The boards of directors of the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association have reached an agreement in principle to combine the groups by the beginning of 2022. Previous high-profile efforts to merge the two national produce associations fell short in 2012, 2007 and 1995.
The next step will involve deciding a new name for the combined association, according to a press release. The resulting new association from the merger of United Fresh and PMA will combine resources and expertise to enhance member services, increase advocacy before government and the public, help members grow their businesses, and drive consumption of fresh produce and demand for floral products as a vital cornerstone of public health.
The two associations will continue to operate as independent organisations through 2021, with the new association to be launched January 1st 2022.
Board chairmen Michael Muzyk of United Fresh and Dwight Ferguson of PMA said in the release: “This agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of both associations to deliver the highest level of value to members. Looking ahead, we believe we can accomplish that goal better together, building on the synergies and experience of our expert staffs, complementary education programs and member services, and a stronger voice in advocating for our industries.”
The new association will be led jointly by Burns and Stenzel as co-CEOs throughout 2022. After that time, Burns will become the sole CEO, according to release.
Stenzel said in the release: “Through my 28 years of service to our industry, I have long recognised the potential synergies of our groups building something powerful together. It is gratifying to me several years before my retirement to find a strong and committed partner in Cathy who also believes in this shared vision. I’m looking forward to launching this new organization together, setting the stage to enhance member value while driving greater produce consumption in the years ahead.”
Burns said in the release: “Tom has been a great partner, and I truly appreciate his deep history, knowledge, and care for our industry. We, along with our talented teams, look forward to leveraging our strengths to serve our diverse and complex supply chain. I am so proud and honoured to serve the produce and floral community at such a pivotal time in our history.”
Over the coming months, Burns and Stenzel will work with their teams and board leaders to build out the new organisation. Concurrently, the two associations will begin sharing their expertise and promoting participation in each other’s events and programmes. It is anticipated that the volunteer leadership, governance and membership structure, and 2022 business plan for the new association will be in place and shared with the membership in autumn 2021, according to the organisations.