C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. is going international by expanding its European presence.

The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson has opened a European-based produce sourcing operation called C.H. Robinson Sourcing SAS in Avignon, France.

C.H. Robinson Sourcing, according to a news release, will focus on global fresh produce trading.

The European operation is set to source fresh produce grown in France, Spain and Italy for distribution and sale to customers in Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America and Asia.

According to C.H. Robinson’s Web site, the third party logistics provider has numerous offices in Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

The expansion is part of C.H. Robinson’s long-term strategy for establishing a value-added international produce sourcing network, said Jim Lemke, C.H. Robinson senior vice president.

“We are excited about growing our customer base and working with local suppliers,” he said in the release. “Having a presence in Western Europe allows us to build stronger relationships that provide a more consistent supply of products to our customers around the world. We believe this capability, and our ability to continue to make these strategic investments to enhance our sourcing services, differentiates us from many other providers in the marketplace."

Charles Pantagene, C.H. Robinson Sourcing general manager, will manage the company’s operations.

Pantagene has more than 25 years of industry experience.

Michelle Vieira-Coelha, who has worked more than two decades in the produce industry and international trade, will join Pantagene in the European operation.