Sessions from 2015

Below are the sessions from the 2015 Expo. Coming Soon: We'll have more details on the 2016 Educational Program.

Sessions Menu

Sessions on International Trade Relations with Mexico

Halt – Who, Goes There: The U.S./Mexico Border Crossing Conundrums

9:00 am – 9:25 am (Mini-Session)
Room 404 (Hilton)

Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner and trade continues to grow each year. Learn more about the importance of the bridges to the U.S./Mexico trade and how issues and wait times impact producer and consumer prices. You’ll also gain insight into upcoming border crossing improvements including the Mexico superhighway that will help productivity and competitiveness.


Tommy Wilkins
Tommy WilkinsDirector of Sales/Business Development
As Director of Sales and Business Development for Grow Farms Texas, Tommy is actively pursuing retail solutions on products grown not only in Texas, but items that cross through Texas from Mexico. During his 40-year career, Wilkins has worked in all aspects of produce in Texas and California, from representing producers to retailers to being a broker between the two. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Southeast Produce Council and has served on the Retail Foodservice Board with the United Fresh.


Reggie Griffin
Reggie GriffinReggie Griffin Strategies, LLC
Reggie Griffin retired from The Kroger Co. as the Corporate VP of Produce and Floral, Merchandising and Procurement, a job he held for 10 years, where he was instrumental in shaping the vision and strategy of Kroger’s Produce and Floral Departments. His passion for “fresh” has been evident during his 42-year career with The Kroger Co. His company, Reggie Griffin Strategies, LLC, works with both national and international clients in the fresh produce and floral industry to better connect with the ultimate customer.


Gina Garven
Gina GarvenCategory Insights Team Manager, Robinson Fresh
Leader of Sourcing Analytics for Robinson Fresh. Gina started with C.H. Robinson Worldwide, a fortune 300 company in 2008. Today she manages the sourcing analytics department covering demand planning, supply analytics, category development and business intelligence custom solutions. She has a dedicated focus on driving the results and influencing the performance of Robinson Fresh commodities and customers through consumer focused analysis, industry benchmarking, technology and collaborative supply chain development.

What’s Hot In Mexico – It’s More Than The Weather: Emerging Trends and Products

9:00 am – 9:55 am (Full Session)
Room 400 (Hilton)

Mexico is becoming a fast-growing powerhouse that exports more fruits and vegetables to the U.S. than any other country. Last year, Mexico exported $6.4 billion worth of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables into the U.S., representing 46% of all imports. Get information about key growing regions in Mexico, product offerings and the current social, economic and environmental conditions affecting the U.S./Mexico produce trade.


Lance Jungmeyer
Lance JungmeyerPresident, FPAA
Lance Jungmeyer is President of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, an industry association representing importers of Mexican produce, based in Nogales, Arizona. In addition to his role at FPAA, Jungmeyer is active on the United Fresh Produce Association’s Government Relations Council and Food Safety Oversight Committee, as well as the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s North America Trade Task Force. Before joining the association, Jungmeyer spent 13 years at the produce industry’s leading newspaper, The Packer, as Editor.


Sam Vale
Sam ValePresident, Starr-Camargo Bridge Co.
Sam is the CEO of a privately owned South Texas bridge port-of-entry at Rio Grande City, Texas/Cd. Camargo, Tamaulipas. He is very active in developing good public policy, promoting secure and efficient international trade, via the Border Trade Alliance a nonprofit organization he helped to establish in 1986. Sam is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.


Julio Vela
Julio VelaSupervisory Program Manager, US Customs and Border Protection
Julio Vilá oversees all CBP agriculture related programs within the Laredo Field Office. Stationed in Laredo, Texas, Julio provides direction, guidance and support to managers and field personnel at eight ports of entry within the Laredo Field Office on CBP Agriculture Programs. Earlier in his career he worked in the horticulture field with private industry and began his federal service with USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine.


Mark Santos
Mark SantosPartner, Santos International
Mark Santos is a partner at Santos International, which is a third generation US Customs Brokerage firm that was established in 1973. His primary focus is in supply chain management. Some of Mark’s accomplishments include graduating with an MBA from Texas Tech University, assisting with the start up of the Border Import Management Group, serving as a proud board member of the Texas International Produce Association, as well as a member of the Vanney Cook Cancer Foundation “Friends for Hope.”

