London Produce Show unveils intellectual tour de force

London Produce Show unveils intellectual tour de force

The Perishale Pundit


The Perishable Pundit presents an a stunning array of intellectual firepower and industry knowledge set to join the Thought-Leaders Breakfast Panel at this week’s London Produce Show, including industry experts from the UK, the Continent, the US, India and China

It is not even two years since we unveiled a plan to establish a new industry institution. It would be a new event, housed in the iconic city of London but drawing on that city’s magnetic pull on global brainpower, to draw together and elevate the industry.

Yet great events and industry institutions cannot be willed into existence; they must grow out of the authentic soil of industry need, and they must blossom in the process of stretching to reach the aspirations of the people of the trade.

So as we prepare to launch the second annual edition of the London Produce Show and Conference, we feel the exuberance of a child starting to stand on its own legs. The numbers are all there… revenues up over a 100% over last year and attendance will be up more than 50%, with pre-registration already far exceeding last year’s total registration.

The most important metric, though, is ideas shared, and so it is always a highlight of the run up to the event to unveil the Perishable Pundit’s “Thought Leader” panel.

We went in alphabetical order last year so, now, in reverse alphabetical order, a drumroll please….

loren-zhao(1) LOREN ZHAO
 Fruitday Co. Ltd, Shanghai

Loren is co-founder of Fruitday Co. Ltd, Shanghai, China. Founded in 2009, Fruitday is ranked Number 1 in Chinese fruit e-commerce in terms of sales revenue. The main products from Fruitday are high-quality imported fresh fruits, including cherries, oranges, apples and kiwifruits.

Fruitday provides an end-to-end home delivery service through which customers can receive product within 48 hours of ordering.

Fruitday now has six distribution centres — in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hangzhou. The fresh delivery service covers more than 300 cities in China and has more than five million members.

 Markon Cooperative, Inc.

Tim is the President of Markon Cooperative Inc., a purchasing, marketing, and logistics cooperative serving North America’s leading independent foodservice distributors.  Based in Salinas, California, Markon distributes produce to over 70 facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

Tim has nearly 40 years’ experience in the produce and foodservice industries.  He began his career in 1977 at H. Hall & Company, a grower/shipper of strawberries and mixed vegetables.  In 1985, Tim joined Markon as Purchasing Director. He was promoted to his current position of President in 1990.

Tim has held numerous committee and task force positions, including Chairman of the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Division and later, Chairman of the Board of PMA. He served as a member of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Council and is currently a member of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association Board of Directors.

 Head of Buying Fresh Produce

Nicola took up the role of Head of Buying for Fresh Produce at Waitrose in February of this year. Nicola holds a vast amount of experience within the UK retail industry and has a strong passion for fresh produce.

Over the past three years, Nicola has worked as Director of Food at Selfridges, which was a new role for the premium retailer following a strong shift in strategic focus towards fresh food.

Prior to this, Nicola spent 10 years at M&S, where she was category manager for several fresh categories and also has previous experience working at Sainsbury’s and Safeway.

ann-wells ANN WELLS
 Procurement Manager
 Mitchells & Butlers PLC

Ann has been involved in fresh produce procurement across three sectors for more than 20 years, having begun her career at the UK’s leading supermarket chain, Tesco and rising to Buying Manager for the category.

After a spell as Purchasing Manager for Uniq, one of the UK’s best known food production companies, Ann took up her current role as Procurement Manager at Mitchells & Butlers plc, which runs approximately 1,600 managed pubs, bars and restaurants throughout the United Kingdom.

stephenweist STEPHAN WEIST
 National Category Director
 Rewe, Germany

Stephan is National Category Director fruit, vegetable, flowers and plants for Rewe, one of the leading and most innovative supermarket chains in Germany. He is also Brand Manager for Rewe Regional, the company’s cross-category brand for regional products.

Stephan started his career as trainee at Rewe in the 1980’s and was a purchaser for overseas exotics before he moved to Chiquita in year 2000. As Managing Director, he managed the buildup of the non-banana business for Northern Europe before taking on the total responsibility for Chiquita’s D-A-CH (German-speaking European region) as Business Director.

In 2009 he moved to Landgard, Germany’s largest produce and flower producing cooperative where he headed the fruit and vegetable, organic and convenience divisions as Managing Director through a restructuring period.  Since 2014, he is back at Rewe. Stephan currently serves as Vice President of Freshfel.

 UK Managing Director
 Total Produce

Steve is the UK Managing Director of Total Produce’s wholesale, foodservice and import business. A Londoner who grew up in Chelsea Barracks, he joined Fyffes as a trainee accountant 33 years ago, and progressed through accountancy roles with the company into a trading position in Liverpool wholesale market, where he became branch manager.

He moved on first to area manager, then when Fyffes took over Redbridge, he took on the regional manager role. Since the demerger from Fyffes eight years ago, the turnover of Total Produce’s business has spiralled. The company now has 13 wholesale firms and 11 foodservice businesses in Great Britain, as well as its import HQ in Tolworth.

 Group Managing Director
 Stubbins Food Partnerships

Peter is the Group Managing Director of Stubbins Food Partnerships, a food and food logistics group that provides food supply chain solutions to national and international growers, retailers and e-commerce retailers.

