Citrus, import sales veterans start Classic HarvestA trio of citrus and import sales veterans has started Classic Harvest, an importer and grower-shipper of citrus and grapes.

The Paramus, N.J.-based company began shipping Florida citrus on Oct. 13 and plans to start moving California fruit Oct. 20 under its Classy and Elegant labels.

Citrus saleswomen Linda Cunningham and Jennifer Westerhoff join Adam Behar at the company, with plans to ship 2.4 million cartons of California citrus and 700,000 cartons of Florida oranges, grapefruit and tangerines.

Classic Harvest is the exclusive California citrus sales agent for Dinuba, Calif.-based Wes Pak Inc. and Golden Farms Express Inc. The company has plans to market a full line of citrus including navels and, along with citrus specialties including meyer lemons, cara caras, blood oranges, clementines, w. murcotts and tangos.

Plans include adding fruit from Mexico and South America and California grapes, as well as Southern Hemisphere apples, pomegranates, kiwifruit and other fruit, Cunningham said.

Citrus, import sales veterans start Classic Harvest"Jen and I managed national retail and foodservice accounts for quite a few years while Adam has extensive terminal market and importing experience," she said. "We are able to tell retailers we can sell them grapes this week or provide them a program 12 months out of the year, do all their ads, category management and even do all the delivery."

The Vero Beach, Fla.-based Cunningham first met the Visalia, Calif.-based Westerhoff at a Produce Marketing Association Women"s Fresh Perspectives event and later they worked together at Alliance International, Bakersfield, Calif., which is owned by Montreal-based Capespan North America Inc.

Cunningham grew up in the family"s Don Shapiro Produce Inc., a Boston wholesale and retail operator.

After the company sold in 2001, she became director of sales for Litehouse Foods, a Sandpoint, Idaho-based salad dressing firm and later worked for Vero Beach-based Seald Sweet International as director of sales before being Alliance"s director of sales for nearly seven years.

In addition to Capespan, Westerhoff"s 17 years of citrus sales included the Visalia office of Los Angeles-based Sam Perricone Citrus Co., senior sales manager at Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif., and national accounts manager at Paramount Citrus, Delano, Calif.

As a young man, Behar worked at Finest Fruits Inc., at New York"s Hunts Point Terminal Market.

When his father, Max Behar, sold the company, Adam Behar brought sales of imported grapes, stone fruit and apples to the Hackensack, N.J.,-based Krass-Joseph Inc., brokerage house.

In 1999, Behar started Paramus-based ASB, a joint venture which focused on imported produce.

Behar folded his ASB ownership percentage into Classic Harvest and handles imports from the company"s headquarters.

"We have a diverse background in the industry and we touch all aspects of this business," Behar said.

Westerhoff touts the partners" more than 60 years of experience in imports, grapes and California and Florida citrus.

"We are able to be very versatile because we have Florida and California and the New Jersey aspect for imports," she said. "It"s great to work with each other because of our experience level."

Through investments and grower partnerships, the company plans to market citrus and grapes from 6,000 California Central Valley acres.

Because of new plantings, Cunningham said she isn"t sure how much grapes it plans to ship.

The company started in May but its principals began promoting the company"s name in September.

Corrected: This article originally incorrectly stated Classic Harvest"s sales representation.


Corrected: This article originally incorrectly stated Classic Harvest"s sales representation.