Avocado commission veteran returnsConnie Stukenberg has returned fulltime to the California Avocado Commission, taking the role of retail marketing director.

Stukenberg worked in the Irvine, Calif.-based commission’s merchandising staff from 2000 to 2009. She continued the affiliation through her consultancy, CS Sales & Marketing for Results. She rejoined the commission staff Aug. 31.

Her responsibilities include corporate accounts for Albertsons, Costco and Safeway. She also oversees retail marketing in Arizona and California, including the Los Angeles wholesale market.

“Connie is an expert in avocado merchandising and marketing,” Jan DeLyser, commission vice president of marketing, said in a news release. “The relationships that she has built with retailers and others in the produce industry are invaluable.”

Stukenberg has been in the produce industry for more than 30 years. She started in 1979 implementing programs for in-store juice extractors — before bottled refrigerated juices were merchandised in produce. She co-founded Citrus Connection in 1987 and built the fresh juice company until it was purchased by California Day Fresh Foods, a Chiquita subsidiary later renamed Naked Juice. She stayed on with Naked Juice managing national and regional key retail account sales until 2000, when she joined the California Avocado Commission.

In 2012, the Fresh Produce and Floral Council honored her with its “Buz” Bolstad Produce Achievement Award. Stukenberg is serving her third term on the council’s board.