SAN DIEGO — Five top produce managers took home a $1,000 grand prize from the United Fresh 2013 Produce Celebration Dinner.

Produce managers who deserve recognitionThe winners were selected from the top 25 produce managers in the Washington, D.C.-based organization’s Retail Produce Manager Awards program. The program, sponsored by Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Foods Inc., is in its 9th year. All managers were recognized at a May 16 banquet.

United Fresh received more than 225 nominations for the award this year, said Michael Celani, Ready Pac’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Grand prize winners this year are:

  • Nathan Mineart, Hy-Vee Inc., Mineart, Iowa;
  • Frankie Thacker, Food City/K-Va-T Food Stores, Rogers, Tenn.;
  • Jim Fleming, Price Chopper/Golub Corporation, Newburgh, N.Y.;
  • Jeff Vocatura, Big Y Foods, Stratford, Conn.;
  • Ryan Acosta, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, Sacramento, Calif.;
  • Lou Brock, Quality Food Centers, Seattle, Wash.

The program creates quite a bit of excitement among retailers, said Joe Watson, director of produce for Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Enterprises LLC. Watson said he’s had two produce managers chosen as a finalist for the awards in the past three years.

“This is something I will do every year,” he said.