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Kings Food Markets, an upscale gourmet food market based in Parsippany NJ, with 25 stores in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, announces several promotions to its executive, operations and merchant teams.

"Talented leadership is paramount to any company's success," Judy Spires, chairman and chief executive officer of Kings, said in a press release. "By promoting these key leaders within our company, and bringing in new, top-tier talent, Kings is further positioned for growth and inspiration, as we continue to push the boundaries within the food industry."

Among the changes at Kings are the promotion of Donna Mastellone to vice president of produce and floral. The 18-year Kings veteran will oversee the category management business plans for the produce and floral departments. She was most recently director of floral specialty boutique sales and merchandising.

Additionally, Paul Hamilton has been promoted to produce buyer, where he will work closely with the produce and floral teams to develop new programs and in-store experiences that will continue to evolve the produce and floral departments.

Michele Edwards, a 31-year veteran of Kings, has been promoted to floral buyer and will lead the buying efforts for the floral teams to ensure product mix and assortment meets customer needs.

Other leadership changes include the following:

  • Daniel Gallagher joined Kings as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Gallagher comes to Kings with over 16 years' experience in senior level management positions as he will oversee the finance and loss prevention teams.

  • Jessica Gasser has been promoted to executive vice president of strategic services. Gasser will continue to oversee the areas of human resources, labor relations and information technology, while taking on the additional responsibility for leading strategic initiatives for the company.

  • Joseph Parisi has been promoted to senior vice president of operations. A 27-year Kings veteran, Parisi has held positions with increasing levels of responsibility, most recently as vice president of operations. In his new role, he will continue to oversee the operations team, as well as take on new leadership responsibilities.

  • Arthur Goncalves has been promoted to vice president of center store, where he will oversee center store operations as well as pricing, brands and shelf management. Over the past 20 years, he has held various positions in the business, including general store manager, manager of category space allocation, manager of store development, director of seafood and most recently held the position of vice president of produce and floral.

  • Allen Merken has been promoted to senior director, engineering, maintenance and construction. Merken will continue to oversee remodels and renovations. In his new role, he will support the company's growth plans through additional involvement in site selection, analysis and planning.

  • Thomas McNerney has been promoted to senior director, operations. McNerney will oversee the operations and quality assurance departments.

  • Kathe Benjamin has been promoted to director of human resources and labor relations. In her new role, Benjamin will oversee all aspects of human resources including recruitment and retention, employee/labor relations, training and performance management and compensation and benefits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative complaint under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act against Pennsylvania-based J.E. Corcoran Co. for allegedly failed to make payment to 41 produce sellers in the amount of $2.5 million from December 2014 through June 2016.

The company will have an opportunity to request a hearing. Should USDA find that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry for two years. Furthermore, its principals could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for one year and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

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.

The Big Idaho Potato Truck has been making heads turn for six years. The splash it made in New York City in August of 2016 was so big it earned the six-ton spud the prestigious Bulldog Reporter's Silver Award for Best Special Event. More than 200 submissions were received and judged by journalists, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, from several media outlets, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Forbes and The Oregonian.ipctruck

“We knew if we wanted to generate excitement among consumers and get media coverage in NYC, the country’s biggest media market, we’d have to do something out of the ordinary,” Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of the Idaho Potato Commission, said in a press release. “Putting the truck on a barge was a home run. The event generated more than 100 million media impressions with stories in many news outlets, including the NYC taxi cabs. Even the NYPD released a special bulletin informing folks of a giant potato on the Hudson River. This event was especially important to us because New Yorkers are the biggest consumers of Idaho potatoes.”

In August 2016, millions of New Yorkers, tourists and reporters were able to see the Big Idaho Potato Truck as it traveled on a barge around the Statue of Liberty, under the Brooklyn Bridge, in front of the Freedom Tower and up the Hudson River.

In many markets, the truck works with local non-profits to help raise awareness and funds for organizations like Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Manhattan. The Big Idaho Potato Truck is back on the road for its sixth cross-country tour. To see the schedule visit

Second-generation, family-owned Fox Packaging and leading equipment supplier Fox Solutions are supporting their commitment to the fresh produce industry by introducing Fox News, a blog dedicated to packaging and equipment insights for the industry.Untitled-1

With the combined efforts of Fox Packaging and Fox Solutions, Fox News will provide thought leadership on a range of topics around packaging trends, equipment solutions, food safety, sustainability and how Fox is addressing these trends and issues head-on, according to a company news release.

