PRODUCE BUSINESS Honors 40 Young Leaders

Boca Raton, FL – PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine, the leading monthly publication for the fresh produce industry, has published its Sixth Annual 40-Under-Forty issue, honoring 40 young leaders of the produce industry. 

The coveted 40-under-Forty award is among the most prestigious honors in the produce industry. Of thousands of people who buy and sell produce, only a small percentage are singled out each year. Every winner must be nominated by a peer in the industry and the criteria for selecting the winner is based on the candidate’s leadership skills within his company, within the industry and within that person’s community. 

This year’s winners are:
Fernando Aguiar, 32
Senior Account Manager
Naturipe Farms
Everett, MA

CarrieAnn Arias, 36
Senior Marketing Manager
Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc
Monterey, CA

Ines Masallach Armjijo, 35
Marketing Director
Cuernavaca, Mexico

Robert Biesterfeld, 35
General Manager, West Produce Region
CH Robinson Worldwide, Inc
Spokane, WA

Andrew Bivens, 37
Westlake Produce Company
Los Angeles, CA

Katy Blowers, 32
Marketing and Event Coordinator
Church Brothers Produce
Salinas, CA

Yvonne Bull, 38
Produce Marketing Association
Newark, DE

John Cameron, 39
Sales Manager, Southern Division
Desert Glory, LTD
Arlington, TX

Alfonso Cano, 37
Assistant Produce Director
Northgate Gonzales Markets
Anaheim, CA

Allen Davis, 36
Director of Value Added Sales Operations
Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc
Monterey, CA

Tom Deardorff II, 39
Deardorff Family Farms
Oxnard, CA

Brian Dey, 38
Produce Merchandiser
Four Seasons Produce
Ephrata, PA

Jesse Eppler, 37
Senior Sales Executive
World Class Flowers
Egg Harbor City, NJ

Georgina Felix, 31
Foreign Affairs Director
Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA)
Nogales, AZ

Nathalie Fontanilla, 37
Senior Marketing Manager, Product Development
Earthbound Farm
San Juan Bautista, CA

Ray Habelman, 36
Habelman Bros Company
Tomah, WI

Roland Harmon II, 34
Salinas/Nogales Procurement Manager
Chiquita/Fresh Express
Salinas, CA

Douglas Hawkins, 31
Corporate Category Manager
Litehouse Inc
Sandpoint, ID

Jack Howell, 38
National Sales Leader, Bananas, Fresh and Ready Avocados
Chiquita Brands North America
Cincinnati, OH

Chase Kaljian, 38
Manager of Real Estate and Facilities
Watsonville, CA

Ozgur Koc, 33
Director of Research & Development
Crunch Pak LLC
Cashmere, WA

Jared Lane, 32
Vice President of Marketing
Bakersfield, CA

Tracie Levin, 25
General Manager
M. Levin and Co., Inc.
Philadelphia, PA

Afreen Malik, 36
Manager of Food Safety/Environmental Stewardship
Ocean Mist
Castroville, CA

Matt Mandel, 30
Special Projects Manager
Rio Rico, AZ

Neil Merritt, 38
Division Vice President of Retail Sales
Ready Pac Foods, Inc
Irwindale, CA

Karolyn Minaya, 35
Organic Produce, Sales & Marketing Manager
Agrexco USA Ltd
New York, NY

Juliet Olivarria, 38
Sales Manager-BSCC Produce
Salinas, CA

Angela Paymard, 33
Longwood, FL

Patrick Pochiro, 35
Marketing Manager
International Paper
Memphis, TN

Kristen Reid, 30
Senior Recruiter
Mixtec Group
Pasadena, CA

Bryan Roberts, 37
Consumer Segment Manager
Earth City, MO

Felicity Robson, 36
General Manager, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability
Queensland, Australia

Gualberto Rodriguez III, 36
Caribbean Produce Exchange, Inc
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Chad Smith, 35
Senior Manager, Sustainability
Earthbound Farm
San Juan Bautista, CA

Abby Taylor-Silva, 32
Vice President, Policy & Communications
Grower-Shipper Association of Central California
Salinas, CA

Brian Vertrees, 32
Customer Promotions Manager
Stemilt Growers, Inc
Wenatchee, WA

Eric Viramontes, 36
Sinaloa, Mexico

Wendy Ward, 39
Local Sourcing Specialist
Hannaford Brothers
Scarborough, ME

Michael Wise, 40
Vice President of Operations
The Horton Fruit Company 
Louisville, KY

“Most of the winners not only are leaders in their own companies and the industry at large, but they are also leaders of charitable groups, educational and religious institutions and various civic organizations,” said Ken Whitacre, publisher and editorial director of PRODUCE BUSINESS. “These leaders, ranging in age from 25 to 40, demonstrate leadership through and through – they hold the promise of a stronger industry for many years to come.”

This marks the sixth year that PRODUCE BUSINESS has conducted the 40-under-Forty program, so there are now 240 young professionals who can proudly say they are among the elite produce industry leaders. Each winner receives a plaque from PRODUCE BUSINESS, a lapel pin and an invitation to attend the “Rising Star” reception at the Produce Marketing Association convention in Orlando, where an induction ceremony is held and other illustrious leaders shake each winner’s hand to pay tribute to their accomplishments. The winners also automatically become a member of the PRODUCE BUSINESS 40-under-Forty Alumni Group.

For a copy of the June issue of PRODUCE BUSINESS, please contact Ken Whitacre, the magazine’s publisher and editorial director, at or phone: 561-994-1118 ext. 101.