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Phil Neary has left produce distributor Sunny Valley International to join paper and packaging company Pratt Industries.

neary
Phil Neary

Mr. Neary, 48, joined the Jersey Fruit Cooperative Association in the fall of 2000 as general manager. In the spring of 2004, he became director of operations and grower relations at Sunny Valley, which markets domestic and imported fruits for a number of companies, including the Jersey Fruit co-op. Mr. Neary's last day at Sunny Valley was Sept. 30, and he joined Pratt the next day.

Robert Von Rohr, Sunny Valley's director of marketing, told The Produce News Nov. 14 that Mr. Neary's responsibilities have been divided among a number of individuals at Sunny Valley. For example, Mr. Von Rohr has taken over Mr. Neary's food safety and traceability responsibilities, while Francisco Allende, Sunny Valley's general manager, has taken over Mr. Neary's grower relations and packaging responsibilities.

"Phil was a very hard worker and very knowledgeable," said Mr. Von Rohr, noting that Mr. Neary left on very amicable terms. "We wish him well. He was a very important part of the company, and he'll be missed."

Pratt Industries, whose web site describes it as "America's sixth largest paper and packaging company," is a private entity whose parent company is located in Australia. Its U.S. headquarters is located in Conyers, GA, about 20 miles east of Atlanta.

In early November, Pratt Industries opened a corrugated packaging facility for a number of industries, including fresh produce, just outside Allentown, PA, which is where Mr. Neary now serves as the company's Northeast produce account manager.

"I love agriculture," Mr. Neary told The Produce News. "This [new position] allows me to touch a broader range" of sectors within the agricultural and produce areas.

For example, he now is looking forward to working with apple packers in New York and Pennsylvania as well as vegetable growers and packers in New York, southern New Jersey and the Eastern Shore.