Jill Overdorf at Naturipe ( File photo )

The timing couldn’t be better for Estero, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC to step up its emphasis on foodservice.

With the four major berry types now available to the company year-round, and with its brand well established in the retail sector, expanding its foodservice presence makes total sense.

And when it came to choosing someone to lead that charge, the company couldn’t go wrong by picking Jill Overdorf.

Overdorf, who joined Naturipe in 2017 as director of business development for its value-added division, has been named to fill the newly created role of director of business development for foodservice.

She will oversee expansion of foodservice for fresh and value-added product lines.

Overdorf also holds the title of corporate chef.

She was director of business and culinary development and corporate executive chef for Coosemans L.A., and was an executive chef for 20 years elsewhere.

She graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America.

Overdorf has been on the Produce Marketing Association’s board of directors, the PMA Center for Growing Talent board of directors and, for the fourth year, she is the co-chairwoman of the PMA Foodservice Conference and Expo in July.

Overdorf is eager to step up Naturipe’s foodservice endeavors.

“As we diversify and innovate, we’re finding all sorts of different channels where berries are an opportunity.”

The opportunity didn’t exist 25 years ago because all four berry types — strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries — were not available year-round.

Overdorf will be collaborating with foodservice outlets and “painting a broader picture for the use of berries on menus and in other foodservice opportunities,” she said.

“What it allows me to do is work with customers and open an entire portfolio of solutions to their berry needs.”

Overdorf brings a unique talent to the position.

“There are very few people in the produce industry who can speak chef and understand produce,” she said. “It’s a very different language.”

Foodservice now accounts for about 15% of the company’s fresh business, and Overdorf said she would like to see that number grow by 10% every year.

One way she hopes to accomplish that is by bringing together chefs and farmers to collaborate to help place berries in more menu items.

“Currently, there seems to be an enormous divide between those who cook and those who grow,” she said.

“My hope is that we’re able to bridge that divide.”