Kroger's Jason Lazor dies at 36

Jason M. Lazor, senior regional marketing manager at Kroger’s corporate office, died Feb. 7 as a result of an accident while camping. He was 36.

Mr. Lazor first joined Kroger in 2001. He was the team lead of enterprise email services for five-and-a-half years before taking on the role of division marketing manager of personal finance.lazorJason M. Lazor A year later he was promoted again to manager of customer analytics, a position he held for nearly seven years. Early in 2013 Mr. Lazor took on the role of senior regional marketing manager.

"The entire Kroger family is saddened by this tragic loss,” said Keith Dailey, director of media relations and corporate communications. "He was a well-respected colleague and a friend to countless associates. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jason’s family, friends and colleagues."

Mr. Lazor, expectant father of his first child, is survived by his wife, Anna (nee Buller) Lazor; his mother, Evelyn Lazor; sister, Emily Lazor; grandparents Bernard and Zenobia Williams; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He was predeceased by his father, Eugene Lazor; as well as grandparents Michael and Margaret Lazor.

Visitation will be held 2-3 p.m. Feb. 14, with a memorial service to follow at the Gwen Mooney Funeral Home in Cincinnati.

Memorial contributions may be given to the Fisher House, a charity that supports veterans and their families. Sympathy may be expressed at

Gourmet Trading offering biodynamic Chilean blueberries

Gourmet Trading Co., a year-round distributor of fresh asparagus and blueberries, announced it will have biodynamic blueberries out of Chile.biodynamic-blueberries

"South Pacific Trading is excited to reinforce the spirit of the protection and conservation of the planet by partnering with Gourmet Trading Company to distribute its biodynamic blueberries to the United States," Rodrigo Zegers Sr. of South Pacific Trading said in a press release.

“Biodynamic is a holistic approach to farming with a higher level of food safety with fewer pesticide residues than USDA certified organic items," Chloe Varennes of Gourmet Trading Co. said in the release. "Over the season we have also noticed that biodynamic blueberries also have a better quality and shelf life compared to conventional blueberries. Gourmet Trading Company is enthusiastic to offer its retail customers something new for their high end environmentally conscience blueberry consumers.”

The company will have Gourmet Trading Co. organic blueberries and South Pacific biodynamic blueberries during the Chilean season.

California Strawberry Commission, U.C. Davis settle lawsuit

The California Strawberry Commission and the University of California-Davis have settled lawsuits against each other and have plans to further the partnership between the commission and the university's strawberry-breeding program.csclo

The settlement brings to a close legal disagreements dating back to October 2013, when the commission filed a lawsuit against the university related to the strawberry-breeding program's research agreement with the commission. Both that lawsuit and the university's counter suit, filed in October 2014, are ended by the settlement.

Over the next five years, U.C. Davis will release new strawberry varieties available to all farmers, and the California Strawberry Commission will assist U.C. Davis in its identification of new commercial varieties. As part of the settlement, a new strawberry advisory committee will be formed, comprised of university representatives, strawberry farmers and commission representatives.

Since 1956, California's strawberry farmers have supported the U.C. Davis strawberry-breeding program through the California Strawberry Commission (formerly the California Strawberry Advisory Board). Annual contributions and research grants through the commission have contributed millions of dollars to support the development of strawberry varieties uniquely adapted to California's exceptional growing environment.

As part of this renewed commitment to a public breeding program, U.C. Davis announced the hiring of a new breeder for the strawberry-breeding program: Steven J. Knapp, a plant scientist with teaching and research experience at two other U.S. land-grant universities, as well as international plant genomics experience in the commercial sector.

"The hiring of the new plant breeder and the commitment to continue the public program were critical to resolving the dispute," Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission, said in a press release. "Combined with the leadership of Dean Helene Dillard, the strawberry breeding program is positioned to continue releasing exceptional new plant varieties."

Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food & Agriculture, also voiced confidence that the public breeding program will move forward to identify the best plant varieties for California strawberry farmers.

"I am very pleased to see U.C. Davis and the California Strawberry Commission move into a new era of collaboration," Ross said in the press release. "With a talented new plant breeder to lead the program, the commitment of the chancellor and the dean, and an industry advisory committee to provide input on the program's vision, we have all the ingredients for a partnership that will benefit the California strawberry industry and the university for years to come."

Knapp brings a wealth of research experience to the breeder's position. He served on the faculty of Oregon State University in the Department of Crop & Soil Science for 19 years from 1985, and then joined the faculty of the University of Georgia-Athens in the Institute of Plant Breeding Genetics & Genomics for five years.

He comes to U.C. Davis most recently from Monsanto's Vegetable research and development program in Woodland, CA. At Monsanto, he was the global director for two years for breeding of cucurbit crops, including melons, squash and cucumbers and then the global director for vegetable-breeding technology for three years.

"The strawberry industry and production climates in California are unparalleled," Knapp said. "I look forward to serving as an ambassador for the public breeding program on behalf of the university and state, and working with leaders from industry and academia as well as stakeholders and colleagues throughout California and abroad to tackle scientific challenges in strawberry production, breeding, genetics and genomics."

Cuties launches nationwide search for best Cutie Curl


Sun Pacific, the growers of California Cuties, is searching for the best Cutie Curl in the United States. The California grower is inviting all Cutie lovers to enter its Cutie Curl Photo Contest by submitting a photo of themselves peeling a Cutie in one curl. The winning entry will receive a family-friendly California getaway, Cuties style.

“We are asking Cuties lovers of all ages to show us their Cutie-peeling skills," Victoria Nuevo-Celeste, vice president of marketing for Sun Pacific, said in a press release. "Cuties are so easy to peel and eat that we are creating the ultimate challenge to get creative and have fun with Cuties.”

According to the release, the Cutie Curl jingle, found on the contest website and Cuties Citrus YouTube channel, provides the perfect soundtrack for Cutie-curling fun.

The contest began Feb. 9, and submissions will be accepted through March 1. A panel of judges will determine the top 10 finalists, which will be posted to an online gallery. From March 7 to March 15, the public will be invited to vote on which Cutie Curler should receive the grand prize. First- and second-place prizes will also be awarded. Winners will be notified on or around March 19.

The grand prize includes air transportation for two, a private tour of Sun Pacific’s Cuties orchards, hotel accommodations and ground transportation. First prize is a season-long supply of sweet, easy-to-peel Cuties. Entries can be submitted at, which also has a complete list of rules and prizes.


Field Fresh Foods acquires assets of Superior Fresh Cuts

Field Fresh Foods Inc., a Los Angeles-based manufacturer and marketer of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables sold under the “Field Fresh Foods” brand, announced that it has purchased the assets of Superior Fresh Cuts LLC., a regional fresh-cut produce processor serving Southern-California foodservice distributors and industrial customers.

Superior Fresh Cuts’ operations will be consolidated into the Field Fresh Foods processing facility in Los Angeles.

Emelio Castaneda, president and chief executive officer of Field Fresh Foods, said in a statement that the transition is expected to be seamless and all customers will be able to take advantage of Field Fresh’s state-of-the-art processing and distribution capabilities, quality systems, significant buying power and 24-hour service.

Castaneda added in the statement that Field Fresh Foods became a leader in the market due to its market focus, willingness to innovate and desire to put the needs of its customers at the forefront of its business model.

Field Fresh Foods was founded in 1994 with a vision of providing exceptional quality products and service to the Southern California market, which quickly expanded to the western portion of the United States.