ATLANTA -- The Produce Marketing Association opened its 47th annual convention here last week with a symbolic "passing of the torch," from longtime president Bob Carey to new executive head Bryan Silbermann, during an opening session that characterized both the trade group and the produce industry as dependent on "family culture."
"When we come together every October, we look at it as another family reunion," said Silbermann, now president of the association. Silbermann, Carey, and outgoing chairman Warren Hutchins of the Ground Round restaurant chain, each reinforced the theme of family by speaking of their own families and introducing those family members present for the event.
The Sunday brunch session also touched upon the produce industry's 5 a Day produce promotion campaign, and included a call for increased financial support for the program. The 5 a Day program, administered by the Produce for Better Health Foundation, encourages the public to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The convention marked the fifth anniversary of the campaign, which from its start has wrestled with the challenge of securing enough funding to support its message.
"If I can ask anything of you as I take my leave, I ask you to continue to support 5 a Day; no, let me change that to, I ask you to increase your support of 5 a Day," said Carey, who was characterized by PBH chairman Dave Eldredge as the "true founder of the foundation."
"Our industry is held in such high regard by so many segments of the population; I feel good letting people know that we had a major role in helping the 5 a Day program get started -- in establishing one of the first successful public/private sector partnerships," Carey said. "And, our industry's partnership with the National Cancer Institute is extremely successful. I was delighted to recently learn that this partnership has been renewed for another five years."
Silbermann, meanwhile, told attendees, "I accept the charge you have given me" to take over the PMA presidency from Carey. He told of his coming to America from his native South Africa, and finding in PMA and the produce industry a new family.
Silbermann has learned "That relationships are everything, that people are paramount. That you work with a drive and a passion, a belief in the goodness of what you do -- day in and day out."