2020 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Nadia Pasco

Age: 39
Chief Executive Officer
Santa Maria, CA

Pasco and Azzule play a crucial role in produce by assisting buyers in communicating expectations to suppliers and, in return, conveying supplier performance to buyers. She turns a series of complex tasks into easily reviewable results and seeks to make food safety transactions as transparent as possible throughout the supply chain. For the past 12 years, Azzule, under Pasco’s leadership, has facilitated accurate, open, and honest exchanges between nearly 10,000 buyers and sellers. She has served the chief executive of Azzule since the founding of the company in 2008. As chief executive she has overseen the expansion of the PrimusGFS audit to 21 countries, making it one of the most popular GFSI benchmarked certification programs in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, she spearheaded the development of the Azzule Supply Chain Program platform, a system for maintaining food safety documents (lab results, audits, insurance and sanitation records, etc.) that helps facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers. Currently, the Azzule platform hosts 18 major buyer sites for food retailers as diverse as Costco, Walmart, and H.E.B. and food service companies such as Sysco and C.H. Robinson.

Pasco began her career even before graduating with a B.S. in Information Systems Engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey, when she accepted a government position working as the chief of data entry and verification with the Mexican State of Sinaloa. Two years later, PrimusLabs offered her a position in her hometown of Culiacan, Mexico, as an information systems project manager. In that role, she managed the projects portfolio for PrimusLabs’ internal and external clients, directing the software developers’ group, setting up goals and objectives, and constantly tracking the status of various projects. She was in constant communication with customers to identify requirements and monitor their needs. At the same time, she began working on an MBA. In 2008, PrimusLabs decided to split off its data services division to incorporate as Azzule Systems, and Pasco was named chief executive of the new company and asked to relocate to PrimusLabs’ headquarters in Santa Maria, CA. Pasco is an active member of Produce Marketing Association’s Science and Technology Committee, Produce Marketing Association’s Blockchain Task Force, Global Food Safety Initiative Annual Conference stakeholder, Central Coast CEO Roundtable, Softec: The Central Coast Technology Alliance, and the Project Management Institute certification program.

Hobbies: Reading, Exercising, Traveling

Personal/Community: Married, 2 children, St. Louis de Montfort church.

Motto in life: “If you work hard, you can achieve any objectives you set for yourself.”

Q: What industry improvements would you like to see?
I would like to be able to continue developing aid for small and mid-size distributors, retailers and restaurants in establishing supply chain reviews that allow oversight while remaining operationally effective.

Q: What was the “aha” moment when you knew the produce industry was the best choice for you?
You mean, today? Yesterday? This week? Well… there have been a lot, but the events involving the coronavirus helped me to realize that retail distribution is a real priority, and also that produce is an essential need for people.

Q: What do you see as the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?
Benjamin Franklin once famous said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” That, unfortunately, seems to be the plight of the fresh produce industry. While fruits and vegetables have never been produced more safely, a single outbreak can tarnish the entire industry. Azzule sees its role as assisting the industry in an effort to regain and maintain the confidence of consumers in the safety of fresh produce.