The Council Connection JAnuary 2024

Renew Your SEPC Annual Membership for 2023 - 2024!

Behind every piece of produce are countless people who helped along the way – the skilled hands, sharp minds, and big hearts that comprise a critical industry in our country. SEPC brings these worlds together. Because together, we create a strong, vibrant industry now and for decades to come.

Together We Grow Higher!

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. Together, we create a strong, vibrant industry now and for decades to come.

Together We Grow Higher!

January Sponsor Spotlight


Heroes, we salute you!

Join us at Southern Exposure – PRODUCE: The Unseen Heroes as we celebrate not only the men and women who serve in camouflage but also the men and women who serve our industry by plowing fields, harvesting crops, sorting produce, loading trucks, stocking shelves, and prepping meals.

This year’s Southern Exposure will take place March 7 – 9, 2024 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.

Explore the possibilities to Be All You Can Be together!

Exhibitors must complete their registration within the Exhibitor Portal using the link provided via email to the primary contact on file.

Keynote Brunch

You won’t want to miss our Keynote Brunch with Celebrity Keynote Speaker Kurt Warner as well as Platform Point Speaker and Keynote Moderator Adam Mendler.

Celebrity Keynote Speaker

Kurt Warner

NFL Quarterback & Analyst | Founder of First Things First Foundation

Platform Point Speaker & Keynote Moderator

Adam Mendler

Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Educator, & Nationally Recognized Leadership Authority | Creator & Host of Thirty Minute Mentors Podcast


Reframe Your Relationship with Failure

Kristen Hadeed

Motivational Speaker & Author | Founder of the Human Leadership Program

Strong leadership isn’t about knowing all the answers and getting things right on the first try; it’s about having the courage to take risks, make mistakes, ask for help, and admit when you don’t feel strong. Building on the themes in her bestselling book, Permission To Screw Up, Kristen will teach you how to let go of perfectionism, reframe your relationship with failure, and give yourself the permission to be human. You’ll learn how to create a culture where failure equates to growth, where people feel more empowered and psychologically safe, and where collaboration and innovation go hand-in-hand.

Attendees will experience an immediately applicable shift in their ability to:

  • Reframe their relationship with failure and see it as an opportunity to build resilience, creativity, and confidence
  • Be a more “human” leader and model that type of leadership for others
  • Empower themselves and others to take risks, find solutions, and move forward despite ambiguity or uncertainty
  • Create a culture where the learning process is just as important as the results

Educational Session I

The Hero Effect

Kevin Brown

Motivational Speaker & Author

Join us for Kevin Brown’s The HERO Effect® to help you develop and grow unseen heroes in your business! Brown’s unconventional path to business and personal success has taught him that winning in business and in life requires anything but conventional thinking. With a streetwise aptitude and a never quit attitude, he worked his way from the front lines in business to the executive boardroom. For two decades, Kevin was a sales and marketing executive that helped grow a little-known family business into an industry giant with annual revenues reaching two billion dollars. After a career in franchising, Kevin decided to retire from corporate America and pursue his passion for bringing The HERO Effect® message to as many people and organizations as possible. Kevin is on a mission to help people and organizations embrace a simple philosophy that separates world-class organizations and high-performance people from everybody else. He is passionate about helping people expand their vision, develop their potential, and grow their results.

Educational Session II

The Power of Produce 2024

SEPC is thrilled to bring you another year of The Power of Produce at Southern Exposure. SEPC once more joined forces with FMI to bring you insights, answers, and inspiration to ignite growth and help you to identify the unseen heroes in your 2024 produce department. The Power of Produce takes an in-depth look at our world through the shoppers’ eyes to understand what worked, what didn’t, and what matters most in the tough marketplace. Our star-studded expert reactor panel of retailers will be moderated by FMI’s Rick Stein, and Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics will present the study findings in a lively and informative session.

Anne-Marie Roerink | 210 Analytics
Rick Stein | FMI

Gear Up With our Southern Exposure Digital Toolkit Now Available!

Instagram: right click to save
Facebook: right click to save
Twitter: right click to save
LinkedIn: right click to save

LINKS Reservation Options for SEPC Retail/Foodservice members*

LINKS Meeting Description Options

  • LINKS Meeting(s) with Grower/Shipper Companies
  • Internal Company Meeting

A La Carte Menu

  • A/V option (1. Projector/Screen 2. PA System)
  • Food & Beverage Service (at reserving company's expense)

(*Note that requests will be accommodated as they are received, and we will do our best to coordinate your space needs with what is available. LINKS meeting requests must be submitted/approved through SEPC.)

Contests & Prizes!

Compete in our Southern Exposure – Produce: The Unseen Heroes costume and booth decorating contests! We invite all attendees to participate for a chance to win CASH!

