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Judy Chong launches ProduceSmart in Toronto
By Kathleen Thomas

With her ultimate goal “to help people market produce easier,” long-time Canadian/U.S. grower-shipper and marketing consultant Judy Chong is now the head of a new enterprise, ProduceSmart Business Services Inc.

ProduceSmart was launched in July, Ms. Chong said recently, and provides consulting and representation services on several levels to clients throughout the world.

On the grower-shipper level, Ms. Chong shares her expertise in health and food-safety programs, HACCP, and government and legislative issues. “I can help the internal staff understand these matters and work with confidence,” she said.

Her background in public and media relations also translates to her consulting skills, and she’s fluent in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Among her current clients is a French firm that is marketing Costa Rican noni fruit in Canada. The product is being processed into juice for a line of body care products, she said.

I am also available as a temporary in-house consultant,” she said.

Ms. Chong’s knowledge of the produce industry is well-known throughout Canada, where she began her career in the early 1980s with her father, Wing Chong, at Wing Chong Farm Ltd. Starting as a part-time office clerk, she rose through the ranks to become office manager, operations manager, vice president and, in the 1990s, president of the company until leaving in 2001.

The farm and its Florida-based sister growing company, W.C. International Inc., were major year-round producers and sources of Asian vegetables that included bok choy, nappa, daikon, bitter melon, lotus roots, lichee, longan, durian, mangosteen, lemon grass and Asian pears, as well as other ethnic and staple items such as broccoli, watercress, mustard greens, sweet potatoes and okra.

Those items not produced on the two farms were imported from China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, Fiji, Central America, South America, Madagascar and South Africa.

In 2002, Ms. Chong served as director of marketing for Morris Brown & Sons on the Ontario Food Terminal, where company spokesman Angelo Nicastro referred to her as “an icon” in the industry.

While with that company, she helped coordinate and supervise Morris Brown’s compliance with government regulations and brought growers, distributors, retailers and foodservice operators together to create the Canadian Wholesale/Retail Tomato Coalition to “eliminate trade barriers and tariffs on NAFTA-origin tomatoes.”

Throughout her career, Ms. Chong has been active in several other organizations and agencies as well. As a director of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Ms. Chong has sat on committees for Food Safety, Transportation, Good Agricultural Practices, HACCP, Recyclable Containers, Genetically Modified Organism Labels and Reach For It — 5 to 10 A Day.

She is an honorary director, past president and co-founder of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association, twice nominated for Person of the Year; a member of the Canadian Food Inspection Board of Arbitration; an arbitrator for the Dispute Resolution Corp.; a past director of the Ontario Food Terminal Board; and a member of the Produce Marketing Association.

Internationally, she works with numerous government and development agencies in Jamaica, the eastern Caribbean, Mexico and Honduras.

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