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Alchemy Systems sponsors webinar on selling to big box retailers

Former Walmart executive Craig Carlson will be the featured speaker during a webinar June 26 that is designed to give tips to growers, packers and shippers that want to become suppliers for the larger big box retailers.

The seminar is being sponsored by Alchemy Systems in Austin, TX, and will also feature Laura Nelson, vice president of technical services and business development for Alchemy.

Titled “Top Ten Operational Best Practices for Becoming a Leading Produce Supplier for Retail,” the webinar will tap into Carlson’s extensive knowledge as a produce buyer working for more than 35 years with some of the larger players in the industry. Most recently, he was senior vice president at US Foods. Prior to that he was director of produce at Walmart, and his career has included stops at other top retailers and foodservice operations in the country. He has vast experience in procurement, supply chain and category management and is a noted innovator.

Tara Guthrie, a marketing communications specialist for Alchemy, said this is Carlson’s first webinar as he recently became a produce consultant after leaving the corporate world. Alchemy is planning to conduct 10 of these seminars throughout the year on different subjects and for different sectors of the food-manufacturing world.

Alchemy provides many different web-based training programs for food manufacturers. Its software platform interfaces with a company’s human resource database so it can both conduct the training programs and document participation by employees for auditing purposes. It is a worldwide company that has devised many different training modules that are compliant with the standards established by third-party auditing companies. Guthrie said the firm has specialized in the meat sector in the past but works in many different spaces including fresh produce.

It offers trainings such as food-safety good agricultural practices, effective hand washing, food contamination prevention, basic food facility defenses — the list goes on and on.

Guthrie said the webinar with Carlson will “reveal the top 10 actions produce companies can take to improve operations and product quality to help expand their appeal to large retail customers and thus increase sales.”

She said the discussion will cover good agricultural practices, as well as key ingredients for improving produce quality and marketability. In addition, Carlson will explore what food handlers should expect from the Food Safety Modernization Act and how to prepare for that. He will also discuss how food suppliers can comply with the food-safety and quality expectations and demands of the nation’s largest retailers.

Nelson will briefly explain the role Alchemy plays in the food-safety arena and advise participants of its work on behalf of fresh produce industry suppliers. It currently lists many produce firms among its customers, including Fresh Express in Salinas, CA, and Val Verde Vegetable Co. in McAllen, TX.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to take part in an open question-and-answer period following the presentation. Alchemy also welcomes questions submitted to the speakers ahead of time via Twitter.

The webinar will be held on June 26 at noon, Central time, and is free of charge. More information, including registration help, can be obtained via the firm’s website at