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Torch passed to new president and CEO at SunFed

After a transformational 23 years of emphasizing the fresh in fresh produce, SunFed is evolving once again with the appointment of Craig Slate as the company’s president and CEO. Co-Founder Danny Mandel, the company’s most recent president and CEO, has retired, effective Aug. 31.

“I am proud to have Craig carry our company’s passion, commitment, and focus on excellence, into this next phase of growth for SunFed. Twenty-three years has been a long, but exciting time. We have constantly worked to improve the lives of our growers and customers,” Mandel said. “For our growers, SunFed brought transparency and understanding to the marketing process. Back in the day, growers would find out the type of year they had at the end of the season during liquidation, when they received a check or a bill. SunFed ‘turned on the lights’ for our family of growers. Today, SunFed growers go online and see every facet of their business in real time, as if they ran and owned the company.”

The company has been actively working toward, and achieving, growth in recent years. In Slate’s new role his objectives will be to continue SunFed’s forward momentum and begin to accelerate the team’s expansion efforts. With a three-point plan in place, Slate is positioned to execute the company’s vision with the support and dedication of the executive team.

“We are assessing, and looking to expand our current operations–a path which we have already begun to pave,” said Slate. “This first piece of the puzzle is with our grower base. Our growth is achieved hand-in-hand with our best-in-class growers and ranches. SunFed’s goal is to further tap into these operations to help them grow, and create greater access to an evolving SunFed portfolio. The second point of the plan, involves new category ventures. The company is already evaluating other key items and areas to grow business-wise, that support what we already do, and further diversify our offerings, while driving additional revenues. Last but not least, is the marketing arm and customer-centric packaging, which has given us a great platform for differentiating ourselves within the fresh produce arena. We pride ourselves on our innovative, creative, and energetic themes and packaging, and how they speak to a range of demographics, markets, and consumer buying behaviors.”

Slate has a proven track record, with 26 years in the fresh produce industry. He kicked off his career at Chiquita Brands starting in f.o.b. sales before making his way to director of foodservice, product innovation and alternative channels. After spending 14 years with Chiquita, Slate made the move to IFCO Systems, where he spent nine years growing his knowledge of supply chain efficiencies and understating how the industry can utilize packaging to be a solution within that supply chain. Slate made the move to SunFed almost three years ago as vice president of sales and marketing, before assuming his current role.

“There is a tremendous amount of energy here at SunFed, with a team full of innovative and forward-thinking people,” Slate added. “Perfect Produce is not only a brand, it is a mantra and our mission. This message and standard is all encompassing for us as a company. When we say Perfect Produce, we are setting the bar and constantly raising it through our perfect ranches, perfect product, perfect packaging and materials, as well as attitude. This level of execution is something we look to maintain everyday. Perfect Produce is the endless pursuit of an idea that requires that you evolve everyday, and there is no finish line–our mission is never over.”

“As we look to this new era at SunFed, Craig’s transition to president and CEO will benefit the company’s stakeholders, from growers and the trade, to retailers, and employees,” said Matt Mandel, vice president of operations. “We are always in the mindset of striving to make the business better, as well as enriching the quality of our relationships and the lives of our employees. Craig has been a tremendous addition to the team since he joined the company. As we continue to evolve, Craig will push us further and harder with even more focus. We are opening ourselves to a wealth of opportunities and an even more exciting road ahead.”