Apeel announces two industry appointments
Apeel announced the hiring of Jim Smits as vice president of retail advisory, a new role designed to align Apeel’s solutions with the needs of retail grocery executives in operations, merchandising, marketing and fresh produce. In addition, Apeel CEO James Rogers has been appointed technology council chair for the newly formed International Fresh Produce Association, which is poised to become one of the most influential produce governing organizations in the world. These new roles will enable Apeel to collaborate with executive and thought-leaders in the fresh food system who are focused on the urgent need to reduce waste while serving the needs of fresh produce consumers.
As vice president of retail advisory, Smits will lead Apeel’s effort to help retailers capture consumer demand for fresher, longer-lasting and more sustainable fruits and vegetables. He brings 40 years of retail experience — including more than 20 years in executive level leadership roles at nationally recognized grocers, including H-E-B, Albertsons, Ahold and Dollar General. His retail experience in produce and fresh merchandising will be put to use building partnerships across the entire fresh food supply chain. Smits will also lead Apeel’s retail advisory council, a collection of retail executives focused on innovation, consumer engagement, and supply chain optimization.
“The shopping habits of consumers are rapidly changing. They desire more convenience, better value, and innovative products, especially in fresh. These changes are making the retail landscape more competitive than ever before,” said Smits. “I’m proud to join Apeel as our innovations align perfectly with the needs of today’s consumer, while reducing waste. Together with our retail partners, we’ll deliver an exceptional fresh produce experience online and in-store, and develop consumer programs that highlight a differentiation in quality, shelf life, freshness, and environmental sustainability.”
The retail food industry saw a massive acceleration in online shopping since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to FMI’s Food Retailing Industry Speaks, online orders jumped by more than 300 percent, with fresh produce expected to significantly increase as part of these sales heading into 2022 according to McKinsey & Co. As such, grocers have new opportunities to provide a differentiating credential of sustainability, as well as a guarantee for longer-lasting quality. Shopping experiences — online and off — need to respond to consumers’ desire for healthy, value-driven, convenient and sustainable fruits and vegetables; while online shopping presents a growing opportunity to drive engagement.
Apeel’s experience working with the world’s leading fresh produce suppliers will be leveraged to identify opportunities for technology to further strengthen relationships with retailers through Apeel CEO Rogers’ appointment as chair of the newly formed International Fresh Produce Association.
“The retail sector is looking for partners to help meet today’s complex needs, while securing their operations against disruptions,” said Rogers. “Based on years of working with the top retailers and suppliers across the globe, we have a deep understanding of the needs of the food system and have seen first-hand how technology can make the food ecosystem better. One of the needs Apeel has addressed through technology is to put time back on the industry’s side and provide insights that help our partners optimize distribution. The ever-evolving food landscape is going to require ongoing adoption and integration of new technologies in the coming years, and I’m honored to support the International Fresh Produce Association in their mission to put technology to work for the food industry.”