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SALINAS, CA -- River Ranch Fresh Foods LLC announced that Bruce Knobeloch has joined the management team in the newly created position chief operating officer.

Mr. Knobeloch will direct the sales and marketing, processing, distribution and agricultural operations within the company. His immediate focus will be supporting the sales and marketing efforts of the company, helping guide operations to focus on growth with current and future customers in the salad, spinach, cut vegetable and private-brand segments.

Mr. Knobeloch had previously spent seven years as vice president of marketing for River Ranch, heading the company's marketing and business development activities for its commodity and value-added program from 2002 to 2009.

"The opportunity to rejoin River Ranch in this expanded role is very exciting for me," Mr. Knobeloch said in a Feb. 17 press release. “The past year has enabled me to reconnect with the greater produce industry, working with many fantastic companies and people. When approached about my interest to return, I realized just how much I missed the company, the day-to-day activities and interaction with this team and its customers. This was a very difficult decision to make as I have been partners with one of the best produce industry veterans with whom I’ve ever worked, who is also a tremendous friend and most importantly one of the best men I’ve ever known.”

Last year Mr. Knobeloch joined forces with Robert (Bob) Jenkins to form Knobeloch Jenkins Associates LLC, providing business consulting services to clients throughout North America. This business will continue under Mr. Jenkins’ guidance and control, according to the release.

Mr. Knobeloch has over 35 years of experience in the produce and supermarket industries. In addition to his tenure at River Ranch, he has held various positions on the supply side, including senior vice president of sales and marketing and chief operating officer at Apio Inc. and vice president of retail sales for Buyproduce.com.

Mr. Knobeloch began his career at Schnuck Markets in St. Louis, where he worked for 26 years, starting as a bagger and produce clerk, moving to produce buyer and category manager, spending the last 10 years as director of produce and floral.

Mr. Knobeloch has served on the board of directors for the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association. He has also been chairman of PMA’s retail board, chairman of the 1999 PMA convention. He is currently on the board of directors of the Alliance for Food & Farming.

“Everyone at River Ranch is thrilled to have Bruce return to River Ranch as COO,” Kim St. George, the company’s director of marketing, said in the release. “Bruce is one of the most respected individuals in the produce industry, and with his extraordinary combination of knowledge and experience, he is perfect to guide us in our company’s long-term strategic plans.”