Jul 17, 2019
PMA’s Lutz leaving to start marketing, research firm

A familiar name in the produce industry will depart his position with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Aug. 2 to start his own marketing, research and analytics company.

Steve Lutz

Lutz has been PMA’s vice president of the U.S. and Canada, West region, since June 2018. From 2013-18, he was vice president of marketing at Wenatchee, Washington-based CMI Orchards.

“I’ll be leaving PMA to launch Steve Lutz & Associates starting August 2,” Lutz said.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity I had to serve the industry in my position at PMA,” said Lutz. “PMA is a great organization with a first-class staff. However, I felt a strong pull to return to the areas of marketing, research and category analytics where I excelled throughout my entire career.”

“Steve is an exceptional leader in our industry and I have appreciated the many contributions he has made to supporting our members,” said Richard Owen, PMA’s vice president, global membership and engagement. “PMA looks forward to finding ways that the organization can partner with him in his new venture.”

“The explosion of new brands, proprietary varieties and fragmentation of retail outlets has completely changed the game for the produce industry,” said Lutz. “As consumers shift purchases from commodity products to proprietary brands and organics, the interest and opportunities – as well as the challenges – for growers have never been higher.”

Lutz said he intends to utilize his professional experience in marketing, research and data analysis with the new venture. In addition, he will leverage professional connections in data, design, social media and communications as needed to support his clients. “Over the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most creative minds in the industry. There is a real opportunity to harness the skills of these individuals to support the industry.

Lutz was previously chief strategist and vice president of marketing for CMI Orchards. Prior to that he was a co-founder and Executive Vice President for Nielsen Perishables Group and served as President and CEO of the Washington Apple Commission.

According to Lutz’s website, over his career, he has had the opportunity to work across the entire supply chain from the grower and packer level to wholesalers, retailers and ultimately, with consumers. His professional experience includes product and brand development, consumer and trade research, strategic communications, retail category management and analysis, packaging development, and promotional analysis. Over the years, Lutz’s brand clients have included companies in nearly every fresh fruit and vegetable category found in a supermarket.

Before launching Steve Lutz & Associates, he most recently served as vice president of member engagement with the Produce Marketing Association. Before that, Lutz was chief strategist and vice president of marketing for CMI Orchards, a Washington state tree fruit grower, packer and shipper.

Lutz and the CMI team grew Daisy Girl Organics to the top-selling organic apple and pear brand in the U.S. Prior to joining CMI Orchards, Lutz was one of the three founding partners of the Chicago-based market research firm, Perishables Group, serving as executive vice president. He co-led the firm for 13 years including successfully selling the firm to Nielsen to form the new entity, Nielsen Perishables Group. Before that, Lutz served as president and CEO of the Washington Apple Commission, at the time, the largest fresh fruit commodity organization in the United States.

While leading the organization they were awarded the prestigious Silver Lion award from the Public Relations Society of America for the No. 1 publicity program (among all business categories) in the United States.

Lutz has served on the board of directors of the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh. He was past chair and a long time member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University.

Every year Lutz is invited to speak at national and international conventions to highlight key trends in the fresh foods industry. He has been a top-rated speaker on a range of topics from marketing to future trends in the industry. In 2019, Lutz has been a featured speaker at:

  • The Global Organic Trade Exposition
  • National Grocers Association
  • C&S Wholesale Member Meeting
  • Premier Apple Cooperative
  • New York Apple Association
  • Organic Produce Summit
  • Crosset Company Annual Meeting (August, 2019)

In his spare time, Lutz is an active triathlete, runner, cyclist and skier.  He is a Level One certified triathlon coach and USA Triathlon Ambassador, having completed 40 triathlons.

Lutz and his wife Jan have been married for 37 years and have three grown sons. They make their home in Wenatchee, Washington.

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