Greenhouse pioneer Paul Mastronardi, President and CEO of Mastronardi Produce, received a Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday at the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) 31st Annual Gala and Awards Ceremony. The prestigious award recognizes an individual that has demonstrated tireless efforts over many years to improve the quality and distribution of fruits and vegetables marketed within and outside Ontario through innovation, cooperation, and hard work.
“This award is an incredible honor for me and my family. I am sincerely humbled to be among the ranks of past recipients of this award, including my father Don,” expressed Paul Mastronardi. “I was born into this industry and had the great fortune of learning from the legacy of three generations before me. I feel a great sense of pride and privilege to carry that on.”
The OPMA Gala & Award Ceremony was held at the Blue Mountain Village Conference Centre. Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award was former Executive Director of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, Joe Sbrocchi, who highlighted some of the major milestones in Paul’s career. Notably, Joe reminded the audience of Paul’s marketing virtuosity, having introduced the world’s first branded tomato – the award-winning Campari® cocktail tomato – and the plethora of marketing accomplishments to follow which were game-changing for the industry. Joe also described Paul’s hard work and innovative spirit, having launched the produce industry’s first 100% traceability program, becoming the first fresh produce company to receive Non-GMO Project verification, and pioneering high-tech greenhouse strawberry growing back in 2003.
Minister of Agriculture Lisa Thompson attended the event to honor this year’s OPMA award recipients. “Congratulations to all of the award recipients this year. I appreciate your hard work and dedication in marketing nutritious Ontario produce!” said the Minister. “Ontarians are looking for and choosing fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here at home. Your marketing efforts are making a difference in creating a greater awareness of Ontario produce and are also driving a sense of pride in our provincial agri-food industry.”
Thanking his family and “larger family of Flavor Nation employees across the Mastronardi Produce brands,” Paul emphasized his inspiration from the collective efforts of the produce industry and pledged to continue advocating for the industry for many more years.