“To support the needs of growers, shippers and retailers, we are creating an information hub to find thoughtful insights in the areas of packaging and packing equipment,” Aaron Fox, president of Fox Solutions, based in McAllen TX, said in a press release. “This is a way to address common topics in our area of the supply chain with relevant, industry specific content.”

Together, Fox Packaging and Fox Solutions strive to lead the industry forward with innovative solutions, and the launch of a packaging specific blog is one more way of adding value to their industry peers.

For more information about Fox Solutions, please visit and for information about Fox Packaging, please visit

NAVOLATO, SINALOA —His formal title may be president of the board of directors, but Theojary Crisantes Sr. would be just as happy with a “grower-in-chief” moniker.

There is nothing to prove for this man who, first with his father and then three sons, built a large, highly organized and successful organic vegetable company, Wholesum Harvest.

Donning his floppy sun hat and old blue jeans while walking his shadehouses in Navolato, which is part of the Culiacan growing district, the foremost topic on Crisantes’ mind was the pepper weevil.Theo-and-friendsIn a Wholesum Harvest shadehouse were Theojary Crisantes Sr. with harvesters Emiliano Vicente, Guillermo Lozoya and Jonathan Alarcon. Crisantes is president of the Wholesum board, Vicente is on the Fairtrade worker committee of Wholesum, Lozoya is the production manager and Alarcon, who is Crisantes’ son-in-law, is the general manager of these Culiacan-area operations.

He noted that his bounty is 1,000 pesos (about $50) to the first employee to find a pepper weevil in a shadehouse. He added that a few days prior, an employee found a weevil, which a microscope found not to be a pepper weevil. So, that employee got 500 pesos for trying.

In organic operations such as Wholesum’s, there is no effective control for the tiny pepper weevils. So if a mating pair finds one another, their presence can be disastrous. The best cure is prevention, so keeping pests away from production with well-secured shadehouses, armed with an S-shaped, maze-like entry system and double doors, is a must.  

Highlighting The Produce News’ March visit to Wholesum headquarters, arranged by Crisantes was a meeting with leaders of the entity’s Fairtrade committee. These company workers were elected by their peers to represent worker interests in delegating moneys received for Fairtrade premiums.

Demetrio Pereda presented a slide presentation about how Fairtrade has benefited Wholesum’s workers, who cultivate a total of 300 acres on two Culiacan-area locations.

This Fairtrade program has been operational for five months. The committee members have created a computer center for employees to learn and utilize. There is a scholarship program for workers’ children ranging in age from elementary school to college. The group also bought refrigerators, which are shared by four families.

There is now a Fairtrade-paid laundry service and daily dental services. The latest program provides funding to help keep up workers’ permanent homes, which tend to be in southern Mexico, particularly in Guerrero. That money has gone to build tin roofs, concrete floors for homes, bathrooms and water cisterns for potable water.

Pereda, who moved here permanently from Oaxaca eight years ago, said there is work around his homeland in the winter months to harvest coffee or plant corn, but “there is not enough work every day,” as there is in this Culiacan area.

Fellow Fairtrade committee member Emiliano Vicente likes working in this area because his children can get an education and because there is no child labor in this area. He added that this is a better place to become a better person.

About 20-25 percent of this farm’s volume is sold to Fairtrade. A key part of this business is the retailer Whole Foods Market, which promotes the Whole Trade program. In five months, this program has earned $70,000 in premiums to benefit workers.

At Wholesum’s Imuris greenhouse project in northern Sonora, the Fairtrade program has earned workers $500,000, Crisantes said.

North of Nogales in Amado, AZ, Wholesum’s modern greenhouse has become a lead example for a new Fairtrade USA program. Crisantes’ Nogales-based son, Ricardo Crisantes, is on the board of directors of Fairtrade USA.

In Navolato, independent of the Fairtrade program, Wholesum pays for a doctor, Rosario Cabrera, to be fulltime on staff. Another company benefit is a fully staffed day-care facility.