I had the chance on Nov. 13 to chat with Dan Sutton, director of produce procurement for Albertsons LLC, Boise, Idaho.
12:36 p.m. Tom Karst: Hello Dan
Dan Sutton: Hi
12:37 p.m. Tom: Thanks for making time today for a chat. I appreciate it.
12:38 p.m. Dan: Sure...I am on vacation this week...so it's a good break from the "stress" of being off
12:39 p.m. Tom: Oh, I'm jealous. I have a few days to take before the end of the year, but I'm in the office today. Speaking of work, I was curious how you first connected with the fresh produce industry? Who introduced you to the "wonderful world of fruits and vegetables"?
12:41 p.m. Dan: When I was in high school in western Kansas, I worked part time at a grocery store, and one of the responsibilities was to help the owner with produce
12:42 p.m. Tom: So that was an opening. Did you end up with that retailer full time, or is it something that you came back to after college?
12:44 p.m. Dan: I worked there for about three years, and then during college I worked at a couple of other retailers. After that I went to work for Nash Finch in North Dakota, and then was promoted into produce buying/merchandising.
12:45 p.m. Tom: Spending your career in produce, what do you most enjoy about what you do?
12:47 p.m. Dan: Produce is an interesting business. It is fast, mostly efficient, there is always something new and it provides a fantastic circle of friends.
12:49 p.m. Tom: We read a lot about the economy and how consumers are reacting. From a general perspective, is there anything fresh produce suppliers can do to respond to today's market? Is what you are looking for as a retailer changing, would you say?
12:54 p.m. Dan: I think that one of the most important things the current economy has taught us is that consumers still want a value. Certainly the definition of value might change depending upon the demographics, but consumers still want top quality product. So partnerships between growers and retailers are an important part of today's business environment. We need to work together to determine what works best in every market. Cheap price for less than top notch quality only appeals to a limited subset of consumers.
12:58 p.m. Tom: Dan, we have talked about the work you do with the Basket of Joy program in Denver. I think the program must mean so much to those people it reaches out to. Tell readers a little about the program and how you got involved with it...