CHARLEVOIX, QUEBEC — After two days in the scenic region of Charlevoix the 67th annual Quebec Produce Marketing Association convention ended with a jam-packed day of meetings, professional development seminars and speeches.

QPMA celebrates the 'heart of the industry'During the business session, Sophie Perreault was promoted from executive director to president and CEO of the association.

The board also named two administrators from different sectors of the industry, Peter Schneider Jr. of Dorval-based S&S Forwarding Ltd. and Gilles Motard of Montreal-based distributor Hector Larivée Inc.

Judith Basque of Loblaw/Provigo was elected as second vice president, becoming the third woman on QPMA’s executive committee along with Perreault and outgoing president Marie Gosselin of Portneuf-based Les Serres du St.-Laurent.

After the board meeting, scientist Francois Houde discussed food stress — the result of consumers being bombarded with messages about what to eat and what not to eat.

To sell more fruits and vegetables, which already have a healthy reputation despite concerns about pesticides, Houde said marketers need to focus on one clear winning message, perhaps anti-cancer.

He pointed to the continuing success of the milk campaign, which promotes calcium as a way to keep bones strong. Yet a campaign to promote milk’s Vitamin D content failed because consumers didn’t understand its benefits.

At the closing banquet, Gosselin spoke of how her slogan for the year, People at the Heart of the Industry, came alive as she travelled to conferences and met people from every sector of the produce industry.

She said she’s particularly proud of the agreement QPMA signed in December with Quebec’s ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food, which will allow the association to take on more projects with the hotel, restaurant and institutions sector.

Gosselin welcomed new president Sammy Cacciatore, president of Visalia, Calif.-based Sun Grape Marketing, and introduced the Quebec industry’s Pillar for 2014, Bernadette Hamel, who is chairwoman of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association board.

QPMA’s 2015 convention will be in Quebec City.