Why is forming a new organization in the fresh produce industry so important?
Human nature illustrates that we enter a new year with optimism. The blank slate of the weeks and months ahead presents an opportunity to embark on new adventures, create new personal and professional goals, and build new relationships. Those of us who’ve been ‘round the sun a number of times are familiar with the energy a fresh slate stirs in our soul.
Last spring, we learned that the merger many had been speculating over for decades would finally come to fruition. In December, United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association, our industry’s leading and competitive trade associations, dissolved. Their collective members entered into the new year as part of the inaugural community of the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), and the merger speculations were put to rest.
As IFPA develops its culture and builds the structure to maintain the best of the collective and dedicated communities of its predecessors, the door is open for us to explore what industry community means for each of us and where we might want to invest our precious resources of time, energy and funds.
A community can be defined as a feeling of fellowship with others due to sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Membership organizations provide community by working to advance their industry’s shared objective. You or your organization elect to associate with the organization through the investment of dues. It’s transactional. But membership organizations provide more than a one-to-one ROI.
The more you engage with the staff, attend events, and volunteer to contribute your time and knowledge, the more you’ll feel part of the community and may even find yourself in a position to influence the solutions driving the produce industry forward.
Growing fruit and vegetable consumption is our shared objective in the produce industry. When we keep this mission as our north star, we find synergies along the supply chain.
When we were forced to remove ourselves from each other – by at least 6 feet of distance – we sought community in new ways. Supported by technology, we learned ways to gather through shared topics of interest. New communities developed, whether you dialed in for The Produce Industry Podcast’s monthly networking calls or committed your Wednesday lunch hour to PMA’s weekly Town Hall webinars.
Mission-driven non-profits also have developed new ways of gathering professionals and businesses to join their communities. The feel-good philanthropy that comes with investing in these organizations builds camaraderie and alignment around a shared objective.
Key business topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; developing the next generation of industry professionals; solving nutrition insecurity, and more will give life to new communities too.
Change can be disorienting. As our produce industry leadership pillars dissolve, we’re left to find new ground. IFPA will undoubtedly provide many new opportunities for community engagement, but we also have the time now to plot our path for 2022.
Our time is one of our most precious commodities, and it grows sparser each day. Choose where to invest wisely, but more so with intention, because what you put into the communities you participate in is what you will gain from them, in spades.