NAPLES, Fla. — The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association thanked Canada’s largest supermarket chain for supporting of the state’s produce.
During a Sept. 20 awards luncheon, the group presented its Merchandiser of the Year Award to Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Brampton, Ontario.
In nominating Loblaws, David Neill, president of Fort Pierce-based Neill’s Farm and managing partner of Big Red Tomato Packers, noted the chain’s focus on its customers and its dedication to food safety and quality produce.
Outgoing FFVA chairman Drew Duda, senior vice president of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc.’s Duda Ranches, read Neill’s comments, saying Loblaws remains a champion of direct farm sourcing, works directly with growers and employs local representatives to facilitate supply lines and feature Florida products throughout Canada.
Jean-Francois Delorme, Loblaws’ senior category manager for the chain’s Cambridge, Ontario, buying office, lauded Florida’s shippers.
“Canada is a big country,” he said. “It takes a good group of vendors. We work with a tremendous group that is dedicated and passionate about their jobs. They’re willing to put their names behind their boxes. As a retailer, that means a lot. It means vendors are not afraid to share the risk and responsibilities we have in putting the products on the shelf.”