There is quite a vibrant produce industry trade association based right here in Southern California. It’s called the Fresh Produce and Floral Council (FPFC) and it has been around since 1965. It was founded as a forum for buyers and sellers to get to know each other on a more personal level, and of course, before there was such a word as “networking,” that’s really what was needed.
My mom, Frieda, was one of the council’s first members, and when I was in high school I attended my first FPFC luncheon with Mom in Los Angeles.
Most of the men who worked on the produce market started their day between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., so they chose to have the luncheons at the end of their work day. I say “men” because, truly, there were no women — except for Frieda.
After I entered the business, I was asked to join the board of directors of the FPFC, and in 1990 I became its first chair-woman. So, you can see this organization has a special place in my heart!
One of the events that we created when I was president was a produce expo. It’s like a mini trade show where produce growers, floral growers, salad dressing companies, importers, wholesalers, distributors and food brokers all set up their products. Then produce buyers from large local retail chains, independent markets, school districts, foodservice distributors and others walk through the show to find new products and to network.
This year’s expo was on July 17th at the Disneyland Hotel with more than 200 companies displaying their goods. I’ve been attending the show since its inception, so I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective from one of my new employees, Cindy. When I asked Cindy what “jumped out at her” at the show, she lit up.
- Coconut water! She said she saw so many different brands, but especially loved Coco Libre with pineapple. I personally enjoy plain, refrigerated coconut water. It is so good for you – check out these health benefits.
- Avocados are everywhere! Whether fresh or processed into guacamole, it seems like avocados have reached star status. There were almost a half dozen varieties of ready-made guacamole at the expo. My personal favorites are fresh California grown avocados.
- Snack packs. Everyone has become accustomed to lunch-size snack packs of baby carrots with ranch dip and celery with peanut butter. Did you know that one of California’s biggest growers is now producing a three-pack of fresh blueberries — my favorite snacking fruit! Cindy just went crazy for Naturipe’s Blueberry Snacks. My personal favorite is a mixed pack of veggies produced by my friends at Mann Packing. Interestingly, Mann is a third generation woman-owned and woman-run business.
As you can see, the produce industry is focused on providing healthy and convenient fresh foods for consumers. I would love to hear what YOUR favorite produce convenience food is!