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Announcing Thought-Leader Breakfast Panel At London Produce Show And Conference

Before the trade show, each year, we have a breakfast and a panel. The Perishable Pundit Thought-Leader Panel gathers together important, influential and insightful people from across the globe. The purpose: To advance the industry through thoughtful discussion of important industry issues and to open the minds of attendees as they go into the formal conference and expo.

This year’s panel hails from four continents. Its members represent the powerful retail and foodservice sectors that pull demand, NGO leadership and a consumer influencer of the highest order. It is a great privilege to reveal the Perishable Pundit Thought-Leader Panel for the 2019 edition of The London Produce Show and Conference:

THURSDAY JUNE 6, 2019 | 07.30 – 09.15


Amanda Freitag
TV Personality & Cookbook Author
London Produce Show Ambassador

Through her work in professional restaurant kitchens, as a food television personality and an author, New Jersey, USA-born Amanda Freitag has become more than a chef, she is known as ‘The Chef Next Door’ — the title of her first cookbook, launched in 2015.

Since 2008, Amanda has been a judge on Chopped, the hit series aired on US television channel Food Network. In May 2015, she launched her own show concept on Food Network, called American Diner Revival with co-host Ty Pennington.

Amanda has worked at some of New York City’s most popular restaurants, including Cesca — where she cooked alongside Tom Valenti as his chef de cuisine and earned two stars from The New York Times in 2003; Gusto in the West Village – where as executive chef her Italian food was met with critical acclaim; and The Harrison in TriBeCa, which received numerous accolades under her direction as executive chef.

Amanda is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She has travelled extensively through France and Italy, which has given her a deep appreciation of Mediterranean ingredients and flavours.


Clare Linstead
Senior Buying Manager for
Tropical, Exotic & Stone Fruit
Morrisons (UK)

Clare Linstead is the Senior Buying Manager for Tropical, Exotic & Stone Fruit at Morrisons. She is an experienced international food sourcing specialist with 12 years’ experience in the movement of ambient and perishable foodstuffs, having also held commercial roles at global logistics giant DHL Supply Chain.

Clare has transformed and optimised supply chains to the UK from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, across key commodity areas such as: Pasta, Rice, Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Pork, Beef and Poultry.

In 2016, Clare joined Morrisons’s produce trading team where she has led the company’s international direct sourcing strategy; improving key metrics such as: profitability, quality, consistency, freshness and availability. She has also been a key proponent in the development of Morrisons’s Social Responsibility & Sustainability strategy in the produce sector.  


George Liu
CEO, Frutacloud

George Liu is the founder of Frutacloud, having previously spearheaded e-commerce and payment projects while serving in positions at both Amazon and Google. He is a graduate of Northwestern University in the US, with a Master’s degree in Computer Science.

In 2016, George established Frutacloud as a subsidiary of the Kingo Fruits Group for the purpose of serving the rising e-commerce and ‘New Retail’ segments in China.

With Kingo’s 30 years of experience and with George’s innovative approach to the business, Frutacloud has become a leading brand to procure, market, and distribute fresh fruit from around the world to the Chinese market.

George’s ultimate mission is to make healthy lifestyles more accessible to everyone in an environmentally sustainable way.


Philip Macy
Category Buyer for Grapes and Stone Fruit
Sam’s Club

Phil Macy has worked for 27 years at Sam’s Club, an US chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs that are owned and operated by Walmart. During that time, he has spent 24 years with Sam’s Produce.

Currently, Phil is responsible for the chain’s table grape and stonefruit categories. In his role, he is a great advocate of flavor, quality, and the best grape varieties



Tom Stenzel
President and CEO
United Fresh Produce Association

Tom Stenzel is President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association in the USA, a position he has held since 1993. Founded in 1904, United Fresh represents the interests of companies throughout the global fresh produce supply chain, and serves to shape legislative and regulatory policies; providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety and nutrition; and developing educational programs for its members.

