Pundit Interviews

Pundit Letters

Perishable Pundit
P.O. Box 810425
Boca Raton FL 33481

Ph: 561-994-1118
Fax: 561-994-1610



Produce Business

Deli Business

American Food & Ag Exporter

Cheese Connoisseur

Tesco Expands Plans For
More Openings In California

Preparations are apace for Tesco’s rollout. The Pundit is on his way to the U.K. Wednesday night so will check out some Tesco stores there and see if we can discern anything that might be relevant to the U.S. launch.

Previously we gave Tesco’s initial locations in Nevada, Arizona and Los Angeles. Now Tesco gives us its locations in California’s Inland Empire:


Grocer Seeks to Provide Fresh, Wholesome Food at Affordable Prices

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Tesco, one of the top three retailers in the world, announced plans for its U.S. venture, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, to open grocery stores throughout California’s Inland Empire and discussed plans to offer fresh, wholesome food consumers can trust at prices they can afford.

Fresh & Easy identified 48 store locations in the Inland Empire with some sites already under consideration. At roughly 10,000 square feet, these neighborhood markets will be smaller than the typical supermarket to give customers a faster, easier shopping experience. In addition to the Inland Empire, Fresh & Easy will open stores throughout Southern California, Phoenix and Las Vegas starting in November.

Fresh & Easy will bring a significant number of jobs to the Inland Empire. The company’s Riverside distribution center is projected to employ approximately 1,500 to 2,000 employees over the next 5 years, and the 48 stores announced today will bring nearly 1,400 additional jobs to the area. The number of Fresh & Easy jobs will increase as the company continues to secure sites in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

”The fast-growing Inland Empire is an ideal location for our neighborhood markets,” said Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market’s CEO. “Everyone wants fresh, wholesome food at affordable prices. When our stores begin opening later this year, our customers will see this is exactly what we are providing to the neighborhood.”

Before committing to build stores in the U.S., Fresh & Easy conducted extensive consumer research to develop a grocery store for American consumers. One of the key insights was almost everyone wants a wide range of fresh and wholesome food they can trust at reasonable prices. It was with that in mind that the concept for Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market was born.

”We take the promise of providing great food our customers can trust very seriously. For us, the centerpiece of this concept is freshness,” said John Burry, Chief Commercial Officer. “In order to ensure freshness is paramount, we’ve put our distribution center in Riverside, central to the areas we are building stores, and we’re making daily deliveries to each of our stores. We also aim to source as much as possible from local suppliers. For example, about 60% of our produce comes from California and all of our chicken is raised here too.”

To underscore its commitment to bring great food customers can trust, Fresh & Easy announced it will be making its own prepared foods in a kitchen facility located in Riverside. The company has gone to great lengths to ensure all its private label Fresh & Easy products are as fresh as possible and contain no added trans-fats or artificial colors or flavors and has restricted the amount of preservatives. In addition to carrying fresh, wholesome food, the company will also offer customers’ favorite brands to provide a one-stop shopping experience.

About Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is a local, neighborhood store committed to providing customers with fresh, wholesome food. Fresh & Easy will open stores in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona starting in November.

Fresh & Easy is a company of Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer and one of the world’s leading international retailers. Tesco operates over 3,200 stores across 12 countries and employing more than 400,000 people.

Tesco’s success is due in part to delivering a consistently strong customer offering on every visit and every transaction, and by focusing on the company’s core purpose: to create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty.

More information regarding Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market can be found at www.freshandeasy.com.


