(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 13) Retail veteran Mike Kemp has joined marketer Market Fresh Produce LLC.
Kemp, who worked most recently as vice president of perishable procurement for St. Louis-based retailer Save-A-Lot, joined Nixa, Mo.-based Market Fresh Jan. 3 as chief operations officer, said Steve Phipps, the company's chief executive officer.
"Mike's industry experience is unparalleled and he fits well in our model," Phipps said.
The COO position is a new one for Market Fresh, Phipps said, and reflects the company's continued growth. Market Fresh expects to add seven or eight more new staff members in the next six months, as it launches an avocado program and expands existing programs, he said. Kemp, who is based in the Nixa office, became the company's 13th employee.
After leaving Save-a-Lot in February 2010, Kemp did consulting work, including for Market Fresh. During that time, he gained a deeper appreciation for the company, he said.
“Steve has a great business model, and there is a lot of potential for expansion,” Kemp said. “He’s always had a great mindset for putting together marketing ideas and programs, and he has a real talented staff.”
Market Fresh expects to double the volume of the produce it markets in the next two to five years, Kemp said.
The company merged with Rosholt, Wis.-based potato grower-shipper Bushmans' Inc. in 2010. As a consultant, Kemp worked closely on that deal.
“The merger with Bushmans’ makes the brand and business model even stronger,” he said.
Before joining Save-A-Lot in 2003, Kemp, The Packer’s 2006 Man of the Year, had a 20-year career at Save-A-Lot’s parent company, Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc.
In 2000, Kemp served as chairman of the board of the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation. He also has held leadership positions in the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association; the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association; and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee.