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HAB’s Holiday & Events study shows robust sales growth

The Hass Avocado Board, a leader in providing insightful information to the avocado industry, recently released a study analyzing 13 holidays and events throughout the year. Holiday volume saw robust growth, particularly for spring and summer holidays where growth rates reached over 20 percent. The Big Game, Cinco de Mayo and the Fourth of July had the highest weekly retail dollar sales of the year, each comprising 2.4 percent of the annual total. Labor Day generated the largest dollar and volume sales growth on a percentage basis.escobedEmiliano Escobedo

“HAB’s Holiday & Events study provides industry leaders, retailers and other stakeholders with valuable seasonal sales information,” Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board, said in a press release. "We are thrilled to provide the industry with insights that can help grow the category and increase sales. All holidays and events analyzed in the study exhibited strong growth in retail dollar and volume sales.”

To get a deeper look at holiday and event performance across the nation, the study also partitioned the country into eight regions. California had the highest holiday dollar sales of any region while the Northeast had the highest holiday dollar sales growth. All regions saw strong holiday sales growth.

To read about holidays and events in each region and to get more in-depth information about avocado sales for each holiday, visit

Raley’s launches new digital customer experience

Raley’s Family of Fine Stores has partnered with Unata to launch an improved web and mobile eCommerce platform, E-Cart. The new system will replace Raley’s current online order and curbside pickup solutions across all existing eCommerce-enabled locations.ecom

The new eCommerce platform is part of Raley’s commitment to making customers’ lives easier by delivering a personalized shopping experience. Raley’s E-Cart allows shoppers, in select locations, to order groceries online and pick up at a local Raley’s, Bel Air Market or Nob Hill Foods. With the partnership, Raley’s is launching both a new eCommerce website and an improved mobile application. The launch features an enhanced user interface that allows customers to move seamlessly between a mobile device and a desktop computer.

“The way Raley’s delivers groceries is evolving. Our new revamp of E-Cart will better serve our customers by providing a personalized online shopping experience,” Kevin Curry, senior vice president of sales and merchandising at Raley’s, said in a press release. “Unata has been invaluable in helping Raley’s build this brand new online experience that will elevate our customer service.”

“Through a solid partnership and collaboration with the Raley’s team, we have been able to build a state-of-the-art eCommerce mobile application that delivers a one-to-one personalized experience for both Raley’s and their customers — the first of its kind for Unata,” Brandon Carlos, senior director of client services, said in the release. “We’re excited to be going to market in partnership with Raley’s as they have a history of leading the charge in the eCommerce space. With Unata’s personalization engine at the core of this product, I believe we’re introducing something that Raley’s customers are really going to enjoy.”

PureFresh Sales adds Slayman pomegranates, making it a year-round supplier

PureFresh Sales Inc. in Selma, CA, will handle pomegranate sales for Slayman Marketing Inc. in Bakersfield, CA.

Bill Purewal, owner of PureFresh, has grown his company over the last 10 years and the addition of Slayman pomegranates to Purewal’s sales makes the company a year-round supplier of pomegranates.

Jim Peirone, who handled sales and marketing for Slayman for 20 years, will continue to help market pomegranates with Purewal. The two have worked together on the pomegranate deal over the last 10 years.

“We’ve had a good, long business relationship with Bill,” Lisa Slayman of Slayman Marketing said, adding that they expect 110,000 to 125,000 boxes of pomegranates this year.

Slayman grows the Granada and Foothill varieties, which typically start Aug. 1, but started several days earlier in 2015 due to the warm spring. The Slayman name is well known in pomegranates. Joseph Slayman established the Slayman Fruit Co. in 1923.

“Currently, we are marketing pomegranates from Chile and expect to go right into California pomegranates without any supply gaps,” said Purewal. “We are also marketing fresh pomegranates arils all-year round.”

Harvest Sensations wins New Product Innovation Award at Pro*Act conference

Harvest Sensations was named the New Product Innovation Award winner at the annual Pro*Act sales and procurement conference in Jacksonville, FL. The conference brings together North America’s top foodservice distributors and vendors.HS-School-Bus

Every year, the conference features new and exciting products in the show’s New Product Showcase. This year, Harvest Sensations’ new School Lunch Snack Pack school bus design was selected by foodservice distributors from all across North America as the most innovative product at the show.

“We are honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award for our popular school bus snack program design,” Doug Ranno, president of Harvest Sensations said, in a press release. “We think that the diversity of products we can offer in the unique and easily recognizable school bus box design will give our customers a unique point of difference when servicing school lunch programs all across the USA.”

