[PHOTO - Pacquiao’s cut is examined by strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza after the fight. Joaquin Henson]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 25, 2011 (STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson - WBO welterweight champion and still the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Manny Pacquiao is now into vegetables, lending his name to endorse a line of premium products in a partnership with State Street Produce of San Antonio, Texas.

The deal is among the tie-ups negotiated by Lucia McKelvey, hired by Top Rank as executive vice president for business development and marketing last February. McKelvey has since arranged several multi-year deals for Pacquiao.

'Pacquiao Produce' president Allen Reyno, a Filipino based in Los Angeles, said State Street Produce used to market a brand called Beijing King but has replaced it with a line exclusively endorsed by the Filipino ring icon.

“Manny’s favorite vegetable is broccoli and that’s at the top of our product list,” said Reyno. “But that’s not all we carry. We also distribute bell peppers, green onions, carrots, cauliflowers, lettuce and many more. All the vegetables are grown in 5,000 acres of farmland in Guanajuato, Mexico. As soon as they’re harvested, the vegetables are shipped fresh to our freezers and delivered to our wholesale buyers. We’re moving into the retail market soon. Our vegetables are guaranteed to be fresh. We don’t use processors.”

* * *

[PHOTO - World champion boxer, recording star and politician Manny Pacquiao has partnered with State Street Produce in San Antonio, TX, to launch the ‘Pacquiao Produce’ label and establish a foundation that will help needy children around the globe. (Photo courtesy of State Street)]

Reyno, who traces his roots to Bulacan and Zambales, migrated to the US in 1987. Their family business is in shipping and transportation. Reyno operates a yard at the port of Long Beach where containers are brought in to deliver products. A video of Pacquiao endorsing the vegetables was recently filmed in Reyno’s Long Beach yard.

“Lucia is our angel,” said Reyno. “She made this happen. Our vegetables are now in restaurants and stores all over the US through our wholesale buyers but we intend to go retail ourselves. Manny’s name gives our product instant credibility and recall. We’re not just reaching out to the Filipino community in the US. We’re planning on a global reach.”

* * *

[PHOTO - Boxing promoter Bob Arum speaks at a post fight news conference following Manny Pacquiao's majority decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 12, 2011.]

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said Pacquiao Produce could be to the Filipino titlist what grillers are to former world heavyweight champion George Foreman.

State Street Produce chief executive officer Ted Ludeman, quoted by Produce News, said, “Our slogan is ‘Feeding Our Future Champions’ and we’re actually able to help children fight obesity and see that there is a figure out there who is able to promote a healthy lifestyle and is a reputable human being … (Pacquiao) is such a humble man.

Manny goes back to his hometown in Philippines after every single fight and feeds and gives money to every single person in the town. He sits out there for two days straight and just hands out money to people over and over and over until every single person in his town is fed and has money. I realized that this is bigger than us.

Manny is green. What is greener than broccoli? Broccoli is as green as it gets. So I sat down and said, ‘Manny, we grow broccoli, we want you to endorse our broccoli.’ And he said, ‘You know what my favorite vegetable is? Broccoli.’ And I said, ‘OK we’re on to something.’”

In the media room for Pacquiao’s recent fight against Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Reyno set up a Pacquiao Produce vegetables counter for taste tests. Several dressings were available and Reyno said he’ll look into the suggestion of developing a Pacquiao line of salad dressings, too.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved