Archive for the 'MCS Ambassadors' Category


First meeting of Ambassadors

Ambassadors (l) John Pandol, Brian LaForest, Gale Prince, Martin Ley, with counsel "Kip" Martin, meet in Nogales

The first meeting of our newly-formed group of U.S.-based MCS Ambassadors took place on a relevant historical day.  It was the same day Mexico President Calderon was visiting the White House… 

Our small group, however, did not include diplomats or politicians.  Rather, it consisted of produce industry experts committed to helping us communicate the MSQ message:  our own Ambassadors  (Read more about them on our April 1 post, below).  This group may be small in size, but certainly not in thinking! 

In a three-hour session held at the beautiful headquarters of Del Campo (Ley Group) in Nogales,  AZ, Gale Prince (former food safety director at The Kroger Cos., Martin Ley (Del Campo), John Pandol (Pandol Bros.), and Brian LaForest (Superior), exchanged ideas and engaged in lively discussion.    Ambassador Enrique Diaz (Diazteca) unfortunately could not join us due to pressing business. 

Also present was Robert (Kip) Martin, an attorney with focus on agricultural law.  His clients include several of the more than 100 produce importers/distributors on the Nogales border.  Mr. Martin’s insight and guidance on what an advisory board can or cannot do under U.S. antitrust laws was invaluable, as well as his ability to keep the group on-point during discussions. 

Discussions ranged from the status of the pending  U.S. food safety legislation to the challenges of communicating the superior Mexico food safety standards to the North American marketplace…and much in between.   Specific program recommendations are being drafted now for submission to MSQ staff for review. 

As our gracious host, Ambassador Ley, put it:  “Mexico has arguably the most stringent food safety guidelines in the world.  Problem is, few know this.  By being involved in work groups such as this, we can share this information to the ultimate benefit of the consumer.” 

It is exactly the willingness of this group to help with this outreach — to influence others into understanding the program and its benefits —  that is of so much value to us.   These industry leaders are very busy running their companies, so their time is valuable.  

We thank each and every one for their dedication to MSQ/MCS! 

(Important note:  The MCS Ambassadors are planning to meet again in late summer.  Please let us know if you have any issue of specific interest to your operations you wish them to discuss and advise on. ) 


Research center liaison benefits MSQ

Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli of the CPS

 One of the key initiatives for our current U.S. program is affiliation with key food safety industry groups.   In fact, that was a key recommendation from our MCS Ambassadors at our last meeting in May (see post below).   

Premier among these groups is the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) at the University of California, Davis, CA.  Founded in 2006 after the California spinach outbreak, this non-profit sponsored by the Produce Marketing Assn. (PMA), with the support of a generous grant from Taylor Farms, is totally focused on the science arena.   In fact, this multi-agency collaboration (similar to MSQ) involving the University, the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture and others, does not concern itself with legislation or any other political activity.  

Next week the group is hosting its annual conference slated to feature several industry leaders presenting the latest produce safety research, with more than 250 professionals expected to attend (MSQ is a sponsor.  Read more about this event at Registration is still open as of this writing.)  

In an interview with Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director for the CPS the past three years, she explained:  “We are not a political organization.  Our priority is supporting much-needed research in food safety by partnering with key grower organizations and other experts.”   

In fact, Ms. Fenaroli — who  has extensive commodity experience after heading the California Wheat Commission for over 20 years — says one of their key goals is building an extensive database of global food safety personnel:  one that association participants and supporters can access to their benefit.   

The organization is international in scope, and is now currently funding crop research in Israel. . .and hopes to do projects in Mexico soon.  Ms. Fenaroli sees MSQ support and participation with them as a win-win, noting:  

 “We’re pleased MSQ is interested in associating with us.  As major producers and exporters, Mexican growers interested in researching subjects where there is gap in knowledge are invited to meet with us and request a custom project.”  

MSQ is now a Gold Level member/sponsor of the PMA and plans to be increasingly involved in these types of organizations and activities.  Clearly, these liaisons not only help spread our message, but also ensure our certified grower members and retailer partners have access to the best minds in food safety today.


Masters of MCS Awards a success

MSQ's F. Rubio (left) and D. Rojas w/ Fresh Produce Assn.'s Georgina Felix tour vineyards in Sonora.

Our hard-working staffers, Diana Rojas and Faride Rubio, have just returned from a tour of beautiful, MSQ-certified vineyards in Sonora, where they also  presented the 2010 Masters of MCS Awards.

The second year of this awards program was even better received than the first!  Word has gotten around that it provides good exposure for our industry, and recipients have been proud to share the fact that they have been recognized by the Mexico Government and MSQ  in this manner.  Please also check out the good publicity about this event in The Packer, Perishable News and other leading produce industry trades.

The dinner event this year was held at the lovely Vinas De La Costa grape ranch near the Sea of Cortez at sunset, with around 90 in attendance.  Also present, wearing their Ambassador pins, were new MSQ Ambassadors John Pandol (Pandol Bros) and Brian LaForest (Superior).

