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Women’s Fresh Perspectives breakfast

DSCN1492The Women’s Fresh Perspectives breakfast was held Friday, Oct. 17, shortly before the PMA Fresh Summit kicked off. Attendees had the opportunity to gain career insights from keynote speaker Claire Shipman, ABC News contributor and New York Times best-selling author.

Leia Ray and Heather Shavey of Costco with Margi Prueitt, executive director of the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent.

PMA Fresh Summit 2014

DSC 0896On the day that the Produce Marketing Association’s 2014 Fresh Summit opened, Bryan Silbermann, PMA chief executive officer, promised it would be the most well-attended event in the history of the organization. His educated guess proved accurate, as the association announced that a new record of more than 22,400 people attended the three-day event.

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Jose Miguel Del Hoyo, Antonio Villalobos, Luis Villalobos and Luis R. Webb of GR Produce.

Natural Blend, new vegetable dehydration plant, holds opening ceremony in Farmville, NC

IMG 4861A new life for an old textile plant and a new use for discarded but quality sweet potatoes were celebrated at the Sept. 30 grand opening of the Natural Blend vegetable dehydration facility in Farmville, NC.

A subsidiary of Ham Produce Co. in Snow Hill, NC, Natural Blend will use sweet potatoes that have been discarded up to now because they were too big, too small, or too misshapen for retail sale. It will turn them into ingredients for pet food and animal feed. Estimates are that 25 percent to 30 percent of the sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina are not harvested, or are culled out during processing simply because of their size and shape.

With the opening of the 27,000-square-foot renovated facility, the Natural Blend plans to create more than 50 jobs with an average salary of $38,000. Ham Produce Co. has already invested more than $16 million in the project. Natural Blend can process 30,000 pounds of raw product an hour and churn out 120,000 pounds of finished goods every 24 hours.

Close to 200 state and local officials, sweet potato growers and suppliers attended the ceremony and toured the facility afterwards.

Jonathan and Kay Baker of Washington, NC, hold hands with the sweet potato mascot, who welcomed guests to the Grand Opening. Jonathan Baker is a new employee at Natural Blend. Inside the sweet potato suit is a lively Geraldine Edwards.


PMA Fresh Summit 2014 kicks off in Anaheim

DSC 0774The Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit kicked off Friday, Oct. 17 with educational workshops and the brunch general session, but the opening day came to a close with an energetic welcoming reception that featured gourmet food trucks, microbrews and the debut of PMA's green carpet.  

Jim Rondini, Marybeth March, Kirk Wilson, Janet Leo, Edward Leo and Dave Santucci of Country Fresh Mushroom.

FPFC meets in Southern California

DSCN4003The Fresh Produce & Floral Council held a regular membership luncheon meeting on Oct. 1 at the Sheraton in Cerritos, CA.  There were more than 200 attendees at the event who listened to keynote speaker Conan Nolan, a local television broadcaster on the political scene.

Nolan, who donated his speaking fee to a favored fresh produce industry charity, Caterina’s Club, discussed the difficult Middle East situation as well as the 2016 presidential election.

The emcee for the day was Don Gann of Stater Bros. Markets.  He donned a Dodger jersey to remind everyone of his allegiance and the National League playoffs.

Nancy Hamilton and Ann Blass of Advantage Sales & Marketing flank Roger Schroeder of Stater Bros. Markets.