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    Save Mart Produce Teams Get All 'Choked Up' For Spring

    Ocean Mist Farms sponsors a retail artichoke display contest.

    To mark the beginning of peak artichoke season, 140 Save Mart and Lucky supermarket stores participated in an artichoke display contest with Ocean Mist Farms in April.

    The four-week display contest challenged produce department teams to build a display using Ocean Mist Farms cartons, point-of-purchase cards, and bulk and packaged artichokes.

    Ocean Mist Farms selected multiple contest winners based on the creativity of displays and the increase in artichoke sales vs. the same period last year.

    Joe Feldman, director of sales and marketing at Ocean Mist Farms, said display contests are a good way to engage produce staff with a product and to gain shoppers' attention when they're in the produce department.

    "Save Mart is one of our best customers; they handle artichokes well and have strong volume throughout the year," said Feldman. "But during this contest, sales increased even more, and that's why we think it's a good marketing tool."

    With locations in Castroville, Oxnard, and Coachella, Calif., the family-owned Ocean Mist Farms is the largest grower of fresh artichokes in the United States.

    In other Save Mart news, the grocer is now employing the OralStat system from biotechnology company American Bio Medica Corp. (ABMC) in its employee drug-testing program.

    OralStat is a patented point-of-collection testing system for the detection of drugs of abuse in oral fluids. Its technology provides test results within minutes, with higher sensitivity and accuracy than laboratory-based oral fluids tests. The system can simultaneously test for six drugs in each device.

    "Our top priority is the safety of our customers and our employees," notd Jim Pucci, v.p. of risk management at Modesto, Calif.-based Save Mart, which operates almost 250 stores in northern California and northern Nevada under the Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky, and FoodMaxx banners. "A drug-free workplace is a safe environment, and a fast, reliable, on-site test like OralStat brings us closer to that goal."

    "OralStat [enables] employers like Save Mart to optimize their drug testing program and identify drug usage," added Stan Cipkowski, c.e.o. of Kinderhook, N.Y.-based ABMC.

    Save Mart spokesman Louie Yan told Progressive Grocer that the company started performing in-store drug testing about six years ago, and before that sent job applicants to a lab for urine tests, starting about 15 years ago.

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