(Sept. 26) CINCINNATI — Fred Heptinstall has stepped down from his post as executive vice president of Chiquita Fresh North America.

Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International announced the resignation Sept. 25 in a news release, saying he left the firm to pursue other interests. He could not be reached for further comment.

“Fred has been a vital contributor to Chiquita for many years, and we wish him the best in his new endeavors,” said Bob Kistinger, president and chief operating officer of the Chiquita Fresh Group.

Kistinger praised Heptinstall for his contributions to Chiquita’s category management program and for his role in developing relationships with key retailers in North America.

Chiquita soon will begin searching for Heptinstall’s successor.

Heptinstall was employed by Chiquita in a variety of capacities for a decade. Before joining the firm in 1992, he was vice president and partner in Metropolitan Marketing Inc., a Dallas food brokerage company.

Last year Heptinstall served as chairman of the Alexandria, Va.-based United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association. He also served as co-chairman of a joint produce packaging committee created by United and the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association.

Heptinstall’s departure is the latest in a string of management changes dating back to Chiquita’s emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. That’s when Cyrus Freidheim took over as chairman and chief executive officer after the resignation of Steve Warshaw, who had been the firm’s president, chief executive officer and chief operating officer.

In late August, Robert Fisher relinquished his temporary role as Chiquita’s chief operating officer. He took that job in March as the firm’s new management team focused on its top-to-bottom review of the company’s strategy and operations. Fisher’s chief operating slot will not be filled, but he remains on the board of directors.