2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Ashley Yager

Age: 35

Director of Marketing
Alpine Fresh, Inc.
Miami, FL

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Hobbies: Kickboxing, Home DIY Projects,
Family/Community: Single, 1 son
Motto in life: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Yager has almost single-handedly built and marketed the Hippie Organic line, helped in the rebrand of Alpine Fresh, and developed labeling and marketing branding strategy for the super premium blackberry variety Sweet Karoline. She began her produce at age 19 as a part-time filing clerk with Alpine Fresh in 2007. She quickly moved into an accounts payable position, and spent five years growing her role in the company.

Around 2013, she took on some projects of updating the company website and managing some other brand fundamentals. In 2014, she formally transitioned into a brand management/marketing role. Alpine Fresh had plans to expand its organic programs, and in 2016, she was tasked with creating an out-of-the-box organic brand to market the organic product line. In the spring of 2016, Hippie Organics was born out of an initial concept to forgo a corporate look and instead use positive messages and artwork to inspire consumers. The brand was a hit and has had a CAGR of 20% since its inception. In 2019, she led Alpine Fresh in a total rebrand across the company’s seven core categories. In the fall of 2022, she led the branding project of the company’s new blackberry variety, Sweet Karoline, which will launch in the 2023-2024 season.

Q: What attracted you to work in the produce industry?
I needed something that would allow me flexibility in my schedule (back when flexibility wasn’t standard), and I was always intrigued by how Alpine Fresh worked.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
Time is our most valuable commodity. Don’t get stuck in the details, focus on finding the solution.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
Not having formal training was the most significant hurdle. I had to work twice as hard and learn on the job.

Q: What would you like consumers to know about the industry?
I want consumers to know that we, as growers and marketers, strive to provide consumers with great-tasting quality fruit and vegetables. What you see on the shelf today is the result of countless hours of hard work to bring you a beautiful and flavorful variety of products year-round.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?
We need innovation in preparations, and to showconsumers that most fruits and vegetables are versatile and can be prepared in ways you never thought of.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?
Brand awareness has become more critical. Consumers are loyal to the good experiences they have. Varietals have also become a major play, as consumers have become more educated in what they are consuming.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
Hippie Organics is by far the project I’m most proud of. I’m proud of how it started, where it is today, and where we plan to take it. There were a lot of naysayers in the beginning, and now I’m having to accept that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?
We are dealing with perishable items, and our industry thrives on agility.