Marcos Mada, formerly of Fresh Del Monte and Walmart, and Jerry Wagner, formerly of Farmers Best International, have formed Mada Wagner LLC, a partnership for agribusiness consulting.
"We are geared to offer a wide range of consulting services to firms in the produce industry but will be focusing mostly on project management, best practices reviews and implementations and strategic planning,” said Mada.
"Marcos' experience in the produce industry at the multinational corporate level and my experience primarily working for family-owned businesses really complement each other as to how we approach challenges and solutions," Wagner said.
The two have been friends since childhood and have been in the same business for many years, but they just recently began working together for the first time at Coast Produce in Los Angeles.
"We realized how much fun we were having tackling projects as a team,” said Wagner. “Together we have over 75 years of experience and we both enjoy helping people in the produce industry improve their position in the marketplace.”
The new company will be based out of Tucson, AZ. For more information, visit www.madawagner.com.
Metro now offers consumers the opportunity to do their grocery shopping online with a guaranteed freshness promise. Implementation began today in two Metro Plus stores in Montreal and one in Laval, QC, reaching consumers in the greater Montreal area.
To guarantee freshness, employees dedicated to online grocery shopping were trained to select the freshest in-store products, like customers would choose themselves. The products selected are then kept in-store in a dedicated Tri-Zones area: temperate, refrigerated and frozen zones. The freshness of the products is thus preserved and guaranteed, from shelf until they are collected at the store or delivered to home, delivery trucks being equipped with the same process.
“We have made every effort to ensure that customers make no compromise with respect to the freshness of the products selected, that they find all the products they are looking for online as they would in-store and that they receive their order at the most convenient moment for them," Marc Giroux, senior vice president of Metro, said in a press release.
“Metro has developed a simple and personalized digital platform," Gino Plevano, vice president of digital strategy and loyalty, said in the release. "In addition, the members of the metro&moi loyalty program will save even more time because they will be able to add the products they buy frequently to their cart. They will also be able to use their personalized coupons as well as their rewards.”
Consumers who do their grocery shopping online can pick up their purchases in two Montreal stores and one Laval store or have their groceries delivered. In Phase I, delivery will be available on the Island of Montreal in a selected area located East of Highway 15/Décarie. Based on the results of Phase I, Metro will decide on the best way to deploy this initiative elsewhere in Quebec and in Ontario.
Online grocery shopping is part of the company’s overall digital strategy, which is designed to position Metro as the retailer offering the food experience best suited to consumers’ needs for years to come.
In a move to expand operations for future growth, local greenhouse producer BrightFarms Inc. has secured $30.1 million in financing. The funds will aid BrightFarms with growth plans in production and marketing, enabling the company to respond to rising retail demand for its products.
Over the past three years, BrightFarms has established a solid foundation providing local, greenhouse-grown products to a wide variety of key retailers in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest markets, including Mariano’s (Kroger), Giant Food (Ahold USA), Wegmans, Acme, McCaffrey’s, King’s and ShopRite. The company operates three local greenhouses near Chicago, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, partnering with retailers in these regions.
“The response to our business model and our products has been phenomenal,” Paul Lightfoot, chief executive officer of BrightFarms, said in a press release. “Over the past three years, we experienced dramatic growth expanding our production every year. We now deliver over 2.5 million pounds of fresh produce annually. This financing will enable us to grow our innovative solutions and provide even more consumers with fresh, local, sustainable produce at a commercial scale on a year-round basis.”
The BrightFarms model for local, fresh, year-round produce pairs well with evolving retail sector goals.
“For 80 years, Giant has provided fresh quality products to its customers,” Gordon Reid, president of Giant Food of Landover, MD, added in the press release. “Our partnership with BrightFarms and our joint efforts to provide everyone in the local community with access to fresh, healthy, local produce means we are able to provide exceptional quality and value.”
The opportunity to deliver consumers high-quality locally grown produce year-round within 24 hours of harvest is one of the many things that attracted Roundy’s to BrightFarms, according to Steve Jarzombek, vice president of produce.
“Our greenhouse in Chicagoland opened in July and demand is growing significantly,” Jarzombek said. “Consumers can truly taste the difference, not to mention it’s a huge win for the environment.”
This largest equity investment to date in the controlled environment local produce industry is led by growth equity firm Catalyst Investors and joined by existing investors WP Global Partners and NGEN Partners.
“Catalyst was attracted to BrightFarms because we believe they are the best in the industry, and because we like their unique business model of signing long-term, fixed-price contracts to guarantee a steady, year-round supply of fresh, local, pesticide-free and GMO-free produce to major metro markets,” Tyler Newton, partner and research director at Catalyst Investors, said in the press release. “Produce grown in controlled environments will be a key part of the sustainable food chain of the future and we look forward to helping BrightFarms lead the way.”
