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Thought-Leader Panel At New York Produce Show Will Open Minds Before The Trade Show Opens

Each part of The New York Produce Show and Conference is carefully designed to achieve specific goals.

There is a reason The Opening Cocktail Reception comes the evening before the trade show… so that old relationships can be renewed and deepened, new relationships can be established and, over a drink and hors d’oeuvres, the connections and trust built that are essential to conducting business in the produce arena.

There is also a reason we kick off the show day with the Perishable Pundit’s Thought-Leader Breakfast. It is no use going into a day of seeing new vendors, vendors one may have stopped working with, new products, old products that one stopped carrying, new people who one doesn’t know – and confronting all this with a closed mind. So, the intent of the Thought-Leader Breakfast is to begin the day, much as some meditate to clear the mind, with a thought-provoking discussion that will open the mind. That will make one interested in and open-to new ideas, revisiting old ways, engaging with new people.

Every year we are assisted in this endeavor by a group of extraordinary people — people with something to teach, certainly, but also people not afraid to engage in a vigorous discussion before the entire industry. The industry is in debt to both the individuals who participate and their companies, which allow and enable their participation. They are giving the industry the gift of their time and intelligence. We are most appreciative.

Gathered from five continents, it is our great privilege and extraordinary pleasure to announce the Thought-Leader panel for 2017 edition of The New York Produce Show and Conference:

The Fresh MARKET

Mark has been Vice President of Merchandising – Produce, Floral and Gift at The Fresh Market since January 2017. He brings more than 35 years of experience within the Produce industry serving various functions,  including operations, purchasing and merchandising. In his current role, his priorities are to elevate the standards of freshness and quality and to drive innovation within the Produce category. Mark’s experience and leadership have been recognized within the industry. He serves on the board of directors for the Fresh Produce and Floral Council in the Western U.S., and has chaired or served on various committees in the industry. A recent transplant to the east coast, Mark resides in Greensboro, NC with his wife of 38 years.

PF Chang’s Bistro

Robin, the Category Manager for PF Chang’s Bistro, is a produce industry veteran with more than 25 years’ experience in purchasing, sales and business development. Her current responsibilities include all Agriculture purchases for both PF Chang’s and Pei Wei brand. Prior to joining PF Chang’s, Robin worked for Boston Market in Golden, CO. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Produce Marketing Association and its Foodservice Committee.

Robin is a Colorado native and a graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Morton Williams

Marc started his career at Waldbaums in 1978, where he worked for 10 years until opening his own foodservice wholesale business. Eventually, he took a position with Food Emporium, where he worked for three years.

Marc joined Morton Williams for the first time as a produce manager more than 15 years ago. While he briefly left the company to join Shoprite, he returned to his current position at Morton Williams seven years ago.


Amy has worked in the UK retail sector for nearly 10 years, previously in commercial and technical roles at Tesco and Waitrose. Last year, Amy worked with fresh produce businesses in Senegal, South Africa, and the U.S. Amy has now taken on a new challenge at box-delivery service HelloFresh, recently named as the fastest-growing company in Europe, where she is now working as head of technical.

Cornell University

Ed is the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he also serves as Director of the Food Industry Management Program. 

Ed’s research interests include: retailing strategies, linking customer satisfaction to firm performance and the economics of retailing and fresh food marketing. His research appears in numerous academic journals.

In addition, Ed teaches retailing at the Graduate School of Management in Lille, France; is the Adjunct Professor of Retailing at Nyenrode, The Netherlands School of Business; is Founding Director of the Ahold Retail Academy in The Netherlands; and the Dean of the Cornell Retail Management Program in Japan.

Ed has won several national awards for both his research and teaching and is the author or co-author of three books. He also serves on the boards of several public and private organizations.

McCaffrey’s Markets

Tony has been associated with McCaffrey’s Markets as Produce Director of Operations the 17 past years. His responsibilities include all phases of produce and floral operations, which involve retail merchandising, procurement, advertising, development of new products and sales strategies.

His personal mission is to deliver excitement and enthusiasm to the produce and floral industries and the future directions in his own inspiring way. His expertise is in produce and floral merchandising, motivation, marketing strategies and training.

He started in retail supermarkets as produce manager before becoming produce merchandising specialist for Fleming Foods. From there, Tony worked his way into the buying office of Rich Foods/ Norristown Wholesale as a buyer of Specialty and Organic produce. He is currently produce/ floral director of McCaffrey Markets, an independent progressive supermarket chain with stores in PA and NJ specializing in high-end perishables, specialty products and extraordinary customer service.

Olson Communications

Sharon has been immersed in marketing for the food industry for more than 30 years. She was Vice President at two leading foodservice agencies prior to forming Olson Communications in 1988 and the Culinary Visions Panel in 2002 that surveys opinion leaders and consumers on emerging trends in the food industry. She is also co-founder of Y-Pulse LLC (, a youth trend tracking organization.

Sharon often speaks on trends in the food industry, most recently presenting new original research at the National Restaurant Association Show, Culinary Institute of America, National Association of College and University Food Services National Conference and The Flavor Experience. She is also a frequent contributor to leading business publications on the foodservice industry and consumer trends. She is past president of Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago, the local chapter of a worldwide society for women in the food and beverage industry. Recently Sharon was elected to Treasurer at Les Dames d’Escoffier.

She holds an MBA with distinction from Keller Graduate School of Management and has served on the advisory board for the Hotel and Restaurant Program at Ashland University.

