October 9, 2023

IFPA recognizes innovation in produce leadership with annual awards

The International Fresh Produce Association has honored five retail executives helping to drive innovation. The winners of the annual Retail Merchant Innovation Awards will be recognized Oct. 20 at the Global Produce & Floral Show in Anaheim, California.

“These winners demonstrate passion and purpose in developing innovative strategies to drive produce consumption,” Joe Watson, IFPA vice president, said in a news release. “With this award, IFPA recognizes and celebrates the ‘best of the best’ retailers. We will hear from them at the global show and take the opportunity to congratulate them.”

IFPA awarded winners in five store-count categories:

Randy Bohaty

B&R Stores Inc. (1-50 stores), director of produce, Lincoln, Nebraska

From the nomination form: Randy effectively uses ad planning, item planning, competitive team building, and quality communication. Consumers wait with bated breath for particular promotions each year. He uses cutting-edge technology for planning and real-time actionable data to inform his decisions.

Christina Stipe

Price Chopper & Market 32 (51-150 stores), director produce/floral, Albany, New York

From the nomination form: Christina overhauled the corporate strategy to improve everyday pricing on produce while maintaining margin dollars and driving tonnage. The results improved the chain’s competitive position and contributed to gains in unit market share. She led a cross-functional Produce Refresh project to update and modernize merchandising fixtures and layouts in more than 70 stores. Refreshed store sales exceeded baseline store performance and consistently garner higher consumer feedback scores.

Mil Mijanovic

Albertsons Companies – Safeway NorCal Division (151-250 stores), produce sales manager, Pleasanton, California

From the nomination form: Mil’s marketing initiatives are vast, from his focus on California-grown to marketing initiatives for fresh-cut, berries, grilling vegetables, etc., both in stores and electronically. His merchandising focus is to maximize sales throughout his department and store, evaluating every display for the contribution to the overall department. Mil’s “power of fresh” aisle features secondary displays of key fresh items displayed in a high-traffic power alley. He also leads in innovation, creating more than 30 new recipes in the fresh-cut operation to drive produce consumption.

Erin Tice

Sprouts Farmers Market (251-399 stores), senior category manager, Phoenix, Arizona

From the nomination form: Erin worked with my (supplier) merchandising team to develop a new organic package. She provided valuable input for package development and offered feedback about how it could be merchandised in stores. … Erin is an advocate for the growers who she believes in. She is willing to do the extra work to bring the best products and experience to consumers. She is also a champion for store teams.

Shawn Peery

Albertsons Companies (400+ stores), national vice president produce, Boise, Idaho

From the nomination form: Shawn is an excellent retailer who knows the business cold and is constantly seeking new solutions to innovate in produce. … He tries new merchandising solutions, planograms and supplier solutions. He has increased distribution, promotion frequency, and breadth across divisions.

“We congratulate these innovative retail execs,” Watson said. “They inspire others in the industry to think creatively about their approach to produce marketing.”

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