Fred Webber will succeed Stephen Whitney as chief executive officer and president of the Ottawa-based Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation.

Webber, the organization’s current vice president of trading assistance, is set to officially take over Jan. 1.

“It has been something I had hoped for since the whole DRC thing started,” Webber said Sept. 21.

He said the DRC has been fortunate to have strong leadership from Whitney, who is retiring, and a great board of directors that includes DRC chairman Matt McInerney, who is executive vice president of Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, and Mike Stuart, president of the Maitland-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. Webber said he wants to keep moving the DRC forward.

Webber would like to increase U.S. and Mexican membership. Webber said DRC has about 1,400 members, including 987 in Canada, 357 in the U.S. and others in Chile, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand.

“We will be driving home excellence in trading assistance, do a little bit more marketing and finish up the financial security piece and continue to look for places we can serve the trade,” he said.

Webber has been with the DRC since its establishment in 1999. He had worked for DRC from the Produce Reporter Co. offices in Carol Stream, Ill., until 2005, when he moved to Ottawa. Webber had been with The Produce Reporter Co. for 16 years, and before that he was a marketing specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act regulatory branch.

The DRC has been working with industry allies for years to create protection for sellers in Canada similar to financial protections in the U.S., and Webber said that work would continue. Earlier this year, the North American Trade Committee called for the Canadian government to establish financial risk mitigation provisions similar to those in the U.S. under PACA.

With the departure of Whitney, the DRC also announced the addition of Luc Mougeot as vice president of the organization.

Mougeot most recently was senior advisor to the Canadian Destination Inspection Service and previously had worked in both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

As Whitney’s knowledge of government agencies complemented Webber’s trading assistance expertise, Mougeot will bring complementary skills to DRC. His skills include fluency in French and experience in setting up budgets for both government and private industry projects.

“Bringing Luc on board is a real boon for us and he will bring a very complementary skills that will allow the organization to move on without a bump,” Webber said.

There are six staff members in the DRC organization, Webber said. Webber said DRC is well equipped to handle potential increased workloads.

“We are very fortunate to have a relationship with PACA that if we have a big influx of cases, we have an agreement with PACA that they step in and help us with some of those informal cases,” Webber said.