The Council Connection March 2021


Southern Roots Speaker

Sarah Frey

Frey Farms is a Certified Woman Owned Business founded by Sarah Frey in 1992. Headquartered in Keenes, IL, Sarah and her four older brothers operate farms and facilities in seven states. Frey Farms distributes fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the country serving the nation’s top 25 retail chains. With a mission to end food waste in the fresh produce industry, the family makes natural food products and beverages from imperfect or “ugly fruit”. They produce a line of beverages and fresh juices under the Sarah’s Homegrown and Tsamma Watermelon Juice brands.

Sarah Frey has been described by the New York Times as “the Pumpkin Queen of America”. Sarah sells more pumpkins than any other producer in the United States. She is the author of the bestselling book The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life–and Saved an American Farm published by Random House in August of 2020. Sarah will serve as Co-Executive Producer of the upcoming ABC television series of The Growing Season based on her story.

Keynote Speaker

Duncan Wardle

As Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, Duncan and his team helped Imagineering, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and Disney Parks to innovate, creating magical new storylines and experiences for consumers around the globe.

As founder of iD8 & innov8 he now brings his extensive Disney experience to audiences around the world using a very unique approach to Design Thinking, that not only places the end user at the core of the creative thinking process, but also looks in new and usual places to uncover insights for innovation, helping people capture unlikely connections, leading to fresh thinking and disruptive ideas. Delivering a series of keynotes, workshops and ideation forums, his unique Design Thinking process helps companies embed a culture of innovation into everyone’s DNA.

Duncan is a multiple Ted X speaker and contributor to Fast Company Magazine. He teaches Master Classes at Yale, the University of North Carolina, Duke University and the University of Florida. In 2008 he received the American Citizen of Choice Award at the White House. In 2014 he was awarded an Hons. Doctorate from Edinburgh University in Scotland. He also holds the Duke of Edinburgh Award presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Educational Session I: It’s Not Personal…It’s Generational!

Patrick Kelly

Patrick Kelly is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and strategist in the produce/supply chain industry. For more than 15 years Patrick has been dedicated to growing supply chains for produce partners around the world becoming the Class of 2015’s, Young and Smart Leaders on the rise, Top 40 under 40 and A Young Entrepreneur making better deals for growers. He has dedicated his work to learning and leading all generations to work and thrive together.

Power of Produce 2021

Anne-Marie Roerink

Anne-Marie Roerink is a Principal at 210 Analytics, LLC — providing customized research and marketing strategies with a specialty in food retailing for clients such as the Food Marketing Institute, National Grocers Association, National Confectioners Association and many others. Through countless studies and presentations for audiences large and small, Anne-Marie has developed an excellent perspective on the changing nature of the shopper and the food retailing business. Anne-Marie offers a diverse and in-depth view on retailing financials, operations and shopper behavior, and how/why these issues are important to various organizations, today and in the future. Prior to founding 210 Analytics, Anne-Marie was the Head of Research for the Food Marketing Institute.

Rick Stein

Rick Stein joined FMI in 2014 and is responsible for developing a portfolio of services and activities to assist members in formulating and executing their fresh food strategies. These categories include everything from – dairy, frozen, meat, poultry, seafood, and produce to service departmentsdeli, bakery and fresh prepared meals and related solutions for take-out or in-store dining.

Prior to joining FMI, Rick spent 30 + years in a wide range of retail grocery merchandising and marketing responsibilities. Most recently Stein was the Vice President of retail Merchandising/Marketing execution for Safeway Stores, Inc. Previously he held both divisional and corporate responsibilities in his tenure at Safeway in retail/store operations, category management, sales, sourcing, strategy, and marketing/merchandising. He has experience in virtually every facet of the retail food business and helped lead Safeway to achieve operational excellence and increased market share and revenues.

