Top execs driving retail innovation – the winners of the International Fresh Produce Association’s Retail Merchant Innovation Award – will be recognized at the Retail Awards Reception on 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,” said IFPA vice president Joe Watson.”

IFPA awarded winners in five store-count categories:

  1. Randy Bohaty, B&R Stores, Inc. (1-50 stores), director of produce, Lincoln, Nebraska. From the nomination form: Bohaty effectively uses ad planning, item planning, competitive team building and quality communication. Consumers wait with bated breath for particular promotions each year.
  2. Christina Stipe, Price Chopper & Market 32 (51-150 stores), director produce/floral, Albany, New York. From the nomination form: Stipe overhauled the corporate strategy to improve everyday pricing on produce while maintaining margin dollars and driving tonnage. The impact 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, helping to create a “market” feel. Refreshed store sales exceeded baseline store performance and consistently garnered higher consumer feedback scores.
  3. Mil Mijanovic, Albertsons Companies – Safeway NorCal Division (151-250 stores), produce sales manager, Pleasanton, California From the nomination form: Mijanovic’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 its contribution to the overall department. He also leads in innovation, creating more than 30 new recipes in the fresh-cut operation to drive produce consumption, as well as innovative approaches to equipment, merchandising and display ideas.
  4. Erin Tice, Sprouts Farmers Market (251-399 stores), senior category manager, Phoenix, Arizona. From the nomination form: Tice 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. It takes a lot of extra work and collaboration, but this is essential to our industry's growth and ability to respond to changing market conditions and consumers. Tice is an advocate for the growers whom she believes in.
  5. Shawn Peery, Albertsons Companies (400+ stores), national vice president Produce, Boise, Idaho. From the nomination form: Peery is constantly in the market seeking new and innovative ways to drive growth. He tries new merchandising solutions, planograms and supplier solutions. He has increased distribution, promotion frequency and breadth across divisions. Peery demonstrates dedication, commitment to excellence and efforts to push the supplier community to innovate and seek breakthrough solutions.

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

For more information:
Ashley Sempowski
International Fresh Produce Association