Educational Sessions

The Increasingly Important Role of Supermarket Dietitians

9:45 am – 10:55 am (Full Session)
Salon A, 4th Floor (Hilton)

From creating wellness programs to producing magazines and hosting cooking demonstrations on local news stations, supermarket dietitians help shoppers make better food choices. According to the New York Times, dietitians are at the forefront of a phenomenon sweeping the grocery business as it tries to capitalize on growing consumer interest in health and wellness. A panel of leading supermarket dietitians will shed light on how growers can work with retailers to educate consumers while strengthening retail partnerships.


Melinda Goodman
Melinda GoodmanManaging Partner, Full Tilt Marketing
Melinda is a rancher’s daughter born and raised in North Dakota and it was her background in agriculture that helped her find her way to fresh produce where she’s built her career for the last 15 years. Prior to starting her own company, Full Tilt Marketing, with business partner Heidi McIntyre, Melinda has worked for the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, Red River Valley Potato Growers Association and TexaSweet Citrus Marketing. One of Melinda’s true passions is leveraging her creativity to conceptualize and expand brand concepts, retail promotions and overseeing the development of new packaging and brand awareness campaigns that include national brands like Disney, The Biggest Loser and the Sneaky Chef. Follow Melinda on Twitter at @FullTiltMkt.


Karen Buch
Karen Buch RDN, LDN, Nutrition Connections, LLC
Karen is a trusted nutrition expert who delivers practical, credible food and nutrition advice via radio, television, newsprint and electronic media. Currently, she is the Chair of the Supermarket/Retail Subgroup of the Food and Culinary Professionals (FCP) dietetic practice group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Karen is owner of Nutrition Connections LLC, which provides strategic counsel to clients with specialized focus in retail nutrition marketing and communications. Karen is widely recognized as “The Weis Dietitian” for her long-standing, former role as Director of Lifestyle Initiatives for Weis Markets Inc., a Pennsylvania-based grocery retailer. Follow Karen on Twitter at @KarenBuch.


Leah McGrath
Leah McGrathRD Corporate Dietitian, Ingles Markets
Leah McGrath, RD is the Corporate Dietitian for Ingles Markets, a grocery retail chain that is based in Asheville, NC and has been their dietitian for the past 14 years. Prior to working for Ingles, she was a dietitian in the US Army and also worked as a WIC Dietitian and Nutrition Director. Her responsibilities include public speaking, writing for regional publications, blogging, making TV appearances and hosting a weekly radio program. Follow Leah on Twitter at @InglesDietitian.


Stacy Bates
Stacy Bates Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, H-E-B
Stacy Bates is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with over 8 years of experience in nutrition communications and education. She is currently the Registered Dietitian Programs Manager for Nutrition Services with H-E-B Grocery Company in San Antonio, Texas. Stacy has also served as a food and fitness blogger and spokesperson, offering ways to quickly and confidently help individuals and families improve their healthy lifestyles, while sharing science-based nutrition tips in an approachable, easy-to-digest, manner.


Lauren Lindsley
Lauren LindsleyRDN, CD Regional Health and Wellness Manager, Festival Foods
Lauren is a nationally accredited, state-certified Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and Green Bay Regional Health & Wellness Manager at Skogen’s Festival Foods in Green Bay, WI. In her role, she develops innovative nutrition programs and oversees the execution of these programs in northeast Wisconsin. Lauren is the author of two weekly nutrition newsletters and the weekly Dietitian’s Top Pick blog. She leads in the implementation of The Dietitian’s Pick program and ‘eat brighter!’ movement across the company. Lauren also collaborates with a variety of community groups, including healthcare systems, schools, government agencies, area businesses, non-profit organizations and universities, to educate and promote nutrition, health and wellness. Lauren is very passionate about helping people find achievable ways to live longer, healthier, happier lives.

The Cutting Edge: Emerging Techniques, Trends and Technologies for Growers

10:00 am – 10:25 am (Mini-Session)
Room 404 (Hilton)

Get to know what’s new in the latest gadgets, farming equipment and technologies designed to increase productivity and improve operations on the farm. This session will focus on farming in the Southwest region and Mexico, and review topics pertinent to the region including the latest in new irrigation and shade house techniques.


Greg Johnson
Greg JohnsonEditor, The Packer
Greg Johnson is Editor of The Packer and Editorial Director of Vance Publishing Corporation’s produce group. He has been Editor since 2008, and joined The Packer in 1996. Greg is responsible for all The Packer’s content and audience engagement for print, digital and live events.


