SpartanNash promotes two executives

SpartanNash Co. has promoted two executive vice presidents to key positions within the company. Dave Staples, SpartanNash's current executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been appointed chief operating officer, and Derek Jones, executive vice president of food distribution, has been promoted to president of wholesale and distribution operations. Both appointments were effective March 1.

As COO, Staples will oversee all three operating segments of the company: retail, wholesale and military distribution. His appointment will enable Eidson to focus more of his time on the company's long-term strategic plans and potential growth opportunities. The company has initiated recruiting efforts for a chief financial officer; Staples will continue to serve as CFO until his replacement is hired.

"This appointment is part of our robust three year integration plan," Dennis Eidson, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "The size and scope of SpartanNash today demands a dedicated chief operating officer. We are pleased to have had such an exceptional internal candidate."

As CFO, Staples helped guide the Company from $1.98 billion in 2003 to $7.9 billion in 2014.

"Dave's leadership was critical to our 'game changing' merger of Spartan Stores and The Nash Finch Co. in November of 2013," Eidson said in the release. "He also has been an instrumental and respected member of our executive team, helping to define our strategic direction, drive our customer centric business model and cultivate strong customer relationships."

Staples joined SpartanNash in January 2000, serving as the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer since November of 2000. In this capacity, Staples directed finance, real estate, the treasurer's department, internal audit, risk management and information technology. Prior to joining SpartanNash, Staples held positions with Kmart and Arthur Andersen. He is a certified public accountant.

Staples currently serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Jones will report to Staples and oversee the entire supply chain, including military supply chain operations. "This streamlined approach," said Eidson, "is critical to our mission to leverage our expertise in food distribution and retail to develop, activate and provide impactful solutions that exceed expectations for associates, customers and partners. Derek's extensive experience and expertise in food distribution will result in increased efficiencies and a 'one way' operation with his leadership."

In his new role, Jones has embraced SpartanNash's customer focus core value and cultivated and strengthened relationships with the company's independent customers operating 2,100 locations. Jones has also successfully driven growth as a value added distributor while directing the operations of SpartanNash's wholesale and supply chain operations, including warehousing, transportation, new business development, replenishment and customer service. In his expanded role, Jones will now oversee the military operations supply chain.

Jones joined the company in 2006 from Unisource Worldwide Inc., where he served as vice president of distribution for the company's Eastern region covering 35 states, 48 distributions centers and $3 billion in annual delivery sales. He has also held senior operations management positions with Office Depot, Walgreen's and Wal-Mart.

Jones currently serves on the board of directors of National Grocers Association, and he served on the board of directors of the Heart of West Michigan United Way from June 2011 to June 2014.



U.S. fruit exporters to benefit from Trans Pacific Partnership deal

WASHINGTON — Lifting tariffs as high as 40 percent on U.S. fruits is one of the reasons the Obama administration is advocating for the Trans Pacific Partnership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said recently.

U.S. trade negotiators are trying to hammer out the biggest trade deal on the TPP with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

USDA pointed to key commodities that would benefit from the trade deal.

“U.S. exports of fresh fruits to the TPP countries face tariffs as high as 40 percent,” USDA said. “Under the agreement, tariffs across the TPP region will be cut, offering new market access opportunities to growers and exporters. In 2014, U.S. companies exported almost $3.1 billion in fresh fruits to the TPP region."

U.S. exports of citrus fruits and juices in 2014 amounted to nearly $900 million, and the new accord could slash tariffs as high as 43 percent.

U.S. producers shipped almost $600 million in fresh apples to the TPP region, and the agreement would cut tariffs as high as 17 percent to those countries. Nearly $200 million in fresh cherries and pears also were shipped to TPP countries in 2014 with tariffs as high as 10 percent.

The trade agreement has yet to be agreed upon by the negotiating countries, however, and Congress is poised to debate whether to grant the Obama administration fast-track authority to move the deal through without amendment.

With the U.S. trade deficit widening when it comes to imports of fresh fruits and vegetables, another USDA report that forecast markets up to 2024 predicts the export market will become more important to the industry.

Vegetable exports will increase from 17 percent in 2014 to 24 percent in 2024. U.S. fruit and nut exports also increase from 23 percent in 2014 to 26 percent in 2024, the report said.

