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Ahold USA announced Don Sussman, president of the Stop & Shop New York Metro division, has been appointed executive vice president of merchandising at Ahold USA. In addition, Bob Yager will be rejoining the Stop & Shop New York Metro division as senior vice president and division lead, and Nick Bertram, Ahold USA’s senior vice president of merchandising strategy and support, will expand his responsibilities.Donald-SussmanDon Sussman

Sussman has more than 37 years of retail experience, including leadership roles in marketing and merchandising and he has led three of the four Ahold USA retail divisions. Andrew Iacobucci, former executive vice president of merchandising, has decided to leave the company in order to pursue another opportunity outside of the retail grocery industry.

Yager will oversee day-to-day operations of the New York Metro divisional leadership team. He was most recently with Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize company, as senior vice president of supply chain.

Bertram's expanded responsibilities will include day-to-day merchandising operations, the ongoing integration work with Delhaize America and vendor collaboration. He has been with Ahold USA for nearly four years and has been instrumental in improving the company’s merchandising operations and strategy.

“We wish Andrew all the best and thank him for his contributions during his time at Ahold USA,” Kevin Holt, chief operating officer of Ahold USA, said in a press release. “We are fortunate to have a strong merchandising leadership team in place. I am confident these appointments will continue the excellent merchandising support of our strong local brands and help them to accelerate and drive their businesses forward.”

For those Red River Valley red potato growers who lost three-fourths of their crop to rain and subsequent fields that were too muddy to yield spuds for harvest, there isn’t much that can happen to make the 2016 crop a profitable venture.

But, on average, Red River Valley red potato growers managed to harvest about two-thirds of a normal crop.2015-TedTed Kreis

On Jan. 10, Ted Kreis, the marketing manager for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said that overall, potato growers in his region will enjoy greater profits than they would have seen had the valley produced a full crop.

The reason, of course, is simply supply and demand. The Red River Valley supplies a significant portion of the nation’s red potato volume. A lack of these supplies has elevated prices to increase profits above what would have yielded for a greater potato supply.

Wintertime strong prices for Red River Valley red potato growers exist despite low prices for the competing russet potato industry. “Low-priced russets took ads from red. It has lowered the price for reds.” Yet, the red potato market “is at a very comfortable level.”

Kreis said national potato supplies were a key discussion point in early January at the 2017 Potato Business Summit. Kreis attended much of the meeting despite becoming ill there. The San Francisco meeting was presented by United Potato Growers of America.

“There was a lot of concern on Idaho’s overall production,” said Kreis. That overproduction “hurt their growers worse than it did growers in other states.” But there was a strong urging for Idaho growers to “get production back in line with demand.”

At the meeting, “the take was that there is definitely strong, strong evidence of price being directly related to supply. If there is two-thirds of a national potato supply it will have a direct influence on pricing. If you take that, it is more profitable to grow less. If we could all do that (grow less volume) it would benefit everyone. It was very evident how supplies affected the market this year.” In the Red River Valley, “our sales have gone down in proportion to supply. For the most part, all of the growers are very happy” with the market conditions.

This holds true even if the storage potatoes need to be washed twice before packing to clean the mud that clung during harvest.

Red potato movement is slower than normal because of lowered supplies. Smaller-volume Red River Valley packers may finish early because of reduced supplies. The larger packers won’t be finishing late but they will be in the market longer than was expected during the mucky harvest season.

“There is no panic in the valley," he said. "And everyone is happy with the pace this year.”

Yellow potato grower-packers in the Red River Valley are also pleased by market conditions, as yellow demand has been strong.

Kreis said another interesting topic in San Francisco was “grocerants”.

A grocerant is a product of blurred lines between grocery stores and restaurants. Kreis said these locations in grocery stores offer prepared food that can either be consumed in the store or taken home.

These meals may be ready eat or ready to heat, as described online by “The Balance”.

Whatever the final presentation, grocerants are a small but growing new market for the national potato industry, Kreis noted. “I don’t look for this to be a large segment, but we can’t ignore it, either.”

The buyers for grocerants would be within the grocery sector. Kreis said that potato products could be either fresh or frozen. “The trend is for fresh-cut-everything. And the more-healthy aspect.”

Walmart, one of the nation’s largest private employers with nearly 1.5 million associates in the United States, plans to create U.S. jobs and invest in local communities across the country. The investments in the coming year will support an estimated 34,000 jobs through continued expansion and improvement in the company’s store network, as well as e-commerce services, while providing specialty training for more than 225,000 of the company’s frontline associates.

Walmart is planning $6.8 billion of capital investments in the U.S. in the coming fiscal year, which includes construction and remodeling of stores, clubs and distribution centers, as well as the expansion of new services such as online grocery pickup. Walmart’s fiscal year begins Feb. 1

"Walmart is investing to better serve customers,” Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president for corporate affairs, said in a press release. “With a presence in thousands of communities and a vast supplier network, we know we play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs.”

Approximately 10,000 retail jobs are expected to be created through the opening of 59 new, expanded and relocated Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities as well as e-commerce services. Additionally, an estimated 24,000 construction jobs supported through the opening of those facilities, plus the remodeling and improvement of existing U.S. facilities.

