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Target Corp. has unveiled design elements for the company’s most ambitious store redesign to date, with plans for the first fully reimagined store to open in a Houston, TX, suburb this October. The redesign plans are part of the company’s commitment to invest billions of dollars over the next three years to reimagine hundreds of existing stores.Ease-Entrance-Grocery

The new stores will feature an enhanced grocery department design with woodgrain fixtures, a robust assortment of fresh produce as well as quick grab-and-go options and meal solutions.

For time-starved guests, a second entrance will offer easy access to grocery, a wine and beer shop, self-checkout lanes and a dedicated order pickup counter.

“With our next generation of store design, we’re investing to take the Target shopping experience to the next level by offering more elevated product presentations and a number of time-saving features,” Brian Cornell, Target’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “The new design for this Houston store will provide the vision for the 500 reimagined stores planned for 2018 and 2019, with the goal of taking a customized approach to creating an enhanced shopping experience.”

In addition to the 124,000-square-foot Houston location, 40 additional stores will receive elements of Target’s next generation redesign when they are updated in October 2017. Guest feedback and learnings from this new design will influence Target’s customized approach to the 500 stores being reimagined in 2018 and 2019.

This announcement follows Target’s previously shared plans to open more than 100 small-format stores over the next three years, curating the best of Target for dense urban neighborhoods and college campuses.

While figs and kiwifruit may not be the biggest markets, fans of these fruits are as loyal as they come, and Stellar Distributing has carved out a niche for satisfying these rabid consumers.

“People who love figs and kiwi are crazy about them,” said Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager for Stellar Distributing. “That’s led us to keep finding and delivering all we can. We want buyers to know that they can always count on us.”Stellar-Kiwi-KidsAs kiwifruit continues to gain popularity among consumers, Stellar Distributing has secured more volume and created packaging to appeal to kids.

Stellar has continued to grow its relationships in Italy and Chile. As the kiwi deal shifts away from Italy, Cappelluti sees great opportunities with Chilean kiwi.

“Last year we did 2.5 million boxes, this year we are doing about 3 million,” he said. “We should have good volume in mid-April. That is when the Chilean stuff is going to hit our market and when we will have more bullets to play with.”

Beyond volume, Cappelluti is particularly excited about the company's new boxes and packaging promoting kiwis for kids. The fruit is the perfect size for kids and its popularity keeps growing among consumers.

Closer to home, Stellar’s supply of Mexican-grown figs has given the company the ability to deliver figs year-round. New plantings in Mexico will provide more volume in the winter months. New plantings in California will extend its late-season supply of Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs into December.

“We learned a lot from our first full season shipping our Mexican figs, and the volume will keep growing year by year. It’s becoming a well-oiled machine like the rest of our operations,” Cappelluti added. “Perfecting our supply chain and making sure we have good supply is first and foremost to accomplishing our goal of becoming the go-to fig shipper.”

To further serve consumers' cravings for figs, Stellar is introducing a 1.5-pound clamshell with two varieties per package. They will be delivered with six clamshells in a box. Cappelluti expects the contrast in colors will be attractive in the stores and move fig consumers to increase their dollars spent in the category.

Shawn Baldwin, Walmart Stores’ general merchandise manager and senior vice president of produce and global food sourcing, has been named to the Produce Marketing Association board of directors. Baldwin’s term begins effective immediately. He replaces Jim Corby, who has served PMA’s board since October 2016 and recently announced his retirement from The Fresh Market.Shawn-BaldwinShawn Baldwin

“Shawn will add tremendous insight and leadership to our board, and we’re grateful to have him assume this important role,” John Oxford, PMA chair and L&M president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “His outlook on global produce and floral trends will be an asset as PMA continues to build its value offerings for members around the world. Plus, Shawn’s strategic, retail mindset will help PMA identify additional ways to remain relevant to the buyer community.”

Baldwin’s career began at Sam’s Club more than two decades ago working as an hourly employee, advancing to support operations and merchandising for Sam’s Club International locations around the world. Baldwin later assumed leadership over the fresh foods category for all U.S.-based Sam’s Clubs and then moved to senior leadership positions with Walmart Stores. In 2012, Baldwin was honored as the Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year, the highest honor the company can bestow on one of its associates. Baldwin was recognized for his work in elevating and improving the quality of Sam’s Club’s fresh business, which resulted in increased sales and customer renewal rates. In December 2014, Baldwin assumed responsibility of fresh for Walmart’s U.S. stores.

“Joining the great team of PMA board members and to serve our members around the world is an honor,” said Baldwin. “The produce industry is a complex one, and PMA’s role in making connections, expanding opportunities and ultimately increasing consumption of fresh foods is invaluable to our members. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience in the industry and as a retailer to the organization.”

“From across the global supply chain, more than 400 PMA member volunteers actively contribute to strengthening and growing the produce and floral industries. By joining PMA’s Board of Directors, Baldwin will help PMA deliver even more value for our members around the world,” added Oxford.

