Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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Ontario’s best and brightest represented at 2022 OPMA awards

November 22, 2022  By Fruit & Vegetable

On Nov. 18, the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) held their 31st annual gala and awards ceremony. More than 200 people gathered in the Blue Mountains, Ont., for the first in-person gala in two years.

Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Lisa Thompson, joined the awards ceremony virtually (due to inclement weather) to offer some remarks and congratulations to the OPMA and the night’s award winners.

“Congratulations to all of the award recipients this year. I appreciate your hard work and dedication in marketing nutritious Ontario produce,” Thompson said. “Ontarians are looking for and choosing fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here at home. Your marketing efforts are making a difference in creating a greater awareness of Ontario produce and are also driving a sense of pride in our provincial agri-food industry.”

Gordon Watson, national sourcing manager, value-added, with Sobeys, received the Fresh Award, which is given to a young individual or industry newcomer who has demonstrated innovation, passion, spirit and dedication towards the produce industry in the past year and consistently exhibits a fervent determination to improve the quality, distribution or consumption of fruit and vegetables marketed within or outside the province of Ontario. He was recognized for his dedication to innovation and sustainability.

Paul Mastronardi, president and CEO of Mastronardi Produce, was the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious award recognizes an individual that has demonstrated tireless efforts over many years to improve the quality and distribution of fruits and vegetables marketed within and outside Ontario through innovation, co-operation, and hard work.

“This award is an incredible honor for me and my family. I am sincerely humbled to be among the ranks of past recipients of this award, including my father Don,” Mastronardi said. “I was born into this industry and had the great fortune of learning from the legacy of three generations before me. I feel a great sense of pride and privilege to carry that on.”

The Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award went to Jane Rhyno, vice-president of marketing and category development with Nature Fresh Farms in Leamington, Ont. This award is given to an individual who has demonstrated untiring efforts on a regular basis to improve the quality, distribution or consumption of fruits and vegetables marketed within or outside the province of Ontario through innovation, cooperation and hard work. Rhyno’s dedication to mentoring the next generation and spearheading marketing initiatives at the organizations with whom she has worked netted her this award.

The Outstanding Achievement Award is given to an organization or individual retail store, wholesaler, grower, packer/shipper or corporation that has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the produce industry through their efforts to improve the quality and distribution of fruits and vegetables marketed within or outside the province of Ontario. For 2022, that was the Berry Growers of Ontario, thanks to their tireless efforts to improve the growing and marketing of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in Ontario. These efforts include their active online presence, which ensures consumers are aware of the year-round availability of Ontario berries.

And finally, 2022’s Produce Heroes – individuals or companies who work with dedication, embody the passion of the produce industry, and go above and beyond to help customers, colleagues or their company – include:

  • Vince Filangeri, senior director of sales and marketing for Mastronardi Produce;
  • Chris Veillon, chief marketing officer for Pure Flavor;
  • Jody Mott, executive director of the Holland Marsh Grower’s Association;
  • Madison Hopper, marketing manager for Equifruit;
  • Michael Wexler, senior sales representative for Oppy;
  • Stephanie Myles, Nature Fresh Farms; and
  • the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario.

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