your-news image

Unified Grocers' senior management changes

Unified Grocers has made a number of key internal promotions and additions to its leadership team. Key among the announced changes are three promotions within the company’s senior management team. President of Market Centre Joe Falvey and Chief Marketing Officer Sue Klug have been elevated to executive vice president, and Chief Information Officer Gary Herman has been promoted to senior vice president.

“To continue our recent momentum will take imaginative and energetic leadership,” Bob Ling, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “That means continuing to develop and add to our senior team, giving opportunities to those who have proved themselves ready to take the next step in their careers and adding the best talent from outside the company.”

Falvey has been with the company since 1999 and has been instrumental in driving the successful growth of Unified’s specialty division, Market Centre. Under his leadership, Market Centre has created new sales opportunities in growing categories such as organic, natural and ethnic foods.

Klug has served as chief marketing officer since joining Unified in 2012. She is responsible for all corporate marketing and communications activities, as well as the company’s retail marketing service and retail technology functions. She has already elevated Unified’s marketing efforts in a number of areas, developing new strategies including a robust scan data program giving retail insights to our retail members and the company’s successful Celebremos! and MercadoSavings Hispanic marketing programs. In an expanded role, she is now responsible for strategic sourcing and real estate. In addition, Klug — working closely with members of the board — will take a leadership role in strategic planning.

Herman has been Unified’s chief information officer since 2000, overseeing the company’s information services function. Under his direction, Unified maintains state-of-the-art logistics systems and an extranet that ties together the company’s vendors, buyers and retail members.

“Joe, Sue and Gary have proven track records of delivering solid results for our organization,” said Ling. “All are dynamic leaders whose vision and passion have helped drive Unified’s recent successes. They will play important roles in driving the next phase of the company’s growth.”

In addition, the company announced a number of additions to the executive team: Mike Brown has been promoted to vice president of retail services; Blake Larson has been promoted to vice president of accounting; Keith Miller has been promoted to vice president of Market Centre operations; and Ray VanWetten has been promoted to vice president of sales for the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, Unified welcomed a new member of the team, Gregg Bostick, who has joined the company as vice president of logistics.

Westmoreland selects IFCO RPCs for food safety and customer service

Westmoreland Sales Group, a leading Canadian greenhouse vegetable grower, has signed a two-year contract with IFCO Systems, a global provider of reusable packaging solutions for fresh products. Westmoreland is now shipping "Topline" brand tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from its distribution centers in Ontario and Michigan to retailers across North America in IFCO RPCs.

Leamington, ON-based Westmoreland cited IFCO’s history of excellent customer service and commitment to food safety as the main reasons it selected IFCO to be its RPC provider. Also important were IFCO’s proximity to Westmoreland’s facilities, ability to respond quickly and ability to supply RPCs to service the increasing retail demand for Westmoreland’s product.   

“We are working with IFCO to ensure our Topline products arrive to our retail customers in the best possible condition while lowering costs through the supply chain," Brian W. Blommaert, chief executive officer of Westmoreland, said in a press release. "The IFCO RPC solution also supports Westmoreland’s commitment to the environment by helping to reduce the number of cardboard boxes used.”

IFCO handles all RPC logistics for Westmoreland, from distribution to cleaning to re-entry into the supply chain. After each retail use, IFCO RPCs are folded, collected and shipped back to one of IFCO’s service facilities, where they are sanitized and prepared for re-use.

“Westmoreland is a great partner, and we are pleased the company is using IFCO RPCs to deliver high-quality product to retailers in the U.S. and Canada," Dan Walsh, president of IFCO North America, said in the release. "We are constantly developing new solutions to address specific opportunities at companies like Westmoreland, and their move to our program is proof that trading partners and consumers benefit from working toward the common goal of greater service and safety.”

Mexican produce industry legend Beto Maldonado dead at 81

NOGALES, AZ — Alberto (Beto) Maldonado Guerra, general manager of Apache Imports LLC, here, and a longtime veteran of the produce industry, died Jan. 17. He was 81.

Mr. Maldonado, who was born in 1933 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, started his long career in the produce industry in 1957 with CAB Produce Co. Soon after he went to GAC Produce and Apollo Produce Distributors before joining Apache.Beto-AlejandroBeto Maldonado and Alejandro Canelos at the Apache Produce offices shortly before Christmas.

At Apache Produce on Jan. 15, Mr. Maldonado, wearing an oxygen tube to help his breathing, greeted The Produce News with his characteristic warmth. When asked to have his photo taken, he graciously declined. “I don’t feel too good. Let’s do that next time.” He noted that he had been sitting at his desk for 50 years.

