Celebrating the Besties of the Best

Celebrating the Besties of the Best

Our team is, in many ways, here to be witnesses for this industry.

From our seat at the table, we sift among the traffic, bustle, and glory of the newswires, trade shows, burgeoning relationships, quiet conversations, origin stories, progressive visionaries, and advocates to find those diamonds—both in the rough and glistening brightly—generating volume, magnitude, and light.

We are here to acknowledge those harbingers of change that we like to call our marketers, and to celebrate them for their unabashed drive, will to inspire and be inspired, and their deep love for the industry in its present and legacy.

This past July of 2022, we honored those marketers and companies with vision, foresight, inventiveness, and artistry with our inaugural Besties Awards. Our team created the Besties to celebrate produce branding, marketing, and overarching achievements, as well as to advocate for those members striving to keep our industry on the leading edge of competitive messaging, vision, and action.

As we wrap up 2022 with an overwhelming sense of connection and gratitude, our writers came together to share with you the individual stories on AndNowUKnow (ANUK) for each award, and we bring you the winners once again as we step behind the curtain to let their lights shine bright.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Nichole Towell

Nichole Towell

Nichole brings an effortless blend of industry knowledge, creative marketing, and enthusiastic energy to each interaction and project that meets her desk. Our team has worked closely with Nichole since the early days of AndNowUKnow, conceptualizing, innovating, and executing ideas and projects that made us better as a company, and crystallized in our minds the kind of marketer, human, and advocate that we wanted to go to bat for every day.

“I am incredibly pleased and honored to receive the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Besties Award. Our industry is filled with talented people, so to receive this award is humbling. I have always enjoyed pushing the marketing and publicity envelope with the entire ANUK team. Our first field video shoot included a helicopter in Belle Glade, Florida—it was before drones were used—and we flew with ANUK’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Lambert, tied in but hanging out, with the doors taken off and the camera in his hands. From there to shooting in 3D and using Oculus to show and give buyers the true infield growing experience, I am thankful for all the moments and learning experiences we have enjoyed with ANUK.”

Best Marketer to Work With

Megan Gorgisheli

Industrious, creative, perceptive, discerning—these are just a handful of the words we use to describe Megan Gorgisheli. As the Director of Marketing Administration for industry giant Giumarra Companies, Megan has a keen sense of what retailers want, what her company’s vision is, how artists think, and how to bring all levels of collaboration together into a seamless campaign, packaging design, advertisement, or, simply, a conversation.

“I am honored to be recognized by the team at AndNowUKnow. We have been working together for over 10 years, and some beautiful, unique ideas for Giumarra have emerged as a result of our collaboration. ANUK does a great job of bringing our products and programs to life through a variety of creative vehicles—like print, video, digital design, and photography—that help our customers learn about our offerings in a fun and exciting way. Our process is one of mutual trust and feeling comfortable with stepping outside of our comfort zones, communicating what is and isn’t working, and throwing in a healthy dose of humor. The Besties Award on my desk will remind me to not shy away from asking ‘What if we…?’ during the creative process.”

Annual Snack Storyteller Award

Brianna Shales

Stories shared across family gatherings are the bonds that tie us together. Those experiences are exactly what Stemilt has managed to share through its bins, packaging, and marketing strategy. It makes complete sense, therefore, that the maven of these has identified as a storyteller all her life. Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s Marketing Director, is our first recipient for this award, for consistently finding the heart of a story, what makes it unique but universal, and making us feel truly connected to the company’s operations through words and imagery.

“To receive this was really special to me because I’ve been telling stories since I was a little kid, so it was really fun to be recognized for storytelling and to go home and share it with our marketing team, my husband, and kids. It all comes down to our mission to cultivate people and delight consumers through excellence. We are a family-owned business, and one of our main values is to practice integrity and trust—that relationship side is what has helped us transcend over time. We want everyone to become a part of the family, and that happens through sharing stories and experiences.”

Best Merchandising Campaigns

Mission Produce

From Mission Produce’s Size-Minded display signs, AvocaDOs and DON’Ts back-of-the-house signage/resources, and Shelf Talkers to the vibrant packaging that adorns its products, it was clear to us that the avocado maven should receive this award. We view Mission as a leader in the category and an innovator in its own right. The avocado and mango sectors are two areas where we’ve seen impressive growth in terms of consumer demand, and that is due in large part to the creative merchandising efforts implemented by Mission and its retail partners.

“Mission Produce is honored to accept the Besties Award for Best Merchandising Campaigns! At Mission, our campaigns are crafted to help create solutions for our customers and drive category growth. We aim to generate demand for every avocado on the tree by utilizing educational messaging, consumer-friendly packaging, and creative merchandising. Thank you for recognizing our commitment to innovate within the avocado category.”

