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News Briefs

  • 11/29/2023

    Verde Farms Appoints VP of Finance

    Andy Schutt

    Verde Farms, which produces a line of organic, 100% grass-fed and 100% pasture-raised beef, has named Andy Schutt as its VP of finance. In this role, he will lead the company’s finance operations, including all reporting, banking relationships and financial planning and analysis activities.

    Most recently, Schutt was CFO at clean energy drink company Kill Cliff, where he helped guide the company’s growth and margin improvement strategies. His background also includes a position as president and CFO of medical education company Imedex. 

    [Read more: "SpartanNash Names Amy McClellan EVP and Chief Customer Officer"]

    “Andy's extensive background in financial leadership, coupled with his successful track record in steering companies through strategic growth, makes him a valuable addition to the Verde team," said Brad Johnson, president of the Boston, Mass.-based Verde Farms. “With Andy on our team, we are confident we will continue to grow substantially as we revolutionize the meat aisle with our Beef From A Better Place.”

    Schutt said he is looking forward to helping the company grow and maintain its commitment to regenerative agriculture. "I am thrilled to join Verde Farms, a pioneering force in the CPG industry that is a true trailblazer in sustainable practices that aligns perfectly with my passion for driving positive change,” he remarked. “The proven success of Verde as a staple brand, as well as the organic and sustainable beef category as a whole, makes this journey an exciting one.”

  • 11/20/2023

    Produce Distributors Association to Hold Annual Meeting

    Produce Distributors Association Teaser

    The Produce Distributors Association (PDA) has scheduled its annual meeting for Dec. 5 at 2:00 p.m. at the official New York Produce Show hotel, The Sheraton Times Square, in New York City. The meeting will take place in the Liberty Room on the third floor, with a Zoom link to be provided upon request for those who can’t attend in person. The New York Produce Show runs Dec. 5-7.

    Open to current and prospective members, the annual meeting will enable stakeholders in the produce distribution sector to convene, collaborate and strategize for the future. The agenda will feature an update on the revitalized association, networking opportunities and a presentation on challenges facing the produce distribution industry.

    [Read more: "How Refocused Promotions Can Move the Needle in Produce"]

    “We are excited to host the annual meeting at the Sheraton Times Square, in conjunction with The New York Produce Show, bringing together industry leaders from across the country to discuss the latest developments in the produce distribution sector,” said Matthew D’Arrigo, chairman of Washington, D.C.-based PDA. “This event is an excellent opportunity for networking, knowledge sharing and fostering collaboration among professionals.”

    This past October, the organization rebranded itself from the National Association of Perishable Agricultural Receivers (NAPAR) to its current incarnation. 

    PDA is a national association dedicated to advancing the interests of professionals in the produce distribution industry. It provides a platform for networking, education and advocacy to support the growth and success of its members.

  • 10/23/2023

    New President at Steak-Umm Parent Company

    Todd Bray

    Quaker Maid Meats, known for its Steak-umm brand, has named a new president. The company recently appointed Todd Bray to that role, succeeding Sergei Szortyka.

    Sergei Szortyka will continue to serve as CEO. He is the son of company founder Stanley Szortyka, who passed away in 2022. The company’s legacy leaders also include Nancy Szortyka Deale, who is COO.

    [Read more: "Johnsonville CEO to Exit"]

    Bray – the first non-family member to lead the business – is a 25-year company veteran. Most recently, he held the role of VP of operations.

    “Todd has been an invaluable member of our team, and his wealth of experience in the industry is extraordinary. We will continue to play a vital role in the organization and are excited about the future of QMM under Todd's leadership. We look forward to achieving new milestones together,” said Sergei Szortyka and Nancy Szortyka Deale in a joint statement.

    Based in Reading, Pa., Quaker Maid Meats was started more than 50 years ago and specializes in frozen meat products, including the company’s own line of pure beef sandwich steaks. The company acquired the iconic Steak-umm brand in 2006. That thinly-sliced sandwich steak was invented in 1968 by Gene Gagliardi as a more “chewable” alternative to traditional steak.  

