(Dec. 19, 1:10 p.m.) Rick Eastes has joined Fruit Patch Sales LLC, Dinuba, Calif., as vice president of sales and marketing, a newly created position.

Prior to that, Eastes was director of special products for Ballantine Produce Inc., Reedley, Calif. He joined Ballantine in July 2007, coming from Sunkist Global LLC, a division of Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Sunkist created the international company to develop and promote a year-round supply of seedless oranges, mandarins and lemons for Sunkist customers domestic and worldwide, according to a news release on Eastes joining Fruit Patch Sales.

“At Fruit Patch we look forward to enhancing those elements that promote stone fruit consumption to the benefit of all stakeholders, be they our buyers, growers, or our employees who work so hard to produce a truly fine eating stone fruit experience,” Eastes said in the release. “We are setting lofty goals, but believe Fruit Patch is in a unique position to meet the ever increasing specific requirements of the marketplace while providing a fair economic return to our growers.”

Eastes also worked for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, where in 1977 he was responsible for bringing table grapes from Chile to the U.S. for the first time, according to the release.