Alpha 1 Marketing

Josh is currently the Produce Operations Coordinator (Produce Director) for Alpha 1 Marketing in White Plains, NY, the retail services arm for Krasdale Foods. He has more than 17 years of Produce Retail Management experience with several Fortune 500 retailers, including Whole Foods, Weis Supermarkets and A&P.

Josh directs the produce operations of the company, which has more than 300 independently owned and operated stores in the New York metro area and in Florida, writing the weekly produce ads for various banners, such as Bravo, C-town Supermarkets, DeCicco Family Markets and others. He oversees the Produce Merchandising team, the category management and buying of the department and setting produce standards. He also creates training programs and sales opportunities for increased produce sales.Josh is a member of PMA’s Center for Growing Talent, the Eastern Produce Council, United Fresh and Southeast Produce Council. In 2015, he was named by Produce Business to its prestigious 40 Under 40 class of rising stars in the produce industry.

C&S Wholesale Grocers

Jon is a Senior Procurement Manager at C&S Wholesale Grocers in Keene, NH. He is responsible for the procurement of produce list cost categories as well as their merchandising activity. He also handles special projects and business startups. Jon joined the company in 2005. He has an MBA from Clarkson University and a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University. He is an avid cyclist, competes in triathlons and completed his first Ironman in 2015.


Tony, the Vice-President of Fresh Merchandising at Peapod, Chicago, comes from a long line of people passionate about food. Tony’s family goes back more than 100 years in the Produce industry. His great-grandfather was one of the largest buyers and sellers of lemons and oranges in the U.S. Some say he was bigger than Sunkist at the time.

Tony’s fresh-food history began at age 5, when, after church, Tony and his father would travel to the terminal produce market to repack tomatoes for the Monday morning business. Each summer thereafter, Tony worked at the market. The market at that time was a collection of jobbers (or merchants) who sold to independent grocery stores, wholesalers delivering to restaurants, and peddlers who typically sold their products out of the back of their trucks. Tony learned the art of buying produce from his father, who would bring him along each morning as he did his daily purchases and working alongside chefs as they honed their trade. This “Produce Guru” has been in training for more than 40 years!

After 20 years in the family business, Tony started his own food consulting firm in 1996 with Scotty’s Home Market (online grocer) as one of his customers. Tony helped raise a $10 million investment for Scotty’s from Nordstrom. In 1998, Tony went to work for Scotty’s as the Vice President of Merchandising. In October of 2000, Scotty’s/Streamline was bought by Peapod–Ahold. At Peapod, he has helped Peapod grow into the largest, most-successful internet grocer in America.

Tony has standing television segments on ABC 7 in Chicago and is an annual lecturer at Cornell’s Produce Executive Development Program.

Rafi Taherian
Yale Hospitality

As Associate Vice President for Yale Hospitality, Rafi provides strategic vision and leadership for the hospitality and dining programs at Yale University in New Haven, CT. He ensures that its dining experiences, food, operations, standards and vision reflect the world-class reputation of one of the world’s most-renowned institutions of higher learning.

Yale Hospitality serves more than 15,000 meals per day with a staff of 840, including culinary, service, management and clerical personnel. Rafi’s organization is comprised of three operational divisions with shared business and administrative support and an annual budget of $54 million.

Since 2008, Rafi has guided the continued development of Yale Hospitality’s well-known sustainability, culinary and nutrition initiatives by merging principals of a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet with an operational approach that promotes sustainability and regionally based food systems. He is a key member of industry councils and advisory boards and promotes collaboration among operators, manufactures, distributors and growers to address key strategic food system concerns and initiatives.

Rafi’s contributions were acknowledged by his foodservice industry peers in 2016 when he was awarded IFMA’s Silver and Gold Plate Awards. He has received numerous other awards for his vision and leadership in implementing innovative hospitality programs, including Yale University’s Seton Elm-Ivy Award in 2016, NACUFS Horton Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016 for residential and catering events, FARE’s 2016 Excellence in Leadership, Food Service Director of the Year in 2013 and the Illuminating Excellence and Leadership recognition from Premier in 2014.

D’Agostino Supermarkets

John is the Director of Merchandising-Produce for D’Agostino Supermarkets in New York City. He is responsible for all sales-related decisions for produce merchandising, such as item selection, quality control, presentation standards, pricing and promotions.

John started his career at D’Agostino’s in 1971 as a part-time delivery and stock clerk. He performed various job functions throughout the store and worked his way up to the position of store manager by 1978. During this period, John successfully ran a number of stores throughout Manhattan. In 1985, John was promoted to the position of produce director. Since then, John has had stints as director of deli/bake and meat/seafood, where he gained valuable knowledge in the workings of these perishable departments. John is also a director of the Eastern Produce Council.

Fruitday Co., Ltd

Loren is the Co-Founder of Fruitday Co., Ltd., Shanghai, which is China’s largest fresh fruit e-commerce company in terms of sales revenue. Fruitday provides an end-to-end, home-delivery service to ensure customers receive products two days from ordering. Fruitday has six distribution centers, and its fresh-delivery service covers more than 300 cities in China and has more than 5 million members. Pioneering omnichannel retailing in China, recently Fruitday invested in City Shop a high-end supermarket chain with locations in Shanghai and Beijing. Fruitday now offers its more than 100 million online users a physical experience center at City Shop while offering overseas fresh produce suppliers a more direct reach to the Chinese consumer.


Come and be inspired at the Thought-Leader Breakfast and then apply the inspiration to commercial success at the tradeshow!

You can register for the event right here.

If you need a hotel room, please let us know here.

You can learn more about the show at our website, which you can find right here.

It all happens… Only in New York!

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