Supermarkets adding sliced Ambrosia apples

Ambrosia apples, one of the fastest growing varietal apples in the United States, are being released nationally in a new sliced apple package from Crunch Pak to capitalize on consumer demand for this popular new apple.Ambrosia-Crunch-Pak-Photo

“We’re very excited about the new sliced Ambrosia available from Crunch Pak,” Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, said in a press release.  “Demand by consumers for Ambrosia surged this season so it makes perfect sense for retailers to have one more way to cash in on this spectacular apple.

“Crunch Pak is the established leader in the sliced apple category so we’re excited to see that they recognize the emerging opportunity with Ambrosia apples," Lutz added in the release.

According to Lutz, supermarket scan data results from Nielsen showed that over the most recent 26 weeks, more supermarkets added Ambrosia apples to their produce shelves than any other apple variety.

“This year alone, nearly 3,000 supermarkets added Ambrosia to their apple mix," he said. "That’s happening because consumers are seeking out Ambrosia.”

Krista Jones, director of brand development and product innovation at Crunch Pak, said the company is slicing Ambrosia apples for its variety-specific peel-and-reseal bags.

“Our shoppers are apple savvy; they know what they like and they look for their favorite varieties like Ambrosia in the store,” Jones said in the release. She added that Crunch Pak specifically selected Ambrosia apples because of the sweet flavor and firm texture.

A random selection of consumers from the Ambrosia Facebook page were sent samples of Crunch Pak’s sliced Ambrosia Apples and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Albertsons announces new CEO, additional restructuring

AB Acquisition LLC, parent company of Albertson’s LLC, New Albertson’s Inc., and Safeway Inc. announced that Bob Miller, the company’s current executive chairman, will assume the additional role of chief executive officer, effective immediately. Robert Edwards, who had been appointed CEO, will continue on with the company as vice chairman providing counsel to the board and the organization on key strategic and integration matters.

“As CEO of Safeway, Robert made tough decisions that led to significant improvements in Safeway’s shareholder value and positioning the company for the future,” Miller said in a press release. “The last year has been a time of great change for our companies, and we appreciate Robert’s leadership during this critical time.”

“It’s been a privilege to work with Bob and our teams as we’ve brought these companies together, and I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve completed and the foundation we’ve created for the future," Edwards said in the release. "We’ve made significant strides in the time since the merger has closed, and I feel comfortable turning my focus to other matters that will be of the best benefit to the company.”

Albertsons also announced the restructuring of its executive leadership team, introducing the office of the CEO to support the day-to-day operations of the company’s 14 divisions and 2,200 stores. In addition to Miller, the office of the CEO will be comprised of Wayne Denningham, chief operating officer for all of the company’s regions; Justin Dye, chief administrative officer; and Shane Sampson, chief marketing and merchandising officer. Jim Perkins and Kelly Griffith will continue to serve as executive vice presidents of operations for the company’s regions and will now report to Denningham.

Denningham began his career with Albertson’s Inc. in 1977 as a courtesy clerk and worked his way up in the organization, ultimately serving as president of the Dallas-Fort Worth division, and joined Albertson’s LLC in 2006. He led the Rocky Mountain and Florida divisions before being named president of the company’s Southern division in 2010. Denningham was named president of the Southern California division in March 2013 and assumed his current role overseeing operations for the South region at the Safeway transaction close in January 2015.

Dye joined Albertson’s LLC in 2006, playing an integral role in the acquisition and formation of the company and assuming the role of chief strategy officer. In 2013, he was named COO of New Albertson’s Inc. and assumed responsibility for leading the turnaround of the company’s pharmacy business across all banners, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s/Star Market chains. In February 2015, he was appointed chief administrative officer with responsibility for information technology, supply chain, corporate development, real estate and integration management.

Sampson built his career with Albertson’s Inc., working his way up through the company’s ranks, culminating in serving as president of both the Florida and Intermountain divisions.  He left the company in 2002 and spent several years with Sam’s Club. He returned to Albertson’s LLC’s Southern division at its inception and served as vice president of merchandising and marketing when he left to accept the role of senior vice president of sales and operations at Ahold’s Giant of Landover banner. In 2013, Sampson rejoined the Albertsons team when he was tapped for president of Shaw’s and Star Market, and in 2014 he moved to Chicago upon being named president of Jewel-Osco. In January 2015, Sampson was appointed executive vice president of marketing and merchandising.