Alejandro Canelos, the director of Apache Produce, said that Mr. Maldonado was again at work on Jan. 16, the day before he died.

Gonzalo Avila, vice president and general manager of Malena Produce Inc., who is the chairman-elect of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, told The Produce News Jan. 19, “Beto was one of the best representatives our industry ever could have had. He was an example for how people should lead their lives. He was such a hard worker. Twenty-five years of his life were dedicated to our association. He was truly a great representative of our industry.”

According to a Jan. 20 notice released by the FPAA, “Beto was a devoted friend and mentor to so many people in the Nogales community and in the produce industry, and he was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

“Beto’s knowledge, guidance and experience helped lead the Mexican produce industry through vast changes and advancements during his tenure,” the FPAA statement continued. “Beto devoted 25 years as a volunteer on the board of directors of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas where he served as chairman of the board from 1990-92. He also served on the board of directors for the United Fresh Produce Association. In 2012, Beto was honored with the Pillars of the FPAA Award, a lifetime recognition award that acknowledges an individual’s commitment and service to the FPAA and the produce industry.”

In an interview with the FPAA, Mr. Maldonado once said, “When I started in produce, there were only a handful of experts: Mr. Benvenutti, Carlos Bennen from Ta De, Shorty Martinez, Rudy Fleischer, Harry Wolf — those were the experts.

“Throughout his career, Beto joined that list of experts, and he became one of the people that others always looked to for advice and guidance, according to the FPAA statement. “All that knew him would say he was indeed an expert, an expert in the produce industry and an expert in a life well-lived.”

Mr. Maldonado is survived by his daughters, Carmen Leonor and Alicia; his sons, Martin Alberto, Jorge and Miguel Angel; and his 19 grandchildren.

Services were held Tuesday Jan. 20 and a mass was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday Jan. 21 at Sacred Heart Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Beto Maldonado Foundation:
Beto Maldonado Foundation
Wells Fargo Bank
Acct # 8302523074
Routing in USA # 122105278
Routing International # WFBIUS6S

FPAA presents its Spring Policy Summit

To promote focused, proactive dialogue between regulators and industry, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas will hold its annual Spring Policy Summit March 3-4.

“The Spring Policy Summit, which had been on hiatus the past three years as FPAA co-hosted the America Trades Produce Conference, signals a commitment to a focused meeting format that results in honest, open dialogue between members of the industry and regulators, such as representatives from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, SENASICA, SAGARPA and others,” FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer said in a press release.

“Over the years, FPAA has developed a reputation for hosting meetings where industry and government can have frank discussions and meaningful talks that result in a better understanding of industry and smarter application of regulation,” Jungmeyer added in the release.

The meetings kick off Tuesday, March 3, with a tour of Nogales-area warehouses, with an emphasis on food-safety efforts. Later on March 3, the U.S.-Mexico Produce Food Safety Working Group will meet, to be followed by a welcoming reception that is open to all.

The bulk of the FPAA Spring Policy Summit occurs Wednesday, March 4, at the nearby Tubac Golf Resort.

Invited speakers include Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA, and Hugo Fragoso, director general of agriculture food safety at SENASICA.

“Once again, the FPAA team has put together an outstanding set of meetings,” FPAA Chairman Matt Mandel of SunFed said in the release. “What I like most about the format is the ability to talk one-on-one with government representatives, so they can understand my business and I can understand what they are trying to accomplish. I truly believe the format leads to smarter, more-effective regulation.”

S.C. Watermelon Association meeting sets marketing plan, crowns queen

COLUMBIA, SC — The South Carolina Watermelon Association's annual meeting here set a marketing plan for 2015, crowned a queen, heard research reports on grafting and other topics, reviewed culinary trends, set an increased effort to brand watermelon as a sports enhancer and raised $233,000 for its operations in the year ahead.CHAPPELL-PLAQUE-SCOTTIE-SANDIFER--MATT-CORNWELL Scottie Sandifer of Sandifer Farms, Angela Chappell of Coosaw Farms and Matt Cornwell of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

About 150 watermelon growers and suppliers attended the Jan. 16-18 meeting, about the same as last year, according to Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, who also serves as executive director of the association. Angela O’Neal Chappell of Coosaw Farms in Fairfax, SC, presided over the meeting as president of the association and received a plaque honoring her leadership over the past year.

South Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers crowned Sydney Ford of Gaffney, SC, as the 2015 South Carolina Watermelon Queen. The new queen succeeds Brooke Allender of Duncan, SC, who recounted a dizzying array of promotional events she participated in during the last year, describing it as “the experience of a lifetime.” The 2015 queen is a public relations major at the University of South Carolina and serves as a legislative page in the South Carolina State Legislature.