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365 by Whole Foods Market announced that its third location will open Sept. 14, in Bellevue, WA. The new store will offer online ordering and delivery through Instacart, and it will also be home to a new Friend of 365 partner, Seattle-based Wild Ginger Kitchen.

The first 365 store opened May 25 in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles; a second location will open July 14 in Lake Oswego, OR. The company expects to open as many as 10 stores in 2017.

turnJeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market

“We saw downtown Bellevue as an ideal choice for our third store because it is a rapidly growing community,” Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market, said in a press release. “We anticipate that Bellevue, like Silver Lake, will appeal to a broad set of customers who are excited by a new shopping experience, as well as current customers who are familiar with our quality standards and shop at the nearby Whole Foods Market. We think the addition of a high-quality grocery store to The Bellevue Collection will appeal to customers who are looking for a grab-and-go lunch option, as well as those looking to do a full grocery shop.”

As a Friend of 365, Wild Ginger Kitchen will have an independent fast-casual dining area inside the store. Customers will be able to enjoy a meal in the store or take away a quick, healthy lunch or dinner. Wild Ginger Kitchen is a local favorite culinary destination that creates fast, fresh and flavorful Asian food at affordable prices.

Each 365 by Whole Foods Market location includes at least one Friend of 365, to showcase and support innovative businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We are so excited to have Wild Ginger Kitchen as our Friend of 365 in Bellevue,” Turnas said. “Their culinary values completely align with 365 by Whole Foods Market’s customer-centric, foodie-focused business. We also love that Wild Ginger Kitchen keeps its concept fresh by continuously reinventing the menu, just as 365 by Whole Foods Market plans to stay fresh by evolving its prototype over time.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that National Farm Wholesale Fruit & Vegetable Corp. satisfied a reparation order issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

In May the USDA imposed sanctions on the company because it failed to pay a $27,819 award in favor of a New Jersey seller.

Since then National Farm Wholesale Fruit & Vegetable Corp., based in the Bronx, NY, has met its obligations and is now free to operate in the produce industry. 

Farid I. Jaber was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,700 PACA claims involving more than $66 million. Its experts also assisted more than 7,100 callers with issues valued at approximately $100 million.

CHICAGO — The 2016 United Fresh Produce Association trade show, with the theme “Produce Innovation Starts Here,” was deemed as a big success by those attending the June 20-22 event, here.

The show co-located with the Food Marketing Institute, the International Floriculture Expo and, new this year, the Global Cold Chain expo.uni0Mike Prather and Katie Sunshine of Flavor-Pic Tomato. View more photos here.

Mary Coppola, United’s spokesperson, said June 22 that “we’re projecting approximately 13,000 attendees across the four trade show events this week.  We have been very pleased with the feedback we are getting from our attendees and exhibitors. The energy is still high on day two of the trade show.”

She added, “We are also pleased with the experience of the Global Cold Chain Expo. In its first year, it’s proven to be the value add we anticipated for the fresh industry.”

The opening night party was hosted at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. The airy museum was packed with reception goers, and an outside deck absorbed the overflow crowd on a pleasant evening.

The traditional Chairman’s Reception was set to close the event on the evening of June 22.

With the show came a number of educational events and the highly popular Women in Produce reception, which was held after the June 21 expo. This year’s honoree was Julie Krivanek, president of Krivanek Consulting Inc.

Exhibitors indicated to The Produce News that they were pleased by the presence of produce buyers walking the show floor.

The United States is called a nation of immigrants and rightly so. But that status has been earned over 200 years with many of those “immigrants” now being third-, fourth-, fifth-generation U.S. born. In fact, less than 14 percent of the U.S. population is currently foreign born.

Los Angeles County, on the other hand, is the new melting pot of the country. More than one-third of the county’s 10 million residents were not born in the United States. Latin America and Asia are the biggest contributors of new immigrants to the Southern California region. About 58 percent of those residents not born in the U.S. were born in Latin America. A full 35 percent of that population were born in Asia.

This Southern California population has created a market environment as diverse as it is. There are thousands of ethnic markets in the region with most of the fastest growing independent grocers and regional chains catering to ethnic communities — typically Asian or Hispanic. But you can find a retailer specializing in products from all parts of the globe.

The area has several major national retail chains, and Stater Bros. tops the list of regional supermarket players — although there are many in the 10-50 store range, such as Northgate Gonzales Markets, that are making a big name for themselves.

Whether a conventional mainstream retailer, an ethnic market, a natural foods store or one devoted to organic offerings, any successful market in the community has to carry a very diverse mix of products. The number of produce department SKUs in your typical store has more than doubled in the past 25 years with large sections devoted to specialty crops. From turmeric root to an array of spicy peppers, most departments are awash in diversity. In fact, your average Southern California supermarket probably carries more chili pepper varieties than apples and more fresh herb varieties than citrus.

