FLORIDA CITRUS PACKERS, INC.. named Frank M. Hunt, III, the 2016 recipient of the John T. Lesley Award for Excellence. The award is the packinghouse trade association’s highest, for an individual making sustained and outstanding contributions to the Florida citrus industry, and has long been given to the top leaders of the industry.
The organization presented the award to Hunt during Packinghouse Day on August 25 at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
Hunt is president of Lake Wales, Florida-based Hunt Bros. Cooperative and vice president of Hunt Bros., Inc.
“The Hunt family has long been leaders in the Florida Citrus industry, and Frank has played a big part in that. So this award is very much deserved,” says Andrew Meadows, director of communications at Florida Citrus Mutual.
Hunt served as president of Florida Citrus Packers for two separate terms, from 1999 to 2000 and then again from 2012 until 2013. Currently, Hunt serves on the board of Florida Citrus Packers and Florida’s Natural Growers. He is chairman of the board of New Varieties Development & Management Corp., chairman of the board of HESCO, served as president of Seald Sweet, and is on the board of Cooperative Producers, Inc.
Hunt Brothers grows oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines for fresh and processed channels, with about 40 percent of its fruit being shipped fresh. The company was originally started in 1922 by Frank Hunt’s grandfather, Deeley A. Hunt, and Deeley’s brother, Charles M. Hunt. The brothers were some of the original grower members of the Florida Citrus Exchange, now called Seald Sweet.
Hunt was able to maintain excellence despite a tough season for citrus growers. “In challenging times like these, it’s more clear who the leaders are in the industry and who is ready to take these challenges head on,” adds Meadows.
Frank Hunt, III, has spent most of his time in the packinghouse and growing citrus in Central Florida. He is a firm believer in staying competitive internationally, while still adhering to sustainable practices, including utilizing systems that reduce water use, fertilizer, chemical, and fuel to grow crops.
story by BONNY JOHNSON