(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 7)  Expanding its international presence,
the Produce Marketing Association is starting operations in the land
Down Under.

PMA Australia-New Zealand, which officially started operations on Oct. 1, is the organization’s first international affiliate.

Bryan Silbermann, president and chief executive officer of the Newark, Del.-based PMA, introduced the new organization’s leaders during his Oct. 3 general session speech at PMA’s 2009 Fresh Summit in Anaheim, Calif.

“There is a clear two-way value proposition because so much can be learned from each other,” Silbermann said in the speech. “Especially in our global community, the future of trade will rely as much on the fruit of the mind as on the fruit of the land — this industry is increasingly about what you know, rather than what you grow.”

Michael Simonetta, of Perfection Fresh Australia, Homebush, who has served as the PMA Australia-New Zealand Country Council’s chairman, has been tapped as the new group’s chairman.

The group is scheduled to elect other officers during a late October meeting.

The board also consists of representatives from Produce Marketing Australia, Croydon; Mulgowie Farming Company, Laidley, Australia; Lynch Group Australia, Moorebank; Moraitis Group, Sydney, Australia; Fresh Produce Group of Australia, Sydney; One Harvest, Carole Park, Australia; Carter & Spencer Group, Rocklea, Australia; Woolworths Supermarkets, Baulkham Hills, Australia;  MG Marketing, Riccarton Christchurch, New Zealand; Turners & Growers, Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand; and A.S. Wilcox and Sons, Ltd., Auckland.

“The time was right and our industry was ready to take PMA’s work here to the next level, to better serve our local membership while expanding our connections with the global produce industry,” Simonetta was quoted in the release.

Though PMA has offices in Chile and in Mexico, the Australia-New Zealand affiliate program is different as it replaces the region’s country council, said Julia Stewart, PMA’s public relations director.

PMA also has a country council in Mexico.

UPDATED: PMA opens Australia-New Zealand operation