Ippolito names new vice president of sales

Ippolito International has made some changes to its sales department. Tami Gutierrez has been promoted to vice president of sales from sales manager, and produce industry veteran Bobby Nunes has  joined the company's sales team.IMG 1292Tami Gutierrez

Gutierrez has worked in the fresh produce industry since graduating from Fresno State in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in marketing. A Salinas, CA, native, she began her career as a buyer in a produce procurement office and moved to the sales office of a prominent grower-shipper in 1995.IMG 1291Bobby Nunes She has handled sales and commodity management at Ippolito since 2007. She will continue to handle customer accounts and commodity management in addition to her managerial duties.

With a career spanning 26 years, Nunes has handled sales and commodity management for several high-profile grower-shippers, most recently with New Star of Salinas. He will continue to handle sales and commodity management at Ippolito. Nunes is a Salinas native with a degree in marketing from Kansas State University.

“We are fortunate to have such highly experienced people on our sales team,” Butch Corda, Ippolito general manager, said in a press release. “Tami has shown her leadership qualities and ability to build customer relationships to be a great asset to our business. Bobby brings an unmatched energy and passion every day for his work and life in general. We are excited about the team we’ve built and these two individuals will play significant roles in our future,” he said.

Vilsack declares Aug. 2-8 National Farmers Market Week

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 2 through Aug. 8, 2015, as National Farmers Market Week. The declaration was made official by proclamation signed by Vilsack. This year marks the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week in honor of the important role that farmers markets play in local economies. Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate thousands of our nation's farmers markets, the farmers and ranchers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

"National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide," Vilsack said in a press release. "Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support farmers and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms and providing Americans with fresh, healthy food."

Throughout the week, USDA officials will celebrate at farmers market locations across the country. On Saturday, Aug. 1, Anne Alonzo, the administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service — which conducts research, provides technical assistance, and awards grants to support farmers markets — will kick off the week at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is the oldest in New Mexico and is ranked as one of the top 10 farmers markets nationwide.

Farmers markets provide consumers with fresh, affordable, convenient and healthy products from local producers. With support from USDA, more farmers markets offer customers the opportunity to make purchases with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Women, Infants & Children Nutrition Program; and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs.

Supporting farmers markets is a part of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department's policy, resources and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. Vilsack has identified strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of agriculture and rural economic development.

Industry veteran to join retailer as senior produce specialist

Plum Market, which operates stores in Illinois and Michigan, has named Fabrizio Casini as its senior produce specialist. Casini is the former director of produce for Hiller’s Markets.

With over 45 years in the industry, he will be a valued addition to the Plum Market family and is excited to grow Plum Market’s organic program.casini

“Fabrizio brings a level of dedication to quality and guest service that we boast about at Plum Market," Phil Cassise, director of produce for Plum Market, said in a press release. "His years of service in the produce world will be an asset to us, and we are excited to have him join our produce team.”

Casini’s roots go back to Florence, Italy, where he began working for his father’s produce company when he was only 10 years old. Plum said that when he moved to Michigan in 1975, he quickly became a local legend for his hands-on approach and ability to source new and unusual items. Casini’s decades of experience with Hiller’s Markets will be a boon to Plum Market.

EPC names Susan McAleavey Sarlund executive director

The board of directors of the Eastern Produce Council announced Tuesday evening, July 14, the appointment of Susan McAleavey Sarlund as its next executive director.McAleavey-Group-2013

Sarlund is a graduate of Boston College with a bachelor's degree in communications, and went on to achieve her master's degree in marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. She is currently part of the Northeast sales team for the New York Apple Association. She held various sales and marketing positions with companies, including Nabisco, Hilton Hotels and two other investment firms, prior to joining New York Apple.

Sarlund brings a wealth of knowledge as well as experience to the EPC, where over the past five years she has served under her father and former longtime Executive Director John McAleavey, who died June 5.

"Susan was the natural choice — there were no other candidates for this position that could hit the ground running and keep the EPC course set straight as we know Susan can," EPC President Vic Savanello said in a press release. "We are very happy to be able to retain Susan. The vote at our July 14 meeting was unanimous in support of Susan's appointment; we can't wait to see her blossom as our new leader."

AMC Direct offering Tango clementines from Chile

GLASSBORO, NJ — This summer, AMC Direct will be importing the first Tango clementines produced in Chile. These will be received from the end of August through September.

Tango is a proprietary variety that is jointly owned (50 percent each) by AMC and Eurosimillias, which is based in Spain and markets Tango in Europe. This is the third season for AMC to market Tangos grown in Peru, according to Miles Fraser-Jones, senior vice president of AMC.Tangod

Fraser-Jones explained that Tango is a 100 percent seedless Clementine “with very good eating quality and good color, which sets us apart from other marketers.”

AMC receives Peruvian Tangos from late June through mid-September. The Tango has a peak size of two. The fruit is shipped in 1x, 1, 2 and three sizes.

The Tango is being marketed under AMC’s “Personal Selection” brand, which is known for its “high minimum specs,” Fraser-Jones noted. “It’s all about Brix-to-acid ratios.”

AMC is introducing a new “Personal Selection” bag this year. Shipped in bulk, the fruit is repacked at Eastern ProPack, which is near AMC’s Glassboro, NJ, office.

AMC also uses the “Personal Selection” brand on its propriety Sheehan Genetics grapes as well.

“We own all of his varieties,” Fraser-Jones said of California’s late grape breeder, Timothy Sheehan. AMC owns a firm, Special New Fruit Licensing Ltd., that owns Sheehan Genetics and Citrus Genesis S.L. Citrus Genetics is an international group of highly specialized companies dealing with citrus breeding, varietal development and the management of protected cultivars at a worldwide level.

In the grape business, the demand for proprietary varieties exceeds supply. “People are tired of the old,” Fraser-Jones said.  

He added that the Sheehan varieties were bred for ideal commercial set and bunch shape, which are factors that lower the production cost by reducing field labor.

“Labor gets more and more expensive every year,” Fraser-Jones noted.

South African citrus

The 2015 South African deal is off to an early and fast start, Fraser-Jones said. The first reefer vessel arrived June 14 at the Holt Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ. A second June arrival was scheduled for late in the month. Furthermore, he said, three South African reefer vessels were scheduled for Holt in July. This is two more vessels in those two months than arrived a year ago.

“Last year was good,” he noted. “Our volume will increase this year by 10 or 15 percent.”

The early eating quality is better this year and the color of the early fruit is “much improved,” he said.  Typically, early citrus is yellowish while there was a strong orange color early in the 2015 South African deal.