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NAPLES, FL -- Naturipe Farms has announced an expanded role for Robert Verloop as the new senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Effective immediately, the former vice president of marketing will step into the new role with an eye on long-term strategic sales and marketing developments. His responsibilities at Naturipe Farms will continue to include all marketing programs, consumer research, sales promotions communications, advertising and public relations as well as government relations.

Mr. Verloop has been involved in the produce industry for more than 25 years. He joined Naturipe Farms in February 2008 after serving more than seven years with Sunkist Growers, most recently as vice president of global marketing and licensing. He started his career in the production side of the citrus and avocado industries, moving into marketing in 1992 at the California Avocado Commission. He has been active in numerous produce industry organizations, having served as Chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation. He is a graduate of the United Fresh Leadership Program. He currently serves as a director of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's board of directors.

In his newly created position, he will work closely with Vice President of Sales Brian Bocock to support the firm's sales expansion and increased distribution and penetration of Naturipe Farms' branded products.

"With the growth in our production base, especially in blueberries and strawberries, we are able to provide a broader level of service and products to clients in multiple channels," Mr. Verloop said in a March 16 press release. "I look forward to working with our sales and marketing staff to build new programs that will expand our services to existing clients and allow us to strategically expand our client base accordingly."

Naturipe Farms is the number one producer and marketer of fresh blueberries and has moved into the top three of California strawberry growers-marketers, according to the release. The company of grower- owners offers a full spectrum of fresh seasonal varieties including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. To ensure year-round availability and to provide locally grown produce in season, Naturipe Farms supports regional grower programs and sources from major growing areas throughout North America and South America. The company supports local growers by placing emphasis on sources, traceability and regional labeling.

"At Naturipe Farms, we are committed to excellence in quality and service to help make the berry category profitable for our clients and our growers," Rich Amirsehhi, interim president and chief executive officer, said in the press release. "We are very supportive of our current sales team lead by Brian Bocock, our vice president of sales. Brian and Robert have developed a great working relationship over the last year and have built exciting new programs that integrate sales and marketing. With Robert in this new role, we will continue to solidify that integration. Our successful growth over the last five years has been driven by our sales services and quality improvement programs. This new arrangement will allow us to leverage our internal strengths and expand our service levels to match that growth."