Best Alternative Marketing Campaign

Sunview Marketing International

Harnessing the power of outside-of-the-box thinking and striking visuals, the table grape savant has garnered attention for its Sweet Carnival campaign catapulting its buy-side customers and shoppers right into the fairgrounds, complete with carnival games, rides, a big top, and of course, delicious table grapes. From a 3D pop-up carnival tent to augmented reality experiences and scratch-and-sniff stickers, Sunview Marketing International continues to bring new fresh produce experiences that stop consumers in their sweet table grape tracks.

“Sunview has a history of being at the forefront of innovation, and Sweet Carnival is another example of our commitment. Unique marketing for this brand has helped break through the clutter and deliver a clear message that Sweet Carnival is different from other grapes. As a result, our retail partners have experienced incremental category growth with this grape and our other proprietary brands. We are a third-generation family farm that has been committed and will always be committed to innovation and being our customers’ single source for grapes out of California. Thank you for recognizing us with the Besties Award.”

Best Social Media Culinary Artistry

Mastronardi Produce®/SUNSET®

The distinctive SUNSET® brand from Mastronardi Produce® sets a new bar in social strategy, presenting produce as a craveable commodity. The digital age, and the access it has given our industry, has broadened the capabilities of lending food preparation and possibilities to the masses, and this company among many has truly stood out. With in-house innovation in food science and flavor combinations—not to mention strong attention to detail in aesthetics—Mastronardi Produce continues to capture the attention and palates of every sector or buyer, consumer, and trade news writer.

“We were so excited to receive this award. We saw an opportunity to leverage social media in a much greater way to connect with consumers, looking at what engages best and also what represents our brand. Now, we are in a remarkable space in which influencers reach out asking to partner with us. So, we are very proud of where we are today on social media.”

Best Educational Videos

Chelan Fresh

The locks to many doors in life can be opened with education-shaped keys, and the produce industry is no different. Offering retailers, consumers, and fellow suppliers critical insights into the world of growers through its farm education videos, Chelan Fresh understands this concept. That is why the fruit connoisseur recently took home a Besties Award for Best Educational Videos for campaigns from #FarmFriday videos to videos spotlighting female growers in the industry.

“At Chelan Fresh, we have found that not only do our retail buyers want to continue to learn more about our farming operations, but consumers are also especially fascinated by everything that growers do to bring a crop to the retail shelves. Our farm education videos are some of our best-performing content across our social media channels as consumers continue to soak in all of the knowledge that growers provide in these videos. It allows consumers to connect directly with our brands and feel a part of the fruit they enjoy.”

Best Snack Ad

Pure Flavor®

The Snack Magazine is committed to visually elevating the fresh produce industry, driven by our passion to publish not just a trade magazine, but a book that could rest proudly next to Vogue, Food & Wine, or Travel + Leisure. Add in the mindset that we are a team of creatives who see categories instead of commodities, and you see how words like specialized, unique, and diverse may also contribute to the aesthetic of this publication. This award gave us the ability to showcase those who also see categories, brands, and stories worth being spotlighted. And when it came to selecting the Best Snack Ad, no one reflected that vision like Pure Flavor®.

“When it comes to advertising, I think this award says a lot about what we’ve done, and we are blown away to be the best ad of the year. I am humbled and very proud of my team for bringing our Solara ad to life. You do have to have the right product and right timing, but most importantly the right message. Everything is focused on inspiring people and creating more consumption. I use The Snack as a benchmark for our creativity, and you see in everything we do an intention to be for everyone.”

Best Podcast

Mucci Farms

Since Spill the Greens’ inception in 2020, Mucci Farms has been harnessing this wide-reaching channel to bridge the gap between consumers and the supply-side, and with great success. We were incredibly excited to honor Mucci Farms for its innovative efforts to bring valuable insights to light and arming consumers and everyday people with vital knowledge about controlled environment agriculture and the fresh produce industry.

“We were excited to find out that we received the inaugural Bestie for Best Podcast. It means a great deal to us as we continue to expand our communication strategy and establish our footing in the podcasting world. We don’t just want to grow great fruits and vegetables—we also want to grow our company and our industry. Our podcasting efforts are one piece of the puzzle that helps us continue on our mission to be North America’s preferred supplier. One of the goals behind Spill the Greens was to utilize our knowledgeable staff to provide information about controlled environment agriculture. The long-form podcast format gives us the ability to have full-length conversations with experts that can provide detailed responses to common questions so our audience can see the entire picture of a given topic.”

