OPMA Honours Award Winners at Annual Gala

31st Annual OPMA Gala shines a light on the Ontario Produce

Industry’s Brightest and Best

Toronto, ON – November 18, 2022 – The Ontario produce industry’s hardworking individuals were honoured on Friday night at the Ontario Produce Marketing Association’s (OPMA) 31st Annual Gala and Awards Ceremony. The OPMA annual awards are presented to individuals or organizations whose efforts have made a significant impact on the Ontario produce industry. Over two hundred people from across the industry gathered in person for the first time in two years at the Blue Mountain Village Conference Centre including the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Honourable Lisa Thompson.

The OPMA Fresh Award, presented to an individual who demonstrates a fervent determination to improve the quality, distribution or consumption of fruits and vegetables marketed within or outside of Ontario during 2022, was awarded to Gord Watson, from Sobeys for his dedication to innovation and sustainability. Gord is committed to increasing produce consumption by providing customers with everyday value and enticing promotional opportunities.

The Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award recognizes individuals who work tirelessly to improve the consumption of fruits and vegetables through innovation and hard work. The 2022 award went to Jane Ryno from Nature Fresh Farms for her dedication to mentoring the next generation and spearheading marketing initiatives at the organizations she’s worked with. Jane is proactively trying to find the next best innovation and is a strong advocate for 100% recyclable packaging.

The OPMA Outstanding Achievement Award, 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 marketed within or outside the province of Ontario, was awarded to the Berry Growers of Ontario. The organization has worked tirelessly to improve the growing and marketing of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in Ontario. BGO has an active online presence to ensure that consumers are aware of the year-long availability of Ontario berries.

Minister Lisa Thompson extended her thanks and congratulations to the winners, “Congratulations to all of the award recipients this year. I appreciate your hard work and dedication in marketing nutritious Ontario produce! 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.”

The Produce Hero award, presented to a group of individuals who embody the passion of the produce industry in their everyday work was awarded to seven individuals and companies: Vince Filangeri from Mastronardi Produce, Chris Veillon from Pure Flavor, Jody Mott from the Holland Marsh Grower’s Association, Madison Hopper from Equifruit, Michael Wexler from Oppy, Stephanie Myles from Nature Fresh Farms and the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario.

Lastly, the OPMA Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to an individual who has dedicated many years of their lives to improving the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, was awarded Paul Mastronardi from Mastronardi Produce for his lifelong commitment to shaping and innovating the produce industry. Paul is a powerful and influential voice, demonstrating his leadership on a global level as a key figure in trade negotiations and economic policy. A strong leader, Paul’s company celebrated their 13th year in a row as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.

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.