(July 6) Targeting high-end retailers and consumers, Sanger, Calif.-based Ballantine Produce Co. Inc. is adding its best California table grapes to a new premium label, Grower’s Table, and has hired industry veteran Rick Eastes to head the initiative.

Eastes, the former director of global sourcing for Sunkist Global LLC, joined Ballantine Produce July 1 as director of special projects.

Ballantine Produce launched the premium line earlier this year with imported table grapes, said Scott Albertson, the company’s vice president of new business development.

“The Grower’s Table concept for table grapes will be my first priority, but as that program finds success, we expect to expand the concept to other product lines, including our imported fruit, as well,” Eastes, who was unavailable for comment July 5, said in a news release.

Albertson said Ballantine Produce recognized that consumers are demanding food specialties such as premium coffee, ice cream and wines.

Eastes had the Sunkist Global position for nearly two years. That company is a division of Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif. He left Sunkist in November. Prior to that post, Eastes had been with The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, most recently as director of supplier relations.