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North America continues to be the largest market for Chile

If a retailer is selling blueberries, grapes or stone fruit — such as peaches, plums and nectarines — during the winter months, chances are the fruit is from Chile, said Karen Brux, managing director of the San Carlos, CA-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America. “As the largest fruit exporter in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile exports more than 800,000 tons of fruit to the U.S. annually, and over half of that is supplied during our winter months. Consumers expect their retailers to have year-round supplies of their favorite fruits, and Chile makes it possible.”

Brux explained that Chilean cherries are available from November through January. Blueberries run from November through March. The Grape movement from Chile runs from December through May, and peaches, plums and nectarines arrive in the U.S. from December through April.

“Chile exports around 400,000 tons of grapes to the U.S. each year,” said Brux. “This represents about half of Chile’s entire export volume to the U.S. The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association has unique retail marketing programs for each of these products, and we work with retailers across the U.S. and Canada to develop in-store and online promotions to drive sales. Often, these are focused on a particular holiday, such as Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. Occasionally we’ll participate in promotion for organizations, like Heart Health Month in February.”

The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America has a variety of point-of-sale cards and posters for every major commodity available from Chile during the winter months. An order form is available on the fruitsfromchile.com website. Brux noted that the website also provides numerous recipes and usage ideas, along with accompanying images for all the various Chilean fruits available throughout the year.

“In terms of promotions that are offered to retailers, during the 2013-14 season, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association launched a very successful trial of a promotion called the ‘Great Grape Giveaway,” said Brux. “Retailers loved it. A total of 298 stores from 17 retail chains across the U.S. participated in the promotion. I think we had such strong support because it was fun and easy to enter, and it was a nice incentive for produce managers. We hope to expand on it in 2015, and hopefully double the number of stores participating.

“Most importantly, we work with retailers on custom point-of-sale promotion programs for their stores,” she continued. “In early 2014, for example, we designed a large 22-inch by 28-inch co-branded blueberry poster that reinforced some key blueberry health messages. The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association has also sponsored numerous health and wellness programs developed by specific retailers. You can’t be an effective marketer without tailoring your programs to fit your customers’ needs.”

Social media, she explained, is of huge importance to the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, and it has strongly changed the way its merchandisers work with retailers. For the past few years the organization has placed a strong emphasis on giving retail marketing staff — whether supermarket registered dietitians, social media or marketing managers — the information and images they need to reach their customers on their Facebook pages or other social media outlets.

“This has become a key component of our retail marketing programs and probably one of the most cost-effective means of reaching consumers with compelling information about fresh fruits from Chile,” said Brux. “Working with retailers on social media typically involves sending sound bites on usage ideas or nutrition info to whoever is responsible for social media within a retail chain. Retailers will often post this on their Facebook pages, blogs or websites, or even use it in in-store printed communication. Retailers of all types are on board with social media. We recently saw a small North Dakota chain take our information and turn it into a simple Facebook promotion where their customers could name their favorite way of eating Chilean oranges. It was so simple, and they had a few hundred responses.”

Supermarket registered dietitians often play a key role in retail social initiatives, and the association works directly with them on more nutrition-related info. It has sponsored numerous Produce for Better Health programs that bring together produce organizations and supermarket registered dietitians across the country.

“We encourage supermarkets to reach out to the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association merchandiser in their area and discuss promotion opportunities,” Brux shared. "We want to support everyone interested in promoting Chilean fruit."

Volume in tons of Chilean fruit imports has been stable over the years. But Brux explained that 2013-14 was a very “off” year.

“Chile suffered the worst drought in 80 years, and the country also had a three-week port strike,” she said. “Export volume to the U.S. has been quite stable over the years. With Chile continually expanding its global presence and selling to more international markets, one might expect to see decreasing volumes to the U.S., but clearly that is not the case. Some commodities, like grapes, have seen decreased volumes, but others, like blueberries and citrus, have witnessed huge growth. North America is the largest market for Chile, and growers and exporters want to know what they can do to better serve this market.”

Oppy's Anderson earns lifetime achievement award

At the 17th annual Friend of Chile Awards Luncheon, the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia honored accomplished business leaders, including John Anderson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Oppenheimer Group, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Anderson was acknowledged for several achievements, including Oppy’s status as the top North American importer of Chilean stone fruit, bringing millions of dollars in business through the ports along the Delaware River.John-with-M-Welch--M-StackMartin Welch, chief operating officer of emerging markets for Aramark; Senator Mike Stack, Pennsylvania lieutenant governor elect; and John Anderson, chairman, president and CEO of The Oppenheimer Group. As well, Anderson was officially documented in the state of Pennsylvania by Senator and Lieutenant Governor-elect Mike Stack as a person who has made a difference to the well-being of the people living and working in the state.

The awardees have charted new territory in the realm of international connections and business innovation between the United States and Chile. Benjamin Leavenworth, Consul of Chile, Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and Sen. Stack joined the chamber in offering commendations to the honorees.

“For nearly 40 years, Anderson’s finely honed business instincts have left an indelible mark on a global industry, while building Oppy into a strong and successful produce marketing enterprise,” Ricardo Maldonado, executive director of the chamber, said in a press release.

The Oppenheimer Group currently utilizes all four major facilities on the Delaware River: Holt Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ; Tioga Marine Terminal and Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia; and the port of Wilmington, DE, to import grapes, berries, cherries, citrus, kiwifruit and stone fruit from Chile. In a typical year, the Oppenheimer Group receives 4.5 to 5 million cartons of Chilean produce through these port facilities.

