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"Starry, starry affair to remember!"

Canada: OPMA Gala deemed success

The OPMA (Ontario Produce Marketing Association) Gala was once again the "produce event of the year", replete with past produce industry stars, custom cocktails, a three star Michelin meal, our deserving produce industry Oscar winners for 2015, hosted by the produce industry’s own Master of Ceremonies, Joe Pillitteri and all witnessed by elegantly attired attendees in the most majestic of venues – the Liberty Grand! With great anticipation the following award winners were recognized by their peers for the following achievements.

The OPMA Fresh Award was presented to a very deserving young man under forty, Julian Sarraino, who, according to the association, "demonstrated an ability to be innovative, passionate and dedicated towards the produce industry in the past year, by consistently exhibiting a fervent determination to improve the quality, distribution and consumption of fruit and vegetables in Ontario. Julian is a calm, confident and gracious produce industry leader whose nature is rooted in the spirit of partnership and is respected by produce professionals throughout the entire value chain."

The OPMA Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Wonderful sales™, for their "efforts to support the food retail environment with innovative displays, great point of sale materials, eye catching packaging, and excellent value-add for the consumer. In addition to their efforts to help grow categories in-store, the hard work of their entire merchandising team led by Chris Cockle, Vice President of Wonderful sales™ in Canada, has demonstrated their commitment to the Ontario and Canadian produce marketplace."

Mike Venton.

The OPMA Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year was bestowed upon the Senior VP for No Frills and Produce Procurement, Mike Venton, for demonstrating leadership regarding the re-engineering of how Loblaw Companies viewed and managed produce. The “Grown Close To Home” marketing program was developed based on his initiative and is still in place today celebrating Loblaw’s commitment to “Local Growers”.

The DRC [Dispute Resolution Corporation] honoured the OPMA’s very own Ian MacKenzie for his contribution to the formation of the DRC with his input from his years of historical accuracy, his policy insights, direction and vision, as well as his continued support lending his time and talents to the success of the DRC.

Ian MacKenzie accepting his lifetime achievement award from Fred Webber from the DRC.

The OPMA Lifetime Achievement Award honoured, Ian MacKenzie, the OPMA whose "plus 40 years of dedication to the produce industry is unmatched and demonstrated by the endless hours, tremendous energy and enthusiasm put forth to assist members of the entire supply chain solve issues and problems for the betterment of the Canadian produce industry and in turn, the consuming public. The industry could always count on Ian to be there, offering his experience and expertise. He has played a key role in building the produce industry into a true value-chain environment."

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