Michael Simonetta, chairman of the council, said the group returned with the better impression of what is becoming a global produce supply chain.
"This was an eye-opening experience. We have learned a great deal about the implications of China on the global marketplace and are eager to share these findings with the industry in the forthcoming white paper as well as the special session Patrick Vizzone will conduct at this year's Fresh Summit in San Diego," Simonetta, who is also chief executive officer of Perfection Fresh Australia, said.
The delegation included grower/shippers, retailers, brokers, and wholesale/distributors from ten countries. Other attendees included PMA board chairman, Janet Erickson, executive vice president, purchasing and quality assurance, Del Taco, Inc.; PMA board member, Lisa McNeece, vice president, foodservice and industrial sales, Grimmway Farms; Robert Verloop, vice president, marketing and sales promotion, Sunkist Growers, Inc.; PMA President Bryan Silbermann; and other staff.
With the assistance of the USDA Agriculture Trade Office in Shanghai, the delegation toured retail operations to examine how produce is merchandised to consumers in China. The agenda also included on-site tours of a traditional wholesale market, a vegetable production operation, and the Shanghai Sunqiao Modern Agriculture Development Zone where the group studied the modern greenhouse production of tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables.
Sunkist Growers, Inc. sponsored a reception that brought the delegation together with more than 80 representatives of 45 Chinese-based produce companies. During her presentation at The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry Leaders Reception, Erickson noted, "The world, as we know it, has changed forever. China is a big part of the produce industry's future and we are here to learn more about the opportunities of this emerging new market." Robert Verloop concurred, "Sunkist citrus has been sold in the China market since the 1930s. We were happy to help PMA bring a small part of the Chinese produce industry together to share information and make new global business contacts."