By July of this year, Walmart will open 160 new training academies around the country, bringing the total number of Academies to 200. More than 225,000 associates will receive up to six weeks of specialty training and graduate from the academies in 2017.

The Walmart Academies are a network of facilities where frontline hourly supervisors and assistant store managers receive hands-on training in retail fundamentals, leadership skills and the specifics of how to run individual store departments. The training is designed to help associates be successful in their careers and in meeting the changing needs of customers.

The company’s investment in American jobs includes a 2013 commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion in American-made, grown, assembled and sourced products through 2023, estimated to help create 1 million jobs, based on data from Boston Consulting Group.

Under the initiative, Walmart works with thousands of suppliers to help them gain access to the retailer’s shelves in stores and online. In the coming year, the program will continue to provide job-creating opportunities.




A new analysis of the apple category revealed that the late-winter and early-spring months represent the peak season for distribution and sales of the top branded apples.

According to the study, expanded distribution of premium branded apples and aggressive retail promotions during this period drive consumers' transaction size, increasing overall apple category performance for supermarkets.KIKU-at-Retail

CMI Orchards, the exclusive U.S. grower of Ambrosia and co-marketer of U.S.-grown KIKU, Kanzi, Jazz, Envy and Pacific Rose, initiated the study to evaluate key category trends and opportunities. The analysis shows that the period beginning in mid-January and extending to mid-April marks the peak months for maximizing most branded apples.

According to Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI Orchards, based in Wenatchee, WA, the national supermarket scan data results show that in particular, February and March are key months for capturing incremental sales with branded apples.

"The data reveals that retailers with the strongest performance in the overall apple category focus on extracting incremental sales by highlighting branded apples for their customers," he said. "Mid-January to mid-April are the key months when leading retailers entice consumers to try these new apples. During this period, branded apples are perfectly positioned to replace category dollars that are lost as local and regional apples decline in availability."

Lutz said the strongest performing retailers develop distribution and promotion strategies to transition customers into branded apples, maintaining category momentum despite the fact that many regional apples disappear from supermarket shelves.

The national scan data shows that distribution and sales of branded apples like Ambrosia, KIKU, Kanzi, Jazz and Envy all jump in January with momentum that carries into April, according to Lutz, who said, "The scan data shows in the fall branded apples typically generate about 5 percent of total sales, but this number doubles after the first of the year. Retailers that miss this window to fully promote branded apple sales leave dollars on the table.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that the retailers with the strongest performance in branded apples are also the retailers with the strongest overall apple category," Lutz added.

Lutz said that many retailers build a following for branded apples during the winter months and carry that momentum into future seasons. He noted that most of the new branded apples like KIKU, Kanzi and others carry retail prices over $2 per pound. "As supermarkets shift consumer purchases, they simultaneously drive the average category transaction because shoppers buy apples with a higher average price."

Robb Myers, vice president of sales for CMI, said the broader distribution of branded apples after the holidays historically reinvigorates the apple category.

"With Ambrosia, the three strongest weeks of the entire season occur in mid-January, mid-March and two weeks in April," said Myers. "With some of the local and regional competition wrapping up, we're entering one of the best periods of the year to expose customers to branded apples."

Myers said supplies of branded apples in larger sizes are in good shape to support late-winter retail promotions. "We're really excited about the quality and size of the Ambrosia, KIKU and Kanzi we have coming out of storage. We also see strong opportunities with larger sizes in Envy and Pacific Rose."

Myers added that retailers should also strongly consider two-pound pouch bags as an opportunity to introduce consumers to branded apples. He said the strength of the pouch bag is the colorful, high-graphic package that reinforces the quality of the product in the bag.

"Look at CMI's two-pound Ambrosia pouch bag," he said. "It's the No. 1 selling two-pound apple bag in the U.S. No other apple out-sells it, including Honeycrisp."

Myers said that supplies of branded apples for the balance of January through April are excellent. "We expect to see record sales of Ambrosia over the next 10 to 12 weeks. Supplies of KIKU, Kanzi and Jazz are also strong, so there is every reason retailers should expect to drive big sales with these apples."

Delaware Gov.-elect John Carney announced Friday, Jan. 13, his selection of Michael Scuse as the state's next secretary of agriculture. Nominations to the governor's Cabinet must be confirmed by the Delaware Senate, and confirmation hearings are planned for Jan. 18 and Jan. 25, according to the announcement. Scuse, whose confirmation is expected, would succeed Ed Kee, who has served as the state's secretary of agriculture since 2009.ScuseMichael Scuse

The Delaware Department of Agriculture promotes and supports the state's agricultural industry, oversees food inspection services to protect Delaware consumers, ensures agricultural compliance statewide, and helps conserve forest resources.

Scuse has served as the acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture since March 2016, helping support the national agricultural industry, promote vibrant rural communities, and open new markets for America's farmers, according to the announcement.

Previously, Scuse was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, leading efforts to promote American agricultural products globally. From 2001 to 2008, Scuse served as Delaware's secretary of agriculture under then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.

"Agriculture is crucially important to our economy and way of life, particularly in southern Delaware," Gov.-elect Carney said in the announcement. "Over the next four years, we'll take action to preserve Delaware's farmland, help farmers better protect our environment, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens to help smaller farmers succeed. Michael is uniquely qualified to lead that work."