Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has hired Lianne Jones, a produce and floral industry veteran with extensive global experience, as the new country manager for PMA in South Africa. Jones’s background includes nearly 20 years of marketing, sales, category management, account management and business development with companies such as Zespri International Limited, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, and ASDA/International Produce Ltd, a United Kingdom subsidiary of Walmart.
As PMA’s new country manager in South Africa, Jones will focus on providing member value, attracting and retaining members, and building strategic partnerships to help grow the produce and floral industry. Jones will oversee all PMA events and activities in South Africa, including Fresh Connections: Southern Africa, PMA Fresh Talks initiatives, and will support the execution of Fresh Summit, PMA’s annual convention and expo that takes place in various locations in the United States.
She will also serve as PMA’s primary liaison with members, government agencies and other stakeholders in Southern Africa, as well as PMA’s South Africa Country Council. The council is comprised of industry leaders from across Southern Africa’s produce and floral supply chain. They serve on a volunteer basis, providing input, guidance and serving as strategic thought partners to help PMA achieve its mission and vision.
Experience in Africa and Europe
“Lianne knows the European and South African produce industry well, has strong contacts with South African retailers, and her approach to developing new market opportunities, as well as her experience in talent development, make her a great fit for PMA,” said Anouk Sijmonsma, PMA’s global regional vice president (Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia/New Zealand).
Most recently, Jones served for five years as Zespri International Limited’s market development manager for Africa, Israel and the Indian Islands, where she was responsible for strategy development, identifying new markets, sales management, distributor and customer relationship management, and marketing activations.
Prior to Zespri, she worked for Damco, which is part of AP Moller-Maersk, where she was responsible for sales management and marketing for IMEA. She was European field manager for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association (now Fruits from Chile) for five years. While with Fruits from Chile, she expanded markets in Europe from five to 14 trading markets by leveraging various ways to connect with industry members, including trade events, specialist networks and through government agencies.
Jones has also done project work for the South African Table Grape Industry, and for nearly two years she served as a category development and marketing manager in charge of seven different fresh fruit product categories while working for ASDA/International Produce Ltd. Her experience also includes serving as a national account manager with Lingarden Horticulture Ltd.
Produce and floral industry expert
In addition to her primary work responsibilities at Zespri, Jones was also involved in establishing a career development project where business mentors helped young entrepreneurs build knowledge and skills to run their own start-ups. Programme partners included the South African Graduates Development Association, the Star Workplace, Zespri and others.
Jones says her background and range of experience in sales, marketing, and business development in the produce and floral industry will be invaluable in her new role and aligns well with PMA’s objectives. In addition, in her role at Maersk, a shipping and cargo services company, Jones says she gained valuable experience.
“My experience in produce and floral has provided a good litmus test of things that work and don’t work in terms of exploring new markets and customer relationship management,” said Jones. “I bring a balanced approach. I enjoy taking the initiative, being open and adaptable, while also having a measured approach to sales and business development.”
Jones said the current challenges facing the produce and floral industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery have bolstered, rather than deterred, her interest in joining PMA and continuing her work in the industry.
“Associations have a role to play in times of crises,” said Jones. “I believe we have an opportunity to leapfrog and make advances that in regular times could have taken years. We have an opportunity now, as an entire industry supply chain, to work together towards creating visibility and demand for fresh produce. We can promote consumption and help growers and exporters emerge stronger. I’m looking forward to working with PMA staff, members, our volunteer leaders and other stakeholders to help add value and grow the industry.” – Press release, PMA