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Basciani starts new blackberry farm

Fred Recchiuti, general manager of Basciani Mushroom Farms in Avondale, PA, told The Produce News that the company has begun a new venture into producing blackberries.

“We haul berries for some other companies,” explained Recchiuti. “Over time we’ve learned about berry programs, including that there is an import gap on blackberries in July and August. We decided to start a small blackberry farm to help fill this gap.”

Blackberry-Farm-14 Basciani Mushroom Farms’ new Basciani Blackberry Farm in Avondale, PA.The new 20-acre blackberry farm is called Basciani Blackberry Farm and is also located in Avondale. Recchiuti said the plants produced a small amount of blackberries last year, and this year the crop is considerably larger, and the quality is great.

“We expect to have an even better crop with stronger volumes next year,” he noted. “It’s our inaugural venture into a produce item other than mushrooms, so it’s a fun and exciting new endeavor for our company. We purposely planned production on the blackberry farm with the intent of keeping it a short window only to fill this gap.”

Basciani Mushroom Farms will celebrate its 90th year in business in 2015. The company is multi-generational and it continues to be family owned and operated today.

It produces highly desired mushroom varieties, and the majority of its customers are in the foodservice and processing sectors of the industry.

Taylor Fresh and Green Giant Fresh launch national promotion

Taylor Farms Retail and Green Giant are shining a spotlight on value-added fresh-cut vegetables this summer. The national promotion features 55-cent instant redeemable coupons for select Green Giant Fresh cut vegetables and QR codes to enter into an exciting summer sweepstakes.

Customers will find displays in seven grocery chains nationwide featuring a QR code for customers to access the sweepstakes via mobile device. Social media posts will encourage vegetable lovers to enter the sweepstakes online from their desktop computer. An e-mail blast directed at Box Top Moms is also inspiring families to support their local schools by purchasing products featuring Box Tops for Education coupons and entering the sweepstakes.

The Green Giant Fresh National Sweepstakes grand prize winner will receive a $250 gift card to their local grocery store. One first prize winner will receive a Weber Grill Q1000. The sweepstakes kicked off July 17 and runs through Aug. 16. Winners will be contacted by Aug. 25.

"Green Giant Fresh is dedicated to providing healthy, quality products to customers each and every day at an exceptional value," Jennifer Fancher, director of marketing for Green Giant Fresh, said in a press release. "With the launch of our coast-to-coast sweepstakes with Taylor Farms, we are giving American families a fun way to connect to our fresh products. By combining the opportunity to win prizes along with building awareness around the Box Tops for Education program, we are encouraging healthy summer eating habits as well as creating a way for moms with school-aged children to capitalize on a product with Box Tops for Education being included in the offer."

The six popular fresh cut vegetables that will feature a $0.55 Instant Redeemable Coupon are 12-ounce Broccoli Florets; 12-ounce Broccoli & Cauliflower Medley; 12-ounce Vegetable Medley; 12-ounce Stir Fry Blend; 12-ounce Broccoli Slaw; and eight-ounce Sugar Snap Peas - Box Tops for Education item.

The Instant Redeemable Coupons will be featured on products through Aug. 1.

New Walmart U.S. president and CEO named

Walmart announced that Greg Foran has been promoted to president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S. Foran succeeds Bill Simon, who has been in the role since June 2010 and will be transitioning out of the company.

Foran will assume his responsibilities Aug. 9 and will report directly to Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. Simon will be available on a consulting basis for the next six months to ensure a seamless transition.

gregGreg Foran“Greg is one of the most talented retailers I’ve ever met. His depth of knowledge and global experience will bring a fresh perspective to our business,” McMillon said in a press release. “His passion for fresh food, experience in general merchandise and commitment to e-commerce will help us serve our customers even more effectively for years to come.

“During Bill’s eight years of service to Walmart, his passion for our mission, dedication to our associates and our customers, and innovative thinking pushed us forward,” said McMillon. “From the very beginning, his vision led us to lower the cost of health care through our $4 prescription offering. And, most recently, he put us on a path to future growth with small formats and efforts that integrate digital and physical retail.”

