Don Ochoa, whose retail career spans three decades, has been named to the newly created position of vice president of business development for Renaissance Food Group LLC, Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Renaissance Food Group lures Don Ochoa from Safeway

Ochoa will be responsible for integrating Renaissance Food Group’s inventory and products with food items from Cambridge City, Ind.-based Really Cool Food Co. LLC, he said. The two companies merged in early June.

At nearly 30 years with Safeway Inc, Pleasanton, Calif., Ochoa said his background is invaluable in his new position, Ochoa said.

"At Safeway, we were constantly trying to partner departments and companies to try to get innovation going to really be consumer-centric instead of being silo oriented," he said. "This merger really becomes a solution for the consumer."

Really Cool Food manufactures natural, prepared foods at two production kitchens, one at the Indiana corporate site and another in Syosset, N.Y. Renaissance was built on its inventory of fresh-cut and value-added fruit and vegetable food items.

The company is focused on listening to what consumers want and developing those items, Ochoa said. The combination of quality food, regional production and national coverage will provide retailers with multi-level opportunities to grow perishable food programs, he said.

"These companies never sacrifice quality even in this economy," he said. "We’ll continue to make certain that everything we offer is of value to the consumer."

Ochoa began his retail career as a courtesy clerk for Von’s. After Von’s was acquired by Safeway, he had several management positions including category manager of commodities, regional director of Safeway corporate produce and director of floral sales and marketing. Most recently, he was produce category director.

His former role with a large retailer will not blind him to the needs of smaller chains, Ochoa said.

"All of them want to be profitable, and every retailer has a specific goal or plan," he said. "But there’s an understanding that each customer has a need; we must develop programs based on those needs."

The future will mean an unprecedented menu of options from the Renaissance-Really Cool partnership, Ochoa said.

"We’re looking at a total store approach," he said. "We’re doing it with a perishable mentality and sense of urgency but being strategic in our approach."