The 91-page report, USDA Agricultural Projections to 2024, said farm sales of horticultural crops are projected to grow by 1.9 percent annually over the next decade, reaching $73 billion in calendar year 2024, up from $60 billion in 2014.

Sales of fruit and tree nuts are projected to grow by 2.6 percent each year over the next decade, largely due to sales growth of tree nuts and non-citrus fruits. Farm sales value of vegetables and pulses is projected to grow 1.8 percent annually, and greenhouse and nursery crop sales are projected to increase only 0.5 percent. USDA is predicting citrus production to decline by 0.7 percent each year during the next decade.

Documentary touts honeybee rebound

ORLANDO, FL — “Save the Queen,” a documentary video on the disappearing honeybee and Colony Collapse Disorder, brought the good news about the apparent rebound in bee colonies in recent years as efforts were mounted to stem the losses.

Bee pollination is worth $15 billion to the U.S. farming industry, the documentary by Edwin Stepp revealed in one of its first viewings at the recent Southeast Produce Council Southern Exposure show, here.SEPC3915-QUEEN-EDWIN-STEPPEdwin Stepp

The video excerpts shown featured close-ups of researchers in protective clothing rescuing bee colonies with smudge pots to quiet the honeybees.

“Save the Queen” recounted research findings that if honeybees disappeared, an estimated one-third of the U.S. food supply would disappear also because of the honeybees’ importance as pollinators for so many commercial fruits and vegetables.

Stepp told his audience of about 200 that in making the video he found that CCD, first identified in 2006, was the result of a combination of causes rather than a single factor, such as pesticides. The causes include nutrition, pesticides, stress, diseases and viruses, poor management and genetics, he said.

Stepp noted his roots are in the produce industry, having grown up working in his father’s produce business in western North Carolina.

In a tandem presentation, Jeanette Klopchin, a pollinator protection specialist with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, described efforts to enlist stakeholder groups, including produce growers and beekeepers, in a statewide effort to stem honeybee losses.

She termed the “Save the Queen” video “the best I’ve seen,” and pointed out that “honeybees are sentinel pollinators. They produce honey to feed themselves, but accidentally they pollinate many of our crops.”

There are more than 20,000 species of bees worldwide, she said, with 4,000 diverse species in the United States and 310 in Florida alone. The Florida bees produce 13 million pounds of honey, which sells for about two dollars a pound.

At its worst, CCD caused honeybee colonies nationwide to drop to 2.5 million from 5.5 million, Klopchin observed. CCD is a worldwide phenomenon, she said, and China has resorted to hand-pollinating some orchards.

Florida efforts are concentrated initially on citrus, blueberry and cucumber crops. And if the present improvement plan stops working, she said, “There’s always Plan Bee.”

Southern Specialties shipping Florida blueberries

bluesSouthern Specialties has started shipping Florida-grown blueberries in six-ounce "Southern Selects" clamshells. This year’s blueberry crop will include Farthing, Flicker, Chickadee and Meadowlark varieties. Florida blueberries, Southern Selects blackberries and premium Adelita variety raspberries are distributed from the company’s Pompano Beach, FL, distribution facility.

“This year’s Florida blueberry crop has nice bloom and great flavor,” Alex Henderson, key account manager for the company, said in a press release. “They will ship well and are an excellent product for Florida companies to showcase in their 'Locally Grown' programs.”

Southern Selects Florida blueberries will be available until the end of April, when the company transitions its program to Georgia and the Carolinas. Southern Specialties ships blueberries year-round.

Southern Specialties is a grower, importer, processor and shipper of a variety of specialty products grown in Central America, South America, Mexico, Canada and the United States. In addition to its Pompano Beach headquarters, the company distributes from its facilities in McAllen, TX, and Los Angeles.

Stop & Shop exec resigns

Ahold USA announced the departure of Joe Kelley, president of the Stop & Shop New England division, effective March 2. The company said he has resigned from his position to pursue other career opportunities.

Don Sussman, division president of Stop & Stop New York Metro, will also oversee the Stop & Shop New England division on an interim basis. Sussman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell, as well as his MBA from Cornell Business School, has held his current position with Ahold since late in 2011.

The Stop & Shop New England division, headquartered in Quincy, MA, operates approximately 220 stores across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The division employs approximately 34,000 associates.