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Retail 'Thought Leaders' Panel Announced For The New York Produce Show And Conference

When we announced the establishment of collaboration between the Eastern Produce Council and PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine to establish a new industry event, The New York Produce Show and Conference, we believed it would meet an important industry need:

“New York City is the epicenter of the region that buys more fresh produce than any location in the country,” explains Dean Holmquist, director of produce and floral for Foodtown, Inc., and president of the Eastern Produce Council. “The extraordinary diversity of the population in this region assures a dynamic market for mainstream, ethnic and specialty produce,” points out John McAleavey, executive director of the Eastern Produce Council.

Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce/floral at Kings Super Markets and vice president of the Eastern Produce Council, indicated that “the sophisticated clientele of the northeast region combines with a plethora of quality retailers, restaurants, foodservice distributors and wholesalers to introduce product from local growers, growers across North America and growers from around the world.”

Jim Prevor, founder and editor-in-chief of PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine and the online, celebrated the establishment of such a high caliber event in a region long lacking its own trade show and conference: “My great grandfather, Jacob Prevor, emigrated to America and established a wholesale facility in the old Wallabout Produce Market in Brooklyn. My grandfather was a wholesaler and auction buyer in the old Washington Street Produce Market in Manhattan. My father, Michael Prevor, was an original tenant when The Hunts Point Market opened in the Bronx. Over the decades we operated farms and had supermarkets in the region and worked hard to make the ports and airports of the region major hubs for the import and export of fresh produce.

“It is an incredibly exciting moment that we should have the opportunity to join together with our friends at the Eastern Produce Council, the preeminent organization in the region, to bring a world-class event to the region, and it is an honor that we can bring the industry together in a city known both as the ‘Capital of the World’ and the ‘Big Apple’.”

“Jim Prevor has built a reputation for industry thought-leadership that is recognized around the world, and PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine was launched on the Hunts Point Market,” said Robert Goldstein, owner/president of Genpro Inc., and secretary of the Eastern Produce Council, “so the board of directors of the Eastern Produce Council voted unanimously to join hands with Jim and his team at PRODUCE BUSINESS and the online Perishable Pundit to better serve this region with a high-end trade show and conference.”

“The Eastern Produce Council represents the most important players in the region,” said Ken Whitacre, vice president of publishing at PRODUCE BUSINESS and “Their engagement with the event ensures that exhibitors will encounter a cross section of the movers and shakers that make the industry a vibrant and robust contributor to the national and international industry. We are honored to work together with such an important association and with such an instrumental membership.”

Both PRODUCE BUSINESS and the Eastern Produce Council are committed to enhancing the industry by providing the region with a world-class venue for marketing, education and media exposure. That venue is The New York Produce Show And Conference.

Back decades ago, the national produce associations often met in New York… in fact the Pundit Grandma used to run a contest in which the “ladies” — all spouses back then — prepared large hats laden with fresh produce, which they then modeled by walking through the closing banquet!

We probably won’t bring back that tradition! But we are very proud to be affiliated with the Eastern Produce Council, which is filled with people really focused on doing a great job for the industry and then doing good through charitable work.

The show and conference is short-and-sweet — but of the highest caliber. We start with a welcoming reception on November 9th, hold a general session breakfast and conference program along with a trade show on the 10th, enjoy New York City that evening and then have tours on the 11th.

The Saturday night before the show, on November 6, 2010, the Eastern Produce Council has its 43rd Annual Dinner Dance in a swanky country club in West Paterson, New Jersey, so the Pundit will be coming in early and making a week of it in the Big Apple. If you call or e-mail regarding registrations, we can hook you in for the dinner/dance as well.

We are also going to take advantage of the Manhattan locale to bring the media in big time with a special outreach program.

This event is going to add a little shine to the Big Apple, and we are very proud to work with our friends at the Eastern Produce Council to make this contribution to the region.

We’ve been very busy. We now have a sold out trade show of 212 exhibitors and a host of exciting things to unveil in the weeks and months ahead.

One amazing thing is how the produce community of New York and the broader mid-Atlantic region has joined in support of this epochal event.

Attendees will see this support clearly on Wednesday morning, when we present the keynote breakfast which highlights a selection of retail thought-leaders from across the region. Yours truly will engage these retail thought-leaders in an invigorating discussion on the state of the industry and how we can work together to enhance our mutual success.

The following leaders of the retail produce trade in the region are scheduled to participate in the Retail “Thought Leaders” Panel, the marquis presentation at the general session breakfast on the morning of November 10, 2010:

Director of Produce, Floral, and Bakery
Pathmark Supermarkets

Jim began his career as a part time employee in Waldbaums in 1970. Then he became a full time employee in 1975. He was promoted to produce manager in 1976 and became a produce supervisor in 1991.

Jim was then promoted to director of fresh foods for Pathmark in 2008, and is currently the director of produce, floral, and bakery for Pathmark.

Director of Produce
King Kullen Supermarkets

Rich has 30 years of experience in various positions in the produce industry. He is now responsible for the produce departments of 46 stores — 42 in Long Island and 4 in Staten Island.

Rich recently helped develop an extensive locally grown program that includes Long Island growers and New York State apple growers.

Manager Division Operations-Produce
Safeway Eastern Division

Steve Coomes has been with Safeway Stores since 1970 and has risen the corporate ladder from his earliest days as grocery night stocker and produce clerk. After a 16-year reign as a produce manager from 1972 to 1988, Steve has been involved in most aspects of produce management at the division level and has been the Eastern Division Manager of Produce since 2002.

