We are a little concerned that all these letters may have poisoned the water too much for negotiations to proceed smoothly. The goal has to be to get the technical people talking, and to make that happen the industry should consider appointing a negotiating delegation, a team of industry eminences who could hopefully mediate this dispute.
We would suggest appointing, in alphabetical order, Bruce Peterson of Naturipe, Alan Siger of Consumers Produce, Al Vangelos of Novelle Consulting and Tim York of Markon.
That would give us two ex-chairmen of United (Alan Siger and Al Vangelos) and two ex-chairman of PMA (Bruce Peterson and Tim York). Alan Siger and Tim York are both on the wholesale/distribution side, so they are sort of neutral in this battle. Bruce Peterson has his retail experience and now production-side experience, and Al Vangelos, with his time at Dole and Calavo, understands the reputational risk that great brands must be mindful of.
These people are smart, well respected and might be able to cut a deal. Best of all, they haven’t sent anyone any letters.