The United Fresh Produce Association recently announced its 2021 Retail Produce Manager Awards honorees. Karen O’Dell – produce manager at the Martin’s Super Market in Granger, Indiana – was among the 25 professionals recognized for her contributions to the industry.
“We are so proud of and excited for Karen and this great honor,” said Tom Swanson, EVP and general manager of corporate retail. “SpartanNash has many amazing produce managers throughout our nine-state retail footprint, and Karen represents their collective efforts to promote our local farmers and produce; showcase the quality, freshness and convenience of our produce departments to our store guests and communities; and drive excellence in execution.”
O’Dell has increased total department volume for the past three consecutive years (2018-20) and has kept the produce department at optimum levels throughout 2020, despite COVID-19 impacts. She currently has an associate in the produce management training program for 2021, helping to train the next generation of produce leaders at SpartanNash.
In addition, O’Dell uses her experience growing up on a fruit and vegetable farm to drive sales, merchandising and promotions at Martin’s Super Markets.
Prior to the pandemic, O’Dell also worked with the SpartanNash Health and Wellness team to conduct tours with different health at-risk groups, with an emphasis on healthy produce consumption. She also worked with local elementary schools during store tours, sharing produce demonstrations and sampling with the students.
The Retail Produce Manager Awards pay special recognition to produce managers working every day on the front line to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Since the program’s inception in 2005, more than 375 retail produce managers, representing more than 120 different retail banners, have been honored.
“Produce managers are the face of our industry to the consumer,” said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “Their creative merchandising and positive approach to customer service directly correlates to the growth of sales and ultimately consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.”
This year’s winners were selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by retailers and produce suppliers across the industry. Nominations were evaluated on several criteria, including efforts to increase produce consumption through excellence in merchandising, special displays and promotions, community service and commitment to customer satisfaction.
All winners will be honored during the United Fresh 2021 Convention and Expo, taking place June 24-26.