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The Fresh Market's Rick Anicetti has resigned as chief executive officer and board member. Chief Financial Officer Brian Nicholson has been appointed interim CEO, effective immediately, and will assume this position in addition to his current role.fresh

The company said it appreciates Anicetti’s significant contributions and service and wishes him luck in his future endeavors.

Along with Nicholson, The Fresh Market’s current senior leadership team is expected to continue to execute the company’s strategic plan and adapt as needed to the evolving marketplace.

Nicholson has served as the company’s senior vice president and CFO since returning to The Fresh Market in September 2016. From 2004 to 2012, he held a variety of positions for the company, including serving as vice president in the business strategy, financial planning and analysis function from 2005 to 2012.

The Fresh Market’s board of directors said it has great confidence in Nicholson as the right person to guide the company in this interim period.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses — Gamez Produce, Goodness Greeness and David & Son Peppers — for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:

  • Gamez Produce LLC, operating out of Hackensack, NJ, for failing to pay a $97,775 award in favor of a New Jersey seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Faustimo Gamez was listed as a member of the business.

  • Goodness Greeness Inc. operating out of Chicago for failing to pay a $16,179 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Howard Berington, Richard T. Scaman and Robert L. Scaman Jr. were listed as the officers, directors and major stockholders of the business. Another principal of the business at the time of the order was Rodney J. Scaman. He has challenged his responsibly connected status.

  • David & Son Peppers Inc., operating out of Tampa, FL, for failing to pay a $3,242 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Mary Martinez was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. Its experts also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $140 million

 

Michigan is the second-most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, and produce is one of the state’s leading industries. Many of its produce companies are well known and long-established as a reliable source of high-quality product.

Of the crops grown in the Detroit area, some of the most notable are blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, onions, sweet corn, broccoli and other greens. Watermelons are a huge business, tomatoes are strong, and then of course are the multitude of greenhouses that are growing produce year-round.Michigan-Celery-Field-2016-A Michigan celery field.

Nate Stone, general manager and chief operating officer for Ben B Schwartz & Sons, based in Detroit, said that as good as product is around the country, people think local food tastes better and that’s leading to improved sales for many companies in the state.

“Not everyone has the time or space to grow a garden but they love the taste of homegrown product,” he said. “Some is a perceived perception but most is that people really believe in it.”

Stone noted that part of the fun of local is at the retail level.

“What we really think is how lucky we are. It’s all about the ground and Michigan seems to have on the west side of the state, a great ground that grows blueberries and cherries and apples and on the east side of the state they have celery and radishes and leafy vegetables, and it’s so nice. For us, we can almost get it the day it’s picked.”

Food safety remains a buzz around the state, and it’s become a minimum standard quality for most.

“It’s past the point of just participating — everyone is — and we’ve gotten better at it,” Stone said. “It’s so much in the news and so much a concern to people, I don’t think it’s as high up on the ‘what’s new’ list anymore. It’s one of those minimum requirements that you simply expect these days.”

The growers take it seriously and inspectors are regularly popping up in places, and everyone is happy about the level of transparency.

“Michigan has to be great at it, because they are shipping their stuff all over the country,” Stone said. “Some places are too hot to grow produce right now and Michigan produce looks pretty good. We have the transportation and acreage and we can crank out the volume.”

Dominic Russo, sales manager for Rocky Produce Inc., a family-run wholesaler in Detroit, said the state has made tremendous strides over the last few years and people are viewing Michigan — especially Detroit — with different eyes.

“It wasn’t that long ago when Detroit wasn’t thought of as a great place to visit and people were moving away, but now we see a lot of people moving back, and there’s electricity in the air and people feel good about it,” he said. “That’s led by a big restaurant push with high-quality chefs, a ton of retail coming in and just in large a new beginning.”

Produce is playing an important role in the revitalization, with nearly 1,400 growers in the surrounding areas. Much of that local produce is sold at the 125-year-old Eastern Market, a 4.5-acre, one-stop shopping destination offering fruits and vegetables from as many as 250 vendors. The Eastern Market also houses a wholesale market that runs midnight to 5 a.m. for approximately 30-40 growers and 12 medium-sized produce houses from the area.

Metro has rolled out its local purchasing program in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region. Some 122 new grocery and fresh products from 22 local suppliers have made their debut in eight Metro and Super C stores.

"Our merchants, long-time supporters of local products and producers, are now offering an even larger selection of regional and local products," the company said in a statement.

"Thanks to the cooperation of La Table agroalimentaire du Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, the organization behind the Zone Boréale campaign, a regional tour was organized during which the purchasing team met with suppliers who were interested and in a position to sell their products at Metro and Super C, in order to discuss their products, labelling, prices, merchandising, etc.," the company said. "This process resulted in several new local suppliers being discovered and in Metro assisting them in their efforts to get their products on the Metro’s shelves in the region.

“I would like to applaud the efforts that Metro has made in order to make it easier to get local  products onto its shelves and to highlight them, including providing them with a prominent place in-store as well as its support of agribusiness in this area,” Marie-Claude Gauthier, general manager of La Table agroalimentaire du Lac-St-Jean, said in a press release. “This project with Metro allows participating farmers and producers to expand their business, which benefits the economic activity of the entire region and the economy of the entire region comes out as the winner.”

“Our goal is to increase distinctive selection of local products, at a competitive price for our clientele. To do so, we provide personalized support to each one of those partner-suppliers,” Christian Bourbonnière, executive vice president and Quebec division head for Metro, said in the release. “Benefiting from our experience and equipped with better tools, businesses that want to grow with Metro see their development increase rapidly, with some even moving on to distributing throughout the network.”

The Southeast Produce Council announced Monday, June 19, that it will be making a tremendous donation to the Rockin' Appalachian Mom Project, a non-profit organization whose vision is to improve the well-being of impoverished children and families in Martin County, KY, through community outreach and hunger relief programs with the ultimate goal of empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.ram

With the help of the Society of St. Andrew for distribution, RAMP will be receiving produce donations from the following SEPC members: DiMare Fresh Produce, Mack Farms Inc., Nickey Gregory Co., North Bay Produce Inc., Shuman Produce Inc., Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc. and Wayne E. Bailey Co. These members will be donating cases, pallets and truckloads of various fruits and veggies to this worthy cause for hunger relief.

"Part of the SEPC's mission is to give back to communities in which we operate," SEPC Executive Director David Sherrod said in a press release. "Once again, our membership has answered the call to help feed the hungry and open up their hearts to those who are in need. We are very pleased that we can help facilitate these donations and serve our membership while helping the people in Martin County, Kentucky."

Providing access to healthy food and economic opportunity in Martin County is scarce, but through the SEPC's partnership with RAMP, the Society of St. Andrew and the very dedicated and giving members of the SEPC, they are able to provide fresh produce to this undernourished area a few times a year.

If your company is interested in donating fresh produce for a RAMP delivery, please contact the SEPC at info@seproducecouncil.com.