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Cinco de Mayo festivities are on the horizon, and Superfresh Growers is targeting Granny Smith apples as a popular promotional item. Granny Smith is one of America’s favorite apples, maintaining the No. 4 placement in top apple varieties.granny-taijn-image2

Granny Smith apples continue to stay on trend, as they are the most talked about apple in digital media. These apples are most popular within Millennial and Hispanic communities, who both trend toward the tarter-spectrum of apples — sprinkling Tajín on sliced Granny Smith apples as a snack or ideal for juicing.

Granny Smith apples represent 11 percent of the apple category in both dollar share and volume, according to IRI data through Feb. 25. They continue to remain No. 4 in both organic and conventional dollar share. Granny Smith rose in average price per pound for the month of January to $1.53 conventional and $1.77 organic, providing strong sales for retailers. Sixty percent of Granny Smith sales are bulk, 40 percent of sales are in bags. Granny Smith resonates well across all demographics and households, and are a produce staple.

Creating large bulk displays draws attention to the bright green, festive color of Granny Smith apples. Attract shoppers to Cinco de Mayo promotions by placing them near the cash registers and front of store and cross merchandise with Tajín. Merchandising opportunities include both traditional in-store placement, as well as putting on ad next to each other and suggesting pairing the two. Cross promotional ads create kitchen inspiration by suggesting an eating occasion.

Whether bag, bulk, organic or conventional, Superfresh Growers has multiple Granny Smith options for seasonal promotions.

The Superfresh Growers marketing team also has multiple content and recipe kits to inspire during Cinco de Mayo, including Pear Margaritas with Tajin Rim, and Honeycrisp Salsa Fish Tacos. The latter recipe features a Honeycrisp Watermelon salsa that stands up well on its own, and was created by Shannon Feltus, a chef featured on Food Network.

Here is a scenario that often occurs when new employees are hired and sent to the produce department.

Joe, the produce manager, welcomes Scott and Laura into his department as newly hired employees. Joe gives them a fast tour of the surroundings and explains a few of their duties.Produce-manager-training-new-employee-at-store-level

After a short 30-minute talk, Joe instructs them to go into the back room cooler and display peaches that are on sale. He explained that he was very busy and immediately went about his department work in an unsystematic manner.

Scott and Laura looked around in the cooler for the peaches. Suddenly, Scott pointed to some boxes and asked Laura, “Are these the peaches?” Laura responded, “I think so.”

After a guess, they wheeled out a cart full of nectarines and proudly loaded them on the peach display. Whoops!

Perhaps you shook your head or even chuckled at this inept development. It may sound absurd, but it happens many times in the produce world. The question is, why?

Is it the fault of Scott and Laura for not knowing a peach from a nectarine? Is it Joe’s fault? Yes, but partially. After all, the store manager introduced Scott and Laura to Joe and more or less said, “Here are two new employees for you.” That’s it? What about training?

In this situation, the company is primarily at fault. Instead of assigning Scott and Laura to an experienced co-worker, Joe just set them free to learn at their own pace. Obviously, no training program existed in this company.

According to surveys, close to 40 percent of employees quit their jobs as a result of no training. How long would Scott and Laura last?

Has training gone by the wayside? Many company leaders feel less interested in investing the money in training programs. Too often training falls into the “cut and chop” barrel and withers away. Other times senior management would slash training in the budget, assuming nobody would oppose it.

Senior management feels adverse on produce training programs because they sound too sophisticated and costly. They visualize the employees travelling to some distant location, sitting in a classroom, watching videos and listening to a trainer read out of a book. To management, this sounds like a lot of money.

We’re talking about supermarket produce departments where the new employees will be handling product, preparing it, rotating it, displaying it, and maintaining its freshness. You just don’t learn all that from a textbook or listening to lectures.

I always felt that the best method in educating new produce employees is good old on-the-job training. Working in the produce trenches alongside an experienced associate and being overseen by the produce manager is always the best learning method of all. If new employees are going to work on the front lines, they should not be stuck in a classroom immobilized watching video clips and unable to literally handle the product.

My shelves are loaded with produce training manuals. In fact, I even helped write some of them. I admit that some are good for new employees to browse, as there are many worthwhile basics to use as references.

However, most of the textbook format methods eventually become stagnant and out of date. Working, handling and merchandising produce is different today. There are better techniques, newer items, improved equipment and easier ways to get the job done.

When you train new employees, try not to overdo it. Stay with the basics and focus on a few points at a time. Nothing can ruin the confidence of new employees by overwhelming them with too much material too fast.

Don’t hang your hat on false promises of expenditures for training programs by management. For best results, implement training by teaching it yourself directly in the trenches.

wegAccording to the just-published 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings, Wegmans ranks No. 1 for providing the best customer experience of any supermarket in the country, and in fact, received the highest overall score of any of the 318 companies across 20 different industries that were evaluated. This marks the eighth consecutive year that Temkin has measured customer experience.

