Eastern US operations in the fresh produce industry, from growers to distributors and wholesalers, are confronted with unique opportunities and challenges. With more complex growing conditions and totally different logistical challenges, the fresh produce industry in the Eastern US is an entirely different beast. To understand this region’s current and emerging needs better, Azzule will be expanding its operations to Lakeland, Florida.
PrimusLabs has been operating a laboratory in Florida for some time. It was initially established in Lakeland in 2008, then shifted to Belle Glade in August 2011, and returned to Lakeland in January of last year. Azzule’s 2021 adjustments represent a long-term commitment, involving shifting additional resources and personnel. All of which will begin in February 2021.
Matthew Freise, our Lakeland facility’s laboratory manager, leads a strong team in providing microbiological testing services and sampling throughout the East Coast. Matt is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. With Matt at the helm, the microbiological testing lab is well positioned to assist East Coast produce operations with coverage seven days a week, including shipping and sampling supply solutions.
Joining Matt will be Azzule’s Chief Ag. Strategist Rebeca Perez and her team. While Rebeca was born in Valparaiso, Chile, and grew up in Santiago, she is no stranger to Florida. She relocated to Pompano Beach from 2005 to 2009 while serving as a Quality Assurance Manager in the fresh produce industry. Rebeca began conducting audits for PrimusLabs in Chile in 2009. In 2013, she was named Director of Audit Quality Assurance, and when PrimusLabs sold off its auditing department in 2015, she joined Azzule to serve as Certification Program Manager for the PrimusGFS audit.
Having worked with both PrimusLabs, Azzule as well as other firms within the fresh produce industry, Rebeca brings a broad perspective, which will be help her to provide our East Coast clients with a more holistic view of how PrimusLabs and Azzule can assist. Rebeca and her team’s perspectives will enable Azzule and PrimusLabs to understand and adjust our programs to address the challenges associated with farming in the Eastern US, while also addressing importers’ concerns about compliance with the FDA’s Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and buyer expectations.
By listening, endeavoring to understand, and providing feedback from players throughout the fresh produce supply chain, Matt and Rebeca and their respective teams are responsible for gaining a greater appreciation for the unique challenges and needs of growers, shippers, importers, distributers, wholesalers and retailers throughout the Eastern United States and Canada. Rebeca and Matthew will also be responsible for clarifying the Eastern fresh produce industry’s needs to chemists, microbiologists, and FSVP specialists. Equally as important, both must communicate with our programmers tasked with ensuring that the Azzule platform can enhance the value of every player’s efforts to meet regulators and buyers expectations.