Defense Commissary Agency store manager selected by United Fresh for its 2016 Retail Produce Manager Award

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Aug-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — A Defense Commissary Agency store department manager is one of the nation’s best at promoting fruits and vegetables, according to the United Fresh Produce Association.

Ryan Blancas, former produce manager at the Beale Air Force Base Commissary, California, is one of 25 produce managers nationwide selected by United Fresh for its 2016 Retail Produce Manager Award. Since 2005, the association has awarded nearly 300 produce managers from more than 80 grocery retailers.

“It’s truly an honor getting this award,” said Blancas, who is now assistant grocery manager at the Naval Base San Diego Commissary after being at the Beale store since September 2014.

“I still can’t believe that out of hundreds of nominees around the world I’m one of the 25 chosen,” he added. “Although my name is the one being recognized, I owe all my success to the hard-working team at Beale and the produce merchandisers. They’re the ones that helped make this possible.”

The award recognizes the hard work and accomplishments of produce managers who reach out to their community to promote fresh produce and help their customers eat healthier.

Blancas was selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by produce suppliers and retailers from across the industry. The nominations were evaluated on a number of criteria including the nominees’ efforts to increase produce consumption through excellence in merchandising, sampling events and attractive store displays.

“Ryan won the award because he was the most deserving,” said Marlon Walker, Beale assistant store director. “His outstanding performance and local participation in the [installation’s] Quality of Life program contributed to the success as well.”

Blancas echoed the partnership the Beale store had with base leadership and its health officials, one that fit the commissary into the military’s campaign for healthier service members.

“We can educate our customers about the health benefits and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables,” Blancas said. “For example, kiwi can help you fall asleep and has more vitamin C than oranges, and eating broccoli and cabbage has been shown to help prevent cancer.”

As a former “military brat,” Blancas said he took a personal stake in helping convince young airmen at Beale to add more produce to their diets, a definite challenge when you consider they usually shopped for fast food and sweets.

His strategy was simple: Offer demos and samples of cut fruit in checkout queuing lines and the commissary’s grab and go area.

“What I love most about my job is being able to serve those who serve our country,” Blancas said. “Growing up with a Navy dad, I know the sacrifices the troops make to serve our country. Knowing I am making a positive impact on the health of our troops by providing fresh quality produce keeps me going.”

About DeCA:
The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Commissary

NACS and United Fresh publish new resource to help retailers examine what they need to consider to have success with a fresh produce program

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-8-4— /EPR Retail News/ — As more convenience stores consider expanding their fresh produce offer in stores, a new resource has been published to help them examine what they need to consider to have success with a fresh produce program.

Are You Fit for Fresh?” a simple 10-point checklist developed by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh), looks at critical areas to assess whether a specific store should grow its fresh produce offer.

Convenience stores are increasingly adding more healthy and fresh items, according to NACS member survey conducted in June. More than 3 in 4 (77%) retailers say they sell fresh fruits and vegetables, almost 6 in 10 (57%) sell packaged salads and nearly half (47%) also sell cut fruit and vegetables. Convenience stores also have expanded selections of these items. Over the past six months, 50% of all convenience retailers say they have expanded their fresh fruit sales, 30% have increased their cut fruit and vegetable offers and 21% are offering more salads.

Sales of fresh fruits and vegetables in convenience stores grew 10.3%, nearly four times the overall 2.7% growth rate of produce sales in the United States in 2014, according to Nielsen data.

“A strong produce program can attract new customers, increase sales, plus deliver strong margins,” said NACS Chairman of the Board and NACS-United Fresh Convenience Task Force co-chairman Steve Loehr, vice president of operations with La Crosse, WI-based Kwik Trip. “This resource helps retailers ask the right questions about customer demand and resources required to effectively execute a quality program.”

“We want to provide solutions from the entire fresh produce supply chain to help convenience store retailers capitalize on this ‘fresh’ opportunity,” said NACS-United Fresh Convenience Task Force co-chairman Ron Carkoski. “Retailers who share an interest to develop a fresh program can be ensured that our effort will address best practices and educational programs to achieve success,” said Carkoski, who also is United Fresh’s past chairman of the board and president and CEO of Ephrata, PA-based Four Seasons Family of Companies.

The new publication is the second deliverable from the partnership that NACS and United Fresh formed in June 2014 to identify best practices to grow produce sales in convenience stores.  Earlier this year the groups published the 26-page “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores.” More than two-dozen retailers, distributors and produce companies helped develop and review the document.

The groups are developing follow-up resources and sessions to help retailers execute quality produce programs. They led a session at the 2015 United Fresh convention in June and will do the same at the upcoming NACS Show, which takes place October 11-14 in Las Vegas.

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Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 152,700 stores across the country, posted $696.1 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $482.6 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

NACS and United Fresh publish “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores” to develop an enhanced produce offering in stores

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-3-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — A primer to help sell more produce in convenience stores was published today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh). “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores” combines analysis of industry and consumer trends with practical ideas to develop an enhanced produce offering in stores.

The new publication is the first deliverable from the partnership that NACS and United Fresh formed in June 2014 to identify best practices to grow produce sales in convenience stores.  More than two dozen retailers, distributors and produce companies helped develop and review the document, which can be downloaded here.

“We have seen a dramatic increase for customer demand for fresh produce at convenience stores, and this resource was developed to communicate the huge opportunities for everyone in the distribution chain, from farm to store,” said NACS Chairman of the Board Steve Loehr, vice president of operations with La Crosse, WI-based Kwik Trip. “A recent NACS member survey reaffirms the importance of produce; 62% of members say that produce is important to their business plans in 2015.”

“Through contributions from NACS and United Fresh Member Companies participating in this effort, we have identified solutions in the distribution and merchandising of fresh produce, which ultimately will lead to new opportunities for produce suppliers, distributors and convenience store retailers to grow sales,” said United Fresh Chairman of the Board Ron Carkoski, president and CEO with Ephrata, PA-based Four Seasons Family of Companies.

A first step in this process is to build the business case for selling produce in convenience stores to all three critical groups: suppliers, distributors and retailers. The 26-page “Building the Business Case for Produce Sales at Convenience Stores” includes:

  • Demand, products and consumer trends that can affect sales success;
  • An overview of produce customer demographics and sales trends in convenience stores;
  • Key elements to consider in developing and executing a successful produce program;
  • Suggestions for how to start a program based on one retailer’s experience; and
  • An example of a fresh build-to book including background methodology.

The new document represents the first of several deliverables expected to be released by the NACS-United Fresh partnership this year. The groups are developing follow-up resources to help interested retailers determine the level of fresh produce that they can efficiently offer at stores and a checklist of critical areas to examine. The groups are also planning a number of educational sessions at upcoming industry events.

Additionally, they are examining how to manage costs associated with more frequent delivery of fresh produce to stores, merchandising techniques and handling procedures to minimize spoilage and marketing strategies to communicate this offer to consumers. Internally, the focus will be on training and education, potentially including educational sessions and special hands-on training at existing industry events.

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Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 151,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2013, of which $491 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.