Oak Valley Blvd & Beaumont Ave

Calimesa & Myrtlewood

Cathedral City
Date Palm & 30th

50th & Van Buren

Ontario & Rimpau

Florida Ave & Lyon Ave

42nd & Jackson

La Quinta
Calle Tampico & Desert Club Dr
Fred Waring Dr & Jefferson St

Lake Elsinore
Lake & Mountain

Newport & Menifee

Mira Loma
Archibald & Cloverdale
Hamner & Schleisman
Moreno Valley
Perris & Iris
Perris & Alessandro
Iris & Oliver
Frederick & Cottonwood

Margarita & Murietta Hot Springs
Newport & Murietta
Nutmeg & Jackson

River & 2nd

Palm Desert
Monterey & Hwy 111

Palm Springs
Sunrise & Tahquitz

Limonite & Clay

Van Buren Blvd & Colorado Ave
Trautwein & Bountiful
Arlington & Madison

San Jacinto
Esplanade Ave & Sanderson Ave

Margarita & Deportola
Rancho California & Cosmic


Apple Valley
Apple Valley & Yucca Loma

Chino Hills
Chino & Eucalyptus
Soquel Canyon & Hwy 71

Baseline & Citrus
Grand Terrace
Barton & Mt Vernon

Main & Topaz

Loma Linda
Mountain View & Redlands

Haven & 4th
Euclid & Philadelphia

Rancho Cucamonga
Haven & Town Center — Rancho Cucamonga

210 Fwy & Riverside
Foothill & Cedar
Foothill & Pepper

San Bernardino
Highland & Del Rosa
8th Street & Mountain Avenue
Foothill & San Antonio

Oak Glen & Yucaipa

El Evado Rd & Palmdale Rd (Hwy 18)

The amazing thing with the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market locations is there is quite a bit of economic and ethnic diversity in where they intend to serve. It is neither an upscale nor a downscale concept — if it succeeds on these terms, Tesco will need over 15,000 stores to cover America.

You have to give them credit for thinking big.

Apply Leafy Green Metrics
To Vegetables

In all the attention being paid to the recall on the Dole salad product, our initial interview with Dole’s Eric Schwartz also contained this tidbit about Dole’s entry into the fresh-cut veg business:

Q: After the spinach crisis, you made the point that Dole was moving toward becoming more autonomous in salad production to have better control over the process. I understand that separately Dole is looking to do fresh-cut bagged vegetables and partner with River Ranch for the packaging. Is this the case?

A: On cut vegetables, it’s a very small market and River Ranch has a large established business in this category. Those kinds of vegetables, such as broccoli stems two to three feet off the ground, also have a very different risk profile than bagged lettuce. All bagged salads at Dole will be done in house.

It is an interesting expansion for Dole. River Ranch’s own brand is not a big player in this space, with only around 2.7 % market share. River Ranch does, however, produce a lot of private label.

We would like to see everyone in the industry, though, apply the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement metrics to all the vegetable acreage — especially in the Salinas valley. And Dole — as a leader in the industry — is perfectly positioned to make it happen by requiring it of all suppliers.

The truth is that we don’t know the cause of the contaminations we have had recently, and so we don’t really know if being two feet off the ground is a safety zone or is riskier. It seems until we have some better information, erring on the side of safety would be wise for everyone.

Fantastic Friday

It goes without saying that trade shows and conferences offer all kinds of value to participants, and PMA’s Fresh Summit event is like nothing else on earth. There is no other event that incorporates so many learning opportunities, networking opportunities and commercial possibilities.

This is widely known and it is why next month in Houston, PMA will have well over 10,000 industry members gathered for the annual convention and exhibition.

Yet, perhaps the most common mistake made in the industry is to value trade shows — while neglecting the plethora of activities — from seminars to general sessions to receptions — that surround those trade shows.

The great appeal of trade shows is that it is easy to verify what is accomplished. If a big buyer shakes an exhibitor’s hand, well, the exhibitor knows it and can place value on that interaction.

Equally if a buyer identifies a new product or solidifies a relationship with a vendor, the buyer knows where it happened and can attribute value to the show.

Yet just because something is the most easily quantifiable doesn’t mean it is the most valuable. In many cases those trade show interactions only happen because of the degree to which the parties made themselves valuable long before they stood on the trade show floor that day.

That value consists of education and contacts — both of which are cultivated at workshops and events as much as on the trade show floor.

