Steve Lutz has joined Washington tree fruit marketer Columbia Marketing International as vice president of marketing.

Lutz, who had been with Chicago-based Nielsen Perishables Group from June of 2000 through the end of August this year, said his first day with Wenatchee-based CMI was Sept. 9.

The 30-year industry veteran fills the position vacated by by Bob Mast, who was selected as president of CMI earlier this year.

“I grew up in the apple industry so its great to be engaged in it and in the thick of selling an apple crop,” Lutz said Sept. 10.

Lutz was president and chief executive office of the Washington Apple Commission in Wenatchee from 1995 to 2000 before helping found the Perishables Group as executive vice president. Lutz, whose father was an apple grower in the Wenatchee region, joined the Washington Apple Commission in 1991 as domestic marketing director.

An often-quoted retail analyst and frequent speaker at industry events, Lutz has served in leadership positions with various industry organizations, including the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association. Lutz is the facilitator for the Food Marketing Institute Fresh Foods Executive Committee and the immediate past chairman of the Professional Advisory Board of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University, according to a news release from CMI.

“Lutz’s extensive experience will be a tremendous asset to our sales and marketing efforts and we are thrilled to have him on board,” Bob Mast, CMI President said in the release.

Lutz has a masters degree from City University in Seattle and a bachelor’s degree in communications and advertising from Washington State University.