FPAA celebrates 75; Ciruli named Pillar of the FPAA
NOGALES, AZ — The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas celebrated its 75th anniversary Nov. 7-9 at its 51st annual Nogales Produce Convention & Golf Tournament. The meeting is held in the scenic Tubac Resort & Golf Club. The climax of the event came during the Nov. 8 gala dinner, with the recognition of Chuck Ciruli Jr. as the 2019 Pillars of the FPAA Award.
Ciruli’s public debut in the produce industry came in 1948 at age 4, when his photo appeared on the label of his father, Charlie’s, Chuckie brand quality pack vegetables.
Charlie Ciruli founded Ciruli Bros. as a Colorado grower-shipper in 1940. The company grew quickly and soon expanded to Nogales.
Chuck Ciruli Jr. started selling produce at age 16. Then his father died when he was 19 and the company closed. In 1967 in Nogales, Ciruli opened Ciruli Brokerage Co. Today, Chuck’s sons, Chuck Ciruli III and Chris Ciruli, operate Ciruli Bros. LLC, which is a major Nogales importer of mangos and other Mexican produce. The firm is also a grower in many locations throughout the United States.
Emceed by Mikee Suarez of MAS Melons & Grapes, the Nov. 7 formal meeting featured an industry overview by FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. Jungmeyer and Georgina Felix of FPAA presented an update on the important construction plans of a cold inspection facility on the Nogales border. This will encourage more cold-sensitive produce to be shipped through Nogales and will help the crossing’s distributors widen markets for Mexican produce throughout the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast region.
Rick Stein of FMI presented the keynote presentation, Power of Fresh, which highlighted industry trends, which are largely driven by consumer demands. Such expectations include interests in non-GMO products, organics, recyclable packaging and social responsibility. Stein acknowledged that consumers don’t always understand the implications of the fashionable demands that are placed on food providers.
Stein, Tom Stenzel of United Fresh, Ron LeMaire of CPMA and Britton Clarke, an attorney whose firm, BC Consulting, represents FPAA in Washington, DC, spoke on a panel moderated by Chris Ciruli to discuss some of the topics raised in Stein’s presentation.
Human interests were served by storytelling presentations by Raquel Espinoza of Produce House, Walter Ram of Giumarra and Jaime Chamberlain of Chamberlain Distributing, as they told personal accounts of their arrival into the Nogales produce industry.
On Nov. 8, FPAA presented the fourth Culinary Showcase with different restaurants and foodservice providers, offering a smorgasbord of dishes, using Mexican produce. Golfers enjoyed perfect weather conditions on Nov. 8-9.