Some of the people making headlines in The Packer in 2009:


The board of directors of family-owned and operated Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, Calif., promoted Joe Pezzini to chief operating officer, a position held in the past by only family members.

Bruce Peterson, former senior vice president and general merchandise manager of perishables for Wal-Mart, stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Naturipe Farms LLC while Rich Amirsehhi was named interim CEO of the Naples, Fla.-based company.

Steve Junqueiro was named president of Modesto, Calif.-based Save Mart Supermarkets.

Dean Florez became chairman for the newly named Food and Agriculture Committee after president pro-tem Darrell Steinberg overhauled the California State Senate’s agriculture committee.

Longtime New Jersey produce broker Bill Consalo died at 82.


Ken Silveira, former president of Tanimura & Antle, Salinas, Calif., joined Mastronardi Produce Ltd., as president of the company’s West Coast operations.

Tim Meissner took over as chief operating officer for Southern Specialties Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla.


The Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association elected Mike Browne as chairman.

President Obama named Margaret Hamburg, founding vice president for the biological program at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore commissioner of health, as principal deputy commissioner at the FDA.


Ron McCormick, Wal-Mart’s former vice president and divisional merchandise manager for produce and floral, began to roll up his sleeves and tackle a new assignment, working and sustainability and locally grown initiatives, according to a letter McCormick sent suppliers April 29.

Eric Schwartz, president of Salyer American, gave his 30-day notice to the company at the end of April but was asked to leave before that, he said, and Lisa Crist, executive vice president of administration, assumed his responsibilities.

Heather Shavey, assistant general marketing manager for fresh foods and produce at Costco Wholesale Corp., was honored as the 2009 Women in Produce honoree by the United Fresh Produce Association.

Al Vangelos, chief executive officer for Sun World International, received The Packer’s 2009 Produce Man for All Seasons Award.

John Tanimura, founding member of the Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle farming partnership, died April 27 at age 88.

Ray Gilmer, former director of communications and public affairs for the Maitland-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, succeeded Amy Philpott as vice president of communications for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.


Steve Franson, professional receiver from Fresno, Calif., assumed court-appointed control of Monterey, Calif.-based Salyer American Fresh Foods.

Beth Patillo, outgoing chairwoman of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, accepted The Packer’s Canadian Produce Woman of the Year Award.


Bruce Peterson joined the advisory board at YottaMark Inc., Redwood City, Calif.


Longtime produce industry safety expert Jim Gorny, along with Kathy Gombas, joined the Food and Drug Administration as senior advisers in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Office of Food Safety.


Bruce Grim, executive director of the Washington State Horticulture Association, Wenatchee, was named Apple Man of the Year.

David Gill, partner in Gills Onions, received The Packer’s Foodservice Achievement Award.


Daughter Margret DeBruyn took over the helm of Zeeland, Mich.-based DeBruyn Produce Co. after the death of her father, Bob DeBruyn.

Blair Richardson, former president of the California Tree Fruit Agreement, was named chief executive officer of Dinuba, Calif.-based Enns Packing Co. Inc., and its marketing arm, WesPak Sales Inc.


Mike O’Brien, vice president of produce for Schnuck Markets, St. Louis, accepted The Packer’s Marketer of the Year Award.

Peter Leifermann, former president of Fresh King Inc., jumped to J&C Tropicals Inc.

Andrew McGregor, director of produce and floral for Henry’s Farmers Market, earned Produce Merchandising magazine’s Retailer of the Year Award.


In the week it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Eurofresh reorganized its executive staff, with founder and board chairman Johan van den Berg becoming chief executive officer.

Mike Aiton, senior vice president for sales and marketing for Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World International LLC, moved to Prime Time Sales, Coachella, Calif., to be in charge of marketing, new business development and new product development.

Gary Fleming, vice president of industry technology and standards for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, left PMA to open a consulting firm in Denver.

Jesse Driskill, president of the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, left the organization to become operations manager of the Nogales office of Meyer LLC.


Dwight Ferguson, former president and chief executive officer of Willcox, Ariz.-based Eurofresh Inc., became president/CEO of Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.

An industry analyst confirmed rumors that Manolo Reyes, of Costco Mexico, had succeeded Ron McCormick as head of produce and floral at Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Sheri Mierau, president of the Reedley, Calif.-based California Tree Fruit Agreement, announced plans to leave the post at year’s end to become vice president of sales and marketing for Fruit Patch Sales LLC, Dinuba, Calif.