Tom has served in many US government and industry leadership positions. Currently, he is a member of the US Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 leading association executives, the Advisory Board of the International Food Protection Training Institute, and the Key Industry Associations Committee of the American Society of Association Executives.

Tom is a frequent speaker on industry issues, and has been recognized often by the produce industry throughout his career.



Raj Tugnait
Group CEO
Fresh Direct Group

Over 28 years in Foodservices, starting his career with an entrepreneurial family foodservice business supplying the ethnic caterers and his last role was Managing Director at Brakes, UK’s leading broadliner. Raj was appointed Group CEO of the fresh businesses (Fresh Direct Group — produce, seafood, dairy and deli) in Sept 2017, post the Sysco acquisition from Bain Capital.

Raj joined Brakes in 1998 and has successfully led every part of the UK broadline business.  Roles have included MD Independent, MD Corporate and MD Speciality businesses. He has also headed the category, pricing, marketing and technical functions.

Entrepreneurial in his approach, customer centric with a track record of building strong teams and succession. 

Raj spent his early years in India and after graduating from the University of Bombay came to the UK for his MBA.  Outside of work Raj enjoys food, travelling, cricket and spending time with his family. 


Tania van der Merwe
Senior Buyer
(South Africa)

Tania van der Merwe is the head buyer of stonefruit, table grapes and berries at Freshmark, which is a division of Shoprite Checkers, a supermarket group in South Africa. She has spent her career at the group focusing on the domestic and import supply chain of these fruit categories. Tania oversees the procuring and buying of more than 15,000 tonnes of fruit annually that is destined for distribution to over 1,300 U-Save, Shoprite, Checkers & Checkers Hyper stores in 15 countries on the African continent.


Stephan Weist
Director Category Management
REWE Group

Stephan Weist is National Category Director fruit, vegetable, flowers and plants for REWE, one of the leading and most innovative supermarket chains in Germany. He is also Brand Manager for Rewe Regional, the company’s cross-category brand for all regional products. He studied Economics at the University of Cologne (VWA) and is an alumni of INSEAD. Stephan started his career as a trainee at REWE in 1984 and was a buyer for overseas, exotics and organic fruits before moving to Chiquita in the year 2000. As Managing Director, he managed the development of Chiquita’s non-banana business for Northern Europe before taking on total responsibility for Chiquita’s D-A-CH (German-speaking European region) as Business Director. In 2009 he joined Landgard, Germany’s largest produce and flower producing cooperative, where he headed up the fruit, vegetable, organic and convenience divisions as Managing Director, while seeing through a successful restructuring period.  Stephan returned to Rewe in 2014 and his current role. This summer, Stephan was elected as President of Freshfel, the European Fresh Produce Association, the industry’s representative body in Brussels, Belgium.


Maria Wieloch
Senior Category Manager Fruit,
Vegetables and Flowers,

Maria Wieloch is the Senior Category Manager for fruit, vegetables and flowers at ICA, the market leading supermarket chain in Sweden. Maria joined ICA in 2008, and since then she has held several different positions within the retailer’s fruit, vegetables and flowers business.

Before her current position, Maria was the Head of Business Development at ICA, where she looked after issues such as sustainability, among others.

Maria graduated in economics and management from Lund University in Sweden in 2004. Before joining ICA in 2008 she worked in the paper and packaging industry for SCA Packaging, which has since become DS Smith.

Maria has been a keynote speaker at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference and The New York Produce Show and Conference. She also participated on the Thought Leaders Breakfast Panel at The London Produce Show and Conference 2018, where she accepted, on behalf of ICA, the award for Best International Initiative for Marketing Fresh Produce to Children for 2018.


Success depends on an open mind and a willingness to absorb different perspectives, from different people… serious people, who themselves have been exposed in different ways to different ideas.  Come join our Thought-Leader Breakfast and engage with high-level people and high-level ideas.

Open your own mind to new and better ways to progress, for yourself, for your organization and for the industry as a whole.

Come to The London Produce Show and Conference!

Here is the website.

You can register for the event right here.

If you have any questions or need help please let us know right here.


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