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The Hass Avocado Board announced its new executive committee and slate of board members for 2017 as appointed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The board will work to support the mission of HAB’s five-year strategic plan: being the catalyst of collective efforts toward market expansion in the U.S. The plan’s six strategic priorities include building demand, nutrition research and affairs, supply and demand data collection, and quality as well as two new initiatives -- sustainability and industry engagement. Sustainability efforts will concentrate on bringing together a healthy public, planet and profitable avocado stakeholder; while industry engagement will encourage growers, exporters, handlers, importers and industry associations that supply the U.S. to support the new vision and successfully execute the board’s strategic plan.

Executive committee positions have been assigned to Chairman re-elect Chris Henry, importer; Vice Chairman re-elect Bob Schaar, producer; Treasurer Laurie Luschei, producer; and Secretary Javier Medina, importer.

“We are committed to advancing our priorities to meet HAB’s vision of becoming the No. 1 consumed fruit in America,” Henry said in a press release. “We are confident that we have the right people and plan in place to ensure growth goals are met."

Three members and three additional alternates were chosen to serve in the positions. Appointed board members include Keith Barnard, importer; Salvador Dominquez, producer; and Linda Mullins, producer. New alternate positions include Ohannes Karaoghlanian, producer; Patrick Lucy, importer; and Jim Swoboda, producer.

“We look forward to continuing to build on the tremendous success of our outgoing officers and board members,” Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board, said in the release. “With our five-year strategic plan established, we are highly motivated and excited about the future of our industry."

HAB thanked the outgoing board members for their service and commitment to advancing the industry’s priorities, including Rick Greenwood, chair of corporate governance committee, which developed and implemented guidelines with the purpose of making board membership more attractive, enhancing board effectiveness and adhering to best practices; Sebastian Bulnes, nutrition liaison, who served as the link between the board and HAB on nutrition research and related affairs; and Karaoghlanian for his unwavering contributions to the finance committee.

HAB said it is also grateful for the efforts of this year’s outgoing alternates: Custodio Aguilar, producer; Faye Hall, producer; and Jimmy Lotufo, importer.

The Save Mart Cos. announced the appointment of Nicole Piccinini Pesco as the company's chief executive officer. Most recently Pesco, daughter of Save Mart owner and Chairman Bob Piccinini, served as co-president and chief strategy and branding officer, where she oversaw marketing, merchandising strategies and strategic execution.

Having grown up in the grocery business, Pesco worked her way up from being a service clerk in the stores on her summer vacations into roles of increasing responsibility in accounting, private label, enterprise systems implementation, marketing and merchandising.

The company said Pesco’s passion for food and customer-centric approach to grocery retail is changing the way Save Mart operates. In July 2015, Save Mart launched its first new concept store format in over 20 years with the introduction of Lucky California. The visionary design of this store reveals the strength of Pesco’s retail innovation — and it was the culmination of several years of market research and operational restructuring. She is committed to growing the market share of Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx stores through the reinvigoration of each of these brands.

After graduating from the Polimoda Institute of International Fashion Design in Florence, Italy, Pesco ran fulfillment and logistics for Claudia Ciuti Shoes, a high end Italian designer based in New York City. Before returning home to join Save Mart, she also completed coursework in finance, management and marketing at New York University. She also completed undergraduate coursework at the University of California Los Angeles.

Under Pesco's leadership, last year Save Mart donated over $5 million back to communities throughout California and Northern Nevada. She sits on the Save Mart CARES Foundation Board of Directors, as well as the Board of the California Grocers Association. 

The Save Mart Cos. is a family-owned, privately held company that employs nearly 16,000 team members and operates 206 traditional and price impact stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky, Lucky California, FoodMaxx, S-Mart, and MaxxValue.


Stemilt has released a new Fruit Tracker Fast Facts video that provides the company’s analysis of Nielsen retail scan data from October 2016, and shows both apple volume and dollars up considerably over the same time frame in 2015.

“October was a great month for apples,” Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s communications manager, said in a press release. “Retailers sold 4.5 percent more pounds of apples on average than the year prior, and for more money, with a 5 percent increase in dollars of apples sold.”

