Q&A with Meg Major
Welcome to Endcap, Cathy, and congrats
on another fabulous Fresh Summit, which
drew nearly 20,000 to New Orleans. During
your keynote, you said that fruits, vegetables and floral connect the industry and
consumers in ways that other products
cannot. Please elaborate.
Cathy Burns: Thanks for the kind words,
Meg. Glad you could join us for our annual
Fresh Summit event! Fresh produce and floral bring flavor, health, happiness, fragrance
and joy into consumers’ lives. We provide
an unmatched experience with every taste,
aroma and scent. Produce and floral are typically the first department a shopper sees as
they enter the store, and we set the stage for
their retail experience.
Another high point of Fresh Summit was
PMA’s new vision “to grow a healthier
world.” What does that ambitious goal
look like in a “perfect world” scenario?
Yes, we introduced our new vision: bringing
the global produce and floral communities
together to grow a healthier world. We know
eating fruits and vegetables and enjoying floral products lead us to healthier and happier
lives. That’s a foundational truth we never
shy away from. The word “healthier” is much
broader. It’s the health of the world we live in,
the health of our industry and our businesses.
It’s about growth and success, connecting
members with ideas and insights and others
in our community to grow their businesses
and help our industry flourish.
After joining PMA in 2013 after 30 years on
the retail side, including senior-level positions at Hannaford Bros. and Food Lion,
what is most gratifying about your second
act as an association executive?
I’d say connecting with the incredible thought
leaders in this industry from around the world
and across the supply chain, and seeing their
passion for growing demand for produce and
floral. Also, I get up every morning with the
opportunity to influence an industry on a
topic that is noble (increasing healthful eating and living across the globe). Lastly, I’m
blessed with a great team that is driven to
make our members’ opportunities bigger and
their challenges smaller by staying current on
industry trends and enabling innovation.
Your passion for fresh produce and floral
is admirably contagious. But what else are
you passionate about in your personal life?
I love being a mom, wife and daughter. Any
time with family is a gift. Outside of PMA, I
am completely invested in bringing the ovarian cancer awareness and outreach program
(borne out of my daughter Brittany’s passing
in 2016) to as many young women on university and college campuses across the United
States. We are on a mission to educate 1 million women and save at least one woman’s
life through early detection.
Apologies for the “corny” question, but I
feel compelled to ask: If you were a vegetable, what would you be, and why?
That would probably change day to day.
Today, with a fall chill in the air and the
approaching holiday season, I think I’d
choose sweet potato. It’s central to the
gathering of community, whether that’s
family, friends or our industry, and that’s a
place where I thrive. And it’s very versatile—
it can be used in countless ways, and I hope
I fully share my gifts with each of those
Cathy Burns is CEO of the
Produce Marketing Association,
which represents companies from
every segment of the global fresh
produce and floral supply.
Name one company outside the
food industry that you admire, and
tell us in one sentence why.
Apple: steadfast commitment to vision
and mission, focus on innovation,
investment in talent and consistently
[producing] a quality product. Love my
Who was your best friend growing
up? Are you still friends with them?
Thanks to technology, I have stayed
in touch with most of my childhood
girlfriends. Although we are spread all
over the country, we are experiencing
our children growing up together.
Have you ever eaten an insect
on purpose? If so, would you
recommend it to others?
Actually, yes. I ate a fried scorpion
on a stick in Beijing. Just because
something gives us pause doesn’t mean
we shouldn’t lean in and go for new
experiences. That philosophy has led to
some great experiences in my life. I L