NMB to host mango quality webinar for retailers and importers

The National Mango Board will be hosting a free mango quality webinar on Thursday, May 7 at 3 p.m. EDT with discussion on proper mango temperature management with Jeffrey Brecht from the University of Florida, and insights on how the mango category is growing at retail level with NMB Retail Program Manager Wendy McManus.nmblogo

To enhance consumers’ mango-eating experience, the NMB has invested in research to help the mango industry deliver a quality fruit for U.S. consumers to enjoy. Proper mango temperature management is extremely important, as chilling injury is one of the most common problems found in mangos at retail level. Chilling injury may interfere with the mango ripening process, resulting in a flavorless and unappealing fruit with a reduced postharvest life.

During this webinar, Brecht will provide detailed information on best practices to prevent the impact of chilling injury in mangos at warehouses, distribution centers and stores. This will include comprehensive information on safe chilling threshold temperatures for different varieties and maturities of mangos and emphasis on the importance of temperature when ripening mangos at different distribution facilities/warehouses and stores.

The webinar will continue with a wealth of mango category information and consumer research with insights into consumer preferences and barriers to mango purchase — also available on mango.org. McManus will discuss access data that can help the mango industry understand the short and long-term trends in mango movement, including the exciting trends in fresh-cut mango sales. Lastly, there will be a focus on the strongest mango per capita markets and sub-regions, and which markets represent the greatest opportunities.

“Proper mango temperature management is crucial in delivering quality fruit to U.S. consumers,” NMB Executive Director Manuel Michel said in a press release. “This webinar will focus on the opportunities that exist when proper temperature management is implemented throughout the mango supply chain, as well as highlight valuable mango category development information for the industry.”

Mango importers, wholesalers and brokers, retail distribution centers, quality assurance experts, buyers, category managers and merchandisers are encouraged to attend. There will be a question-and-answer session following the presentation. This webinar will only be available in English.

For more information on temperature management best practices, please visit mango.org/industry. For more information on category development and retail merchandising practices, please visit mango.org/retail.

NewStar announces personnel moves

NewStar Fresh Foods LLC, based in Salinas, CA, has promoted Mark Solis to inside sales manager and Antonio Ojeda to commodity group manager, two newly created positions within the company.

Solis has extensive experience in commodity management, transportation and customer service, having worked for Tanimura & Antle, Church Bros. and NewStar. He was most recently an inside sales executive with NewStar. In his new role, he will be responsible for the day-to-day sales activities within NewStar.

Ojeda will have oversight on all commodity management processes throughout the company in his new position. His background includes time with Growers Express, Ippolito and NewStar.

“Antonio has developed a strong relationship with all groups responsible for our program and works very closely with our great team in Mexico,” Anthony Vasquez, vice president of business operations for NewStar, said in a press release. “Mark and Antonio will continue to help streamline day-to-day operations and create a cohesive team environment to ensure all aspects of our customer service is being handled at the highest levels.”

Additionally, NewStar announced that Tim Meissner has joined the company, bringing expertise in the specialty vegetable arena. His responsibilities will include sales, business project strategy, new product line development and brand marketing. He will split his time between an office in Phoenix and the Salinas headquarters.

“Tim is a perfect fit for New Star’s strategic blueprint,” John Killeen, vice president of sales, added in the press release. “His in depth knowledge of the business, from both a buying and selling perspective, coupled with his operational background will serve the company well as we aggressively grow our brand.”

USDA cites Al Harrison Co. Distributors for PACA violations

Al Harrison Co. Distributors, based in Nogales, AZ, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failure to pay for nearly $700,000 worth of produce, but its principal said he plans to return to the industry once the legal matters are satisfied.

According to an April 9 statement from the USDA, the firm failed to pay $690,537 to 12 sellers for 104 lots of produce, in violation of PACA law.

“As a result of these actions, Al Harrison Company Distributors cannot operate in the produce industry until March 24, 2017, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license,” according to the statement. “The company’s principal, Brent Harrison, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until March 24, 2016, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond. Another company principal is currently challenging her responsibly connected status.”

Brent Harrison, company principal, told The Produce News in an April 10 written statement, “Due to circumstance beyond our control, it is painful to see my grandfather’s business go through the USDA decision. The company has been in business for 55 years and we simply had some bad seasons that put us in this position. It is my intention to work through this process and build my family’s legacy again. I have always and will continue to support our industry and advocate for its success. It is my intention to return to the industry once my obligations are satisfied.”