Oppy leader wins Produce Man awardVANCOUVER — The Packer named Walt Breeden of the Oppenheimer Group as the Canadian Produce Man of the Year at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention and trade show.

Breeden, who is also outgoing CPMA chairman, was honored by publisher Shannon Shuman April 4 in Vancouver.

“Today’s winner listed building consumption and creating a united message as the key concerns he intended to address in his yearlong commitment as CPMA chair,” Shuman said. “Just yesterday, we saw that intention come to fruition with the CPMA’s new consumer marketing Half Your Plate initiative.”

Since a 2012 promotion, Breeden has overseen all Canadian sales initiatives for Oppenheimer. He also directs the citrus category in Canada and supervises the Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto sales offices.

He was Oppenheimer’s employee of the year in 2010. He’d been promoted to sales manager in 1997, opening the company’s Calgary office four years later.

As CPMA chairman, Breeden participated on the Regulatory Cooperation Council Working Group, addressing financial protection for produce sellers and the push for a PACA-like trust in Canada. He helped form and coordinate the new national regional council model between CPMA and regional associations.

His other efforts included the fall harvest advocacy event for CPMA.

“Our honoree embraced the role of CPMA chair,” Shuman said, “and focused his strategy on strengthening education and training for members, expanding consumer awareness, and revitalizing CPMA’s industry marketing and consumer message to encourage healthy food choices for Canadians.”

Breeden, a veteran of nearly 27 years in the produce industry, is a past president of the BC Produce Marketing Association. There he supported the funding contribution and development of the first national fruit and vegetable school curriculum with CPMA and supported local charities such as the BC Children’s Hospital.

As a high school student, he began his career in 1977 at the iconic Woodward’s food floor in Vancouver. He moved into the role of produce buyer in 1984. Three years later he joined Oppenheimer as a sales representative, selling California-grown produce to customers throughout Western Canada.

As in past years, The Packer sought nominations for the award. Breeden led that voting by a wide margin, Shuman said.

Bernadette Hamel, a past Packer Produce Woman of the Year, is next year’s CPMA chairwoman.