Stemilt-5lb-dAnjou-Pouch

In 2014, Stemilt Growers' newly introduced Rushing Rivers pear brand hit produce department shelves, giving consumers the opportunity to learn where their pears came from. Stemilt is a long-time industry leader in pears and introduced the label to share the unique story of the two locales where its pears originate. Fast forward three years and the Rushing Rivers brand has helped retailers find success in selling pears around a story.

“These pears have an exclusive story that helps our consumers better understand their value,” Roger Pepperl, Stemilt marketing director, said in a press release. “Most consumers today are interested in where their food comes from, so sharing that information through the brand and the story of these two locales is optimal. We want retailers and consumers to understand and know the importance of farm to fork.”Stemilt-5lb-dAnjou-Pouch

The Wenatchee River and Entiat River valleys are the locales behind Rushing Rivers and the places Stemilt and its pear partners, Peshastin Hi-Up Growers, have been farming for over a century. Both valleys are surrounded by hillsides of pines trees that help bring in fresh air-draws, the snowmelt helps recharge the rivers each spring ensuring a fresh and pure water source, and the volcanic soil is filled with nutrients giving the trees an extra boost of fuel to thrive during hot summer months. All of these elements create high-quality fruit for consumers to love.

“There are so many attributes that contribute to making Rushing Rivers pears extraordinary, and sharing that story has resonated with shoppers and given retailers a platform to sell pears around,” said Pepperl.

The spring season is an ideal time for retailers to do a final push on pears, including d’Anjou, Red d’Anjou and Bosc varieties. In addition to having great quality and size profiles for bulk Rushing Rivers pears, Stemilt also has branded packages available to build additional promotions around, including five-pound Rushing Rivers pouch bags and its award-winning Lil Snappers kid-sized fruits, which package three pounds of smaller sized pears in a convenient grab-and-go bag that appeals to parents and kids alike.

“Bagged pears work well to boost a shopper’s purchase size, which will drive volume and category sales,” said Pepperl. “They are great for in-and-out promotions, especially during the timeframe before summer fruits arrive.”

Stemilt has a variety of promotional tools available to retailers to help tell the Rushing Rivers story to shoppers. From signage, pop-up displays and branded cartons, to toolkits for social media and a video featuring orchards via drone footage.

“Retailers should take advantage of the great quality of our Rushing Rivers pears in order to boost the pear category this spring. Sharing the story of the river valleys gives shoppers a compelling reason to put pears in their shopping carts,” said Pepperl.

Ocean Mist Farms, a Castroville CA-based artichoke and vegetable grower-shipper, has announced that Albert Pieri, an original founder of the company and a dedicated employee of nearly 50 years, has died at age 90.

Mr. Pieri was a pioneer in the early days of California Artichoke & Vegetable Growers, which was renamed Ocean Mist Farms in 1995. He was honored with the UnitedAg Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 for his service to the industry, along with recognition to the Pieri family for nine generations of agriculture leadership. Known fondly as “Big Al” for both his physical stature and engaging personality, Mr. Pieri is mourned by the Ocean Mist Farms family and Castroville, CA, community at large.Albert-PieriAlbert Pieri

“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Albert’s children, Renee, Glen, Dorian and Diane, along with his sister Norma Pieri-Reasons, brother-in-law Don Reasons, and companion Marlene McMillan,” said Joe Pezzini, chief executive officer of Ocean Mist Farms. “Al’s contributions to our organization, the agricultural industry, and his community will be remembered and appreciated by all for many years to come.”

As a young boy, Mr. Pieri first worked for his father at California Artichoke & Vegetable after school and summers, harvesting crops and making wooden packing crates. After high school he joined the Navy. Upon his return from overseas duty, he went back to work for Cal Choke loading and icing railroad cars, packing broccoli, driving trucks and learning the business from the ground up.

In 1954, Mr. Pieri was asked to take the bookkeeping position in the company, but soon found himself answering sales calls, subbing for the sales manager and becoming well known by the buyers. Eventually, he moved into full-time sales.

In 1964, he became the company’s sales manager, making friends across the nation and facing the many challenges growing and distributing produce offers. Having added cauliflower, cardone and sweet fennel to its commodities, Mr. Pieri and Cal Choke’s popularity took off, so much so that in 1974 over 600 friends and associates came together to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary in Castroville, CA.

By 1981, Cal Choke had added Romaine from Boutonnet Farms and then Butter, Red and Green Leaf lettuces -- bringing production and handling needs to an all-time high.

Mr. Pieri was always supportive of innovation and expansion of its operations with state-of-the-art packing machinery for all of the company’s produce to make sure that his two highest priorities -- commitment to customers and commitment to quality -- guaranteed a strong future for his California produce, especially his “first love,” artichokes. The addition of hydro and vacuum coolers, forced-air storage and handling rooms and ice injection chambers, along with computers and controllers, were some of the first of their kind used in agriculture in America and the world.

A graveside memorial service is planned for May 6 at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Woodland, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to the Ocean Mist Farms Academic Scholarship Program.