(Feb. 21) SALINAS, Calif. — Pacific International Marketing Inc. will inject some more life into a 2½-year-old marketing partnership with King City-based Meyer Tomatoes LLC.

The partnership, under which Pacific International marketed all of Meyer’s West Mexico crops shipped through Nogales, Ariz., is called Meyer/Pacific.

Under the strategic alliance, Meyer had handled the production and Pacific International the sales. Now, Pacific International will become a financial partner in the growing operation and will be involved in product selection and other production issues.

Executives at Pacific International and Meyer made the announcement to their growers in Mexico at the beginning of February.

“After working together in the strategic alliance for nearly three years, we both feel comfortable in the partnership. We work well together,” said Tom Russell, president of Pacific International.

Meyer/Pacific expects to ship about 8 million cartons out of West Mexico this year. About half of that will be tomatoes — green, pink, grape, roma and other varieties. The balance will be in vegetables such as cucumbers, zucchini and squash, as well as grapes and cantaloupes.

The company plans to ship 10 million cartons in 2004, Russell said. The vast majority of the product will be conventional rather than organic.

In other news, Pacific International has brought on a new national account manager.

Melinda Richardson is in that post, which Pacific International created to enhance sales and marketing programs and to implement new marketing strategies.

Richardson has more than 12 years of experience in the produce industry, most recently as Eastern merchandising manager for the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission.

Before that, she worked in the salad industry for both Irwindale-based Ready Pac Produce and Salinas-based Fresh Express.

Meyer Tomato also recently lost its longtime general manager, Jesse Driskill.

His duties are being handled by new chief operating officer Daniel Torres.

Separate from its share in Meyer/Pacific, Pacific International Marketing also owns Dynasty Farms on the conventional side and Pure Pacific Organic.