Costume Contest

Join our Opening Gala USO Show on Friday night, March 8th in camo-themed, family-friendly attire to compete in our costume contest for a chance to win one of these AMEX gift cards:

  • 1st place: $200
  • 2nd place: $150
  • 3rd place: $100
  • Best Group: $300

Booth Decorating Contest

Have a booth idea that’ll hunt? Decorate your camo inspired booth on Saturday at the expo for our booth decorating contest! Three of the best decorated booths will receive a prize of one of the following AMEX gift cards:

  • 1st place: $1,000
  • 2nd place: $500
  • 3rd place: $250

Save the Date!

Mark your calendars to meet us in Nashville, TN for next year’s Southern Innovations held September 12 – 14, 2024. Registration will open in March 2024.

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.

In case you missed them, several 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.

Announcing our inaugural STEP-UPP Foodservice Class!!

The 2024 class year officially starts in January 2024 and will provide a variety of experiences through both classroom experiences and on-the-ground field tours in the spring and summer. The year will culminate with graduation at Southern Innovations held September 12-14, 2024 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN.

Introducing SEPC’s STARS Class of 2024

Celebrating a Legend

After nearly five decades of service in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Josef Broder has retired. Dr. Broder's commitment to student success has enriched countless student experiences.

Congratulations, Dr. Broder!

“Getting any new program off to a great start is difficult. Having someone to help you through the process in the beginning is a blessing. From day one Dr. Browder was a believer in the STARS program. Some of the overall success of STARS must be given to him with his encouragement and continued advice.” ~ Rick Estess, Business Development Manager, RPE

Community Updates

Our featured charitable partner for January is Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children where children’s health and well-being are at the heart of what they do every day.

For more than 30 years, families have been able to find an environment where healing and hope are inspired by the fearless spirits of the kids they treat; where you’ll enjoy the most advanced technology, Central Florida’s only pediatric Level One Trauma Center and ED, and compassionate doctors, nurses, and staff who have your child’s health as their top priority.

We are honored to partner with them to help coordinate programs and events such as their Healthy Lifestyles Camp for children with life-threatening illnesses.

To learn more about SEPC Cares and how you can join the Southeast Produce Council in giving back to the community by educating others about the benefits of healthy eating and habits, click the link below.


The Southeast Produce Council is thrilled to enter our second year of the SEPC Next Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA), and we are now accepting applications for the 2025 Class. This year-long professional development program is truly unique and is designed for up-and-coming leaders in the produce industry. The program provides participants with a unique approach to conscious leadership ideals and methodologies. Participants will develop and galvanize leadership skills to better navigate industry challenges with a growth mindset. The Academy features virtually guided events throughout the year and up to two in-person programming focused on the next era of agriculture. The program equips and prepares participants for future leadership responsibilities with content relevant to their leadership challenges.

If you or your organization has a potential candidate for the Next Generation Leadership Academy, applications will open January 22, 2024, through February 16, 2024 by 5:00pm ET.

Applicants should have organizational level support to participate. The inaugural class as well as the incoming class will be recognized at the Future Generations Celebration Dinner at Southern Exposure 2024 and will graduate at Southern Exposure 2025.

Applicants are eligible if they are:

  • Emerging leader in produce, mid-level manager or above
  • Employed in the produce industry for at least 4 years
  • Member in “Good Standing” of the SEPC*
  • Must possess a vision for leadership, a strong drive to carry it out, and strong communications skills to convey why they believe they would be a good candidate for the program by submitting a short video for selection process

*To be in “Good Standing”, a member must actively participate in the SEPC by their attendance, contributions, or both and must be included in our Membership Roll.

Note: Employees of the Southeast Produce Council, the SEPC’s participating vendors, any contract employees of the SEPC, and members of the immediate family of any such persons are not eligible to apply or participate in the program. The term “immediate family” includes spouses, siblings, parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren, whether as “in-laws”, or by current or past marriage(s), adoption, co-habitation or other family extension, and other persons residing at the same household whether related.

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 now receive a one-time scholarship of $10,000 to their enrolling college/university. The 2nd place recipient will receive $1,500, and the 3rd place recipient will receive $1,000.

The application can only be submitted online through our link which was provided December 11, 2023.

The application deadline is January 12, 2024 at 5pm EST.

Congratulations to Rachelle Schulken of Calavo Growers for being the first to answer our December SEPC Fruit & Veggie Trivia Question correctly!

JAnuary Trivia Question


Here’s to a fresh start in 2024! According to WHO guidelines, how many portions of fruit and vegetables should we aim to eat every day for a healthy, high-fiber diet?

Contact us

Please note that our mailing address has changed! See our new mailing address below in the contact information.

242 North Masonic Street | Millen, GA 30442 | 877.720.SEPC (7372) |