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    Retail Support Drives Expanded Produce Manager Awards Program for 2006

    WASHINGTON -- Following the highly successful launch of United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association's Retail Produce Manager Awards Program in 2005, the association, based here, said it plans to expand the awards program to 20 store-level recipients in 2006, and include their corporate produce directors in formal recognition at the 2006 United Produce Show at FMI.

    WASHINGTON -- Following the highly successful launch of United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association's Retail Produce Manager Awards Program in 2005, the association, based here, said it plans to expand the awards program to 20 store-level recipients in 2006, and include their corporate produce directors in formal recognition at the 2006 United Produce Show at FMI.

    "The first-year support from supermarket executives to honor their front-line produce staff was simply remarkable," said Stenzel. "When we saw supermarket chain [executives] and other top executives participating in their first-ever produce convention, we knew this program was reaching the right people with an important message. We're helping focus the entire supply chain on the importance of produce excellence at store level, and what a difference great employees, empowered by their management, can make in store sales," he said.

    Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Produce will again be the sole sponsor of the awards program for 2006, including the program's expansion from 12 award winners to 20, and a new recognition program for corporate produce directors from the award winner's chains.

    "In its first year the selection committee had a challenging time limiting the award to 12 individuals," said Ready Pac c.e.o. Larry Kern. "I can't imagine it will be any easier in 2006 with increased industry attention, so Ready Pac is pleased to be able to expand the program to recognize more store produce managers and their chains' produce directors."

    "The industry is indebted to Ready Pac for its commitment to this program," said United's chairman, Nick Tompkins, of Apio, Inc. "Produce executives have told us that a great produce manager can help sell as much as 20 percent more produce than an average store. So Ready Pac's support is making a powerful investment for our entire industry in promoting overall sales growth and success."

    The 20 award winners and their produce directors will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations, and registrations to North America's leading food marketing event -- featuring the United Produce Show at FMI -- May 6 to May 9, 2006 in Chicago.

    The winners will participate in a number of activities throughout the convention, and two grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $1,000 each in cash prizes.

    All United's retail member companies are eligible to submit applications, as well as member produce companies and commissions whose work with retailers gives them insight into top store-level managers nationwide. "What a great opportunity to let your customers know that you appreciate their hard work," noted Stenzel.

    Nomination forms for the 2006 Retail Produce Manager Award will be available online in November, with applications due by Feb. 15, 2006.

    The 2005 United Retail Produce Manager Award winners included Todd Alston, Brookshire Brothers, Tyler, Texas; Joel Bowman, Food City K-VA-T, Bristol, Tenn.; Eleno Davila, Safeway, Inc., Puyallup, Wash.; Frank Garcia, HEB, Portland, Texas; Dawn Hanson, Nash Finch, St. James, Minn.; Jay Kempker, Hy-Vee Food Stores, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; Vincent Mochocki, Albertsons/Jewel-Osco Division, Glendale Heights, Ill; Tim Oldenkamp, Safeway, Inc., Bainbridge Island, Wash.; Mark Saucedo, HEB, Austin, Texas; Wade VanGinkel, King Soopers City Markets, El Jebel, Colo.; John Weaver, Hy-Vee Food Stores, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Dave Webber, Fred Meyer, Bend, Ore.

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