In The News

The Packer presents Produce Marketer for All Seasons award to Steve and Tom Church

ORLANDO, Fla. — Greg Johnson, editor of The Packer, named Steve and Tom Church as Produce Marketers for All Seasons at Fresh Summit 2016.

"Hopefully you all know the contributions Church Brothers has (made), especially in foodservice, and now they’re getting more into retail and organic, and it’s a company that has inspired many people in the produce industry," Johnson said at the award ceremony, "and we’re very proud to give this award to Steve and Tom this year.”

Tom, chairman of Salinas, Calif.-based Church Brothers Farms, was not able to attend the expo, so Steve, CEO of the company, accepted the award of behalf of both of them.

“It’s quite an honor to be chosen by The Packer," Steve said, "and to whoever the committee was that nominated us and chose us, thank you. I always said that Tom probably should have got this award 20 years ago, but he got it, and I’ll take it.”

Tom's son Jeff, one of the partners in Church Brothers Farms, spoke on his father's behalf.

“I think my dad would say it’s obviously an honor to get this award," Jeff said. "I think that he would first and foremost say that it’s a team effort and he never wants to accept individual accolades, and I think he’d be happy for the team that we did this and got him to this point.

"I think he’s really proud of this, and I know he’s excited about it and bummed he couldn’t be here," Jeff said.

Steve noted that the produce business, despite its difficulties, is one he plans to continue to embrace in years to come.

“It’s a rush that you get – it’s something new every day," Steve said. "Challenges, there’s a lot of challenges in the business, with inflation that’s happening in California, both labor and water and land, the costs are going up and we just have to innovate as much as we can to keep costs down and keep going so we can compete in this business, because it’s a challenging business, but I love it.”

Vision, innovation and a willingness to take risks were among the attributes that won Tom and Steve the award this year. For more on their careers, see an earlier story from The Packer's Mike Hornick.

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