(UPDATED COVERAGE, Sept. 26) The Southeast Produce Council opened its fall conference with record attendance and elected new leaders.

UPDATED: Southeast Produce Council opens fall conferenceSponsors say 329 people attended the Sept. 19-22 conference at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, N.C.

That’s higher than last year, said Terry Vorhees, the East Ellijay, Ga.-based council’s executive director.

Outgoing council president John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., gave the group’s traditional state of the council address Sept. 21.

Shuman discussed educational and charitable programs the council is involved in and committee members updated attendees on the council’s work.

The group’s biggest event, the spring Southern Exposure retail and foodservice conference and exposition, always sells-out and requires an exhibitor waiting list, he said.

Shuman also discussed the group’s fiscal status.

“The council is financially sound,” he said. “Our membership continues to grow. Over the past five years, our membership has grown 67%. That’s something we continue to work very hard on.”

Vorhees said the record attendance indicates high interest.

“We had a lot of people say it was their first time ever to attend our fall conference,” he said. “They told me the meetings were nice and how they liked the smaller venue compared to faster-paced Southern Exposure. They said they had a little more time to visit and spend more time with people.”

The following members were elected as council’s 2012-13 officers:

  • Andrew Scott, sales and procurement manager for General Produce Inc., Forest Park, Ga., president;
  • David Sherrod, Millen, Ga.-based southeast regional business manager for Apio Inc., Guadalupe, Calif., first vice president;
  • Mark Daniels, senior buyer of the Savannah, Ga., division of Military Produce Group, Norfolk, Va., second vice president;
  • Sheila Carden, Richmond, Va.-based retail marketing director for the California Avocado Commission/Hass Avocado Board, Irvine, secretary; and
  • Terri Miller, Salisbury, N.C.-based produce category manager for the Brussels-based Delhaize Group’s Delhaize America, treasurer.

These members joined the board of directors:

  • Mike Ryan, chief operating officer of Reed Transport Services Inc., Brandon;
  • Brandon Parker, sales manager of Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga.; and
  • Tommy Wilkins, director of produce procurement for United Supermarkets LLC, Lubbock, Texas.