And get this: It is typical for the very best programming to occur before a trade show even starts. Why? Simple, the internal dynamics of these events mean that one of the major reasons for offering early programming is to attract people into town so that they will be ready and waiting the moment the trade show actually opens. General Colin L. Powell is surely the most highly compensated speaker at this year’s Fresh Summit — it is not an accident that he is speaking on Friday.

We want this industry to grow and prosper. To help make that happen, our dream here at the Pundit is that every person who has a Trade-Show-Only pass to events such as PMA’s Fresh Summit will sign up for a full registration. And it is not too late. PMA is accepting advance registrations through September 28. If you haven’t registered or if you wish to upgrade your registration to a full Value Package, you can do so right here.

Just to get a flavor for what you are missing if you don’t do the Full Monty, let’s talk our way through just some of the things going on in Houston the day before the trade show — a day we’ve dubbed Fantastic Friday:


This tour of local supermarkets provides participants with a unique, hands-on opportunity to visit some of Houston’s top regional supermarkets and distribution centers. At Central Market (HEB), Fiesta Mart and Lewis Food Town, you’ll learn how each store markets successfully to customers from a variety of demographic and ethnic origins. At DiMare Distribution Center, which focuses on retail and foodservice markets, the tour will include fresh-cut fruit processing, banana ripening and much more.

The retail tour is an extra fee and conflicts with other events, but this is a perfect way to enhance your value. Even if you never sell a box in Houston, seeing the way business is done there is a deposit into your intellectual capital account and makes you more valuable to employers, customers and anyone you interact with.


This is a new networking event at PMA, so it’s an opportunity for you to attend and then say you were there at the beginning:

What if all the women leaders from the produce and floral industries gather together for two hours of networking and inspiration? Join PMA for the first annual Fresh Perspective: A Women’s Leadership Event, where women leaders from around the globe will meet, mingle and hear an uplifting and entertaining presentation from a woman who has excelled in her field and will motivate you to do the same. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your industry peers at this special Fresh Summit event (by invitation only.)

Look for this event to burst upon the industry. Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, lent our support by having invitations sent to our 40-under-Forty honorees. And financially the event is sponsored by Bonipak Produce Co., DMA Solutions, Inc., Four Seasons Produce, Inc., Frontera Produce Ltd., and Mann Packing Co., Inc.


But the secret weapon behind this event? A dynamo planning committee:

Dan’l Mackey Almy
DMA Solutions
Marty Craner
B & C Fresh Sales
Jan DeLyser
CA Avocado Commission
Janet Erickson
Del Taco
Lyn Hughes
formerly with Salyer American
Lisa McNeece
Grimmway Enterprises
Sheri Mierau
CA Tree Fruit Agreement
Jin Ju Wilder
Coast Produce

They brought in as a speaker a woman who has climbed Mount Everest but these ladies have climbed to the heights of the produce industry. If you have younger women in your organization who are perhaps new to the industry, make sure they are at the breakfast so that they can start getting hooked in with other women who can help mentor them and be valuable business contacts. This will be a Class A event. And you can expect many guys there to recognize the achievement of the industry’s female members.

This is an invitation-only event, but Pundit readers are invited. If Pundit readers would like to attend, they just need to email freshperspective@pma.com, ask for an invitation, then register by September 28 (this is the last day to register in advance for Fresh Summit).

The headliner this year:
General Colin L. Powell:

What does it take to be a great leader? From the board room to the war room, the essence of leadership remains constant — the need to build trust.

Don’t miss this inspiring and memorable presentation delivered by General Colin Powell, one of the 21st century’s most powerful leaders. You’ll hear his tried-and-true approach to being a great leader: conveying a sense of purpose, a vision, and a mission … and striving to make every single person believe that they are a vital part of the organization.

General Powell also outlines how great leaders empower others by giving them the skills, the training and the tools they need to succeed, and by rewarding and recognizing them for a job well done. In short, General Powell underscores that the essence of leadership — on the world stage, in a business organization, or in any human endeavor — is the trust that is required among individuals who are working toward a common goal.

