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PMA Mexico Country Council Meets

This year — 2007 — will mark the year in which PMA’s long term strategy to expand internationally began to cohere. First we published PMA Broadens Reach In Chile, which focused on a seminar featuring guest speaker Thomas Reardon from Michigan state.

This program was organized by Gustavo Yentzen, who is PMA’s representative in Chile.
Then we published PMA Convenes First Country Council, which focused on the launch of the Australia/New Zealand Country Council. John Baker handles PMA’s affairs on the ground in Australia.

Now PMA has held the first meeting of the PMA Mexico Country Council:

Inaugural PMA Mexico Country Council Meeting Features Discussions of Produce Trends, Challenges and Future Changes

Mexican produce industry leaders representing the entire supply chain came together December 4 to participate in the first meeting of the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Mexico Country Council, held, in Mexico City, Mexico. With 61 PMA-member companies in Mexico, this meeting focused on the ways PMA can provide assistance to the needs and issues crucial to the Mexican produce industry.

During the meeting, council members discussed trends in Mexico’s fruit and vegetable industry, challenges impacting their businesses in the next two years and the changes they foresee impacting the industry in the next five years. The need for food safety innovation and cold chain optimization were important issues to all council members. Following these discussions, the council met in smaller groups to discuss ways PMA-created programs and services could address these trends, challenges and changes.

Representing PMA in the meeting were: Vice President of Global Business Development Nancy Tucker; Member Relations Manager Paula Gonzalez; and Mexico Representative Alejandro Larreategui.

“I am very proud of the group’s commitment and participation in this groundbreaking first meeting. Despite the busy time of year, each member of this prominent group of leaders was present to share good ideas and discuss market insights,” remarked council Chairman Francisco Obregon, director of produce, Latin America business development division, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. “These fresh perspectives will help PMA offer more valuable resources to meet our members’ needs.”

PMA’s country councils are designed to help the association learn more about the unique needs of members in each country, and to ensure products, services and events are relevant to current and potential members around the world. The Mexican group is the second PMA country council; the Australia-New Zealand Country Council held its first meeting in May.

The founding members of the PMA Mexico Country Council represent Mexican growers, exporters, importers, industry service providers, wholesalers and retailers. Serving under Obregon’s chairmanship, other council members include:

Custodio Aguilar, Frutas Finas del Noroeste, S.A. de C.V.

Mario Ayala, Grupo Maya, S.A. de C.V.

Andres Escalante, Wal-Mart Global Procurement, Mexico

Roberto Gandara, Agricola Duke, S.P.R. de R.L.

Jorge Garcés, Tiendas Garcés, S.A. de C.V.

Juan A. Laborin, Asociacion de Productores de Uva de Mesa

Gerardo Lara, Propex Fabrics de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.

Magda Leyson, Agricola San Isidro, S.A. de C.V.

Ignacio Moreno, Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Fidel Pedraza Obregon, Fidel Pedraza y Asociados

Mauricio Ricaud, Bionatur, Invernaderos Biologicos

Jaime Tamayo, Divemex

German Tapia, Celulosa y Corrugados de Sonora, S.A. de C.V.

PMA’s Mexico Country Council members gather for a photo with PMA staff members who attended the council’s first meeting last week in Mexico City, Mexico.

Back row (left to right): Alejandro Larreategui; Juan A. Laborin; Mauricio Ricaud; Mario Ayala; German Tapia; and Jaime Tamayo.

Middle row (left to right): Gerardo Lara; Jorge Garcés; Roberto Gandara; Chairman Francisco Obregon; and Ignacio Moreno.

Front row (left to right): Custodio Aguilar; Fidel Pedraza Obregon; Magda Leyson; Paula Gonzalez; and Nancy Tucker.

Pundit contributor Francisco Obregon, director of produce, Latin America business development division, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, is chairing the initiative, which gives it substantial pedigree. As we mentioned in a piece about his son getting a new position, Pancho, as his friends call him, is the grandson of a man who was the President of Mexico.

In addition, PMA has Alejandro Larreategui, who has a reputation as a marketing whiz, on the ground in Mexico.
And all these activities take place under the watchful eye of Nancy Tucker, PMA’s Vice President of Global Business Development.

By all accounts, the meeting went well, yet we suspect PMA has substantial challenges ahead in developing the Mexico Country Council. Whereas Australia and New Zealand felt right, with a dedicated group of industry leaders ready, willing, able — even hungry — to connect with PMA, the Mexico Country Council seems more a development project.

However, in light of the enormous volume of trade between the U.S. and Mexico, closer cooperation is, of course, well worth pursuing.

We can’t allow Australia and New Zealand to frame our expectations. There is something unique about the industry in these countries. Partially it is that we share a language and partially it is that Australia and New Zealand, as western outposts far from the west, have a natural propensity to hop on planes and outreach to distant countries for ideas and peers. Perhaps the small populations of Australia and New Zealand also mean that produce industry members recognize there are limits on their abilities to sustain large associations such as PMA on their own.

Most probably, though, there is no history animosity between Yankees and Aussies and Kiwis, so we can meet one another and learn from, appreciate and enjoy each other based on what we each bring to the table.

It seems as if we should be closer and work more cooperatively with the United Kingdom. We certainly have a lot to discuss and the same language to discuss it in. One can identify reasons why cooperation is not more extensive — the UK has strong industry institutions of its own, it can look to Europe for information and ideas, on and on. Yet, we can’t help but think that, in the end, we don’t bond the way we have with the Australians because in a certain way, on some level, we Americans are still the colonists to the British and the British are still the mother country to America, and that changes the kinds of relationships people feel fully comfortable with.

Mexico and the U.S. have a history of our own. In some ways the success of the PMA Mexico Country Council rests on the ability to get past all that.

Perhaps this may give us an extra impetus for success as we are working not only to build a more productive produce industry but to help build a more cooperative and successful North America. Important stuff.

Congratulations to PMA and the PMA Mexico Council members for a successful kick-off — may it be the first success of many.

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