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Dennis Jackson, who worked for the Pear Bureau Northwest in the New England region as a category manager, is joining the staff of FirstFruits of Washington. Mr. Jackson was hired as a category manager and will also serve regional marketer. He will be based in New Hampshire.

FirstFruits officially opened its doors in August. It is a grower cooperative based in Yakima, WA, which currently represents Broetje Orchards, headquartered in Prescott, WA, and Columbia Valley Fruit, located in Union Gap, WA.

Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the Pear Bureau Northwest, had nothing but praise for Mr. Jackson. "Dennis has been a great asset to the Pear Bureau, and we will miss his insights into the retail mindset of the eastern United States," Mr. Moffitt told The Produce News. "I truly enjoy working with Dennis and am pleased that he will still be involved with Northwest apple, cherry and pear growers."

"We feel very fortunate to have someone with the skills and experience of Dennis Jackson representing us and developing category management, merchandising and promotion programs for our key retailers," Keith Mathews, FirstFruits chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Dennis gives us another important marketing specialty that will help our retail customers increase their apple and pear sales using consumer purchasing data by utilizing organic and conventional FirstFruits apples, pears and cherries."

Mr. Jackson has 35 years of experience in retail, purchasing and procurement. In addition to the Pear Bureau Northwest, he has worked with James Ferrera, C&S Wholesale and Purity Supreme Supermarkets.

During the 2009-10 apple season, FirstFruits anticipates marketing 6 million boxes of conventional apples and approximately 1.5 million boxes of organic apples.

"We believe in very short order we will become a 10-million-box company offering quality apples, cherries and pears," Mr. Mathews told The Produce News earlier in November.

FirstFruits also focuses on global humanitarian efforts. Members of the marketing cooperative commit to donating at least 10 percent of their share of the profits to non-profit charities focused on the under-served.