Here are the 2010 U.S. Masters of MCS award recipients, in no particular order:

CHARLIE’S PRODUCE, Seattle, WA, Master Wholesaler
SUN FED, Nogales, AZ, Master Distributor
MAS MELONS & GRAPES, Nogales, AZ, Master Distributor
SPARTAN FOODS, Grand Rapids, MI, Master Retailer
SUPERVALU, Eden Prairie, MN, Master Retailer/Wholesaler.
Again, our heartfelt congratulations to these award recipients who, despite the most challenging economy in memory, continue to support — and in many cases expand — their procurement and promotion of produce from Mexico.
Be sure to check back soon for future posts where we highlight these recipients and their companies!

Industry Leader joins us

We are extremely pleased and privileged to have a leader in global food safety among the MCS Ambassadors (industry members who serve on the Mexico Calidad Suprema’s U.S. Advisory Board).

A few months ago we introduced this gentleman to our program, and he saw its merits… We saw this as a critical benchmark, because Mr. Gale Prince just happens to have headed the food safety program at The Kroger Cos., the #1 supermarket chain in the U.S. 

This is a respected professional with over 40 years experience in food safety in food manufacturing and retail operations.  Considered a pioneer in the food safety industry,  Mr. Prince started his career in 1967 at the Jewel Companies (Chicago).  Also widely known for his involvement in industry and regulatory activities, Mr. Prince has been called “The Dean” of product recalls after having managed several thousand in his career.  

His knowledge of ensuring compliance with food safety regulatory requirements will be of critical benefit as MSQ expands and refines its programs, as well as prepares for pending U.S. food safety legislation (you can read more about him at

Mr. Prince joins other respected industry leaders as MCS Ambassador serving on our Advisory Board during 2010.  He will represent the interests of retailers.  Other MCS Ambassadors representing specific segments or areas, are:

Brian LaForest, Superior Sales, Michigan, representing wholesalers

Martin Ley, Del Campo, representing Arizona importers/distributors

Enrique Diaz, Diazteca, representing Texas importers/distributors

John Pandol, Pandol Bros., representing California importers/distributors

As you can imagine, these industry leaders — working together — will be invaluable to our program, and we thank them for serving!

The MCS Ambassadors will be formally welcomed by MSQ General Manager Liz Quintero at the upcoming Sonora Summit, Hermosillo, Mexico, April 14-15.  

They will also be individually profiled on this site, so please check back soon.   Also look for articles and mentions in key produce industry journals about the Ambassadors and their activities.

(For information about attending the Sonora Summit, please contact the Sonora Grape Assn. (AALPUM) via its U.S. phone # 520-829-4295, or e-mail:



‘Masters’ program rewards receivers

Our growers help with MSQ education during the 09 Sonora Summit tours (I’m on the far right.)

It is difficult to believe that it has almost been one year to the month when we were last in Mexico’s premier grape growing region in Sonora, with our tour of grower operations by U.S. distributors and retailers. 

Well, next month to the date, in fact, (April 15) we repeat this popular event (we counted a caravan of 25+ cars last year), followed by a typical Sonora sunset carne asada (barbecue) at one of the beautiful ranches.  (We work hard, but have fun also!)
The next day are presentations and seminars as part of the Sonora Grape Summit, an event that typically means a packed house.   The enlightening speeches address market trends and the upcoming crop update, as well as special industry member recognitions.
This year, we are also going to be presenting our Masters of MCS Awards there to the North American produce receivers and retailers who have demonstrated excellence in procurement and promotion of produce from Mexico. (Last season, we honored Safeway, and distributors The Giumarra Cos., Farmer’s Best and Bay Area Produce.)
 We are advising the newly-selected candidates right now…and perhaps YOU will be selected to receive this award from the government of Mexico and from our agency!  Even if you are not selected this season, this is a very informative program about the state of the industry you should attend.
For more information on this event and how you can participate, please call 1-877-281-9305, or e-mail
Warm saludos!

Manager’s Welcome Message

Dear Importers & Retail Partners:

We are very pleased to launch yet another season of programs and services for U.S. and Canadian produce receivers! 

This year, we are continuing with some of our previous seasons’ successes, such as our Masters of MCS program.  It awards retail partners who have excelled in procurement and promotion of Mexican produce.  Last season, Safeway, Inc. was the proud retailer recipient, as were three key U.S. importer/distributors.  Perhaps this year it will be YOU?!

We are also pleased to form our brand new MCS Ambassadors program:  a unique opportunity for companies like you to join other industry leaders in an advisory board capacity.  This ensures that we have your valuable input about our programs and services.  With the pending U.S. Food Safety legislation, there has never been a better time for this group, and we do hope you will join us.

We also continue with our effort to meet with food safety personnel in your organizations.  This provides yet another opportunity for your valuable input for our programs.  Importantly, we will keep you apprised of updates about our Certification programs that affect your Mexico imports.   

Opportunities to promote our Seal of Excellence in-store will also be provided to a select group of retailers.  This is your chance to assure consumers that your produce is top quality and meets the most stringent import requirements.

We continue to be be represented at major trade shows and expos in North America and around the world, and want to welcome you to visit our booths wherever we may be.  Also, don’t forget to check this site frequently for important program updates and import tips.

Meantime, if you need any immediate assistance, please contact our U.S. agency directly toll-free at 1-877-281-9305.  Their representatives will plan a visit to personally explain our program to you and your associates.

All the best for the season, and warm “saludos” from Mexico City!

Liz Quintero,  General Manager


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