In an engaging and compelling presentation punctuated with humor and anecdotes from years of service at the highest levels of international affairs, General Powell talks about the essence of leadership, obstacles and opportunities of a flattening world, and the importance of promoting universal human ideals to establish and nurture economies around the world.

If you have never seen General Powell give a speech — get thee to Houston. An American success story, his talk is always inspirational and useful — a rare combination. Pundit sister publication PRODUCE BUSINESS, National Mango Board, Sunkist, Sun Sweet and Tanimura and Antle are the sponsors of this session.

After the lunch there is fantastic assortment of five produce and one floral workshops:

2:45 P.M. — 4:00 P.M. WORKSHOP SERIES I

What Do Consumers Really Think about Corporate Social Responsibility?

The results are in! Don’t miss this grand unveiling of unique trans-Atlantic research designed to assess consumer attitudes in both the U.K. and U.S. on issues of corporate social responsibility and the relevance to the produce industry. The Pundit will explore terms such as organics, locally grown, food miles, carbon footprints, sustainability and fair trade, and present what these and similar concepts actually mean to consumers, and how consumers value such concepts. All attendees will receive a special executive summary of the research report.

Track: Global Trade

Rob Robson
Chief Executive Officer
One Harvest
Wacol, Queensland Australia


Jim Prevor
Founder & Editor-In-Chief
Produce Business
Perishable Pundit
Boca Raton, Florida USA

Watch — this will be THE ISSUE of 2008 and you can get ahead of it right now. Come and hear the Pundit explain how the comeuppance of this issue may well determine the future of your company and the industry.

By the way, it is probably worth coming just to see who is introducing me, as we have profiled Rob Robson in the Pundit here, besides he may one day become the first Chairman of PMA from outside North America. If we get really lucky, he will bring his guitar and provide a musical introduction.

Drive Success by Creating Customer Dependency

Maturing product, stronger competition, price sensitivity… the challenges continue to grow for fresh produce companies striving to maintain market share. When a company’s product mix mirrors that of a dozen other competitors, how does it differentiate itself? This session highlights how to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace through strategies other than price-lowering. You will gain new perspectives on competitive trends and the need for differentiation. Learn the philosophy of value-based selling and how it can create customer dependency. Plus, hear success stories from an industry panel on how they applied value-based selling within their organizations to drive revenue and sustain market share.

Track: Professional Development

Marty Craner
B & C Fresh Sales
Orange, California USA


Dan’l Mackey-Almy
President, Managing Partner
DMA Solutions, Inc
Irving, Texas USA
Robyn Pekowski
DMA Solutions, Inc
Irving, Texas USA

Response Panel:

Rick Alcocer
Vice President of Sales — Fresh Vegetables
Duda Farm Fresh Foods
Salinas, California USA
Andrew H. Siegel
Fresh Connect
Chicago, Illinois USA

Beat the commodity trap — and the superstars from DMA Solutions are just the people to help you do it.


Healthy Eating is Kids’ Stuff

Build your future customer base now! Encouraging healthy eating habits in children is a red-hot topic in the U.S. right now. National and international programs to raise awareness have reached a tipping point. In this session, you will see samples of these programs, learn how they work and the benefits they provide to kids at school and at home. You will also learn what they mean for the produce industry, why you need to be involved and how your involvement can create the ultimate opportunity — building consumers for life!

Track: Consumer Insights
Introducer and Moderator:

Kathy Means, CAE
Vice President of Government Relations
Produce Marketing Association
Newark, Delaware USA


Shelley White
Editorial Director
Scholastic Inc.
New York, New York USA
Professor C. Fergus Lowe
Deputy Vice-Chancellor
University of Wales
Bangor, Wales UK
Michael Maloney
Director of Horticulture & Quality
Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board)
Dublin, Ireland

Kathy Means of PMA has shepherded this program through thick and thin to make it happen, and we’ve profiled the Scholastic/PMA tie-in here, but you don’t want to miss a chance to see Professor C. Fregus Lowe and Michael Maloney.

