BJ’s names president

BJ’s Wholesale Club announced that Christopher J. Baldwin will take over as president and chief operating officer, effective Sept. 8, with oversight of the chain’s business operations, including merchandising, marketing, membership and logistics. He will also sit on the company’s board of directors.

Prior to joining BJ’s, Baldwin was chief executive officer of Hess Retail Corp., which operates gas stations and convenience stores. He also previously worked in leadership roles at Kraft Foods, The Hersey Co. and Procter & Gamble.

“Chris’ record of excellence in leading large and successful organizations in the retail and consumer sectors will help us to build upon BJ’s strong heritage of offering a distinctive shopping experience and deep value proposition to BJ’s millions of loyal members,” Laura Sen, CEO of BJ’s, said in a statement.

Sen previously held the combined role of president and CEO; the COO position has been vacant for several years, according to the company.

BJ’s, based in Westborough, MA, operates 208 clubs and 123 gas stations.

New reports shows that organic growing methodology is bee-friendly

An important and timely report released in June by The Organic Center shows that organic farming practices are effective in maintaining the health and population of important crop pollinators — predominantly bees — which have been declining at an alarming rate in the past decade and threatening global food security.

Titled The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health, the report reviewed 71 studies detailing current threats to our pollinators and the effects of organic practices.beePollinators on a honeycomb. (Photo courtesy of the Organic Center)

It found that organic methods not only reduce risks to bees, but actively support the growth and health of populations of bees and other pollinators. The paper outlines pollinator-friendly techniques used by organic farmers that can also be incorporated into conventional farming systems.

“Our paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by honey bees and other pollinators, and we look at organic as a model for supporting pollinator populations,” Jessica Shade, director of science programs for The Organic Center said in a press release. “We hope this report acts as a tool to educate policymakers, growers and consumers. Bee-friendly practices being used by organic farmers can be adopted by all producers to foster healthy pollinators.”

Seventy-five percent of all crops grown for food rely on pollinators, mostly honey bees, for a successful harvest. But over the past decade, the bee population has plummeted. Since 2006, beekeepers have lost over a third of their bee hives.

More than $16 billion worth of crops in the United States alone benefit from pollination every year. Without pollination from honey bees, many favorite fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots and onions would not be on our grocery shelves. The lack of these products has a direct effect on all segments of the produce industry.

No single factor has been singled out as the cause of the disproportionate bee declines. Instead, it is attributed to a number of factors, including exposure to toxic pesticides, parasite and pathogen infections, poor nutrition and loss of habitat. These are thought to interact resulting in lethal consequences for bees. Large-scale chemically intensive agricultural production has been implicated as a major source of the threats to pollinators.

Organic farming, because of the practices it follows, has been demonstrated by a number of studies to support more pollinators than conventional farming.

“One of the simplest ways to conserve our pollinator populations in an agriculturally reliant world is through organic farming,” Shade noted. “Consumers can rest assured that every time they purchase an organic product, they are supporting pollinator health.”

Organic practices are found to protect and support the health of bees in two critical ways. One is less exposure to toxic chemicals through insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other synthetic toxins used in industrial agriculture. The other is a reduction in the bee habitat and biodiversity. Lack of habitat and nutritional food sources are key factors in pollinator decline.

Bees need a diversity of plants from which to collect sufficient pollen and nectar to support their hives. Because organic producers are required to manage their farms in a way that maintains and improves natural resources, organic farms tend to have a more diverse landscape with more flowering plants to support and feed bees.

“Organic farming supports all of agriculture by maintaining and nourishing healthier pollinator communities, through practices such as crop rotations, hedgerow planting and the use of integrated pest management techniques,” said Shade. “Our goal is to gain recognition for these important organic practices.”

Go Broncos... Go Colorado fruits and veggies

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association is reaching out to broad audiences in Colorado and eight other states with a focused message: Fall in love with Colorado produce.

Adrian Card, who works as an agent with Colorado State University Extension in Boulder County, serves as a partner on the association’s board of directors. He talked about the unique partnership the association has developed with 850 KOA Radio and the Denver Broncos Radio Network to promote an array of fresh produce, including Colorado-grown potatoes.BroncosOV-ADRIAN-CARDAdrian Card

“KOA is the home radio station for the Denver Broncos Radio Network,” he told The Produce News. “It seemed like the logical fit for identification to radio listeners visiting our website.”

During the Broncos pre-season and regular season games, fans will hear a specific ratio ad. “Each will promote specific fruit and vegetable crops to a broad audience, encouraging them to buy Colorado produce,” Card stated. “Here is our first ad on peaches, apples and pears:

“'Although you didn’t pick it right off the tree, it tastes like you did. Now is the time to enjoy the sweetness and unrivaled flavor of Colorado peaches, apples and pears fresh off the tree before the season is over. Look for the Colorado Proud logo when shopping for Colorado peaches, apples and pears at your supermarket and buy them at your local farmers market or produce stand. Find tips for choosing, preparing, preserving and more healthy eating success with Colorado produce, at coloradoproduce.org and click on the 850 KOA logo'.”

Card said ads will feature Colorado potatoes later this fall. “We think each radio spot reaches about 80,000 listeners,” he said of the campaign.

Raley’s new concept store

raley

Raley’s Family of Fine Stores announced plans to develop a new store that will be state-of-the art with a focus on the most sustainable features. The 36,000-square-foot store will deliver an extensive assortment of fresh, high-quality food.

The new site, located in the Sacramento area, advances the company’s vision to bring health and wellness to customers and allows Raley’s to further expand its presence within the region.

“Raley’s takes great pride operating our business in one of the richest agricultural hubs in the world. We are excited about what this region represents for the future of food production,” Michael Teel, Raley’s owner and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Raley’s is helping lead the way to a better food system and our new site offers an opportunity to continue that innovation.”

The recently secured new location is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2016 with an opening targeted for the second quarter of 2017.

New generation of GMO potatoes deregulated

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has deregulated J.R. Simplot Co.'s genetically modified Russet Burbank variety of Innate potatoes. This is the second generation of Innate potatoes to receive deregulated status.

The new potatoes contain four beneficial traits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers. These traits were achieved by adapting only genes from wild and cultivated potatoes.Group-of-Innate-next-to-black-spotThe second generation of Innate potatoes will help prevent black spots. In addition to reducing asparagine as well as bruising and black spots, second-generation Innate potatoes have resistance to late blight pathogens and enhanced cold storage capability.

According to the company, early research shows that Innate second-generation potatoes will further contribute to reducing waste associated with bruise, blight and storage losses by reducing waste at multiple stages of the value chain, including in-field, during storage, processing, and in foodservice. That research suggests that these traits will translate to less land, water and pesticide applications to produce these potatoes.

Academics consulted by Simplot estimate that the Innate late blight resistance trait, regulated by the EPA, can result in a 25 percent to 45 percent reduction in fungicide applications annually to control late blight. Lower asparagine means that accumulation levels of acrylamide can be reduced by up to 90 percent or more when these potatoes are cooked at very high temperatures. In addition, lowered reducing sugars enable cold storage at 38 degrees for more than six months without the build-up of sugars, which improves quality.

In March the company completed the food and feed safety consultation with the Food & Drug Administration for its first generation of Innate potato varieties, after which the FDA concluded the Innate potato is as safe and nutritious as conventional potatoes. Simplot said it is looking forward to the completion of the EPA registration and FDA consultation before the second generation of Innate potatoes can be introduced into the marketplace.