Peter joined the family business in 1976 and became an integral part of operating the first Stubbins glasshouse operation in the Lea Valley. He has effectively worked in the growing, commercial and logistics divisions of the Stubbins companies and was appointed Commercial Director in 2005.

In 2014 he was appointed as Group MD of Stubbins and has since developed and expanded the company further into sustainable market sectors, such as branded fresh produce and foods, whilst providing internet fulfilment solutions to leading ‘Make Away Meal’ retailers, something that is set to change the way the consumers purchase and eat convenient, heathy and exciting meals.

 Head of International Foods and Fresh Business
 Future Group, India

Sumit Saran is the Head of International Foods and Fresh Business at Future Group, one of India’s largest retailers.  His responsibilities include setting up distribution channels for imported foods, establishing international tie-ups and handling international food promotions across the various retail formats that Future Group owns and operates. In addition, he also is in charge of the fruit and vegetable business for the group.

Sumit has 18 years of experience in managing and implementing food projects in India and various other countries. His special area of expertise is in food marketing and in creating and establishing successful food brands in hitherto generic categories through market research, retail promotions and supply chain interventions.

Before joining The Future Group, for 15 years, Mr. Saran was the Director of The SCS Group, an agribusiness consulting firm that represents many international cooperator groups in the Indian subcontinent. He has been closely involved in the successful launch and marketing of several imported products in India, including California Table Grapes, USA Pears, Washington Apples, US Apples, California Prunes and California Walnuts.

He has also worked with Government of India agencies for promotion of and launch of Indian mangos and organic foods in European and American markets.

bruce-peterson BRUCE PETERSON
 Peterson Insights

 As the former Senior Vice President of Perishables at Wal- Mart Stores, Inc., Bruce is a 44-year veteran in the produce industry. He started his food-industry career bagging groceries in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan in 1970, later working for several notable supermarket chains, and owning and operating a wholesale produce company. He joined Wal-Mart as Produce Director in 1991 and spent 17 years with the company where he successfully launched and built the perishable foods division. He was at the forefront of the Wal-Mart Supercenter expansion which grew from 6 to 1500 stores in 15 years.

After leaving Wal-Mart Bruce served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Naturipe Farms, a leading grower and marketer of premium berries and now serves as a Member of the Advisory Board at YottaMark, Inc. and Home Town Farms LLC.

Jeremy-Pang-Headshot JEREMY PANG
 Owner and Founder of School of Wok

Chef Jeremy Pang is the owner and founder of School of Wok, a cookery school in the heart of Covent Garden, specialising in teaching Eastern cuisine. The recent winner of The British Cookery School’s Best Young Rising Star, Pang will soon debut his highly anticipated cookery book, Chinese UnChopped at the London Produce Show 2015.

Pang’s ability to bring food to life with his laid back, straight forward approach and delicious recipes has helped him build an ever-growing and thriving school, as well as a rising public profile.

Jeremy Pang has been named the Chef Ambassador of the 2015 edition of the London Produce Show and Conference.

roberta-cook(1) ROBERTA COOK
 Cooperative Extension Specialist and Lecturer
 Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
 University of California, Davis, California

 Roberta Cook is Cooperative Extension Specialist and Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis. She conducts an applied research and industry outreach program focusing on the marketing and international trade of fresh fruits and vegetables, including studies on international competitiveness,

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of several U.S. produce marketing companies and associations as well as numerous industry committees and is a member of the Monsanto Vegetable Seeds Advisory Council. From 1998-2003 she was a member of the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Fruits and Vegetables of the U.S.D.A.

Tenley-Allen(1) TENLEY ALLEN
 Marketing Manager

Tenley is a Marketing Manager at FreshDirect, a leading online grocer in the U.S., with customers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Philadelphia.

Tenley started her 4 1/2 year tenure at FreshDirect as an analyst on the produce team, and then moved into an associate category merchant for produce. After two years in merchandising, Tenley moved to the marketing department and worked as the PR and community outreach manager.

As social media made its stance as an integral marketing tool, Tenley transitioned into the social media manager role, and led strategy and implementation for FreshDirect’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ accounts. Most recently, Tenley started a new role as marketing manager, and is managing and executing partnerships.

Before starting at FreshDirect, Tenley spent one year working for Giant Food Stores as a customer operations manager in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

A graduate of Cornell University, Tenley is actively involved with School of Business Young Alumni Leadership Council, New York Cares and is an avid marathon runner.


This represents a stunning array of intellectual firepower and industry knowledge. There are panelists from the UK, the Continent, from the U.S., India and China — an intellectual tour de force.

It is always important to remember that industry leaders don’t have to spend their time to lead the industry; they don’t have to share ideas. Yet it is a testimony to these individuals and the organizations they work with that they choose to do so.

It is a gift to the industry, but a gift given in a spirit of enlightened self-interest, for the excellent recognize that it is hard to be great in an ecosystem that accepts mediocrity. So these individuals dedicate themselves to not only making their own organizations extraordinary but to helping the industry, as a unit, to rise as well.

We are most grateful for their participation.



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