The Packer’s 10th annual Women in Produce issue celebrates eight industry leaders who are working tirelessly to contribute to their orgs’ success and increase consumption of fresh produce. The profiles within highlight the stories of these women — discussing their leadership styles and explaining how they became involved in their current roles.
To hear Julie Escobar describe her job is to understand the international scope of the produce industry.
Escobar, vice president of global sales for Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World International, estimates she has traveled to more than 50 countries in her 17 years in produce.
Throughout her career, she has evaluated export opportunities from Latin America to Europe to Asia.
“It’s really kind of understanding what’s happening with the markets, what’s the demand, where’s the supply coming from, and then ultimately kind of taking all of those concepts into OK, why are we paying what we’re paying, how do we pitch something to a retailer, how do we go after more shoppers and consumers,” Escobar said.
Escobar joined Sun World about three years ago after previously having worked in international new business development for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide.
I think that’s something that as a woman, you’re educated to be nice to be people and to be cordial and to be always saying yes, and I think that is a really big difference that, ‘hey, we don’t necessarily always have to say yes to people, to things. We can say no but we can be kind about it — but we don’t need to say yes.’
“She’s really helped take our brand global,” said Sun World CEO Merrill Dibble.
“We hired her right at a crossroads where we were deciding whether we were going to take the Sun World brand and really try to create it into a consumer brand globally and particularly in Asia, and she’s helped us do that and get to a point where we receive what we feel is a premium for our Sun World-branded product in Asia, and a lot of that’s due to the legwork and the relationships that Julie has built there.”
He noted Escobar has also been instrumental in building the company’s export team.
Along with her work for Sun World, Escobar has been an advocate for women in the industry. She helped organize the first women’s event at Fruit Logistica in 2018, to great success.
“One of the things that we discussed in the seminar was the difference between kind and nice,” Escobar said.
“I think that’s something that as a woman, you’re educated to be nice to be people and to be cordial and to be always saying yes, and I think that is a really big difference that, ‘hey, we don’t necessarily always have to say yes to people, to things. We can say no but we can be kind about it — but we don’t need to say yes.’ For me it’s kind of a cool concept.”
She’s just an extremely bright, charismatic and caring person that has a bright future ahead of her, and we’re glad she’s a member of our team.
Escobar is working to develop a global nonprofit to promote more connectivity among women in the industry, an effort Sun World has supported.
Dibble described Escobar as a great ambassador for the company and for women in produce.
“She’s a very warm person and has a very approachable personality and management style, and I think that has quickly enabled her to gain trust and have people who work with and for her enjoy that association and respond well to the way that she manages, and then she has unique ability to relate to multiple cultures and thrive in international settings,” Dibble said.
“She’s just an extremely bright, charismatic and caring person that has a bright future ahead of her, and we’re glad she’s a member of our team,” Dibble said.
Women in Produce — Stefanie Katzman
Women in Produce — Rena Montedoro
Women in Produce — Britt Raybould
Women in Produce — Brianna Shales
Women in Produce — Leslie Simmons
Women in Produce — Kathy Stephenson
Women in Produce — Katiana Valdes