(Sept. 26) NAPLES, Fla. — The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association recognized a citrus leader’s service to the industry and thanked a major retailer for its support of the state’s produce.

At the association’s 63rd annual convention, the group awarded Hugh English, the former corporate vice president of the citrus division for A. Duda & Sons Inc., Oviedo, with its distinguished service award. English, a former FFVA chairman who worked with Duda for 35 years, was cited for his longtime devotion to industry causes.

“He has stepped up to take on challenging and time consuming assignments to benefit the industry,” said Tony DiMare, outgoing FFVA chairman and vice president of DiMare Ruskin Inc. ”He has increasingly taken on additional challenges and projects and has devoted so much time to our industry. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this award more.”

English, who grew up in a citrus family, was a founding member of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association Inc., LaBelle, and has served as an officer of the Florida Citrus Commission, Lakeland.

The FFVA honored Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., as its merchandiser of the year for its support of Florida’s strawberry deal.

Convention co-chair Drew Duda, chief operating officer for Duda Products Inc., said the retailer kept buying the state’s berries throughout the season.

“They supported Florida’s strawberry shippers long after others shifted their buying to California,” he said. “This retailer goes the extra mile to help Florida growers.”

Tom Holbert, the Winter Haven-based supercenter food team’s regional produce buyer, accepted the award at the association’s Sept. 19 awards luncheon.

Citrus veteran, Wal-Mart both honored in Florida
Drew Duda (from left), convention chairman and chief operating officer for Duda Products Inc., a division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc.; talks with Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association president Mike Stuart; Jay Taylor, new FFVA chairman and president of Palmetto-based Taylor & Fulton Inc.; and Tony DiMare, outgoing chairman and vice president of DiMare Ruskin Inc.