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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.

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.


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.



Produce industry weighs in at Senate school nutrition hearing

WASHINGTON — Schools that were proactive in improving the healthfulness of school meals before the new nutrition standards went into effect are not having problems complying with the stricter standards or experiencing plate waste, Phil Muir, president and chief executive officer of Muir Copper Canyon Farms in Salt Lake City told a Senate panel on the school nutrition standards.

The only industry representative, Muir, a former United Fresh Produce Association board member, joined a small panel of school nutrition officials who fielded questions during a two-hour hearing July 23 before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

PhilPhil Muir, president and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms and a former United Fresh Produce Association board member, testifying at a July 23 Senate panel on school nutrition standards. (Photo courtesy of United Fresh)Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the powerful Senate panel, said healthier meal options are being well received by school children.  

“I have had the opportunity to visit many schools in Michigan and I have been impressed to see elementary school students enjoying broccoli and pineapple from salad bars, and students learning about where their food comes from through farm-to-school garden efforts,” Stabenow said.

The school nutrition standards, which went into effect July 1, have become polarizing on Capitol Hill ever since the School Nutrition Association began reporting some schools are struggling to meet the new standards and more children are dumping their trays of food rather than eating healthier meals.

SNA complained at the hearing of a decline in school lunch participation since schools began implementing the new requirements and that, for example, schools are having difficulty finding appealing tortillas, biscuits and crackers that meet the new whole grain-rich test.

“Food companies serving the school nutrition industry have worked hard to introduce new foods that  meet the standards and student tastes, but some of these products are simply not available or  affordable for all districts, especially small and rural districts,” said Julia Bauscher, SNA president and director of school and community nutrition services for Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools.

But Muir painted a different picture from a distributor’s point of view after providing fresh produce to 52 rural and urban school districts in Utah, Idaho and western Wyoming, and three Indian reservations in Utah and Idaho.

“We consider ourselves more than just a supplier or bid winner — we are a partner with our school customers,” he said. “Our goal is to be a solution provider through information, training and consultation assisting schools to successfully implement all of the new fruit and vegetable requirements.”

He recounted some of his observations: Schools that made incremental changes are having an easier time complying with the new regulation, and schools with the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program are successfully implementing the new nutrition standards because they have already introduced their students to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The director of food services for Detroit Public Schools, Betti Wiggins, said change is not easy, but that she’s been able to work with food distributors, farmers and others to feed high-quality meals to some 50,000 school children each day. Nine out of 10 school districts already comply with the law, she noted.

 “Change is always a little difficult and, in this case, it’s well worth the effort,” Stabenow said in closing the July 23 hearing.

United continues to be a leading advocate for improving school children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of strategies, including more healthful standards for school meals, the Smart Snacks in School standard, the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program and the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

Additionally, Muir and other United Fresh members participated in United’s first-ever “Ask the Experts: Produce Solutions Center” at the School Nutrition Association annual conference, held July 13-16 in Boston.

The center brought produce industry veterans together with school nutrition directors from across the country for discussions about ways to provide a wide variety of high-quality produce items to students. United also presented two educational workshops at the conference to help school nutrition directors plan menus, understand seasonality and efficiently add more fresh produce to their schools’ meals.

Sunrain Varieties LLC announces increased capacity

Sunrain Varieties LLC, known for its innovation, expertise and dedication to fresh potato seed development, has just completed a series of capital improvements in its Idaho Falls-based facilities.

Two additional greenhouses were added to the Idaho Falls complex, in addition to a 25,000-hundredweight storage unit, which will enable Sunrain to increase mini tuber production by nearly 40 percent. Additional office space and on-site testing equipment were also added during the upgrade. The on-site test farm was upgraded by adding a state-of-the-art irrigation system to the 140-acre plot.

The Idaho Falls facility is the crown jewel in a nationwide trial program that now spans 12 different states. By growing their own tissue cultures, plantlets and mini tubers in highly controlled environments, the team of field agronomists can be certain that they are bringing the very best product to market.

Sunrain will be holding a new product showcase and open house Aug 13. Contact Rainey Carraballo for more information or to schedule a facility tour.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please contact Rainey Carraballo at 208/552-3096 ext. 1007 or e-mail