KANSAS CITY, Kan. — To serve its growing customer base, Liberty Fruit Co. has increased its overall staff by almost 10% in the past year, said president Allen Caviar.

Caviar said the company nowhas about 375 employees, among them several new positions created to improve efficiency and customer service.

Two of the new positions are in the foodservice sales department.

Liberty hired Lauren Martin and John Troast to fill those new sales seats. Troast has 30 years of experience in the fresh produce industry, Caviar said.

Martin, in addition to working as a saleswoman for Liberty Fruit, is the company’s executive chef. She trained at Johnson and Wales University, which is known for its culinary and foodservice education programs and is a member of the Culinary Hall of Fame.

On the buy side at Liberty Fruit, Bernie Zitek was hired in mid-August to fill a new buyer position. He Liberty Fruit increases staff to meet increased demandspreviously worked for the Tom Lange Co., Springfield, Ill.

For another new position — transportation manager — Liberty Fruit hired Keith Rogers. Before joining the Liberty Fruit staff, Rogers worked for the Hostess Brands company, which also is based in Kansas City metro area.

Another former Hostess employee, Sarah Mann, is also now on staff at Liberty Fruit. Mann is manager of quality assurance for the fresh produce company.