Florida Citrus Packers recently presented IMG Citrus founders Michel and Veronique Sallin with the organization’s highest recognition, the John T. Lesley Award. The presentation was made at the fresh fruit industry’s annual Citrus Packinghouse Day. The award is for individuals making sustained and outstanding contributions to Florida’s fresh citrus industry.
IMG Citrus operates more than 11,000 acres of citrus groves and a packinghouse.
When the Sallins’ Groveland citrus grove froze, the couple diversified into tree farming and property landscape management as Cherrylake Inc., one of Florida’s largest tree suppliers.
The Sallins recently retired, handing their successful businesses to their three children.
“The Sallins lead by example with adaptive business models, crop diversity and the persevering attitudes they espouse,” said Mark Ritenour, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) horticulture professor and postharvest technology expert.
Citrus producer Chuck Allison said Michel Sallin met setbacks with good business savvy. He added that Veronique Sallin was one of the industry’s most influential women, owing to her expertise in direct marketing to European buyers. Allison gave her credit for positioning Florida’s fresh fruit at the forefront of production traceability.
In accepting the Lesley Award, Veronique Sallin said, “We found in Florida something quite unique — the Florida grapefruit. With my marketing background, it was easy for me to develop a marketing plan for grapefruit, a uniquely differentiated product full of nutrition and taste. How often does one get the opportunity to market a product known as best in the world?”
“Our industry is going through one of its worst crises,” Michel Sallin said in his acceptance speech. “Because Florida can produce the best grapefruit in the world, we are confident that our industry will survive and thrive. Crises bring disruption and challenges, but they also create opportunities for innovation, change and progress.”
See the Sallins’ acceptance video.
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