A longtime Georgia produce operations veteran is helping a south Florida blueberry importer expand into domestic berries.

Georgia operations vet leads Alpine Fresh’s blueberry programStacy Spivey is director of North American grower management development for Miami-based Alpine Fresh.

Spivey, based in Vidalia, Ga., most recently worked as regional sales manager marketing Redwood City, Calif.-based YottaMark’s HarvestMark traceability system. In his new role, he assembled a domestic blueberry program for Alpine Fresh.

Though asparagus and blueberry imports remain Alpine Fresh’s focus, the hire signifies the grower, packer and shipper’s interest in expanding its domestic berry sales by developing partnerships with U.S. growers, Spivey said.

He said he’s working with growers in all the U.S. growing regions as well as Mexico and Canada and said Alpine Fresh is considering expanding into other berries.

“Within the next year, we should have a 12-month berry program,” Spivey said. “It’s easy to get a grower but really hard to keep a grower. They have growers in South America they’ve been working with for over 25 years. I think that says a lot about this company, the amount of time they’ve been able to keep their growers.”

In 2002, Spivey began in sales and operations for Oconee River Produce, Mount Vernon, Ga., which later became J&S Produce Inc., then moved to the La Grange-based Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, where he worked in instructional auditing.

Spivey also worked in sales and food safety for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc., Norman Park, Ga., before joining YottaMark.

He started at Alpine Fresh in June.