Harvest Sensations supplies asparagus, snow/snap peas, beans, fresh herbs and world-class specialties year round, while providing customers a full line of organic produce and an array of value-added warehouse and logistics services from its East Coast and West Coast facilities.

Retail View: United Fresh enhances Produce Manager Award experience

On Monday, April 18, representatives from the United Fresh Produce Association, Dole Farm Fresh Foods and the corporate headquarters of Save Mart Supermarkets descended upon a Save Mart outlet in Placerville, CA, to honor the store’s produce manager, Ken Miller.

Miller is one of the 25 in-store personnel from around the country that will be honored with a Retail Produce Manager of the Year Award this June at the 2016 United Fresh Produce Association convention in Chicago.

Each recipient will be feted in Chicago at the awards dinner banquet and will participate in the two-day show. Some will even be featured in a panel discussion about retail produce trends from the produce department manager’s perspective.DSC 1266At the presentation honoring Ken Miller (third from left) were Dole’s Alan Ediger, Greg Calistro, Yun Yi, David Dudley and Justin Schumann of Save Mart, and Jeff Oberman of United Fresh.

Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations at United Fresh, said the entourage from United Fresh, Dole and the manager’s corporate office are visiting the managers on their home turf to enhance the experience and to recognize the recipient in front of his or her co-workers and customers.

Oberman said getting the award is a big deal and represents excellence in the job the manager does. United Fresh and Dole, the award sponsor, wanted to add value to the program and the store visits help accomplish that. When appropriate, local media are invited and the chain is encouraged to publicize the event in its own communications to its employees and the recipient’s co-workers. The United representative interviews each winner via digital media, which is then posted on the association’s website and used in other industry communications.

“Dole is very proud to be part of this program,” said Alan Ediger, vice president of business development for Dole. “Produce managers are very important to our success. They are on the front line and the face to the consumer. If they have a passion for what they do, they very much can impact sales.”

Greg Calistro, executive director of customer solutions for Save Mart, attended the event and emphasized how important the produce manager is to the overall success of Save Mart, a regional supermarket chain in California’s Central Valley that operates more than 200 stores under five different banner.

“The customer penetration in the produce department is the highest in any department in our store,” he said. “The produce manager is very important.”

At Save Mart, Calistro said produce sales typically represent 10-15 percent of store sales. He noted that Miller, the produce manager, had been with the company, or its predecessors, for 37 years, which he said speaks volume to his commitment to the store and his craft.

Justin Schumann, a produce merchandising specialist for Save Mart and the direct supervisor of Miller, nominated him for the award. “He is very committed to the department and is the kind of guy that is always entering and winning display contests. He has a large department and uses the space very well.”

In fact, Miller fancies himself a handy man, good with tools, who loves building special displays. He proudly pointed to a very elaborate old-fashioned fruit stand display at the front of the department that he built last year with the aid of a couple of suppliers. The stand is now used to feature various items depending upon what’s in season and what Save Mart wants to emphasize.

Miller also presented a scrapbook of various displays he has built over the years, pointing to a couple of winners, including a national fifth place finish in a contest sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission in 2007.

“That was fun,” he said. “We built a giant Mr. Potato Head display.”

Like many in the retail produce sector, Miller began his career working as a box boy in 1979 for a Lucky Store outlet in his hometown of Placerville. Two years later, he moved into the produce department. He worked his way up over the years and said he “learned the trade from several different produce managers.”

For 15 years, Miller was the number two guy before getting his own department. He has stayed in the same store (and an earlier version of it), but the banner has changed as his current store once belonged to a competitor before Save Mart purchased it almost a decade ago.

His philosophy in merchandising is the same advice he learned from his produce manager mentors many years ago. “If I wouldn’t buy it, don’t sell it,” he said.

As he survey his department throughout the day, he said that mantra guides him.

Schumann, who has 18 produce departments under his purview, tries to visit each store at least once a week, though he noted that the need isn’t as great at Miller’s Placerville store. “The produce manager makes a big difference,” he said.

While the corporate office often dictates what is to be promoted, Schumann said the individual produce manager has lots of flexibility as to how he carries out those orders. A good manager, he said, can add a few percentage points to the department’s share of total store sales, which adds up to a lot of extra produce being sold in any given time frame.

With the informal ceremony completed, United’s Oberman and Dole’s Ediger hustled out the door to honor another winner from a Raley’s Supermarket in the same general vicinity. A week earlier, Oberman was in North Carolina to interview yet another winner.

“By June, we expect to have visited each of the 25 stores,” he said.