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U.S.A. : Newly Elected FPAA Chairman Matt Mandel shares produce industry vision

May 26th, 2014

The recently elected chairman of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) has started his rein by questioning the very model in which fruits and vegetables are sold, and whether the industry can rise to the task of meeting rising demand worldwide.

When asked about his vision for produce, Matt Mandel he was optimistic but several issues needed to be addressed, like the supply chain structure and adapting to the Food Safey Modernization Act (FSMA).

“The main questions become where does the problem truly lie? Do we need to improve production methods to increase yields, and how best to do so?”
said Mandel, who is also the VP of sales and marketing at SunFed in the Arizona border city of Nogales.

“Do we need to re-create our ideas of what a supply chain is and how we transport goods to ensure that everything we produce is quickly and efficiently transported to minimize shrink?

“Does the current retail model support this growth? It can be quite the rabbit hole depending on how deep you’d like to delve.”

While stating it was too early to guess the implications of the FSMA that was signed into law in 2011, Mandel believed produce professionals could use it to their advantage to change regulations for the better.

“The good part is this is a huge opportunity for industry to help shape the next round of rules and regulations which will ultimately guide an industry for at least the foreseeable short term if not longer,”
he said.

“I truly believe that the active participants in the fresh produce industry are doing it not because it is solely a business opportunity but because we believe in our industry and believe in the products we put up.

“The collaborative nature with which we are moving forward bodes well for making our food supply truly safer, rather than simply making it more highly regulated.”

This implies working closely alongside the government to ensure decisions are science- and fact-based.

“The trick is really to utilize the combined knowledge of the membership to best work our way through the various pitfalls that face our group as a whole.

“There are certain sectors of the fresh produce industry that have chosen not to innovate, not to keep up with the times; thus their methods and products are of a lesser quality and in lesser and lesser demand.”

Mandel explained the FPAA and its members were constantly advocating for a higher standard of goods across the board, looking for new and creative ways to meet the needs of a very diverse consumer base.

In conclusion, much of Mandel’s optimism stems from his view of the people within the produce industry.

“I have worked in and around other industries and I can honestly say, as diverse as the backgrounds are in this business, I have never met a more dedicated, passionate group of people who truly love what they do,”
he said.

“When I see these people pouring their hearts and souls into what they do, it not only gives me hope that we will find solutions to feed future generations but it makes me proud to be amongst a group of intelligent, caring individuals who absolutely love what they do.”


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