Following International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) Washington Conference on September 28, more than 150 industry and association leaders convened for a dinner at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. to celebrate Tom Stenzel’s three decades of service to the fresh produce industry.
In attendance to honor the former United Fresh Produce Association president and CEO and IFPA Co-CEO were Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), former United Fresh Board members and member leaders, legacy United Fresh staff and agriculture and food association colleagues.
IFPA CEO Cathy Burns began the program by reflecting on her close relationship working alongside Stenzel for the past 15 years. “Our industry needs more dedicated leaders like Tom, a fearless leader who truly cares not just about the industry, but more so, the people in it,” said Burns.
Tom Stenzel received a standing ovation at IFPA's Washington Conference.
In March 2021, Stenzel and Burns achieved a longtime goal for the industry by helping launch the International Fresh Produce Association, formed by the combination of United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association.
Additional industry icons paid tribute to Stenzel’s storied career including former chairs of the United Fresh Board Alan Siger, Reggie Griffin and Brian Kocher, current chair of IFPA’s U.S. Government Relations Council. Past United Fresh executive vice-president Victoria Backer and past United Fresh board member Will Steele also addressed Stenzel and guests.
Over $100,000 in individual donations and proceeds from the dinner will be contributed to IFPA’s The Foundation for Fresh Produce.
Stenzel joined the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association as president & CEO in August 1993. Just two years later, he led United and a coalition of industry groups to amend and modernize the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act (PACA) in 1995.
Stenzel (center) with past United Fresh chairs.
That same year, he led United to create The Washington Public Policy Conference and launched the Produce Industry Leadership Program.
In 2006, under Stenzel’s leadership, United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and International Fresh-Cut Produce Association merged to form United Fresh Produce Association. In 2008, he united various specialty crop associations to ensure the Farm Bill benefited both the produce industry and the public.
Three years later, he was named the president of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) and that same year, he was appointed to the US Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.
In July 2015, secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. trade representative Michael Froman appointed Stenzel to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC).
In 2016, United Fresh and PMA assembled an industry work group to develop an ethical charter (released in 2018) to promote responsible labor standards across the produce and floral industries.
In April 2022, Stenzel launched The Stenzel Group, a consulting firm supporting the fresh produce industry in strategic management, government relations, customer development and adoption of new technologies.