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Robert Verloop to head California walnut organizations

The California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission named Robert Verloop executive director and CEO, effective July 11. The CWB and CWC represent over 4,500 California walnut growers and nearly 90 handlers, producing over 1.4 billion pounds of walnuts in 2021 that ship to more than 50 countries around the world.

“We are excited to bring onboard an experienced strategic leader such as Robert, his background will well serve the California walnut industry. He has the unique experience of leadership roles as a grower/shipper of highly perishable produce and in commodity organizations. Robert understands the challenge to ‘move the crop.’ In addition, he has extensive knowledge and creativity as a marketer working in complex domestic and international markets,” said Bill Tos, the California Walnut Board’s executive committee chairperson.

Verloop recently held the position of chief operating officer for Coastline Family Farms, a family-owned vegetable grower-shipper. Previously, he held executive and leadership roles with Naturipe Farms and Naturipe Brands, Sunkist Growers Inc. and the California Avocado Commission. In those capacities, he worked in such areas as marketing and sales promotions in retail, foodservice and ingredient channels in domestic and global markets; issues management; strategic planning; and government relations, working with various state and federal agencies, including USDA, FAS/ATO, CDFA, and FDA. 

"When he was a member of the then-Produce Marketing Association board of directors, Robert showed a true drive to help find and create solutions for the global produce and floral community. His focus on disciplined marketing and uncovering the implications in challenges and opportunities helped us immensely, and I expect the walnut industry will realize these same leadership benefits,” said International Fresh Produce Association CEO Cathy Burns.

“I am looking forward to working with the staff, the two boards (CWB and CWC), and the growers and handlers that make up the California walnut industry. Walnuts are highly versatile and nutritious, ideal for plant-based eating. In collaboration with the growers and handlers we must respond to rapidly evolving market conditions with a sense of urgency and purpose and continue to build an ongoing dialogue with key customer segments in order to drive sales in all market segments,” said Verloop. “I am also keenly aware of the multi-generational nature of an industry dating back more than a century. The new generations are inheriting a dynamic industry that continues to evolve through innovation, starting with new advances in orchard management practices, post-harvest management, and developing exciting new consumer products that showcase the versatility and delicious taste of nutritious California walnuts.”

The CWB and the CWC play a vital role in expanding walnut usage occasions and understanding walnuts’ health benefits, solving for production and post-harvest challenges, protecting the industry against burdensome regulations, and building demand for California walnuts globally. Despite current supply-chain challenges, there is rising demand for walnuts given their versatility and wide range of studied health benefits. Interest in plant-based eating around the globe is an opportunity for walnuts, which contain protein and fiber, and are the only nut that is an excellent source of essential plant-based omega-3 ALA.

“We look forward to Robert and the CWB and CWC staff working in collaboration with the industry to address the near-term challenges in supply chain logistics, port congestion and rising costs. At the same time, we will refresh and refocus our long-term strategies given the evolving marketplace and not waiver our focus on the mission of market development and increasing consumer demand globally for our future crops,” said Tos.

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