Best Social Media Campaigns

Sunkist Growers

We have yet to see the social media zenith, but some of the brightest minds in the fresh produce industry hope to usher in this era. Creative campaigns in social media can rally consumers and beguile buyers. It’s no wonder that we focused on the sector for our Besties Awards, and little wonder still that Sunkist Growers took home this award for its clever, attention-grabbing, and creative messaging, presentation, and thought leadership.

“At Sunkist Growers, everything we do is for our growers—it drives us to be innovative leaders within the produce industry. Winning a Besties Award, especially during the inaugural season, for Best Social Media Campaigns is truly an honor. We are focused on campaigns that hit the sweet spot—balancing both the beloved legacy of our 130-year-old cooperative with current trends that engage our target audiences. On social media, we focus mostly on millennial and Gen Z shoppers through educational, engaging content. As the longest-standing agricultural cooperative in the nation, being recognized within the crowded digital and social media landscape is excellent, but engagement and conversion are the most important.”

Best Rebrand

Red Sun Farms

When Red Sun Farms debuted its new logo in February 2021, we at AndNowUKnow and The Snack Magazine were all captivated by that little butterfly. The vibrant colors, clean design, and welcoming visuals create a new brand experience all its own, strengthening the gravitational pull of the greenhouse category on shoppers’ baskets. That is exactly why we recognized Red Sun with this first-ever award. Attractive paper trays, clamshells, and bags now line the shelves of produce aisles, adorned with Red Sun’s lively new logo that facilitates instant brand recognition. With the importance of branding as prevalent as ever, conscious efforts to improve visibility are a supplier’s ticket to maximizing ROI, and that benefit can be seen on the retailer’s end as well.

“We are truly honored to receive the Besties Award for our recent Red Sun Farms rebrand! The positive response from retailers and the industry has been overwhelming. We are excited to showcase our amazing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers through this new design.”

Best Behind-the-Scenes Champion

Rainier Fruit Company

Rainier Fruit Company has long been a champion for its own team members, growers, customers, and growing consumer base; celebrating everything from the ins and outs of the company’s orchards to its sustainable farming practices. A worthy recipient of our inaugural Besties Award for Best Behind-the-Scenes Champion, campaigns like its Wholesome Heros program and The Snack Industry Spotlight features continue to shine a light on the best, and yes, the brightest.

“Rainier has always been committed to doing what’s right for the land and our people. A lot of this work is done without the intention of winning any awards, but this recognition is something we value very much! We thank the ANUK team for honoring us with this Besties Award. We’ll continue to be active in pursuing and sharing the most sustainable farming practices to grow the best fruit we can. Educating consumers and buyers can be one of the most challenging things to do and the best way is with boots on the ground but that’s not always achievable. Our vision is to let the people doing the work in the field and warehouse talk about it! It’s best to hear about what is happening directly from the source.”

Best Email Ad Campaign

Divine Flavor

Divine Flavor’s vibrant aesthetic and clean messaging truly align with how we here at AndNowUKnow also cultivate visual messaging. The Divine team constantly thinks outside of the box and looks for ways to come up with creative campaigns that speak to consumers’ wallets while on retail shelves in addition to shining a spotlight on the delicious greenhouse-grown products the grower is known for. For, as we all know, our eyes eat first.

“It’s a great recognition. Our creative team deserves the credit for this. Our Brand Manager, Luis Urbina, and his creative team do an excellent job trying to capture and highlight products; there are only so many ways that you can highlight tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. But one thing that he and the team really try to do is incorporate flavor, freshness, and stylistic colors to capture the audience’s attention. Between the marketing department, Luis, and me, we brainstorm ideas. You get this one opportunity to catch the viewer’s eyes, and it takes a bit of strategy to make sure it’s engaging.”

Best Philanthropic Initiatives

Allen Lund Company

As if helping to bring a vital source of fruits and vegetables to market is not already an impressive feat, there are some companies that continuously go above and beyond to be a pillar in their communities. This is what made Allen Lund Company (ALC) the perfect fit for this award. From raising funds for notable charities to helping bring groceries to food-insecure families during the holiday season, ALC takes every opportunity within its reach to maintain this legacy and continue giving back to those in need.

“From the company’s founding, Allen Lund taught all those who would come to work at ALC that it is critical to be grateful for our opportunities and the blessing of hard work and to share success with others in need. In his final address to the company’s leaders, he requested that we continue our Acts of Kindness initiative to give back to the communities in which we operate. Winning this award indicates that we are continuing to honor his legacy. This recognition means so much to all the employees who have worked to assist others in need and to share our blessings.”

We are nothing without you, our friends, our partners, and our colleagues. May you each recognize the potential in yourselves, and may we help to share your stories, your vision, and your contagious enthusiasm for this wild and wonderful industry of fresh produce. 

Celebrating the Besties of the Best