2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Pedro Balderrama

Age: 34

Sales Representative
Delta Fresh Sales
Nogales, AZ

Hometown: Rio Rico, AZ
Hobbies: Team roping, Off-roading, Grilling
Family/Community: Married, 2 children
Motto in life: The sun shines on everyone, we all have the opportunity to be better every day as long as you’re willing to put in the work.

Balderrama was born and raised in Nogales, AZ, and started working in produce repack for a few hours after school when he was 14. He attended Arizona State University and earned a degree in global agribusiness. Upon graduation in 2013, he took his first produce sales job in Los Angeles, CA, at Moonland Produce, where he helped develop a dragon fruit program. After about one year, he left the produce industry to pursue another career path and eventually returned to Nogales to work for a customs brokerage firm.

In 2015, he realized he needed to return to produce and took a job at at SunFed Produce as a marketing coordinator where he was responsible for new packaging development, trade show coordination and social media. After three years in this position, he was given the opportunity to start as a sales representative for SunFed and managed multiple international accounts, and also served as category manager for all organics and hothouse commodities.

In July 2022, he accepted a sales position with Delta Fresh, where he is now responsible for managing national accounts and managing dry veg commodities. He has become the main representative for Delta Fresh at trade shows. Balderrama was a 2023 participant in IFPA’s Emerging Leaders program.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
I wish I knew patience. As a young and ambitious individual, you sometimes want to grow too fast and/or think you have it all figured out. I wish I would have had more patience and really taken in what every position had to offer.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
Early on, I felt my age was a determining factor of my success. I think there are a lot of older and experienced individuals who tend to not have the same respect for a young person in the industry. However, most of these seasoned veterans shaped me into the person I am now.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?
If the consumer was better informed about how hard and costly it is to produce a single fruit or vegetable, I think they would be open to less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables. Therefore, the farmer would reduce waste and have lower costs of production. These savings would be an advantage for the consumer and increase consumption.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?
Since COVID, the industry has changed more with respect to how we communicate. A lot of people in the industry now prefer a video call as opposed to meeting in person, or a text, rather than a five-minute phone call to catch up. While I believe technology is the future of this industry, it would be nice to have the face-to-face communication back.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
I can’t say that there is one particular accomplishment I’m most proud of. I am proud to be a hard-working individual in this industry that ultimately feeds the world.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
Be patient with yourself. Analyze every aspect of the business, not just those parts that affect or benefit you. Seeking self-benefit will lead you to make errors at some point. Most importantly, work hard — as hard as you can (it does not go unnoticed).