leading the way to results in fresh food marketing

by Tim Vaux
Class 25?  Wow! It’s hard to believe that it was that long ago when I visited with Tom Stenzel to discuss the creation of the Leadership Program and DuPont’s interest in sponsoring it.  The program really was created with United Fresh in mind. Tom Stenzel had just been named president a couple of years before and began articulating goals he had in the area of member networking, developing and retaining talent in the industry and government relations.  Dupont had new products for fruit and vegetables that it wanted to showcase, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Julie Krivanek, a consultant out of Denver, was hired to be the leadership guru. I still tease her about the fact that we were the “godparents” to the participants, but, frankly, after all this time, it is more likely that we are the “grandparents”.  Julie works to ensure that each participant is engaged and gets value out of the year-long program. She tries to gear the program to the unique mix of people the committee selects. She takes a look at the makeup and demographics of the group and also their age ranges and experience. Maybe one year there are more growers than retailers or distributors.  Consideration is also given to geographies and commodities. Participants are asked what they want to get out of the program and before the first session, their feedback is used to make the program as relevant as possible.
Although the group dynamic makes each program a little different, the program always has four main areas of emphasis:
  • Leadership Development
  • Business Relationships
  • Government and Public Affairs
  • Media and Public Relations
After Class 7, when there was a critical mass, I encouraged the graduates to form an alumni association, by which, collectively, they could continue their leadership journey.  Each year, they meet and hire speakers to help them further develop their knowledge.   It is still true that participants learn some of the most important industry lessons and skills from each other.
The most gratifying part of the program to me has been watching
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by Ron Pelger

Retailers Want to Buy a Program over Just Buying the Product

"Any customer can have any price they want as long as it's our price."

That's what a sales rep once told me during a meeting when I was the director of produce for a major supermarket chain and he meant every word of it. He wasn't being disrespectful or nasty about it. The statement was implied because he felt he had already added a value to the product rather than just a price.

Besides showing me his company's fresh-cut salad line, he included a quota program which lowered case costs immensely when and if we purchased and reached certain quantity levels. The program was also combined with a quarterly advertising deal of a few dollars off each case for running an ad with their brand logo inserted.
I wound up accepting the offer. That sales rep sold me a plan over just selling me the product. I felt the program plan would help us with our gross profit. It may have helped in a small way, but all the small ways add up in accomplishing our profit goals.
When I was promoted to director of merchandising and procurement, our divisional president said to me, "Young man, you have to learn one thing as you work your way up in this business —— never be afraid to say NO."
It took me 10 years to understand what he really meant and for me to have

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In Season: Market Memo


Markets in March are extremely volatile with high pricing on almost every commodity.  The weather hammered growers in California, Arizona, Mexico and Florida.  This has lowered supply and thus we have demand exceeds on a lot of commodities.  Yields are way down due to cool temperatures and rain.  The cold temperatures have caused poor quality, so product is not at it’s optimum on appearance and shelf life. We will have to wait and see what weather does but we are just around the corner from transitioning out of winter growing regions to our summer regions.  As we enter transition expect supply gaps.  Growers in the new growing regions have missed plantings due to heavy rain putting them at least two weeks behind.  Check on your contracts and ask about supply back-ups, if you need help call FreshXperts.

An area that has had excess supply is logistics.  We have seen large availability for transportation in most areas.  This has been very challenging for truck rates as they are on the low side and drivers are not breaking even.  When we transition into the spring and summer growing regions drivers will be eager to make back operation costs from the winter.  Look for another crazy summer for truck rates.  We recommend locking in your transportation rates with good carriers that are willing to contract.  FreshXperts can assist your logistics department.

by Paul Grothe

Xpert Update

FreshXpert Nick Pasculli is the founder, president, and CEO of TMD Creative which recently received several competition awards based on work done for companies in the fresh food and agricultural industries.

TMD Creative will celebrate its 20 year anniversary this Fall. Nick noted that the company is growing and they have added new members recently to the team. 

TMD Creative received the following marketing, digital, and communication competition awards:
  • Marcom Award, Berry People, Packaging
  • Marcom Award, Del Rey Avocado, Website
  • Davey Award, Berry People, Packaging
  • Davey Award, Del Rey Avocado, Website
  • Summit International Awards, Olinday Farms, Logo Design
  • Summit International Awards, Olinday Farms, Website
  • VMA Showcase Award, Cal Ag Leadership Foundation, 2016-17 Annual Report
  • Vega Digital Award, Del Rey Avocado, “Fair Trade” Video
  • Vega Digital Award, Ocean Mist Farms, “Cut to Cool” Video
  • Vega Digital Award, Taylor Farms, E-Blast Campaign
  • Vega Digital Award, Organic Produce Summit, Collateral
Congratulations to Nick and his team at TMD Creative!

Ask the Xpert

Q: Is Consulting the only service offered by FreshXperts? 
A: Although FreshXperts is a consortium of consultants, many of our members are still actively providing services to the industry. This means that not only can they team together to prepare tactics and strategies for a path forward, they also have the tools and resources to provide the services needed in that journey. Whether the client needs marketing materials, development of an online presence, logistic solutions,  or merchandising displays, our team of Xperts can help you achieve your goals.
Learn more about FreshXperts
Suggested Reading

The Produce News, Ron Pelger, In the Trenches: "Putting CEOs on the Front Line"
Blue Book Services, "USDA Restricts PACA Violators..."
FreshXperts, Anthony Totta, "Teacher-Learner, Learner-Teacher"

Upcoming events

PMA Fresh Connections Retail

April 10-11, Philadelphia
FreshXpert Anthony Totta will be attending

Organic Produce Summit

July 10-11, Monterey
FreshXpert Anthony Totta will be attending

FreshXperts is a consortium of consultants in the fresh industry. 
Experts in all aspects of the fresh industry–from Farm to Fork
Growers - Retailers - Distributors
Logistics - Foodservice -
Start Ups & New Ventures

For more information about our member FreshXperts, visit our team page
Anthony Totta: CEO; Business and Brand Development Specialist
Tim Vaux: Executive Leadership Specialist; Organizational Governance
Eric Bosveld: M&A; Agro-Economics Specialist
Ron Pelger: Retail Operations Specialist
Jennifer Lawson: Administration, Information Design
Paul Grothe: Logistics; Foodservice Procurement Specialist
Nick Pasculli: PR & Marketing

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