Like the rest of the country, direct sales from shippers to retailers has long dominated the scene, but the large array of smaller markets has kept the wholesale produce market alive and continuing to offer a very important service. Daily traffic on the market itself is no doubt down as many wholesalers have moved to distribution facilities either blocks or miles away, finding the phone, and increasingly the smart phone, replacing the face-to-face buyer transactions of years gone by. But the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, which was built in 1986, is still in very close proximity to the wholesale markets that have serviced the Los Angeles community for more than 100 years. Some buyers do walk the market and it still may have a greater diversity of product than any market in the nation on any given day.

Its future may or may not be in doubt, depending upon who you talk to. Two veteran produce men gave starkly different answers to whether the wholesale market will still be providing a service 20 years from now. “I think so,” said Chuck Anunciation, division manager of Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co., which occupies a space on the market. “My hunch is that it will still be here. It is inevitable that it will be downsized. There will not be as many vendors. But this is a dynamic industry and it does serve a purpose.”

Because of its close proximity to the many different California shipping districts, the Los Angeles wholesale market has long acted as its own shipping district, often offering a different f.o.b. market than the actual point of origin for many fruits and vegetables. And Anunciation said the market is still home to a wide variety of products that are difficult to get elsewhere.

Jeff Weisfeld of Fruit Distributing Corp., which is located in its own building about seven miles from downtown Los Angeles in the City of Commerce, took the opposite viewpoint. “I’m going to say no. It won’t survive,” he said.

He added that lack of labor will be one of the major reasons it falls. But Weisfeld, whose father started the company 58 years ago, said a terminal market is a “dinosaur. You don’t need a presence on the street (market) any more. People don’t walk the street. They don’t even call anymore. Everything is done by email. I walked the market every day from 1983 through 1985, but I don’t do it anymore. I haven’t done it in 30 years. There is just no reason anymore.”

With that said, Weisfeld still calls himself “old school” and laments the new way of doing business. When he wants to make a sale, he still picks up the phone.

New way or old way, the Los Angeles market continues to be a dynamic environment with product, and immigrants, arriving from virtually all corners of the world on a daily basis.

The United Fresh Produce Association announced the 12 members of the 2016-17 United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program Leadership Class 22. Sponsored by a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, this program was launched in 1995 and has graduated more than 200 program participants.

The Produce Industry Leadership Program welcomes the following professionals to its 22nd Class:

  • Katie Birkhauser, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Salinas, CA
  • John Carkoski, The Fresh Group Ltd., Oakdale, MN
  • Kelly Catchot, Renaissance Food Group, Rancho Cordova, CA
  • Nick Chappell, California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, CA
  • Melina Lopez, Walmart Stores, Valencia, CA
  • Adam Lytch, L&M, Raleigh, NC
  • Brendan Miele, Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo Inc., Pescadero, CA
  • Melissa Olsen, Freshway Foods, Sidney, OH
  • Max Saad, Mastronardi Produce, Kingsville, ON
  • LeighAnne Thomsen, Mission Produce, Oxnard, CA
  • Jonathan Vance, 4Earth Farms, Los Angeles
  • Megan Zweig, DMA Solutions Inc., Irving, TX

Beginning in July, the members of Leadership Class 22 will participate in a number of educational events and outings centered on the four core focus areas of the program: leadership development, business relationships, government and public affairs, and media and public communications.

During the yearlong fellowship, participants will take part in a series of customized trips which include face-to-face meetings with leading industry players, hands-on training with top industry experts and educators, and interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington. This year's schedule will feature expansive trips to Washington State, Washington, DC, Wilmington, DE, Arizona, and Chicago, where the class will graduate at the 2017 United Fresh Convention.

"We are thrilled to welcome the newest class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program,” Amanda Griffin, senior director of meetings and member programs for United Fresh, said in a press release. “We congratulate the Class 22 Leadership Class for their commitment to becoming future fresh produce leaders.”

“DuPont Crop Protection has been the sole sponsor of the Produce Industry Leadership Program since its inception 22 years ago,” United Fresh Executive Vice President Victoria Backer added in the press release. “Their tremendous support creates a unique opportunity for future fresh produce leaders to grow professionally and personally, ensuring a bright future for our industry.”

Candidates for the program submitted an application including two essays detailing their interest in the program and what they consider the most important challenges affecting the produce industry. Applications were reviewed by the Leadership Advisory Committee, which is comprised of United Fresh Board members and program alumni. The committee is responsible for assessing each candidate based on their experience and expertise, as well as developing a class that is balanced and representative of the industry.