Outgoing Produce Marketing Association chairwoman, Jan DeLyser.
Outgoing Produce Marketing Association chairwoman, Jan DeLyser.

Outgoing Produce Marketing Association chairwoman Jan DeLyser says the industry remains strong and poised for a bright future.

She deflected taking personal credit for the accomplishments that occurred in her year of leadership and attributed her successful tenure to the many people who contribute their time to the industry.

DeLyser, vice president of the California Avocado Commission, Irvine, cited PMA’s support of school salad bars as one industry success.

She said she is proud of the additional $23,000 PMA members contributed above the $100,000 the organization committed to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative effort.

“It’s such a group effort,” DeLyser said, speaking of industry accomplishments. “I see such a bright future for the industry. I continue to be somewhat perplexed that we’re still looking to get the actual increase in consumption, but I see a lot of good movement in that direction. Seems like all the signs point to how positive consumption of our products lead to better health.”

Her task force to update the organization’s strategic plan remains an accomplishment that will carry over to her successor, Tim Riley, president of The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles, and that will benefit PMA and the industry for years, DeLyser said.

The task force — formed after PMA’s Fresh Summit 2012 expo in Anaheim, Calif., and following the completion of talks about merging PMA with the United Fresh Produce Association — focused on PMA’s strengths and identified opportunities to move the association forward, DeLyser said.

That future includes collaborating with other groups, including supporting the Center for Produce Safety, in Davis, Calif.

Looking to the next generation of produce industry workers, PMA’s Foundation for Industry Talent is another success DeLyser highlights.

In its 10th year, the career pathways program provides training and development opportunities for young people considering working in the industry.

The second woman to lead PMA, DeLyser said she’s also proud of the PMA’s first Women’s Fresh Perspective Conference, which was April 21-23 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Bryan Silbermann, president and chief executive officer, describes DeLyser as a brilliant consensus builder who was the perfect person to lead an organization at the right time.

“Jan is probably an association executive’s dream chairwoman,” Silbermann said. “She’s run an association, and everyone instantly feels comfortable with her whether they meet her in Australia, South Africa or in California. She connects wonderfully with people.”

Riley said DeLyser’s departure leaves big shoes to fill.

“She’s one of the most dynamic personalities and speakers in our industry,” Riley said. “Her lifelong produce experience is incredible. Jan has this uncanny ability to bring everyone in the room together, whether that is at a meeting of five or 500. ”

As immediate past chair, DeLyser plans to head the group’s leadership committee that’s responsible for organizing the group’s committees and board.