As you know from our coverage of the Food Dudes program here, here and here — this innovative program is big news in Ireland and may yet cross the Atlantic.


Ripe for the Picking, Part I: Retail Facts and Consumer Findings

Which fruits are making it into consumers’ shopping baskets and which ones are wilting on the shelf? Tune in to this session for an “Inside Look at the Fresh-Cut Consumer.” Be among the first to hear the latest research developed by the Perishables Group examining consumer shopping patterns and preferences. You will learn how to identify fresh-cut planned purchase rates, purchase triggers and substitution factors. Gain a better understanding of how this research relates to national and regional syndicated data from previous years. Study the category growth by region and take a look at the growth drivers by item. Learn how to take all this information and transform it into an actionable item that you can implement. This session will set the stage for a supplier/retailer roundtable discussion on fresh-cut that follows on Saturday. Audience Q&A will follow.

Track: Consumer Insights

Steve Tursi
Fresh Summit Marketing Committee Chairman
Produce Merchandise Manager
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc
Bentonville, Arkansas


Steve Lutz
Executive Vice President
Perishables Group
East Wenatchee, Washington USA

Jonna Parker
Senior Account Manager
Perishables Group
Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

Can’t do much better than listening to the research The Perishables Group does. Their recent work on organics was fascinating, and they are back with something just as interesting on fresh-cuts. And Steve Tursi of Wal-Mart is there to give a retailer’s perspective on the category.

Traceability: A Choice or A Necessity?

The time is now! Traceability has become an issue that every member of the produce industry must address. Attend this illuminating session and gain a greater understanding of full supply chain traceability; how it works within the Best Practices Framework established by PMA and Canadian Produce Marketing Association: what is the step-by-step process of information-gathering in the event of a recall and where are the gaps within current traceability systems?

If you have a traceability system, learn how effective it really is compared to the Best Practices Framework. If you don’t, it is time to learn how to implement one. Either way, this workshop is critical for everyone in the produce supply chain.

Key: Technology
Supporting: Food Safety
Introducer and Moderator:

Gary Fleming
Vice President, Industry Technology & Standards
Produce Marketing Association
Newark, Delaware USA


Jorge Aragon
Postharvest & Quality Manager
Kleppe S. A
Cipolletti, Rio Negro Argentina
Roberto Perg
Systems Manager
Expofrut S.A.
General Roca, Rio Negro Argentina

Traceability has no better expert than Gary Fleming, as we have mentioned here and here. We also ran a Guest Pundit from Gary based on his trip to Argentina, which you can read here. Now Gary brings some of Argentina to America. Here you can ask questions of the same people we wrote about back in April 2007.


Floral Solutions Workshop: Selling to Men, Women and Teens

In this first-ever, two-hour workshop dedicated to the needs of the floral industry, Pamela J. Smith, AAF, PFCI, Director of Marketing for Nature’s Flowers, will conduct an energetic, interactive and highly informative presentation that focuses on successful marketing approaches to men, women and teenagers.

Smith will demonstrate merchandising display ideas and techniques that have proven to increase sales. You will gather critical insight from a panel of key retailers as they react to the material presented. Audience participation as well as Q&A will add even more value to this must-see session. As an added bonus, the ideas and techniques presented will be on display in the Fresh Ideas Marketplace located in Booth #100 on the show floor.

