2024 Award Nominations Underway for Innovators at Increasing Produce Consumption

Seeking Industry Picks for Best Retailers, Dining Outlets and Global Marketing Initiatives 

There may be no greater honor or feat than earning a groundbreaking, innovation award predicated on buying and selling produce to increase overall consumption and affect staid eating behaviors long term.  More so, being nominated and celebrated by your industry peers, and at times business competitors or newfound partners, across retail and foodservice categories.

This pivotal Produce Business award series launched in 2023, features four inspirational cover stories showcasing the winning companies and individuals at Independent Stores (February), Chain Stores (through our Merchandiser of the Year award in April), Most Innovative Dining Outlets (July) and through Global Marketing Initiatives (December).

And culminates with an award ceremony recognizing the industry-nominated winners at the iconic annual New York Produce Show, marking its 15th anniversary, Dec. 10-12, 2024. 

We are now seeking your nominations for each category, and the deadline for Most Innovative Independent Retailer is around the corner, Jan. 15. You can access the nomination forms and read more about the 2023 award winners for inspiration below.

Renewing our nearly four-decade mission to initiate industry improvement and increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, this Produce Business campaign, dubbed “Consumption—Let’s Work Together,” is part of a broader multi-tiered program. It engages public and private partnerships between academia, government entities, NGO’s and industry thought leaders — designed to move the needle on consumers’ fresh fruit and vegetable intake, and ultimately everyone’s health and well-being.

The New York Produce Show epitomizes this commitment. The inaugural winners took center stage at the 14th annual New York Produce Show keynote breakfast Dec. 6 at the Javits Center to accept their awards.

Ken Whitacre, Produce Business publisher, welcomes Veg Power’s Dan Parker to New York from across the pond to accept his Global Marketing Innovation Award in person. In tandem, the Produce Business December issue is released, featuring the award cover story.

This kicked off a full day of trade show activities and networking opportunities to do business and partner in this broader industry mission, capturing the spirit and essence of the award.

In a testament to why these exceptional companies and visionary leaders were chosen, the innovation winners generously joined dynamic educational panel discussions and meetings to brainstorm and share their prized ideas and strategies to boost fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. The three-day show drew more than 5,000 attendees from around the world. 

Retail Insights Panel: Innovative leaders take a deep dive into consumer thinking.
Moderator Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, President/CEO International Food Information Council, with (left to right) University of Georgia Professor Ben Campbell; Mike Roberts, VP of Produce Operations, Harps Food Stores; Alan Hartline, Owner, Kingma’s Market; Jim Hancock, VP DMM, Produce and Floral, Sam’s Club; Kat Britt, Produce Buyer, The Turnip Truck; Martha Hilton, VP Produce and Floral, Wegmans Food Markets.
Foodservice Forum: Chris Lenza, Executive Chef, Wellness & Plant Forward Initiatives at award-winning Bon Appetit discusses elevating produce in plant-based menus, with fellow panelists (left to right) Nicole Bonica, Menu Coordinator, NYC Department of Education, Donald Russo, Category Manager for Produce, Baldor; and Andy Hamilton, Chief Executive, Markon Cooperative.  
Consumer Media Invite-Only Event: Veg Power’s Dan Parker leads a spirited session on his groundbreaking UK campaign to reverse dismal vegetable consumption to inspire a select group of U.S. journalists and influencers, including news services, radio, TV, registered dieticians, lifestyle bloggers, as well as food and culinary experts, during the NY Produce Show Dec. 6.

• • •


Produce Business introduced the award series revealing the Most Innovative Independent Retailer, which proved a tight contest between three unique independents advancing impactful produce strategies in competitive marketplaces. Thus, we named a winner and two finalists.

Most Innovative Independent Retailer

Sendik’s Food Market

Sendik’s Brian Penfield, Produce Director, was unable to attend the awards ceremony. His vital role and extraordinary insights clinched Sendik’s win.

• • •

Finalist, Most Innovative Independent Retailer

Kingma’s Market

Accepting the Award:
Alan Hartline, Owner

PB April Award Story: Kingma’s Kingpin: Produce Reigns: Former Kroger and SpartanNash executive reengineers this stand-alone independent to co-exist among fierce competition

• • •

Finalist, Most Innovative Independent Retailer

The Turnip Truck

Accepting the Award:
Kat Britt, Produce Buyer

PB March Award Story: The Turnip Truck Grows in Tandem with Nashville: Wholesome produce is the gateway, with that spirited southern idiom, ‘I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck,’ for good measure.

• • •

Merchandiser of the Year

Mike Roberts
VP of Produce Operations
Harps Food Stores

PB April COVER STORY: Maestro of Merchandising: Mike Roberts crescendos sales, consumption, and community health, composing a concerto of industry partners, some pulling at his heartstrings.

• • •

Most Innovative Dining Outlet

Bon Appetit Management Company

Accepting the Award:
Chris Lenza
Executive Chef, Wellness Plant Forward Initiatives

PB July COVER STORY: Plant-Forward Avant-Garde

• • •


Veg Power

Accepting the Award:
Dan Parker
Chief Executive, Veg Power

PB December COVER STORY: UK Campaign Conquers Kids’ Disdain for Vegetables: Veg Power Beats Junk Food Marketers at Their Own Game

A fitting finale to this year’s inaugural Innovation Award’s series to increase produce consumption, we were proud to announce the Global Marketing Initiatives Award winner at the 2023 NY Produce Show keynote breakfast, accompanied by the Produce Business December award cover story.

Nominations are now open for 2024! Please submit your top picks for each category, with your insights on how these visionary companies and individuals brilliantly buy and sell produce to increase overall produce consumption. We are excited to feature their achievements in upcoming Produce Business cover stories, and to honor them with you at the 2024 New York Produce Show!

Most Innovative Independent Retailer

Merchandiser of the Year

Most Innovative Dining Outlet

Global Marketing Initiatives Award