NEWARK, DEL. — The Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, the US produce industry’s top two trade groups, are merging.

The new association is set to begin operations Jan. 1, 2022, according to PMA. Both United Fresh and PMA will continue to operate as independent organizations through 2021.

“Members and staffs of both organizations have long recognized the potential synergies that might be achieved by combining our efforts,” according to the statement. “However, that requires a mutual commitment to the priorities important to both associations, and a blending of organizations that would truly result in greater value to the membership.”

The two groups’ current CEOs, PMA’s Cathy Burns and United Fresh’s Tom Stenzel, share that commitment, and both boards have endorsed an Agreement in Principle to form a new association designed to serve today’s global fresh produce and floral industries, according to the statement. The COVID-19 pandemic has led all businesses to think strategically about their future operations, according to PMA.

“PMA and United Fresh are no different in that both associations are committed to delivering the greatest possible member value despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. Coming together now is not driven by financial concerns, but by a true desire to maintain and build member value in the future.”

Burns and Stenzel will work together through 2021 and will serve as co-CEOs through 2022. In 2023, Burns will become sole CEO.