Dr. Bhimu Patil
Dr. Bhimu Patil Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Center, Texas A&M University
Dr. Bhimu Patil is the Professor and Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, Texas A&M University. He is global leader in “Foods for Health” and research and education activities include improve human health through consumption of fruits and vegetables.


Patrick Sanders
Patrick Sanders Key Account Manager, SST Software
Patrick serves as the Key Account Manager for SST Software, which entails consulting with large ag service provider companies to bring custom precision ag software solutions to market. He regularly works on the family farm in Central Illinois as the technology specialist tasked with making decisions on GPS, monitors, software and custom prescriptions. Patrick graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Technical Systems Management.

Establishing and Monitoring Best Practices for Social Responsibility

2:00 pm – 2:55 pm (Full Session)
Salon A, 4th Floor (Hilton)

Social responsibility is a current corporate and consumer buzz word with a variety of expectations and misconceptions. In theory, social responsibility is the corporate obligation to balance the interests of the company with the welfare of the society in which it operates. Hear from grower-shippers on how they made social responsibility a key part of their business and corporate culture, and then learn the importance of a systemized approach that includes transparency and even third party metrics.


Jeff Oberman
Jeff Oberman Vice President of Trade Relations, United Fresh Produce Association
Jeff began his career at United as the Exposition Sales and Service Manager. In 2012, Oberman began service as the staff lead for retail and foodservice customers and prior to that, he served as the head of the Fresh-Cut Processor Board which addresses key issues such as: new product innovation and development, consumer perception, ‘go to market’ strategies and the impact of government regulatory actions that face these industry sectors.


Juan Jose Ley
Juan Jose Ley General Manager, Del Campo Y Asocidos
Juan Jose Ley manages over 1,500 acres of open field, hothouse and greenhouse production. He is responsible for successfully establishing the latest state-of-the-art greenhouse facility in Jalisco, Mexico where production of hydroponic tomatoes, specialty tomatoes and bell peppers are grown year round. He has been a critical factor in ensuring all operations facilities are SQF 7 compliant as well as spearheading the social responsibility initiatives for the company.


Marion Tabard
Marion Tabard Marketing Director, Turbana
In 1999, Marion Tabard started as the Marketing Manager for Turbana, developing and managing all aspects of advertising, promotions, and sales support. In 2014, Tabard received The Produce Business 40 Under 40 award, one of the most prestigious honors in the produce industry. The Griffin Report of Food Marketing named Tabard a Woman of Influence in the Food Industry.


Robert L. Garfield
Robert L. Garfield Senior VP, SQFI, Food Marketing Institute
Robert is currently the senior vice president, Food Marketing Institute responsible for managing the Safe Quality Food Institute. He spent ten years in the food industry as a plant and production manager. He worked for United Vintners, a major bottler of California wines, and then for Dairylea, Inc. and Richfood, Inc., both processors of fluid milk and juice products. For 23 years Robert represented the food industry to regulatory agencies detailing the scientific and technical interests of frozen food and dairy manufacturers.

Virtual Farm Tours

We’re bringing the farm to you! Explore as technology brings you live to the field to have the chance to see and speak in real-time with the growers.


J&D Produce featuring Onions
11:00 pm – 11:50 am
Room 400-402 (Hilton)

J&D Produce has been consistently providing its customers with the highest level of quality and service for over 30 years. The company has been a leader in the industry, from proper farm land management and seed selection to food safety and innovative ideas. J&D’s products are marketed under the Little Bear® brand which has become synonymous with premium quality, larger bunches and longer shelf life.

During the tour, J&D will be showcasing their premier product – Little Bear® HoneySweet ® Onions; which is now being grown in five regions in order to provide a year round supply. The HoneySweet Onion, like all of J&D’s products, is grown, harvested and packed under strict protocols and supervision of the company to ensure with consistent quality.



Frontera Produce featuring Cabbage
3:00 pm – 3:50 pm
Room 400-402 (Hilton)

Headquartered in Edinburg, TX, Frontera Produce takes pride in making a difference throughout the world – whether it’s by providing healthy ingredients for meals and snacks, or by supporting local communities where they do business.

Since being founded in 1993, they have become a progressive leader in the fresh produce industry focusing on changing the needs of their customer base. They grow fruits and vegetables throughout the US, Central and South America, allowing them to deliver fresh products throughout the year. During the tour, Frontera will be showcasing their cabbage, a year-round product that is grown in both the green and red varieties in Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.