Dwight Ferguson and Danny Dumas, current chairman of the board of Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh. Ferguson is the president and CEO of Monterey-based California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, which he joined in October 2020 after more than 30 years in senior leadership positions in both produce and floral companies. Montreal native Dumas, who is president of Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Courchesne Larose USA and has worked in the produce industry since 1989, was sworn in as United Fresh chair this past June 1. 

Laura Himes, senior merchandising director at Walmart, is the chair-elect. Himes joined Walmart in 2013 and has more than 25 years in the produce industry, encompassing all areas from farm to fork, and including global leadership roles in Europe, the United States and Central America.

Patrick Vizzone, the head of food, beverage and agribusiness, international and head of Hong Kong coverage for Melbourne, Australia-based ANZ Banking Group, will be the committee’s secretary-treasurer. Vizzone’s professional career started in China’s fresh produce industry. He has more than 20 years of banking and financial services experience, and has held various senior corporate and investment banking leadership roles.

Martha Hilton, VP of produce and floral merchandising for Wegmans Food Markets, will be the association foundation’s chair as well as a member of the executive committee. Hilton grew up in the produce business and has worked at Wegmans for 12 years.

In March 2021, Burns and Stenzel revealed that PMA and United Fresh would join forces to create a new organization devoted to the produce and floral industries.  

“Our staff team is honored that these highly respected industry leaders have stepped up to help forge our new association,” noted Stenzel. We have big aspirations, which are clearly matched by the new association’s officers who will guide us into the future.”

The executive committee features a select group of leaders who will also sit on the board of directors, and provide guidance regarding and oversight of the trade association’s mission and impact. Volunteer and member input has been key to the decision-making and planning for both associations and will continue to be a fundamental aspect of leadership in the new organization, according to the future co-CEOs. 

“Since joining this industry, I have continually found myself in awe of the indomitable spirit of volunteer leadership,” said Burns. “We are blessed to partner with these distinguished thought leaders as we embark on this incredible journey together.”

Burns and Stenzel will appear in person at the Fresh Summit trade show on Oct. 29 for a keynote session to update attendees on the association’s progress. 

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates more than 10,500 stores under 48 banners in 24 countries, and e-commerce websites, employing 2.2 million-plus associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club ranks No. 9 on the list. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans, a family-owned grocer operating 106 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts, is No. 35 on PG’s list.

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