HOUSTON — The produce industry needs to find a way to get this simple message across: “Eat more, live longer.”

That’s the gist of what Rich Dachman, vice president of produce for Sysco Corp., has been trying to accomplish through work with industry groups, including the Foodservice 2020 initiative, which seeks to double the amount of fresh produce sent to foodservice channels.


Dachman addressed the Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association at its meeting Sept. 8. He said the Foodservice 2020 initiative is in the early stages, but the groups heading the effort — the Produce Marketing Association, the National Restaurant Association and the International Foodservice Distributors Association — identified some barriers and opportunities for the industry.

Challenges range from a lack of focus on younger consumers, to food safety concerns to a basic theme Dachman and many industry groups have been working on for the past several years.

“We don’t sell our story well,” he said.

Dachman cited efforts by industry groups like the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission. Avocado volumes — and consumption — increased tremendously while prices remained stable, he said.

“They went out and sold it,” he said.

Dachman is on the steering committee for Foodservice 2020 and said he never could have imagined the extent of his involvement with industry groups, including the HFFVA.

“But I’ve really become very motivated and I think it has really paid back well to get involved,” he said.

The meeting, led by newly appointed president Dave Anderson of Anderson Food Sales and Marketing, also included discussions of future events, and possibly another HFFVA Expo.

Last summer’s expo drew about 100 attendees and included a presentation from PMA president Bryan Silbermann.

The association’s next big event is its annual Gift of Produce, a longstanding holiday tradition with the group, which donates tons of food to area food banks. Anderson said the presentation should move back to Minute Maid Park this year and will take place in mid-December.