Stein graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral and Social Sciences. He has earned continuing educations credits in marketing, merchandising and management, most recently with the Disney Leadership Institute. Rick serves on numerous nonprofit boards such as the Children’s Cancer Foundation and Easter Seals of DC/VA/MD.

Southern Exposure Exhibitor Toolkit

Through our valued partnership with AGS Expo Services, the following exhibitor information is now available via email as well as on our website:

  • Ancillary Services (Service Providers and Order Forms)
  • Booth Labor (Information and Order Forms)
  • Conference Information (Guidelines for Display, Fresh Produce Shipping Instructions, Fresh Produce Shipping Form)
  • Custom Furnishings (Furnishings Catalog and Order Forms)
  • Display Solutions (Creative Services for Exhibits)
  • Official Contractor (Event Information and Forms)
  • Shipping & Material Handling (Information and Order Forms)
  • Standard Furnishings (Catalog and Order Forms)

Hybrid Experience within the SEPC Virtual Garden

Our Southern Exposure Virtual Platform is set to launch within the SEPC Virtual Garden on March 10th!

Exhibitor Information

By now, exhibitors should have received more information via email regarding our Southern Exposure Virtual Platform, including important guides and details on how to easily set up their virtual booths, complete profiles, and network with attendees who cannot attend in person. The following resource guides will be available to ensure the success of the entire virtual setup process:

Virtual Retail/Foodservice Attendee Information

We understand that traveling across the galaxy is currently not an option for some of you, so to begin your mission, please register now as a Virtual Retail or Virtual Foodservice Attendee. Our virtual platform is now ready for you to create your virtual profile so that you will be able to successfully connect with our exhibitors.

Once you have accepted this mission, you will receive more information with important guides and details on how to easily complete your profile, network with exhibitors, and schedule appointments. You can expect to receive the below resource guides to navigate you through our virtual universe.

Southern Exposure Digital Toolkit

Use the graphics below to customize your company email signature or other social media graphics to show your support of Southern Exposure 2021! Right click on the images to download. They can also be accessed on our website using the link below.

Email signature
Linked In

Check out our FAQ section of Southern Exposure 2021 on our website. Learn how to:

  • view attendee list
  • modify your registration
  • add/edit sessions
  • substitute attendees
  • add/edit group members
  • use sponsor credits

We look forward to connecting with you at Southern Exposure!

Cultivating Ideas – Growing Relationships – Producing Results

Each year, the SEPC strives to curate an impactful series of industry programs and networking events for our members. The SEPC Virtual Garden is our newest platform through which we will continue to keep members abreast of the latest developments in produce—whether those are happening in the soil, in the cloud, or anywhere in between.

Through the SEPC Virtual Garden, we have begun planting the seeds from our founding pillars – Networking, Innovation, Community, and Education – so that our members will reap the benefits of harvesting quality experiences guaranteed to increase the value of their membership.

Join us in the garden for these current and upcoming SEPC Virtual Garden sessions:

Cooking in the Garden – Sponsor Chef Demos

SEPC University Educational Sessions

Produce Inspection Training

Southern Exposure 2021

In case you missed them, several of these sessions are available on demand!

The key to the success of our SEPC Virtual Garden is the community who tends it, and we are eager to serve alongside our SEPC family to see what we can grow together!


Is your company looking for top entry level recruits?

STARS is the Southeast Produce Council’s annual scholarship program that awards 14 outstanding agricultural-based majors across 7 Southeast-based land grant universities. These students are at the top of their class and seeking to network, gain entry level positions, or acquire an internship with premier companies in the produce industry.

Join us for this invitation-only Cocktails & Careers private event held during Southern Exposure 2021 within the SEPC Virtual Garden. A virtual table will be reserved for company representative(s) where you may showcase your company’s benefits to these highly qualified young job seekers!



Community Updates

Our featured charitable partner for March is Paul Anderson Youth Home. The Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Georgia is a Christ-centered, fully licensed and accredited home offering a second chance to young men since 1961. The Home focuses on helping transform the lives of troubled young men and their families from all over the country, meeting them at their point of need, and providing a Christian home environment in which they can rebuild their broken lives through a process of recovery, restoration, and redemption.

