OPMA Highlights Excellence in Ontario Produce Industry at 2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony

Toronto, ON – December 3, 2021 – The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) recognized excellence in the Ontario produce industry at its Virtual Awards Ceremony last night. The OPMA presented four premier Ontario produce industry awards and for the first time, recognized Produce Heroes at the awards ceremony.

The Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award highlights individuals who work tirelessly to improve the consumption of fresh produce through innovation and hard work. The 2021 award went to Kim Chackal from Equifruit who has made strides in helping consumers to digest the topic of Fairtrade, through the rebranding of Equifruit. She was also instrumental in Equifruit’s partnership with Longo Brothers Fruit Markets to launch the first 100% Fairtrade banana program in North America. Kim’s efforts have helped to grow market share for Fairtrade bananas by 62% in 2021.

The OPMA Fresh Award is presented to a young individual in the produce industry that has demonstrated passion, spirit and dedication towards the industry. This year’s recipient of the Fresh Award is Michael Miranda from Farm Boy. He is an up-and-coming leader in the produce industry. Michael is currently the Chair of the OPMA’s Young Professionals Network and was recently promoted to Category Manager at Farm Boy.

The OPMA Outstanding Achievement Award is presented to an individual or organization that has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the produce industry through their efforts to improve the quality and distribution of fruits and vegetables. The 2021 award was presented to Mimmo Franzone from Longo Brothers Fruit Markets. He played a significant role in converting Longo’s organic banana offering to organic-Fairtrade in May 2021. Mimmo has established Longo’s as a leader in sustainability through its partnership with Equifruit and continues to drive initiatives that create positive change.

The OPMA Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has dedicated many years to improving the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ray Wowryk was honoured with this year’s award, as he is a leader not only within Nature Fresh Farms but across the produce industry. Having been a part of the industry over the past 40 years, Ray has worked in every level of produce from warehouse-labour to sales and procurement, to fresh imports and exports. Ray is a force in the industry, sharing his knowledge and experiences while mentoring young individuals through programs like Passion for Produce.

The OPMA also introduced a new category ‘Produce Hero’ at this year’s ceremony. “We felt it was important to recognize some of the many people who do that little bit extra everyday. They may not be senior managers or CEOs, but they are vital to our industry. It’s great to be able to let everyone know what a great job these people do everyday,” explained Steve Dimen, OPMA Chair.

The Produce Heroes recognized at the awards ceremony for making OPMA’s Christmas Hamper donations possible were Irene Cloherty and Derek Comfort from Gambles Transport Team; Quinton Woods from Gwillimdale Farms; and Daniel Spiegelman. Produce Heroes from across the industry also recognized were Rita Galardo from North American Produce Buyers; Tony Deodato & Sons; Amber Reinhart from Nature Fresh Farms; Nick Van Berlo from Berlo’s Best; and The Wonderful Merchandising Team.

“The OPMA continues to host this prestigious event to acknowledge individuals and companies across the produce industry who have persevered and excelled despite the challenges. Congratulations to all the award winners and nominees. We are happy to be able to celebrate another successful year as an industry,” said Michelle Broom, OPMA President.

Part proceeds from the event will be donated to Student Nutrition Ontario to bring fresh produce into schools across the province, as part of their meal and snack program.

About the Ontario Produce Marketing Association: The Ontario Produce Marketing Association is a member-funded, not for profit organization whose mission is to connect people and information from field to plate.


For more information contact:
Rochelle Roye
Marketing and Communications Manager, OPMA