2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Jenna Busby

Age: 38

Category Analyst
The Giant Company
Carlisle, PA

Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA
Hobbies: Spending time with family, Gardening, Traveling
Family/Community: Married, 3 Children, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton Catholic Church
Motto in life: Love what you do!

Since joining The GIANT Company 19 years ago, Busby has proven time and again to be a true value to the brand and the produce industry overall. She continuously challenges herself to change the status quo, evidenced by the valuable innovations she has initiated in managing the cut vegetable category through a clear focus on Meal Solutions and Healthy Ideas offerings. She joined the GIANT Company in 2004, starting in retail operations and working in various roles within stores before joining the support office in 2017. Since 2017, she has worked in merchandising, starting as an administrator in produce and steadily growing professionally. She has also held a role as a produce buyer where, in addition to buyer responsibilities of produce convenience categories, she was involved with the pilot and subsequent implementation of an updated procurement system for all fresh departments.

In her current role as category analyst for the produce value-added convenience categories, she has taken on a leading role in product development to include an updated training manual for the in-store cut fruit/veg program. Under her guidance and direction, the stores have continued to innovate in cut vegetable (meal solutions), cut fruit (fruit salad), and labor optimization in store-packaged dips such as guacamole. She has also led development of category themed advertisements. She oversees vendor relationship management, all internal vendor portal set-up, and develops programming to expand packaged private brand item distribution.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
You need to be flexible and plan to have multiple plans. With the sensitivity of commodities due to external pressures, you need to set yourself up to be able to respond quickly and assure supply to support consumer demands.

Q: What aspect of the business challenged you the most early on?
The produce industry is heavily reliant on relationships. It can be challenging at the beginning, when you have not yet established relationships, to keep your feet underneath you. Luckily, people within the industry are extremely helpful, supportive, and willing to share their experience and expertise.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?
Currently, with inflation concerns so prevalent, having both value and quality top of mind when making decisions is imperative. Working with supplier partners to communicate this through high-quality, visually appealing items and aggressive promotions helps to increase basket size. Educational programs to raise consumer awareness of innovation will also help to drive initial consumption as well as loyalty.

Q: How has the industry changed during your tenure?
In the retail sector, the most exciting changes are taking place in e-commerce. How produce is now engaging in this space offers opportunities for exponential growth, and it has been heartening to see the needle start to shift with consumer confidence for e-commerce produce purchases.

Q: What do you see as a critical issue facing the industry in the next decade and why?
Daily, we are responding to the impacts of climate change. Climate-driven disasters are very much a critical issue impacting supply, quality, and costs. Consciously making decisions that benefit the climate should be a focus over the next decade and into the future.