Key: Floral
Supporting: Consumer Insights
Introducer and Moderator:

Tracy Terrace
Vice President Sales and Marketing
Aerial Bouquets
Chesterfield, Missouri USA


Pamela J. Smith, AAF, PFCI
Director of Marketing
Nature’s Flowers
St. Louis, Missouri USA


David Corsi
PMA Board Secretary/Treasurer
Vice President of Produce and Floral Operations
Wegmans Food and Pharmacy
Rochester, New York USA
Michael O’Brien
PMA Retail Board Chairman
Vice President of Produce & Floral
Schnuck Markets, Inc
Saint Louis, Missouri USA

Greg Calistro
Director of Produce and Floral
Save Mart Supermarkets
Modesto, California USA

Yes, floral is back big time at PMA — Greg was out of town so we couldn’t get a photo but between Dave Corsi, Mike O’Brien and Greg Calistro — you have transcontinental retail powerhouses all pointing to PMA’s deep commitment to floral. They will be responding to Pam Smith’s marketing presentation, and Tracy Terrace — who, as we mentioned here, is on PMA’s Floral Council — will do the introducing to this two-hour floral workshop.

And, finally, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM is the welcoming reception. Sponsored this year for the first time by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, this should be something special. Always a fantastic networking event, the Chileans have long run, as a private function, one of the most elegant events at each year’s PMA. It will be exciting to see that sense of style applied to this larger format.

It is always easy to say you need another day in the office. It is easy to say you would like to economize on the registration fee — but what could possibly be smarter to invest in than yourself and your associates. In the world we live in today, knowledge and insight make the difference between success and failure. We try to add this value every day here at the Pundit, but there are many ways to learn. Step up to the plate and register for Fresh Summit or expand your registration to include Fantastic Friday.

You can register or expand your registration here.

You can request an invite to the Fresh Perspectives Women’s Leadership Event here.

Pundit’s Mailbag — So Much For Constructive Criticism!!!

Our pieces, Why The Secrecy On Inspection Agency Lab Results? and Inspection Agencies Could Assist In Traceability, both of which dealt with the way the Canadian Food Inspection Agency dealt with the Dole recall, brought this pointed comment from an industry member in Canada:

Call this a constructive criticism e-mail: firstly, you are typical of what I call an arrogant, opinionated American full of lots of ‘bull***’. In my opinion, you pander to the large American companies and the latest example is your views of the CFIA — quite a few suppositions there I’d say!

Like most of us, you have to make a living, of course, but to be clear you look after the people that advertise on your site. As most Americans need to be reminded (not that they will believe it, but what the hell) that the USA is not the only country in the world and the planet Earth is one very small place in relation to the multitude of universes.

A final suggestion would be to write a bit less and think more seriously about what you are writing.

In conclusion, you seem like a good guy but try to tone down the American ‘raw, raw, raw’ bit.

— Randy Dietrich
Broadview Produce
Toronto, Canada.

We are not certain if the Pundit is being attacked alone or if all Americans are being attacked, but although Randy Dietrich is entitled to an opinion, we think this kind of letter is bad for an industry that is only trying to do what is right in terms of supplying safer food for all consumers.

If we are to advance as a trade, we need dialog that is open to everyone, and part of that is the need to be able to speak to one another in a civil manner. If we attack people’s motives that kind of open communication stops.

If Randy Dietrich has any substantive disagreements with something we have said, we would be happy to publish them and get the industry debating these important issues. We welcome different perspectives.

Note, however, that there is not one point of contention, not one disagreement with anything we wrote. There’s just a vague charge that the Pundit represents a class of “Opinionated Americans full of lots of ‘bull***’” and that in some vague and unsubstantiated way, we “pander to the large American companies.”

Also, while we appreciate being reminded that “the USA is not the only country in the world and the planet earth is one very small place in relation to the multitude of universes,” we are not quite sure what the point is.

After all we made zero “suppositions” about CFIA. We argued two points:

First that it would be a good idea — for CFIA, FDA or anyone else — to est each individual leaf type in a blend in the hope that we might get a clue as to the source of an outbreak.

Second that test results by government agencies such as CFIA and FDA should be public as that transparency would protect against error, self-dealing and corruption.

If either of these points are incorrect, there is nothing in Randy Dietrich’s letter that will help us to know better answers.

On point we must agree with Randy Dietrich, on the charge of being “opinionated” we plead guilty — sort of an occupational hazard.

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