A 35-year retail veteran, Foran joined the company in October 2011 and became president and CEO of Walmart China in March 2012. While leading the business in China, the team made significant progress with its assortment, pricing, store operations and compliance as Foran led strategic investments in the supply chain and improved the store portfolio. He was promoted to president and CEO of Walmart Asia earlier this year.

Prior to Walmart, Foran held a number of roles with Woolworths, a leading retailer in Australia and New Zealand. He served as the managing director of supermarkets, liquor and petrol with responsibility for more than $40 billion in sales at that time. Under Foran’s leadership, the business grew sales and market share in a strong competitive market. Earlier in his career, Foran served as general manager of Big W, Woolworth’s discount store business, and as general manager of Dick Smith Electronics.

“I’ve worked closely with Greg for the past few years and I’ve seen firsthand his passion for retail. I’m confident that Greg’s strong leadership skills and alignment with our culture will serve our customers and associates well,” McMillon said. “I’m excited about what he will bring to this important part of our business.”  

“Being asked to lead the Walmart U.S. business is a privilege that I don’t take lightly,” said Foran. “I am excited to get started. The needs of our customers are changing dramatically and we have an enormous opportunity to serve them in new and different ways. We must be fierce advocates for our customers, work meticulously to exceed their expectations and earn their trust every day.”

During his tenure as president and CEO of Walmart U.S., Simon led a turnaround that reinvigorated the company’s focus on everyday low costs, everyday low prices and an increased product assortment. He also created more career opportunities for associates, launched a U.S. manufacturing revitalization and committed the company to hire more U.S. veterans.

“Whether we’re helping associates earn more for their families or providing customers affordable prices so they can put food on the dinner table, Walmart is a company that is, truly, changing people’s lives,” said Simon. “It’s been an honor to work for Walmart over the past eight years, and this felt like the right time to move on and focus on my next opportunity. I look forward to helping the company as much as I can over the next six months.”

The company will announce Foran’s successor as president and CEO of Walmart Asia at a later date.


Bridges Produce partners with Fruit d'Or cranberries

Bridges Produce, based in Portland, OR, announced that it has entered into a partnership with Fruit d'Or, a leading organic cranberry packer based in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, QC. This partnership expands Bridges Produce's current product line to include both fresh and dried organic cranberries.

As Fruit d'Or's exclusive fresh partner in the United States, Bridges will offer fresh organic Stevens and other premium variety cranberries from early October through December. The pack types available are 18 eight-ounce bags, 12 7.5-ounce clamshells and 22-pound bulk, with FOB loading out of Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Quebec.

In addition to fresh cranberries, Bridges will also be offering Fruit d'Or's dried organic cranberries, cranberries sweetened with apple juice and mixed berries which are available in four-ounce bags and 12-ounce tubs year-round.

The relationship between Fruit d'Or and Bridges Produce began over 14 years ago and has evolved as the two companies and the organic market have grown.

Amid protests and boycotts, ousted CEO offers to buy Market Basket

Since Arthur T. Demoulas, now former president and chief executive officer of Market Basket, was fired by the company's board of directors — which is headed by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas — there have been resignations, protests, related firings, boycotts called for by political leaders and now another interesting turn of events: The former CEO, who owns 49.5 percent of the company, has made an offer to purchase the remaining shares of Market Basket.

"The Arthur T. Demoulas side of the family has made an offer to buy the 50.5 percent of shares in Demoulas Market Basket Supermarkets we do not own," he said in a statement released one month after his June 23 firing. "We believe that our offer is a very full and fair one and should meet or exceed a seller's expectations of the value of the company."

Customer and employee support for Arthur T. has led to resignations and protests, with another rally scheduled for Friday, July 25. More than 2,000 supporters held a rally July 18 outside the company's headquarters, and employee unrest has left many of the stores unable to be restocked.

"We care deeply about Market Basket and all of our associates and we want to work together to return the company to its successful model for serving our loyal customers," Arthur T. said in the statement. "Those who received the offer need to consider the matter, so we are not in a position to comment further at this time."

The chain, based in Lowell, MA, has 71 supermarkets in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.