A few weeks ago, United Fresh announced the 25 honorees of its 2020 Retail Produce Manager Awards Program. Sponsored by Dole Food Company, the program recognizes produce managers from all over the US and Canada who are working hard on the front line every day. “Coming from the retail world, this is a very prestigious award,” says Lisa Overman with Dole who sponsors the program. “This award means so much and when the sponsorship opportunity became available six years ago, we jumped on it,” she added.
Going above and beyond
Produce managers are first nominated internally by their organizations. Many different factors are being taken into account, including store presentation, cross-merchandising, consumer education and promoting the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the community. “The work these produce managers do is amazing, and they truly go above and beyond to increase sales and consumption of fresh produce,” Overman said. After having been nominated internally, the proposals of the candidates are submitted with United Fresh. “Every year, United Fresh receives hundreds of submissions and making it into the Top 25 is a huge deal. It is such an honor to be selected as the judging process is very thorough.”
Different people within United Fresh as well as Dole Food Company volunteer to be judges. “There is a total of 15 judges and we usually start in November and after reviewing all submissions, we finish the process at the end of January,” Overman shared.
Critical in feeding their communities
Every year, the 25 nominees travel to United Fresh’ annual event and trade show. “Although we can’t celebrate them in-person this year, we will recognize them virtually and what a great time to be recognized! More than ever before, produce managers are perceived as heroes. “They are critical in feeding their communities during this pandemic,” said Overman. Not only is this a very special year to be recognized, honorees will also have much more exposure to their award. “More peers will be able to see the award celebration compared to years past. Only a small group makes it to an in-person event and with the trade show being virtual this year, the footprint will be much larger.”