With a friendly Southern style and a beautiful campus, the Home works with young men between the ages of 16-21. Although the majority are facing some form of incarceration, instead of serving time, they are learning to serve one another and the entire Home. Their fundamental lessons are rooted in building Christian values and a tenacious work ethic. They provide a holistic program that involves setting focused, individualized goals, tracking their progress, and maintaining accountability for all parties involved (mentors, social workers, administration, and the young man himself). Individual Service Plans (ISP) are tailored to meet each young man’s specific needs at the physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual levels.

Visit the PAYH website to learn more about this outstanding organization!

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gained valuable insight into SEPC’s theme for 2021 – Produce: Powered by People. The produce industry has been deemed essential during this pandemic, and whether companies are serving from the fields or delivering to our tables we have all felt the tremendous impact. We would love for you to share how you have witnessed essential workers from your company or others within our industry who have risen above the challenges to make a difference in the communities we serve.

Share your support of Produce: Powered by People!


The Vorhees Vision Scholarship was created to reward the achievements of young individuals who demonstrate a true entrepreneurial spirit in their lives as they pursue their educational goals. This scholarship is named in honor of the late Terry L. Vorhees, founder and first Executive Director of the Southeast Produce Council. Because of his vision and efforts, the Southeast Produce Council became and remains one of the best resources in the produce industry today.

Scholarship Details

One college-aged student (graduating high school senior or current college student) will receive a one-time scholarship of $7,500 to their enrolling college/university.

Congratulations to this year’s Vorhees Vision Scholarship recipient!

Emily Lessard

Daughter of Dave and Alisa Lessard | The GIANT Company

Scholarship Details

Recipients of the SEPC Member Scholarship will each receive a scholarship of $2,000 towards their educational goals for the upcoming school year. The SEPC awarded 74 scholarships ($148,000) in 2020 thanks to the dedication of our members.

The SEPC Member Scholarship application can only be submitted online through our link which will be provided beginning March 15, 2021. The application deadline is April 30, 2021 at 5pm EST.

2020-2021 SEPC Annual Membership

Join the SEPC Today and Thrive

As an SEPC member, you’ll join a diverse group of like-minded produce professionals, from farmers to distributors and retailers to chefs. It’s about growing your knowledge, sharpening your skills, sharing your passion with others, and enjoying what makes this corner of the country extra special: its long tradition of bringing people together through food that is grown, distributed, and cooked with love.

Please review the membership information on our website and select which annual membership* best suits your company's needs.

*Please note that our annual membership period runs June through May of the following year. We do not prorate our membership fees.

**All conference attendees are required to be SEPC members in order to attend any events. Exhibitors are required to maintain a corporate membership.**

Our Sponsors

SEPC sponsors are a vital part of our existence. Simply put, sponsor contributions help us bring more to the table for everyone. Like better networking and education events, fresh talent, and a broader awareness of best practices throughout our industry. And of course, when you help us promote produce, your organization will gain crucial exposure at our events and engagements throughout the year.

Interested in becoming an SEPC Sponsor?

We thank you for your support and look forward to boosting your business in return.

Check out this month’s Sponsor Spotlights on our social media platforms to learn more about each of our SEPC Level Sponsors!


SEPC Fruit & Veggie Trivia

Congratulations to Caitlin Kleefeld of Zaxby’s Franchising for being the first to answer our February SEPC Fruit & Veggie Trivia Question correctly!

March Trivia Question

As you’re preparing to don your green for St. Patty’s Day, don’t forget to prep your traditional Irish meal of corned beef and this leafy green.

Can you name it?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $25 gift card!

Contact us

315 Hwy 17 North | Millen, GA 30442 | 877.720.SEPC (7372) | Fax: 478-401-0335