Charles “Chuck” Ciruli, Jr., left, was presented with the Pillar of the FPAA award by association president Lance Jungmeyer.

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas celebrated its 75th year of existence during a recent three-day convention at which it also honored Charles “Chuck” Ciruli, Jr. with its Pillar of the FPAA award. 

The annual award is given to members of the association who have “contributed greatly to the evolution and sustainability of the U.S. industry importing fresh produce from Mexico,” the Nogales-based FPAA said.

During the convention, held Nov. 7-9 at the the Tubac Golf Resort, the “75 Years of FPAA” gallery recalled historical moments starting from the association’s beginnings to now.

“We had more than 600 attendees at the convention, and it was a great way to celebrate 75 years with our membership,” FPAA vice-president Allison Moore said in a news release. “Our guests enjoyed exceptional speakers, entertainment, networking opportunities and great food. Events like this are a great way to celebrate this tight-knit industry.”

The keynote speaker for this year was Rick Stein of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), who spoke about fresh food strategies, and the Mexico Consulate and FPAA teamed up once again to host the Fourth Annual Culinary Showcase, featuring food by chefs from Arizona and Mexico that featured the fresh produce items imported by the FPAA’s members.

There was also a two-day golf tournament and a new session called “Produce Industry Storyteller,” in which three industry leaders shared the story of how they worked their way to success. And the FPAA, along with the Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association and the United Fresh Start Foundation, donated a salad bar to Mexicayotl Charter School in Nogales.

“The FPAA Fall Convention was a great kickoff to the fall/winter season of Mexican fruits and vegetables,” said FPAA president Lance Jungmeyer in the news release. “We were pleased to host visitors from across the nation and discuss important issues, as well as to reconnect.”

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