2023 Produce Business 40 Under Forty Award Winner: Melanie Marcus

Age: 40

Nutrition, Wellness and Communications Manager
Dole Food Company
Charlotte, NC

Hometown: Campbell Hall, NY
Hobbies: Cooking, Baking, Instagramming inspirational food videos, Gardening
Family/Community: Married, 2 children, Saint Mark’s church, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Motto in life: “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

As both a dietitian and a chef, Marcus has long been a strong advocate for fresh produce meals and recipes. She began her career in produce in 2010 as a retail dietitian for ShopRite (Wakefern). After nearly two years at retail, she changed roles to focus on growing Wakefern’s retail dietitian program in addition to revising the company’s Culinary Workshop Programming. Together, with store owners, merchandisers and retail dietitians, she also implemented a pilot a program called Meals Made Well, where stores featured weekly recipes and instructional videos with all of the ingredients merchandised together for easy purchase.

In 2017, she relocated to North Carolina to take a position with Dole Food Company. Her initial focus was managing the Dole Nutrition Newsletter, but the job soon evolved to incorporate recipe development as well as other division support. In April 2023, she was promoted to nutrition, wellness and communication manager, with an expanded role as Dole brand ambassador.

Marcus and her team were recognized during the pandemic for an influencer marketing campaign highlighting the silver linings to the stay-at-home orders through banana smiles. And her team’s Healthy Heroes campaign was recognized for the best marketing campaign award from the 2023 World Food Innovation Awards.

Marcus is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the North Carolina Dietetics Association and has a degree in nutrition and professional culinary training from The French Culinary Institute.

Q: What attracted you to the produce industry?
As a registered dietitian, is there a better industry to work in? It’s literally a dream job.

What attracted me to the produce industry was the opportunity to make a greater impact on a larger scale— with a product that everyone needs to eat more of.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
I wish I knew how much social media would influence the public’s food choices— for better or for worse. Staying up to speed on relevant social platforms has provided a deeper understanding of the ever-changing trends and consumer preferences that shape the industry and effective communication. I also wish I had a better understanding of the intricacies behind supply chain management and pricing strategies. While these things are learned with time and exposure, knowledge of this critical component of the industry would have allowed me to better navigate retail programs.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?
Make produce ubiquitous! Make it a part of every meal and snack. Keep produce at eye level and at arm’s reach in the home and at the office, and apply the same principles to retail. Create merchandising areas within each department of the grocery store that include produce and make decisions easy for customers.The same idea can be applied in C stores, campus dining halls and quick service restaurants.