Winn-Dixie wins FFVA merchandiser of the yearNAPLES, Fla. — The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association thanked a leading Southeastern retailer for merchandising the Sunshine State’s produce and honored its outgoing chairman.

At the association’s 71st annual convention, the group recognized Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., as its merchandiser of the year.

Alan Temple, FFVA’s chairman and president of B&W Quality Growers Inc., in Fellsmere, honored the retailer for its support for Florida agriculture spanning many decades.

This year, each Winn-Dixie store’s produce department featured photographs of Florida farming families, he said.

“Winn-Dixie is a valued partner that has worked with producers to promote Florida products,” Temple said. “Their support of local Florida producers is a testament to their commitment of helping local communities. Their focus on helping local farmers makes a strong statement in the retail community.”

Winn-Dixie wins FFVA merchandiser of the yearBob Denomme, Winn-Dixie’s director of produce, and Barry Starnes, category manager, accepted the award.

“Our company integrated a couple of years ago,” Denomme said. “We wanted to be known as the local produce supermarket, the ones representing our communities and becoming good neighbors. Our management and marketing team has put a lot of work into this the last couple of years. The recognition from this association is truly meaningful to us.”

Temple honored immediate past FFVA chairman Keith Mixon, the president of Watsonville, Calif.-based Dole Berry Co. LLC, for his industry service.

Temple said Mixon demonstrated leadership by working hard on key industry issues and sharing his vision for FFVA’s future.

“Keith has been a terrific leader of this organization for the past two years,” Temple said. “His dedication to the association and to Florida agriculture is evident as he has walked the halls of the state capitol and Congress, advocating for growers.”

Mixon, who was a co-owner of the Winter Haven-based SunnyRidge Farm until he and his brothers in 2011 sold the blueberry growing and shipping operation to Dole, said he appreciates the opportunities he received during his two year term.

Mixon noted the leadership of his predecessor, Drew Duda, senior vice president of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., who was FFVA president 2010-12.

“This is an awesome organization of incredible people who want to do the right things not only for this organization, but for this industry,” he said. “In the previous years under Drew’s leadership, I assure you as you travel and visit other groups around the world, there will be few people that are of the quality of those you see here.”