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Retailers, industry leaders join former astronaut at PMA Fresh Connections: Mexico

Former astronaut José Hernández will be the featured speaker at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Connections: Mexico, scheduled for May 29-30 at the Hotel Hard Rock in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Hernández will be joined by retailers from Walmart Mexico, H-E-B Mexico and Super del Norte, who will share consumer trends and retail development in Mexico. Other industry leaders will discuss the impact of the new government administration on the Mexican produce industry.pma

Now in its 12th year, the event brings U.S. and Canadian buyers and Mexican supermarket retailers together with Mexican produce growers and business solution providers. Activities include networking and education sessions and an expo. The event will be held in Guadalajara for the first time since 2013.

Hernández will present his keynote, titled, “The Star Harvester,” on May 29 prior to the expo opening.

Growing up in both Mexico and the United States, Hernández did not learn English until he was 12 years old. As a youth, he worked alongside his Mexican immigrant parents and other farmworkers harvesting crops.

Hernández went on to earn both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, became an expert in X-ray physics. He is currently an adviser to the Mexican Space Agency.

Prior to the keynote address at Fresh Connections: Mexico on May 29, participants will learn about consumer trends in Mexico and how retailers are responding to these trends from Pedro Varela Mansur, director of fruits and vegetables purchasing for Walmart Mexico; José Luis Rodriguez, deputy director of fresh fruits and vegetables for H-E-B México; Servando Carbajal Ruiz, founding partner and general director of Super del Norte and president of Corporativo del Norte.

The expo, which features fruit and vegetable growers and business solution providers that serve the industry, will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on May 29. The day’s activities also include a networking lunch and evening reception.

Attendees will start the day on May 30 with breakfast and a keynote presentation on “New Leadership and the Impact on Mexico’s Fresh Produce Industry.” The speakers who will explore political and governmental shifts and how they impact the fruit and vegetable supply chain are Georgius Ricardo Gotsis Fontes, chief executive officer of Eleven Rivers Growers LLC; Aldo Mares, president of Aneberries (National Berry Exporters Association); and Lizeth Quintero, CEO of Mexico Calidad Suprema.

The expo will continue from 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on May 30.

Buyers attending Fresh Connections: Mexico include Baldor Specialty Foods, Charlie's Produce, Hello Fresh, LA & SF Specialty, Superking Market, Sealdsweet/Greenyard, Fru-Veg Marketing Inc., Interrupcion Fair Trade, The Vanguard International Group LP, Lakeside Produce, Walmart Mexico, HEB Mexico, Super Del Norte, Chedraui, Frutas Y Verduras San Miguel, Tiendas Soriana, Super San Francisco de Asis and more.

“Most of Mexico’s major retailers attend this event, offering an unparalleled networking experience. PMA Fresh Connections: Mexico does what its name says - it connects people with each other, opportunities, new products, information, technology and more,” said Nancy Tucker, PMA regional vice president for Latin America. “Our conference sessions and speaker lineup are impressive, and participants will learn from experts in their fields. We also can’t wait to hear what former astronaut José Hernández has to share with our industry about overcoming adversity and helping others to succeed.”

Additional networking and career development
The Center for Growing Talent will host a Young Professionals Networking Coffee Hour on May 29 for professionals 35 and younger who work in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry.

CGT will also host a Career Pathways program at the Fresh Connections event. Career Pathways is designed to inform top university students about potential careers in the fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industries. The program in Mexico, which is being held for the second year, follows a model that CGT has successfully used for 15 years to attract the best and brightest university students to the industry in several other countries around the world.

Hernández is scheduled to meet with the university students, who will also attend conference activities and the expo. Each university student will be paired with a volunteer Career Ambassador, several of whom are members of PMA’s Mexico Country Council and are employed in the fresh produce industry.

About 20 business leaders serve on PMA’s Country Council in Mexico. Chairman Roberto Salazar Pérez, an industry consultant, and Vice Chairman Ernesto Cardona of Austral Trading Mexico, S.A. de C.V. are looking forward to welcoming attendees to the event. The council members volunteer their time to help PMA and CGT serve PMA member needs in Mexico and help the fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industries grow.