SweeTango was the clear No. 1 club apple variety in the month of October, selling 10 more pounds on average than in 2015 and an impressive 25.8 percent increase in dollars. The top five apple varieties were Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Granny Smith and Red Delicious. This was mostly unchanged from September 2016, with the exception of Granny Smith moving ahead of Red Delicious. Not surprisingly, Honeycrisp had the highest average retail among all apples at a whopping $2.40 per pound.stem3

“SweeTango movement was very strong this season. The flavor profile of SweeTango is unlike any other and it continues to win more shoppers over each year, as well as becoming an apple that consumers are seeking out every fall,” said Shales.

The apple category was 7.7 percent of total produce department sales in October 2016, which was more than a tenth of a percent higher than in 2015. Bulk apple sales accounted for 70.5 percent of the category while bags made up the remaining 29.5 percent. The average retail price for apples was $1.57 per pound.

With winter quickly approaching, Stemilt is recommending that retailers continue the momentum on apple promotions by setting multi-variety ads every month and building large displays around key club varieties. Piñata, Stemilt’s signature apple variety, is one in particular that performs well in the winter and spring.

“The New Year is the ideal time to promote Piñata apples in stores, and the fantastic quality of this year’s crop of Piñata apples will help retailers sell this star apple quickly. Piñata was featured in over 7,000 supermarkets in the U.S. alone last season and has a consumer following unlike any other club apple available,” said Shales.

Stemilt utilizes high-graphic tropical-themed cartons and signage to promote the unique flavor of Piñata apples to consumers. Piñata is a cross between Golden Delicious and two heirloom varieties from Europe, Cox’s Orange Pippin and the Duchess of Oldenburg, which combine to give it a classic apple flavor with a tropical twist. It’s a high-sugar and high-acid apple that consumers primarily enjoy fresh, but also praise it for its culinary attributes.

Sprouts Farmers Market will hold a hiring day on Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all of its stores from coast to coast. Sprouts aims to fill more than 2,000 full- and part-time, non-seasonal positions to meet the demand of continued growth.sprout

Open interviews will be held at each Sprouts location; no appointment is necessary. A list of local openings and online applications can be found at

As one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, Sprouts has created 4,350 jobs since the start of 2016 and promoted more than 20 percent of its workforce.

“Sprouts is a great place to grow a career. As we expand we’re focused on building future leaders and strengthening our reputation for outstanding customer service,” Dan Sanders, Sprouts chief operations officer, said in a press release. “Through our focus on training and education, new team members will learn everything they need to know to help our shoppers along their healthy living journey.”

Sprouts offers competitive pay, excellent benefits, team member discounts, a fun and rewarding culture and great career

advancement opportunities. Last year, Sprouts team members saved more than $8 million through store discounts and

received more than $1.5 million in additional incentives and scholarships.

Openings are available in all Sprouts departments, including specialized areas. Interested candidates can learn more during a one-on-one interview at the hiring


Employment opportunities include department managers and assistant department managers, clerks, cashiers, courtesy clerks (checkout assistants) and backup receivers, administrative coordinators and scan coordinators.

Mann Packing announced that its Nourish Bowls line of single-serve, warm meals will soon be available in Canadian markets.

Mann’s is ready to expand Nourish Bowls distribution to Canada after successfully introducing them to the U.S. market earlier this year. Available to Canadian retailers in December, the award-winning line includes the new Cauli-Rice Curry bowl as well as Smokehouse Delight, Sesame Sriracha, Southwest Chipotle and Butternut Kale Risotto.NB-Canada-Group-2

“Our weekly shipment average of Nourish Bowls has gone up four times since our U.S. launch in April and even increased in the summer months, which is a great sign for colder weather,” Gina Nucci, director of corporate marketing at Mann’s, said in a press release. “We’ve made sure to have a variety of on-trend flavor profiles that target consumers from moms to millennials and are confident that Nourish Bowls will sell just as well in Canada.”

Nielsen data show there are great opportunities for growth in health and wellness. Vegetables are top-of-mind for Canadians as 47 percent of households are consciously trying to increase vegetable consumption according to a Nielsen PanelViews survey.

Mann’s has a wide range of marketing materials available to retailers, including recipe ideas in its new Girlfriends Guide: Beyond the Bowl. The guide features creative ways for consumers to serve Nourish Bowls. Further product support comes via how-to videos on the company’s YouTube page and a dedicated consumer website for the U.S. and Canada.

Mann’s Nourish Bowls were honored with the 2016 PMA Impact Award in October for Excellence in Packaging.