The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) celebrated its 50th Annual Produce Convention at the Tubac Golf Resort on November 1-3, 2018. The FPAA Convention includes educational sessions, networking opportunities, and delicious food for attendees.
By all accounts, this year had something for everyone, from the educational sessions that highlighted key note speaker and chef, Pati Jinich of the James Beard and Imagen award-winning TV series “Pati’s Mexican Table” to the Women’s Leadership Invitational, the Culinary Showcase, the presentation of the Pillar of the FPAA Award to Rosie Cornelius, and much more.
“We had more than 800 attendees at the convention, and it was one of the largest to date, which is no surprise given all of the great events and the extra-special emphasis on our 50th year celebration,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “Our guests commented on the quality of the speakers, the entertainment, and the sense of community our event is famous for.”
The Convention started with a tour to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) border inspection facility to learn about ADOT’s inspection and enforcement activities, how they facilitate trade, and the innovations they are creating to improve the speed of trade while maintaining the highest levels of safety of trucks on the roadway. The tour also stopped by the new warehouse built by area importer Delta Fresh to talk to attendees about the sophistication and role of importers and distributors.
Thursday continued with educational sessions that aimed to inform as well as create an interactive dialogue among attendees on topics ranging from social responsibility, transportation, trade, and the economy. Cathy Burns, the CEO of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Jim Mullen, general counsel of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and Bradley Hayes, the executive director of the Office of Trade Relations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection were some of the notable industry and government officials speaking at the Convention. Attendees also heard from Dari Duval from the University of Arizona to learn about the economic impact of the fresh produce supply chain on the U.S. economy. A panel of industry experts focused on hot topics impacting the produce industry including the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), block chain, food waste, social responsibility, and more.
The convention was held at the Tubac Golf Resort
“The produce industry is complex, and our educational sessions reflect that,” said Jungmeyer. “We try to touch on some of the key things impacting members of the industry and to bring the experts on these issues so that we can foster a good dialogue.”
Capping the afternoon educational sessions, PBS celebrity Chef Pati Jinich, host of “Pati’s Mexican Table” talked about tales from her life, her path to celebrating Mexican cooking through her show and other venues, and her passion and excitement for what she does.
The FPAA also announced the donation of five specially designed wheelchairs to the organization Arizona Sonora Border Projects for Inclusion (ARSOBO). Dr. William Neubauer, a speaker at the sessions, was there to receive the donation and talked about ARSOBO’s mission to provide resources that help people with disabilities to better integrate into society.
The opening fiesta was held in the beautiful outdoor plaza of the Tubac Golf Resort and highlighted live music, a fun photo booth, a historical gallery dedicated to showcasing 50 years of Nogales Produce Conventions, and amazing food, including recipes created by Chef Pati Jinich.
“As a member of the board and an attendee, I appreciate a diverse program, which helped keep education sessions near seating capacity the whole day,” said FPAA Chairman Scott Vandervoet of Vandervoet and Associates. “That momentum in attendance carried through to the whole event.”
Friday was another full day for attendees. The Consulate General of Mexico and the FPAA teamed up to host the 3rd Annual Culinary Showcase, which invited guests to experience delicious food from chefs across Arizona and Mexico. In addition, participants could see for themselves how produce enters the U.S. and arrives at area warehouses in Santa Cruz County by taking a helicopter ride down “produce row” to the border and back.
This year the FPAA held the first ever Women’s Leadership Invitational, created to celebrate the women of the produce industry. The panel discussion was led by Sabrina Hallman of Sierra Seed Company, LLC. Panelists included, Cathy Burns of PMA, Rosie Cornelius of MAS Melons & Grapes, and Pati Jinich. Each speaker talked about the lessons they learned as women in their respective industries, their strategies for success, and the challenges they overcame to be where they are today.
Chef Pati Jinich (left)
“I was honored to be part of the historic and inaugural Women's invitational. I learned so much from the panel, which had such trailblazing women willing to share constructive insights for hardworking women, whether you are in the produce industry or not,” said Pati Jinich. “It was a delight to interact with the audience which was so engaged and shared so many fascinating and meaningful stories.”
Friday’s Gala was an elegant celebration that featured entertainment, music, and special recognitions and awards. Following a performance from the University of Arizona’s Folklorico Dancers, Scott Vandervoet, the FPAA chairman, presented Rosie Cornelius with the Pillar of the FPAA Award. The Pillar of the FPAA Award is given to members of the association that have contributed greatly to the evolution and sustainability of the U.S. industry importing fresh produce from Mexico. Rosie was honored for her commitment to the community, industry, and the FPAA. The FPAA, partnering with the Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association and the United Fresh Start Foundation announced Little Red School #28 in Nogales, Arizona as recipient of this year’s salad bar donation for the school cafeteria.
The 2-day golf tournament participants were fiercely competitive from the onset. Prizes for this event were awarded in all three flights. Friday, November 2 golf winners included; Closest to the hole: Earl Bekins, Longest Drive: Jorge Vega, 1st Place: Memo Valencia and Rudy Molera-63, 2nd Place: Mike Nunez and Ernie Manzo 64, and Jimmy Munguia and Earl Bekins 64. The Saturday winners included Closest to the hole: Jaime Hernandez, Longest Drive: Jimmy Munguia. 1st Place: Jimmy Munguia and Earl Bekins 60, 2nd Place: Adam Cancellieri and Jeff Young 61, 3rd Place Mike Nunez and Ernie Manzo 65. Combined winners included, 1st Place: Jimmy Munguia and Earl Bekins 124, 2nd Place Adam Cancellieri and Jeff Young 128.
Be sure to save the date for FPAA’s 2019 Annual Convention in Tubac, Arizona, November 7-9, 2019. The FPAA will be celebrating 75 years as an association so it will be an event you won’t want to miss.