by Mike Berger/editor-Northeast
Sometimes the Massachusetts Food Association (MFA) awards Co-Persons of the Year. But it is rare the association awards two people from the same channel, let alone everyday competitors. Yet this year, the MFA will honor Brendan Brazel of Coca-Cola and Eric Farias of PepsiCo as its Persons of the Year during its 36th Family Reunion Convention over the Memorial Day weekend at the Omni Mount Washington Resort.
On May 28, Brazel and Farias will be presented with the Milton Segel Distinguished Service Award for the contributions they and their companies have made to the association and to the success of the MFA’s convention.
Brazel is VP for Coca-Cola, currently leading its Ahold Delhaize U.S. team. He has been with Coca-Cola for the past 25 years, managing both sales operations and large store customer management. Brazel joined MFA’s function committee in 2007.
Farias is PepsiCo’s retail director for New England and New Jersey. He started with the company 20 years ago as a merchandiser, loading shelves in local grocery stores. He became a member of MFA’s function committee in 2014 and a member of its board of directors in 2013.
“MFA has had a longstanding relationship with Brendan and Eric and Coke and Pepsi over the years. We are extremely grateful to them for their continued participation through the years in our convention and the association. They have been instrumental in the continued success of the event and of MFA, particularly with Coca-Cola’s Saturday night fireworks display and PepsiCo’s family celebration Sunday afternoon,” said Flynn.
Flynn said both Pepsi and Coca Cola have been great partners of the MFA convention, a relationship dating back to the family convention’s early days in 1983. He also appreciates both companies support of MFA activities throughout the year.
“One of the great things of the MFA is we have great members, competitive by nature but who work together for the good of the industry, and that’s the spirit of the convention,” said Flynn.
Brazel called the MFA a great organization which has helped Coca -Cola with information of the Massachusetts Bottle Bill and other beverage related issues.
“We are very proud to receive this award. I would like to credit Jack Sullivan who came before me and worked with the MFA. Pepsi is a great competitor and Eric is a great person. We are happy to be recognized with Coca Cola on this award.
Farias, who is a member of the MFA Board of Directors, said he has been personally involved for 17 years but Pepsi’s involvement with the convention goes back much further.
Farias said, “Pepsi likes family events and also likes to be involved with the community. The MFA convention is a great event for us.”
Like Brazel, he credits the MFA and in particular Flynn and Brian Houghton for informing all MFA members of what’s going on at the Massachusetts State House, Congress and regulatory organizations.
“We are very humbled to receive this award,” said Farias. “We are so pleased the MFA is recognizing us. We have a longstanding relationship. We are happy a great organization like the MFA exists so that companies can get information on issues, and the MFA acts as one unified voice.”
Farias also congratulated Coca-Cola and Brazel for their award.
“It is important to support each other and come together in a unified effort.”
This year’s convention theme is “MFA’s Pirates of the Caribbean,” with a category focus of beer, wine, meat and cheese.