Jeff_Murray

Senior Director, Key Account Sales (Fresh Cut) NorthAmerica
Del Monte Fresh Produce: Coral Gables, FL

Years in Produce:

Age: 39

Personal Information:

Married, One daughter

Hobbies: Spending time outdoors; golf; youth travel soccer coach

Motto in life: Work hard, have fun, and love what you do.

Work History: Murray started his produce journey at 18 as a produce clerk at Martin’s Food Stores in Frederick, MD. He worked his way up to produce manager and eventually assistant store manager during a short six-year retail career. After graduating from Hood College in Frederick in 2002, he joined Del Monte Fresh Produce as a field merchandiser working from a Maryland location. After a year and a half, he moved into an account manager role for the company’s Baltimore fresh cut facility and has remained in its fresh cut division since. In 2013, he became senior director of fresh cut, in Jessup, MD, where he now works with all Del Monte’s facilities and many of its top customers to continue the growth of the fresh-cut category through innovation, merchandising, marketing, and category management. His “can-do” attitude and ability to see potential with new markets is credited with allowing him to continuously move through the ranks, strengthen the company’s footprint in the c-store business, bring its fresh vending program to the market, and lead Del Monte to be awarded “Produce Vendor of the Year” by several major retailers.

Questions & Answers:

Q: How did you begin working in produce?

I began working as a produce clerk at 18 and have been in the produce industry ever since. There is something about it that is just in your blood.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?

Relationships. This business is built heavily on building relationships as well as trust. Early on in my career, I had to work to earn the trust of customers.

Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?

Being part of the early stages of fresh-cut fruit processing and being an integral part of building the business to where it is today.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?

Be patient in your career growth and learn as much as you possibly can. Start building as many relationships as you can.

Q: What do you think the industry can do to promote more produce consumption?

We continue to see a tremendous growth in areas outside of our traditional outlets. The industry needs to continue its push into new business sectors as well as devote resources in these new areas. We are seeing fresh produce and value-added products expanding in universities, schools, business dining and other areas outside our traditional outlets.

Q: What is the most critical “hot button” issue facing the industry in the next decade?

Something that is a hot button issue for the industry and will continue to be through the next decade is working through the new regulations that continue to affect our day-to-day businesses. Regulations are constantly being added, as well as modified, and a tremendous amount of our resources are being used in making sure all regulations are being followed. As fresh produce expands into more business sectors such as convenience stores, micro-markets, meal kits, etc., more and more resources will be needed to assure regulations for each sector are being followed.

Q: How has the industry changed in your tenure?

It is amazing to see where the industry has gone. Every year it seems more and more produce is being sold/packaged in a value-added form.