Local produce manager gets national recognition

One local grocer has been nationally recognized for putting in the work to make his produce section pop.

Devan Hoffer is one of 25 produce managers across the country and Canada who were named ‘Retail Produce Managers of the Year.’

He said he takes the most pride in his team for keeping up with up to date information, but that there’s a lot more to it than just a pretty-looking shelf.

“More and more people are eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” Hoffer said, and that that’s great — but it’s his job to keep that trend alive.

With almost two decades of experience, he’s been doing pretty well, earning the title ‘Produce Manager of the Year’ from the United Fresh Produce Association.

He said it’s by asking key questions like, “How do we tell the story best to the customer? What are the health benefits? How do you use it? When’s the season and availability?”

With little to no packaging, that’s not the easiest task.
Plus Hoffer said, “people in general are in much more of a hurry.”

So having fresh, convenient, and high-quality food – at an affordable price – is always the goal.

“There are so many new products coming to the market right now,” Hoffer added.
For example, cotton candy grapes. The demand is huge, but vineyards just can’t keep up to supply them year round.

For instance,  Mexico produces cotton candy grapes in May and June, so you’ll find them in your local store then.

But they could disappear for several weeks until the California crop comes in.
Overall, there are more than 200 produce varieties that change with the seasons.
Not to mention he said, “our organics have really made strides in the past several years.” 

That’s why Hoffer has to pay close attention to which foods benefit the most from being grown organically.

“Onions, potatoes, how these vegetables are grown, there’s not nearly as many pesticide residues and things like that in those items as berries which absorb much more things from the rain and the air which go right into the fruit.”

The “Clean 15” or the “Dirty Dozen” lists are a go-to guide to identify produce items with the least and most pesticide residue. Hoffer says this helps him prioritize which organic products to have in stock.

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