At the recently concluded 2016 Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, nutrition professionals from across the country had the opportunity to participate in the Hass Avocado Board’s Avocado Goodness Community Lounge. Back after its successful debut in 2015, the lounge allowed attendees to immerse themselves in all things avocado, including information sessions, fresh food sampling and chef-led demonstrations.
Over the course of the three-day expo, several information-packed 15-minute science-based information sessions educated hundreds of attendees about the vital health role fresh avocados can play in daily diets, as well as the latest studies focusing on HAB’s health pillars: cardiovascular health, healthy living and weight management/Type 2 diabetes. These intimate small-group sessions, which offered an in-depth look at current and upcoming research, were led by HAB Director of Nutrition Nikki Ford and Julia Nordgren, physician and trained chef. Each session ended with an avocado recipe sampling, where Nordgren talked with attendees about combining fresh avocados with other ingredients and swapping avocados for ingredients high in saturated fat to maximize nutritional value and flavor.
The avocado goodness continued outside the lounge as well, with a 45-minute culinary discussion and demonstration entitled “Will You Accept this Avocado Rose? Why Good Fats Are America’s New Sweetheart.” The demonstration was led by Julia Nordgren, alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America and practicing physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Larry Leibowitz, a local Boston chef and owner of Bambolina Restaurant. The session focused on how avocados can be part of a heart healthy diet and raised awareness for HAB’s new four-year relationship with the American Heart Association. Attendees learned how to prepare the Smoky Avocado Quinoa Breakfast Bowl and earned one CPE credit.
The alliance with the American Heart Association is an important part of HAB’s five-year strategic plan calling for Hass avocados to become America’s No. 1 consumed fruit. HAB’s support of the American Heart Association’s newly launched +color initiative is aimed at informing Americans about how adding just one cup of fruits and vegetables a day will make a simple, yet significant step to building a healthier, longer life.
“FNCE provides us an opportunity to connect with health professionals who are on the front lines of engaging and encouraging Americans to improve their overall health and wellness,” Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of HAB, said in a press release. “This year we were proud to be able to share with the nutrition community that we have taken a stand about the importance of heart health in conjunction with the American Heart Association. Avocados are one healthy way individuals can add more color to their plate, and we look forward to working with the industry to help us reach our overarching commitment to build healthier lives.”
Additionally, in conjunction with this year’s expo, HAB hosted “Love One Today: In Bloom,” an event meant to educate influencers in the nutrition space about the latest avocado science and nutritional information while having fun making avocado roses. Attendees participated in several stations where they could taste an avocado cocktail paired with research-themed avocado food pairings, spoke with Ford and mingle with other professionals while savoring the view of the Boston Harbor.
In support of its commitment to increasing awareness and improving understanding of the unique benefits of avocados to human health and nutrition, in 2010, HAB established a Nutrition Research program. The Nutrition Research program is an integral part of Love One Today, HAB’s multi-year, science-based food and wellness education program, which encourages Americans to include fresh Hass avocados in everyday healthy eating plans to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Fresh Hass avocados contain naturally good fats, and are a cholesterol-free whole food that can be used in a variety of ways. For more information and avocado recipes, visit www.LoveOneToday.com.
North Shore Greenhouses Inc., grower of North Shore Living Herbs, launched a full line of living and organic herbs and microgreens under the new brand North Shore Organic Living at this year’s Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Orlando, FL.
The line features potted herbs, clamshell herbs for the wet rack and microgreens, all living on the store shelf. The company attributes a strong culture of innovation for bringing this product line to life in order to meet the growing demand for organics in the produce department.
“Delivering organic living herbs and microgreens consistently all year round is no easy feat,” said Leo Overgaag, president and owner of North Shore Greenhouses Inc. “We have been in development on these items for the past two years. Both our conventional and organic product lines are grown with the same earth-friendly practices to ensure a sustainable future for our planet.”
The North Shore Organic Living brand features a cohesive package design across all product lines that calls out “living” to consumers shopping the fresh herb category.
“Consumers love the idea of home harvesting for the freshest ingredients possible,” said Micki Dirtzu, director of marketing.
To help educate, entertain and expand product usage North Shore has launched a new website — www.organicliving.farm — along with a complete social media strategy across multiple platforms. The team has developed unique messaging and point-of-sale materials in store to engage consumers at the shelf.
“At PMA Fresh Summit we were challenged to do more in produce to inspire consumers to eat fresher,” Dirtzu added. “That’s what we are aiming to do with our North Shore brands.”