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FPFC luncheon addresses growing the fruit and vegetable category, women in produce

By
Tim Linden

Returning to Northern California for the first time in more than two years, the Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s May 11 luncheon featuring a women’s panel attracted more than 200 attendees to the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the FPFC had not held a membership luncheon in the northern half of the state since February of 2020. Guests and speakers alike expressed pure joy for being able to be out and about again and meeting in person.

FPFC Chair Kori Martin of Oppy welcomed the crowd, updating the attendees on some past and upcoming FPFC events. The day before the luncheon, the organization held a volunteer day in Salinas in conjunction with Brighter Bites and sponsored by The Wonderful Cos.’ sales team. Donated produce was assembled and packaged at the Andrew Smith Co. cooler with the resulting 350 boxes being delivered to kids and their parents at La Gloria Elementary School in nearby Gonzales. Martin also invited everyone to attend the annual dinner-dance, which will be held on Saturday, May 21 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, also after a two-year hiatus.

The women’s panel, featuring moderator Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of the Produce for Better Health Foundation and panelists Amy Snyder of Fresh Point Inc., Rachelle Schulken of Calavo Growers and Tristan Simpson of tristan michele marketing, served as the keynote presentation.

The panelists discussed their own career paths and ways they help increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, while Kapsak sprinkled in PBH market research data as she continued the conversation.

The PBH executive indicated that industry members have to take a more active role in growing the fruit and vegetable category. She noted that most American consumers only eat vegetables during one eating occasion a day, while fruit consumption occurs, on average, less than one time day. Kapsak said the difference between “high frequency” produce consumers and others is that they have made consumption a habitual behavior. She argues that if we want consumers to eat more, we must make it easy and make it an emotional decision.

She said that when consumers approach food they first have a lust for what they are eating, but to increase consumption, they need to move beyond lust to the love stage. Kapsak added that behavioral scientist point to this “cultivated enjoyment” relationship that leads to increased consumption. She noted that fruits and vegetables have different personalities, comparing fruit to the excitement of your first child and quipped that vegetables are like the second kid, indicating they take a little more work.

The panelists discussed their own relationship with the industry but also talked about their careers and ideas for increasing use of produce and inspiring greater consumption.

Schulken believes the industry should capitalize on the plant-based craze arguing that fruits and vegetables “are the original plant-based diet.” She added that she is “walking the talk” with her own eating habits and indicated that setting a good example is an important step.

Simpson believes marketing “food as medicine” is a winning strategy which plays to the increased awareness of health and wellness that is prevalent today.

Discussing the role of women in the produce industry, Snyder said one of the best ways men can help foster the growth of their female employees is to put them in leadership roles. She indicated that most companies probably have a treasure trove of talented women needing to be discovered. On that same topic, Simpson concurred. She said women do have a different perspective and they bring baked-in diversity to the decision-making process. She also offered that the role of women in the produce industry has improved greatly during her career in the business. She implored men to use their voices as influencers and part of the power team to advocate for the talented women that surround them. “Words do matter,” she said.

Photo: FPFC panelists Tristan Simpson of tristan michele marketing, Amy Snyder of FreshPoint, Rachelle Schulken of Calavo and Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Tim Linden

Tim Linden

About Tim Linden  |  email

Tim Linden grew up in a produce family as both his father and grandfather spent their business careers on the wholesale terminal markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Tim graduated from San Diego State University in 1974 with a degree in journalism. Shortly thereafter he began his career at The Packer where he stayed for eight years, leaving in 1983 to join Western Growers as editor of its monthly magazine. In 1986, Tim launched Champ Publishing as an agricultural publishing specialty company.

Today he is a contract publisher for several trade associations and writes extensively on all aspects of the produce business. He began writing for The Produce News in 1997, and currently wears the title of Editor at Large.

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