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Grant J. (Jim) Hunt Jr., the former president of Oakland, CA-based distribution firm Grant J. Hunt Co. and a former president of the Produce Marketing Association, died at the age of 94.Jim-Hunt

Mr. Hunt graduated from the University of California-Berkeley with a degree in agricultural economics in 1943. He joined Grant J. Hunt Co. in 1946 after his rehabilitation from wounds received in battle during World War II during the Battle of the Bulge in France and took the helm of the company in 1949 after the sudden death of the company founder, Grant J. Hunt Sr. He served as company president for decades until his retirement in 1992.

Mr. Hunt spent many hours outside of his career pursuing volunteer work, particularly in areas working with youth. He served as Scoutmaster for many years with the Boy Scouts of America and was a member of the board of directors of Piedmont Council. He was awarded the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts for positively impacting the lives of youths that he led.

Mr. Hunt served on many board positions of the Produce Marketing Association, including leading the association as president in 1981. His model of service to PMA carried through to his son, Grant M. Hunt, who served as PMA chairman in 1999. To date, they are the only father-son duo to ever serve in the board president/chairman capacity. Under Mr. Hunt's leadership, PMA's three divisions (retail, foodservice and floral) developed policies to enhance the growth of the industry, particularly meant to attract youth to the produce industry, which was his passion.

"Jim Hunt had already completed his term as chairman of the PMA board when I joined the association in 1983," said Bryan Silbermann, who recently retired as chief executive officer of PMA. "Nonetheless, he took the time to school me in the workings of our industry and the lessons he had learned throughout his career. Jim's unselfish service to the industry he loved is one reason I was so pleased to visit him just weeks ago at his home, where he reminisced so lucidly on shared experiences. Like his son Grant, another PMA chairman of the board, Jim understood so well the mutual benefit that flows from leadership service to others across an industry."

Mr. Hunt was also known for his efforts with other Bay Area leaders to eradicate corruption involving the unloading of produce trucks at wholesale markets in Northern California in the late 1970s.

Mr. Hunt was very active with St. Helena Catholic Church, serving on the parish council and the school board. He also volunteered with many of the youth activities continuing his passion for developing youth talents.

A mass of Christian Burial is planned for April 5 at St. Helena Catholic Church in St. Helena, CA.

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.


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.