It’s the beginning of a new year, and with it comes the perennial pressure to make our resolutions for the 12 months ahead. Personally, I find it exhilarating — every 365 days we have another opportunity to set the bar a bit higher for ourselves.

New year brings fresh opportunities for success

Bryan Silbermann
Produce Marketing Association

Here are my resolutions for 2011.

Knowing each other better.

As I’ve said often in this column and elsewhere, the produce industry is referred to as a “supply chain” for good reason. Every link, from field to fork, relies on the others for its success.

Our future success depends upon enhancing our mutual understanding, respect and support for one another.

That must mean casting aside the natural tension that results from financial transaction-based relationships, to focus on building sustainable relationships through which each link can grow and thrive.

Last year PMA thought globally and acted locally, working to bring our industry community together from our international Fresh Summit to local Fresh Connections around the world.

In 2011, I resolve that your association will continue that work by bringing you more opportunities to know each other better — face-to-face as well as in the virtual space. I invite you to cast aside old assumptions and biases, and join us for a different kind of conversation.

Working better together.

Only by knowing each other can our chain then forge partnerships to help us work better together.

2010 provided several examples of how various links of our supply chain can work together to grow our respective businesses.

With numerous members’ help, last year PMA continued our work to better educate government leaders, through field tours, research meetings and other activities designed to inform them about our industry’s specific food safety needs.

And the young Center for Produce Safety held its first research symposium to convey the results of its first food safety research projects.

Meanwhile, a partnership of the produce, foodservice and distribution sectors advanced the work of the Foodservice 2020 Initiative to significantly increase fresh produce use through healthier foodservice menus.

In 2011, I resolve to expand member participation in the work of your association, to ensure that our work best meets your business’ needs. I invite you to join this effort by volunteering your time when we issue our 2011 call for volunteers this spring.

Taking back our brand.

A more cohesive supply chain is also better positioned to promote and defend our consumers’ image of our industry.

Central here is the need to tell our story, to take back our brand image from those who would negatively portray our industry to consumers.

Many of you have heard me advocate for telling our story in my annual State of the Industry addresses, and read about it in this column.

Last year PMA worked to bust key consumer myths about fresh produce that have long been perpetuated by others. We are proud to support the Alliance for Food and Farming’s campaign launched last summer to debunk Dirty Dozen-type claims and tell the story of our industry’s responsible use of pesticides.

To bust another old myth that fruits and vegetables are too expensive, we commissioned a study to determine the actual U.S. retail cost of fresh produce.

As noted here before, we found that the national average retail price for nine servings was $2.18 — and bargain shoppers can purchase the least expensive nine servings for 88 cents. We are a bargain, and a great health value too.

In 2011, I resolve to lead a charge to help our industry take back our brand from those who would define us as something we’re not.

This year, PMA will provide members with more resources to help you better tell your story — so that we can give consumers better peace of mind about buying and enjoying more of our foods.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Share them with me and the PMA staff by visiting our Facebook page. I wish you perseverance and success in meeting your goals for the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Bryan Silbermann is president and chief executive officer of Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. To view his New Year’s resolution video, visit www.pma.com/resolutions.

What are your business goals for 2011? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.