Recently, Anderson was honored with the coveted 2014 BC CEO of the Year Award for a major private company. He was named Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for Canada’s Pacific region in 2002, and in 2013 Anderson was recognized by the B.C. chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth with a Dealmaker of the Year Award.

Under his leadership, The Oppenheimer Group has been named as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies since 2001, and has been part of its esteemed Platinum Club since 2008.

The Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia is a non-profit, apolitical membership organization created to foster increased and improved commercial and trade relations between the Republic of Chile and the Greater Philadelphia region. The chamber brings together people and businesses with an interest in reaching this goal through participation in a variety of activities and programs.

Whole Foods names Bill Jordan its Rocky Mountain region president

Whole Foods Market has named Bill Jordan its president of the Rocky Mountain region, effective immediately.

“Bill has been an incredible asset to Whole Foods Market for many years, and we’re so glad that he is now leading our Rocky Mountain region,” David Lannon, executive vice president of operations at Whole Foods Market, said in a press release. “He’s the embodiment of everything a Whole Foods Market team member should be, and we know he’ll do a great job growing our business in the region.”wfodoBill Jordan

Previously, Jordan served as regional vice president of Whole Foods Market’s Southern Pacific region for the past 16 years. Whole Foods Market’s Rocky Mountain region includes stores in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah, and the company announced its first store in El Paso, TX, last week on its fourth quarter earnings call.

“I’m honored and excited to join Whole Foods Market’s Rocky Mountain region as regional president,” said Jordan. “My career at Whole Foods Market began in 1985 as a courtesy clerk in Sherman Oaks, California, and it’s been an incredible 29-year ride. I love our company and our mission as America’s Healthiest Grocery Store. I am grateful for the team members I served and supported in our Southern Pacific region and am looking forward to building the same bonds in the Rocky Mountain region.

"My role and commitment — day in and day out — is focused on empowering our teams and stores to innovate, create and serve our customers and supplier partners with passion and excellence. The Rocky Mountain region has a rich history of shining a spotlight on our missions and everything that’s best about Whole Foods Market. The region led the company in Local Producer Loans given to small producers, our cashiers and customers consistently raise incredible amounts of money to support the Whole Planet Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation, and we have an inspiring number of team member volunteers who apply to serve in communities around the world on Whole Planet Foundation service trips. It’s an exciting time to be joining the region and I’m thrilled to be helping it grow and prosper.”

Jordan is passionate about his family and most enjoys time spent with loved ones. Some of his best and earliest memories center around his grandparents’ table, where large, Italian dinners of homemade meals brought people together in celebration of food and family. He is an avid boater, camper and music enthusiast, and is based at Whole Foods Market’s Rocky Mountain regional office in Boulder, CO.

Will Obama's immigration reform package serve as a catalyst for legislation?

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced sweeping new executive actions on immigration reform Thursday that will likely set up the White House for a battle with the Republican-controlled Congress, but the produce industry hopes it will serve as a catalyst for a legislative fix.

During his prime-time televised speech, Obama criticized the House for failing to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bill, which he called a compromise.

obama President Obama delivered an address to the nation on immigration, from the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) "Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?" he asked.

"Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law," he continued. "But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President — the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me — that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just," he said.

The package of executive actions the White House range from shifting more resources to the border to creating a new mechanism for undocumented workers who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years to work legally to providing portable work authorization for high-skilled workers to creating a new task force to look at visa modernization.

The package, however, does not address fixes to the guest worker program the national agriculture industry relies upon.

The speech prompted outcry from Republicans.

"The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together, they don't support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people's elected representatives," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Produce groups said they hoped the latest development would engage Congress on the issue, rather than focus lawmakers on a short-term response.

"We cannot yet assess the full impact of the president's actions on agriculture, but we know this: Congress must reassert its constitutional authority to make laws and pass immigration reform legislation critical to the needs of our industry and the nation," Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif said in a statement prior to the address. "Some in Congress will argue that the president's action must be met with a legislative response to block bad policies, but preventing the implementation of executive actions alone is not enough. These actions by the president should also serve as a catalyst for Congress to lead by passing meaningful immigration reform legislation."

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition also reiterated the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.

"As we look forward to the start of the new Congress in January, we strongly urge the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the administration, to come together and pass legislation that both deals with the reality of the current agricultural workforce and recognizes the need for a new, market- based visa program to meet farmers' future labor needs," it said in a statement.

Food Lion Feeds launches campaign to help feed families in need

This holiday season, Food Lion is partnering with customers in its more than 1,100 stores, Nov. 19-Dec. 23, to help solve hunger through its Food Lion Feeds "Holidays Without Hunger" campaign.

Through the campaign, customers can purchase and donate a specially marked "Holidays Without Hunger" food box for $5, while supplies last, or make a cash donation at checkout. All of the cash donations benefit Feeding America, one of the largest domestic hunger relief charities, and its network of local food banks. Food boxes are donated directly to a local hunger relief food bank or agency.

Through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion is working to create a better tomorrow by uniting with customers and partners to help eliminate the difficult choices many families are forced to make when they are struggling with hunger. Working toward its commitment to provide 500 million meals by the end of 2020, Food Lion Feeds has already donated approximately 40 million meals through in-store campaigns, like "Holidays Without Hunger," its food donation program and local donations and volunteerism.