He assisted in the creation of a produce pricing manual for all Safeway perishable pricing managers and trained various division pricing managers on produce pricing best practices. He has also participated in many locally grown farm summits in Maryland and Delaware and works with Lancaster County farmers to help drive locally grown business direct to Genuardi’s stores.

Steve recently orchestrated the opening of a new Safeway Eastern Division store with the highest single week produce sales in the company, and he is the recipient of Safeway’s Productivity Award and Safeway’s President’s Award.

Steve has served our country as a member of the National Guard. He is married to Carolyn Lee Coomes and they have two sons and seven grandchildren.

Wegmans Food Markets
Vice President of Produce and Floral

Dave joined the Wegmans family 25 years ago, where his early experience was as a Store Manager in the Southern Tier region of New York for 5 years. After his Store Operations experience, in 1993 he relocated to Rochester, New York, to work as a Produce Category Manager.

In 2000, Dave took over Produce Operations and is the Vice President of Produce and Floral, responsible for procurement, pricing, merchandising and promotion.

In 2003, industry members nominated Dave and Wegmans as “Retailer of the Year” by Produce Merchandising magazine. Then, in 2005, Dave was selected as Vance Publishing’s “Marketer of the Year,” where he was honored for merchandising excellence, setting high standards for others to emulate, and his leadership role in the produce industry.

Dave served on the USDA Fruits and Vegetable Advisory Committee for 4 years. Today, Dave serves as the Past Chair for the Produce Marketing Association.

Director of Produce & Floral
Foodtown Supermarkets

As Director of Produce & Floral, Dean has demonstrated more than 25 years of progressive produce experience in the retail food industry. His current responsibilities at Foodtown are to direct sales, merchandising and operational activities for 65 member stores in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Dean is currently President of the Eastern Produce Council, a position held since April, 2009. Before that, Dean held the position of Vice President of the Eastern Produce Council from 2007-2008. Dean has been an EPC Board member since 2001.

Dean was recently awarded the Scholarship for Leadership Excellence from PRODUCE BUSINESS to attend the PMA FIT’s Leadership Symposium in Dallas, Texas, in January 2010.

Vice President of Produce/Floral
Wakefern Food Corporation

Starting his career at Wakefern in 1982, Derrick got his first taste of what the world of produce was all about when he worked as a junior accountant reporting to the produce division. From that position, he rose up the ranks to his current position of Vice President of Produce and Floral.

Derrick credits his mentors, Herman Fadem and Al Ferri: “They worked with me at the early stages of my career and helped me lay a foundation upon which I could build a successful personal and professional career.”

Derrick is a member of the Eastern Produce Council and serves on the Board of PMA. He is married and has four children.

Vice President of Produce & Floral
Kings Super Markets

An industry veteran for more than 29 years and previously the Director of Produce and Floral for Roche Bros. Supermarkets in Boston, Massachusetts, Paul has been in his position at Kings since June 2007. In addition to overseeing produce and floral for 24 Kings Super Markets in New Jersey and one store in Long Island, Paul also oversees produce and floral for 6 Balducci’s Food Lover’s Markets with stores in Connecticut, New York, Maryland, and Virginia.

Paul is the past First Vice President of the New England Produce Council and was chairman of its annual expo for the first seven years. Currently, he is Vice President of the Eastern Produce Council and chair of its first annual New York Produce Show and Conference committee.

Paul holds degrees in Business Management from Boston College as well as Northeastern University in Boston. He was the recipient of the PRODUCE BUSINESS/New England Produce Council’s Retailer of the Year award in 2005.

Senior Merchant Produce & Floral
Food Emporium

Starting his career in 1979 as produce department manager, Dominick later became a Produce Merchandiser and an Assistant Buyer until his present position as Senior Merchant Produce & Floral.

Dominick also led many store openings and was responsible for designing the produce departments of Food Emporium stores throughout Westchester County and Manhattan. Throughout the years he has taken a number of education initiatives including, but not limited to, the Cornell University Complete Manager Certification, the Dale Carnegie Leadership training, the GRID Managerial Training Program and the Master Trainer Workshop.

Dominick has attended many food trade shows over the years, included PMA, Expo West organic, Milano Italy Food Show Cibo, Morocco Siam Show, and the New York Fancy Food Show, among others. While traveling to different shows, Dominick was able to visit many growers including stone fruit, grape and strawberry growers, to name a few.

Director of Produce Merchandising
D’Agostino Supermarkets

John is responsible for all sales-related decisions for the produce department, such as item selection, quality control, presentation standards, and pricing.

In 1972, John started his career at D’Agostino as a part-time stock clerk. A year later, he was promoted to assistant store manager. In 1978, he was promoted to the position of store manager. During this period, John successfully ran a number of stores throughout Manhattan.

In 1985, John was promoted to the position of produce director. Since that time John has also had stints as director of deli/bakery and meat/seafood, where he gained valuable knowledge in the workings of these perishable departments.

Most recently, John has also taken on the responsibility as manager of food safety and emergency planning.


All of us at the Eastern Produce Council and PRODUCE BUSINESS are deeply appreciative that these retail executives, whose time is always in such demand, have made The New York Produce Show and Conference a priority.

We hope you will as well.

If you would like some additional information, here is a small brochure we prepared.

Buy side attendees can register with this form.

Other attendees can use this form

There is a spouse/companion program you can register for with this form.

Journalists can fill this form out here.

Here is a hotel registration form

And if you are traveling to the show, we negotiated some discounts, you can find them here.

Finally, though the exhibition hall is sold out, we will soon be announcing our list of valued sponsors, without whom the event would not be possible. We still have some wonderful opportunities for sponsors to step in and become Charter Sponsors. If you would like to receive more information on how your organization can be part of this great new industry institution, please let us know here.

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