Grocery marketer Riteway Sales and Marketing is expanding into fresh produce by adding a produce industry veteran to head its fresh sales.

Riteway enters fresh produce, adds Del Monte veteranThe Lakeland, Fla.-based Riteway has hired Don Bishop, a Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., veteran, to lead its new fresh division focused on sales in the Southeast.

A 30-year produce industry veteran, Bishop also headed a Tampa, Fla.-area packaged produce marketing firm and plans to help expand fresh sales for Riteway which in the past marketed mostly non-fresh grocery items, he said.

For 14 years, Bishop was division sales manager and national accounts director for Del Monte Foods processing before working for four years as a regional vice president in the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte’s fresh side.

He also worked at Tampa’s The Tobi Co. Inc., and in 1996, started Bishop Targeted Marketing Inc., in Lutz, Fla.

Bishop plans to fold his marketing company — which sold packaged fresh, perishable and semi-perishable produce items including dates and cranberries — into Riteway.

Riteway enters fresh produce, adds Del Monte veteranHe said Riteway’s new fresh division plans to market those items as well as fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

“The way the market has gone in the last 10 years with consolidation and everything, I realized I wouldn’t cut it as an independent,” Bishop said. “I interviewed with several large produce companies and grocery brokers, but realized I was bringing more to the table than them. Riteway has a world-class analytical program and a dedicated retail sales force that has a long tenure.”

Bishop’s experience in the fresh produce side of consumer packaged goods and his passion for sales makes him ideal to head Riteway’s fresh sales, Jim Hall, Riteway’s president, said in a news release.

Started in 1981, Riteway focuses on Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana through other offices in Atlanta, Miami and Jacksonville, Fla., through divisions focusing on perishables, non-perishables and non-food items.