(Jan. 31) Naturipe Farms LLC is adding two leading industry figures to help take the berry grower and marketer to new sales heights.

Robert Verloop, vice president of marketing and sales promotion for Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif., will join Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms as its vice president of marketing and Don Harris, former vice president of produce and floral for Wild Oats Markets Inc., Boulder, Colo., has agreed to join Naturipe as its director of procurement and wholesale sales.

Bruce Peterson — who joined Naturipe in August as its new president and chief executive officer — announced the personnel additions Jan. 30.

He says the additions will help Naturipe become a better-known consumer brand.

“We have some aggressive growth plans for this year, so this is the kind of talent we will need to execute against those (plans),” Peterson said. “Like anything else, if you’re going to go to the Olympics, you want to take the best possible talent you can take to go there. You don’t want B-players. These are clearly A-players in their specific areas of expertise.”

Peterson declined to elaborate on Naturipe’s expansion plans and potential increase in sales and volume, but said the addition of the industry heavyweights should signal to the industry Naturipe’s “pretty impressive plans.”

The change means the departure of Chris Mayhew, Naturipe’s vice president of marketing since 2004. Peterson declined to comment and only said Mayhew — who was also a longtime marketing director of Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., Salinas, Calif. — had left to pursue other interests. Mayhew declined comment as well.


Active with the produce industry for more than 25 years, Verloop is scheduled to leave Sunkist on Feb. 29 and join Naturipe Farms in early March. Verloop, who joined Sunkist in 2001, most recently was the citrus cooperative’s vice president of global marketing and licensing. He will be responsible for all of Naturipe Farm’s marketing, public relations and government relations, consumer intelligence and licensing.

Harris, who is scheduled to begin his Naturipe Farms work Feb. 4, has more than three decades of produce industry experience through his work for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc. and Wild Oats, which he joined in 2003. Harris has also served on many industry boards, committees, and task forces, including the Produce Marketing Association’s retail board and board of directors. Harris will head Naturipe Farm’s direct sales activities through the wholesale channel.

Sunkist VP, ex-Wild Oats exec join Naturipe
Robert Verloop (left) and Don Harris have joined Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.