Working Together

How grateful we all must feel for being able to gather at this event – with moods of eagerness and confidence for a positive outcome. It is obvious to say overcoming the challenges of the pandemic have been difficult. And forthrightly I will disclose, these past few weeks since Jim Prevor’s November 7th passing have been excruciatingly difficult. But we all choose to triumph and go forth, and that’s the spirit of The New York Produce Show.

There’s an underlying theme accompanying the obvious focus on Increasing Produce Consumption, and the one-word description is SYNERGY. Instead of divisive actions, which currently seems prevalent in our world, during the next few days here in New York City — and when you return to your respective places of business — I implore you to think of the opposite of divisive – think “unifying.”

But really, synergy is more than the definition of unifying – it’s from the Greek term sin-ergo, which means to work together. Richard Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, inventor, designer, philosopher and futurist, said, “Synergy describes a mutually supportive atmosphere of trust, where each individual element works toward its own goals, and where the goals may be quite varied, nevertheless, because all elements of a synergetic system support one another, they also support the whole.” 

When discussing ideas for this 13th New York Produce Show and Conference, Jim Prevor and I had lengthy conversations about themes and focus points for the commerce and the anticipation of business conducted during the show and surrounding events. Our most enthusiastic agreement was to continue initiating improvement in the quest to boost greater consumption of produce. We’ve led with this win-win approach through our magazine, Produce Business, for the past 38 years, as our articles have focused on marketing, merchandising, management, and procurement aspects of the buying community.

Jim and I also discussed the incredible energy of the show and how the environment of this world-class event in a world-class city has authentically evolved into something that matched his imagination when we first envisioned this event nearly 20 years ago. The New York Produce Show provides an atmosphere of openness, where companies and people with differences and vulnerabilities heartily gather to work together.

With a focus on Synergy, Jim and I hoped for all layers and levels of industry members to recognize their own value of participation in the produce industry and have a genuine understanding how their part helps achieve the vision.

While considering the goal of greater produce consumption, and visualizing the synergetic process, we could ponder what would happen if the seed company didn’t put everything it had into providing the best seeds for growing a produce item. Jump ahead a few steps, after all the back-breaking work endured during typical harvesting, what would happen if trucking companies didn’t show up to transport the produce? How many distributors, retailers and foodservice operators, to name a few, would scream when there are no items to sell to shoppers or diners? How many consumers will go hungry with no produce to purchase?

Sure, we skipped several levels of participation in this mere example, but every layer has value. We all do our part to make it happen. From the seed company tweaking every positive trait to ensure viable growth, to the supermarket nutritionist explaining the health benefits of produce consumption, we are an extensive group made of many layers – all equally valuable in the mission.

How is your organization cooperating and participating to improve its role in the industry? Are you tapping technology more efficiently? Is your company reaching out for additional sustainable business or farming practices? Are you implementing the educational messages developed for shoppers about the health values of eating more produce? With a dedicated effort toward synergy, the business environment becomes abundant with positive correlation. On an industry level, we believe combined efforts from all layers of participants will heighten the swiftness of actions and create the necessary momentum to support and achieve the desired goals.

When you think about it, this New York Produce Show is a microcosm for synergy. This event provides a trusted place of communication where ideas are exchanged and the thirst for additional information is quenched. Sometimes ideas and solutions are presented and learned in the most surprising ways – maybe at the opening night reception, or during one of our co-located events, on the show floor, or perhaps while riding a bus to or from the Javits Center or to a wholesale market or retail establishment within an industry tour.

The point is… we all have parts to play, and we’ve made the effort to gather in New York City at this time of year when so many of us could bow out for being too busy. Let’s keep the momentum of the past 12 shows going and capitalize on the collective good – on the value of our many parts contributing and achieving.

Henry Ford is credited with saying, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Thank you for choosing to be here, especially this year as we host with heavy but hopeful hearts. Beyond prosperity, this respected event — our New York Produce Show — has offered participants opportunities of laughter and learning, moments of profound discovery, and a returning point where we celebrate memories made while seeking inspiration.

This is the place, and this is our time to continue to work together to collaborate with our respective energies and talents. This is the place to continue promoting greater produce consumption. Let’s work together!