• California Gov. Jerry Brown appoints Karen Ross to the post of secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
  • Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, Moses Lake, earns The Packer’s Potato Man of the Year award.
  • Fritz Koontz, longtime partner in Watsonville, Calif.-based Beach Street Farms, leaves to launch Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co. in Watsonville.
  • Chandler Copps, produce director for Copps Co. in Wisconsin and The Packer’s Produce Man of the Year in 1968, dies.


  • First lady Michelle Obama pushes restaurants to include more fresh produce on their menus as part of her Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign that aims to add 6,000 salad bars to schools over three years.


  • Ron Lemaire, former executive vice president and director of marketing for the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association, returns to the association as its next president, succeeding Danny Dempster, who retired May 1.
  • Jim Schmidt, co-owner of SunTerra Produce Traders Inc., La Quinta, Calif., takes over as president of the National Watermelon Association.
  • Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals LLC brings in beverage industry veteran Greg Smith to succeed retiring Craig Wheeling as chief executive officer.
  • Edinburg, Texas-based Frontera Produce Ltd. president Will Steele wins The Packer’s first Importer of the Year award during the inaugural America Trades Produce conference.


  • The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention pays tribute to outgoing president Danny Dempster, who served the association for 28 years as president and 34 years overall.
  •  Jim DiMenna, president of Leamington, Ontario-based JD Marketing, Golden Gem and Jem D International, accepts The Packer’s 2011 Canadian Produce Man of the Year award.


  • Steffanie Smith, chief executive officer of River Point Farms, earns The Packer’s Woman of the Year award at United Fresh 2011.


  • Stephen Whitney, president and chief executive officer of Ottawa-based Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp., announces plans to step down at year’s end.


  • Adrian Abbott, former chairman of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, is the new director of operations for Jem-D International Greenhouse Vegetables, Leamington, Ontario.
  • Ex-Wal-Mart executive Bruce Peterson joins Bland Farms LLC, as interim chief executive officer.
  • Jim Heeren, co-owner of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based wholesaler Heeren Bros. Inc., and three other family members die July 7 in a mass murder in Grand Rapids.
  • Jack Gyben, vice president and partner at Progressive Produce Corp., Commerce, Calif., wins the Norman H. “Buz” Bolstad Produce Award.
  • Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, Olympic silver medalist and spokesman for Idaho-eastern Oregon onions, dies July 25 of an apparent suicide.
  • Tina Fitzgerald, director of produce and corporate responsibility for Subway procurer Independent Purchasing Cooperative, wins The Packer’s Foodservice Achievement award.


  • Mike Wade, general manager of Wenatchee, Wash.-based Columbia Fruit Packers Inc., takes The Packer’s Apple Man for All Seasons award.
  • Six years after joining the Hass Avocado Board
  • as its first managing director of information technology, Jose Luis Obregon, the board’s executive director,
  • announces plans to leave the Irvine, Calif.-based board in late October.


  • Fred Webber is named to succeed Stephen Whitney as chief executive officer and president of Ottawa-based Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp. as of Jan. 1.
  • Sales veteran Rick Eastes joins Seald Sweet International, which opens a West Coast operation.
  • Reggie Griffin, corporate vice president of produce and floral merchandising and procurement for the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., and chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, announces plans to retire in late October.
  • October Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, accepts The Packer’s Produce Marketer of the Year award on Oct. 16 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2011.


  • Pandol Bros. chief executive officer David Dever announces he’s leaving to succeed Al Vangelos at Sun World International LLC.
  • David Beecher is named by Bland Farms to succeed Michael Hively as director of operations.
  • December
  • The first chief executive officer of United Potato Growers of America returned to the job Dec. 5. Jerry Wright succeeds Lee Frankel at the Salt Lake City-based United Potato.