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Brian Coppin - New chairperson, PMA South Africa

"It’s no picnic out there”

The PMA Fresh Connections conference took place in Cape Town on 16 and 17 August, starting on a rainy morning amid continued hopes that the Western Cape’s drought will be alleviated. This was the last conference with Tommie van Zyl of ZZ2 as chairperson of the South Africa Country Council. The position will now be filled by Brian Coppin, CEO of Food Lover’s Market. 

Brian Coppin, new chairperson of the PMA South Africa Country Council (Photo: Anthea Davison)

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“I’m looking forward to the next few years. The PMA has already done fantastic things in attracting young talent to our industry,” Brian Coppin said in his address to the audience. “Tommie, besides being a fantastic leader and a great farmer, is also skilled in convincing people – like convincing me to step into his shoes. I accepted, because it’s the industry that I love.”

He continued: “One of the things mentioned today, is that we’re mindful of the big issues like water availability. There is huge deflation in the fresh produce industry and it’s no picnic out there.”

Richard Owen, vice-president: global business development, also paid tribute to Tommie van Zyl. “”When we were establishing the PMA in South Africa, one of the names that kept coming up, was that of Tommie van Zyl. We were very fortunate when he said he would be chairman in 2013. He has accomplished a lot – the annual event has grown from strength to strength, we hired a full-time country manager, Lindie Stroebel and there has been a strong establishment of the PMA brand in South Africa.”

Tommie van Zyl of ZZ2 and outgoing chairperson of PMA South Africa (Photo: Anthea Davison)

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A major focus of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is on global connections, and John Oxford, chairperson of the PMA global board of directors as well as President and CEO of L&M Cos. Inc. said that Mexico and South Africa are two countries of particular interest to the PMA. “South Africa is a jumping off point to Sub-Saharan Africa and Africa as a whole and the fresh produce industry is an increasingly global industry.”

Workshops focused on how to the supply chain and logistics (“the last frontier”, as Maryla Masojada, trade analyst put it), how to navigate the logistics of doing trade in Africa as advised by Andy Connell, responsible and ethical product sourcing as a means of building a company’s brand. There was also a workshop highlighting the innovation offered by Dutch companies, like Suncooler (solar-powered cool rooms) and eleaf (whose programme Fruitlook has been helping Western Cape fruit farmers to measure water use efficiency through satellite imaging for the past six years).

Photo: Anthea Davison

There was a feeling among some delegates that somewhat fewer people attended than last year.

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Publication date: 8/21/2017
Author: Carolize Jansen
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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