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The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), the global trade association representing the entire fresh produce and floral supply chains and the result of a merger between the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the United Fresh Produce Association, has begun operations in the new year.

IFPA is taking the position that the new organization is "transformational," not just a combination of two trade groups:  "IFPA will serve to advocate nationally and globally for the fresh supply chains through government advocacy and leadership especially in the North American Market. The association will also continue to grow connections within the industry and between the industry and the world for the better outcomes of both.  They will also guide the industry and partners with unmatched expertise both on the IFPA team and through volunteer leaders."

“The challenges we are facing today span the entire consumption continuum from food insecurity on one end to food waste on the other,” said IFPA Co-CEO Cathy Burns. “From changing climate patterns to shifting geo-political environments, we understand that the stakes have never been so high not only for the livelihood of our industry – but for the world. The Fresh produce industry offers solutions to almost every major global health and economic challenge, and we are looking forward to welcoming others to join our efforts.”

“Our association is not only for our members, but it is also driven by the engaged leadership of our volunteer leaders as well,” said IFPA Co-CEO, Tom Stenzel. “We were thrilled to receive over 1000 applications from volunteers across the industry, a sign of support for our association, but also an indication of the enthusiasm and urgency that our industry feels about the role we have to play in today’s global environment."

KC's View:

Tough time to be in the trade association business … the pandemic has not been kind to most of their business models … and so "transformational" is not just the bottom line in terms of goals, but has to be the bare minimum in terms of expectations.

Here's the good news.  Over the years, I've been involved with hundreds of speeches and presentations, and two of the more memorable - having very little to do with me - were at conferences run by PMA and United Fresh.  In the former case, I was onstage with actor/singer Leslie Odom, who compellingly connected the creative impulses behind his work to that of people in the food business;  in the latter, I moderated a live (trust me, there was no safety net!) focus group of consumers (who I met about 15 minutes before we went on stage) talking about their purchasing habits and preferences.  In both cases, the constructs were unorthodox and outside traditional lines … and I think reflected a willingness of the two organizations to think and act differently.

Will one plus one equal three?  Time will tell.  But if fortune indeed favors the bold, I like their chances.