"We are incredibly proud and know this happens because we all work together and help one another," said Colleen Wegman, president and chief executive officer. "We truly mean it when we say, 'every day you get our best,' and thankfully this is the result."

To generate these ratings, Temkin asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate their recent interactions with 318 companies across 20 industries.  They then evaluated their experiences across three dimensions: success, effort and emotion.

Stemilt’s proprietary variety, the Piñata apple, found the spotlight this month through popular online food media outlets, So Yummy and Serious Eats. The flavorful tropical apple with culinary qualities was featured in two recipe videos, including one with an everyday apple hack. The Piñata videos will reach more than a million food-minded consumers via these popular channels leading up to Cinco de Mayo holiday, a big promotion time for the Stemilt signature fruit.

“We’re excited to partner with these leading food channels to amplify the retail activity on Piñata apples now and into the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Piñata is an heirloom cross with a balanced sweet, tart, and slightly tropical flavor profile and flesh that can handle cooking temperatures, making it a culinary standout,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt communications manager.pina

Stemilt’s Serious Eats partnership began in March and helped food enthusiasts kick off spring with an Instant Pot pulled pork taco and apple slaw recipe. The Instant Pot is one of the most sought-after small kitchen appliances today. In fact, NPR reported that on Amazon’s 2015 Prime Day, more than 24,000 units were sold and it jumped to 215,000 the following year, before selling out. In 2017, it was among the top five sellers on Amazon’s Black Friday list.

So Yummy is currently sharing a video of their Piñata Apple Upside Down Breakfast Cookieswith its 17 million plus Facebook followers.

Both Serious Eats and So Yummy are online food media outlets that feature recipes that can be crafted in the home, which makes their creations with the versatile Pinata all the more exciting for Stemilt.

“So Yummy and Serious Eats each come with their own style, and both provide a fun and sharable end result that will help drive shoppers to seek Piñata apples out at grocery stores,” said Shales. “Each of these outlets reach an audience that we know will love Pinata. They both have high fan engagement making them influential in the culinary world. This allows us to reinforce Piñata as an apple to enjoy and also tap into an audience that might not have had the chance to know what Piñata is.”

Stemilt is not new to the influencer game, having tapped into popular food bloggers for years for brands and proprietary varietals like Lil Snappers kid-size fruit, Rave apples, and Skylar Rae cherries.

“Intent marketing and tapping into the power of influencers has proven to be an effective way to build brand awareness, whether it’s during a seasonal push like Cinco de Mayo for Pinata apples or throughout the year for a brand like Lil Snappers,” said Shales.

The Piñata brand apple was introduced to U.S. markets in 2008 when Stemilt’s founding family, the Mathison’s, purchased the North American rights to grow and market the fruit in 2004. A cross between three heirloom varieties — the Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Duchess of Oldenburg — the variety has a lot to offer apple lovers everywhere. The red-yellow apple comes with a classic apple profile with a bit of a tropical twist at the end. The flesh is crisp and juicy making it the ideal apple for heated culinary dishes.

“The flavor profile and build of Piñata will do well in any sort of heated application, making it a great apple to use for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo holiday,” said Shales. “The tropical twist is a great lead in for any retailer to promote the festive holiday on May 5.”

Rick Antle, president and chief executive officer of Tanimura & Antle, the largest lettuce and vegetable producer in the Salinas Valley, died Saturday, April 14, after a short battle with cancer. He was 61.ant

Mr. Antle grew up in the family business as the grandson of vegetable pioneer Bud Antle and son of the equally imposing Bob Antle. He began his career at Bud Antle Inc. in the early 1970s and launched Tanimura & Antle with his father and brother and the Tanimura family in 1982.

That continued a tradition of the Antles selling the crops that the Tanimuras grow dating back to 1949. Together the two families built a powerful and innovative company, with Rick Antle taking a lead role in guiding the course for the past three decades.

Over the past 35 years, T&A has been every bit the industry leader that its predecessor Bud Antle Inc. was. It has been involved in all aspects of the industry and is the largest grower-shipper in the commodity business. A year ago, Mr. Antle told The Produce News, “Our sweet spot seems to be in the 16-20 percent range,” he said, referring to the company’s market share in lettuce and its other core products.

He also led the company into many different innovative areas of the industry as it currently has a greenhouse and artisan lettuce operation in Tennessee and is greatly increasing its presence in the organic sector.

A year ago, the leadership of the organization formed an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) to assure a smooth transition as the company moves forward and also to gives its vast number of employee a material stake in the operation. Tanimura & Antle has always been one of the leaders in the industry with regard to its workforce.

In 2016, Mr. Antle, along with his wife, Tonya, was honored by the United Fresh Produce Association with its distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Antle is survived by his wife, Tonya, and his two sons, Brian and Jeff, both of whom are involved in the company. He is also survived by his brother, Mike, who is currently on T&A’s board of directors. Funeral services are pending.