  • 10/3/2023

    Doc’s Food Stores Upgrades Digital Shopping Platform

    Doc's Food Stores Country Mart Oklahoma Teaser

    Twelve-store Oklahoma independent grocer Doc’s Food Stores Inc. has chosen eGrowcery,  developer of a retail food industry e-commerce platform for grocers, to help it upgrade its digital shopping program.

    “Our entire focus at Doc’s Food Stores is giving the customer what they want, and right now more of our shoppers want an easy-to-use experience so they can order quickly and get those items quickly,” noted Jim Brown, owner of Bixby, Okla.-based Doc’s “The platform from eGrowcery helps us do that better than we ever have, plus it makes the entire order fulfillment and payment process much more efficient.”

    “Doc’s Food Stores is a great example of a retailer combining the latest technology and an outstanding corporate culture to compete and win online,” said Patrick Hughes, CEO of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based eGrowcery. “We’re committed to helping them deliver an online shopping experience that is best in class.” 

    Other companies that eGrowcery has recently established partnerships with include wholesaler Certco and such independent food retailers as Mackenthun’s and Hitchcock’s Markets.

    Established in 1946, Doc’s operates supermarkets across Oklahoma under the Doc’s Apple Market, Country Mart, JB’s Market, Price Mart and Cox Cash Saver banners.

  • 9/28/2023

    Nourish + Bloom Bringing 2 Container-Built Grocery Stores to Atlanta


    Independent grocer Nourish + Bloom is gearing up to bring two more of its autonomous stores to Atlanta. The company was recently awarded an Economic Opportunity Fund Food Access Grant for up to $600,000 from Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, to bring the container-built locations to the area.

    The new stores will be built in shipping containers, and will be located in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh Yards jobs hub south of downtown and at a site on Campbellton Road. 

    Nourish + Bloom is hailed as the first Black-owned autonomous grocery store, and opened its first location in the Atlanta suburb of Fayetteville, Ga., in early 2022. The company is run by husband-and-wife duo Jamie Michael Hemmings and Jilea Hemmings and offers locally sourced craft items, such as produce, meats, baked goods, dairy and prepared meals, alongside everyday convenience items with no checkout.

    Last year, the Hemmings told Progressive Grocer that they were looking to open 400-plus Nourish + Bloom Markets, which would all operate 24/7.

    [EDITOR'S NOTE: Jilea Hemmings was recently a guest on Progressive Grocer's TWIG Podcast. Listen here.]

  • 8/25/2023

    Apeel Bolsters Expertise in Tropicals

    apeel teaser

    As it seeks to expand applications in tropical produce, Apeel Sciences has hired Denise Junqueiro as VP of commercial, tropical. In this role, she will help drive growth in the category that includes popular items like avocadoes and mangoes.

    Junqueiro will advance the use of Apeel’s plant-based protection that allows for longer lasting products and work to increase awareness of the company’s new data and quality tools. She brings to the company more than 15 years of experience with growers, packers, shippers, retailers, foodservice operators and policy makers. Her background includes marketing positions at the California Fig Advisory Board, California Tree Fruit Agreement and California Olive Committee and Mission Produce, Inc. At Mission Produce, she created innovative merchandising programs based on consumer needs and preferences for avocados and recently launched the company’s Reliably Ripe program for avocadoes.   

    [Read more: "Shipt Names Chief Technology and Product Officer"]

    “Joining Apeel offers me a new way to approach the produce business and apply my skillset and expertise, starting with building relationships and educating partners about Apeel’s innovative ripe and ready to eat solutions,” Junqueiro remarked. ” Throughout my career, I have always sought to create win-win situations and work together to create real value along the supply chain. This perfectly aligns with Apeel's mission and growth plans."

    Based in Goleta, Calif., Apeel offers a protective extra “peel” that slows water loss and oxidation that causes produce to spoil. 

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