A drumroll please…
Each event we do requires the generous participation of a global selection of industry experts.
For 2022, we moved The Global Grape Summit from its previous location in London to Bakersfield, California, in the heart of the California grape industry.
Yet the faculty comes from across the globe, from Europe to Australia, from Asia to Africa.
It is important to recognize that these individuals did not have to volunteer, and their companies did not have to permit them to come.
Yet, with the notion that we all will benefit from a better industry, from increased consumption, diversity in marketing and understanding of new varieties and industry trends, this year’s faculty has stood up to help, and the industry owes them a special vote of thanks.
Though we still have a few surprises to unveil on site, it is our great pleasure to unveil the Faculty for The Global Grape Summit 2022:
University of CA-Davis, Professor
Julian M. Alston is a distinguished professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis, where he also serves as the director of the Robert Mondavi Institute Center for Wine Economics. He is an agricultural economist known for his work on the economics of agricultural and food policy.
His recent projects have emphasized science, technology policy and the economics of agricultural innovation; and wine economics. Over the past 10 years and more, he has led work on modeling and measuring the value of improved traits of grapevines in the VitisGen project.
What are grape varietal innovations worth? Government and private breeders are actively developing new cultivars of grapes with novel traits desired by growers, marketers, and final consumers. These include various product quality-related traits as well as agronomic traits, such as yield, pest- and disease resistance, and climate resilience. A key determinant of the demand for innovation is market acceptance. While varietal innovation has been especially rapid in the table grape industry, it has been much slower in the wine grape industry reflecting strong consumer preference for wine produced using traditional varieties.
Market acceptance is also conditioned by the methods used by breeders to introduce the novel traits, with some market segments strongly resistant to newer breeding methods such as genetic engineering or gene editing.
Julian’s presentation will provide an overview of results from some recent work by economists on the payoffs to investments in varietal innovations for grapes, including varietal resistance to Pierce’s Disease and powdery mildew, and a range of agronomic and product quality attributes of table grapes, paying attention to the effects of the breeding method.
Domenick “Cookie” Bianco
Anthony Vineyards, Owner
A lifelong produce visionary, Domenick “Cookie” Bianco owns and oversees the day-to-day operations of Anthony Vineyards, headquartered in Bakersfield, California.
Since its founding as a 160-acre operation in 1967, Anthony Vineyards has grown to land holdings of more than 6,500 acres in both the San Joaquin and Coachella valleys, and is a vertically integrated company with growing operations in several regions and production of several crops, including organic and conventional table grapes; peppers; citrus and dates.
A founder and former executive of Sun World, Bianco has partnered with Prime Time International since its start, and is a co-owner of SunDate, both in Coachella, California.
Divine Flavor and Grupo Alta
Carlos Bon started working in grapes when he was 12 years old. His first job was pruning grapes in Mexico. Motivated by the examples of his grandfather Enrique, uncle Alan and his father Carlos Sr., Bon fell in love with the cultivar.
He started working as a packer, QC, and loader, and did every job possible in a vineyard and then started managing domestic sales.
In 2011, Bon was asked to join Divine Flavor, a produce distribution company in the U.S. He now manages the company and has helped turn the company into what he calls, “maybe not the largest but the best” marketer of table grapes.
Together with his uncle and brother, they were pioneers in new varieties in Mexico and are the largest licensed growers of proprietary varieties in the country.
“I love my job 345 days out of the year,” Bon says. “There’s always 20 real shitty days, but I would not trade my job for any other.”
Campos Borquez, Executive VP
Borquez is part of a four-generation farming family from Northwest Mexico. He operates as the Executive VP of Campos Borquez, the agricultural business that was founded by his father in 1986. The company grows, packs and distributes directly asparagus, grapes, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, with orchards in development for avocados and mangos.
Borquez grew up on the farm and worked on the harvests during school vacations. He went on to the United States to get a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University. He graduated from the school’s undergraduate business program with concentrations in finance and food industry management.
He started working for his family’s business full-time right after graduation. He started in HR, building the department for the company to then move into the administrative and finance office to finally leading the executive team through its transformative and growth phase.
D’Arrigo New York, Fruit Buyer/Sales
Bronx, New York
After growing up watching his father run the largest fruit department inside the Hunts Point Produce Market, D’Arrigo started working for D’Arrigo New York at the age of 19 as a salesman.
Under his father’s watchful eye, he has become one of the top buyers/salesmen for the company over the past eight years.
As a key member of the fourth generation, he has played a pivotal role in the overall growth of the company by continuing to develop the long-lasting relationships with suppliers and customer alike.
In his current role, D’Arrigo looks to follow in his father’s footsteps and expand his knowledge to pass on to future generations.
SNFL Group, General Manager
Josep Estiarte is the General Manager of SNFL Group, the leading global platform in the development, licensing and marketing of patented table grape varieties.
He has over 20 years of experience at SNFL Group and at AM FRESH Group, with over 6 years of experience working in close collaboration with UK retailers at AM FRESH UK.
He holds a degree from the University of Lleida. He is the father of two children and a passionate runner.
Giumarra Vineyards Corp., VP Sales
Randy Giumarra is Vice President of Sales at Giumarra Vineyards and part of the fourth generation of Giumarra family to work in the family business.
He is passionate about all fresh produce but spends the majority of his time selling table grapes from the family-owned ranches in California as well as marketing fruit from loyal grower-partners in Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico.
He also spends a good deal of time evaluating new potential grape varieties from the ARRA cross-breeding program to try to determine the most commercially viable varieties for the future.
Sysco, Manager Produce Sourcing
Jon Greco started in the produce business with a couple of small produce brokers in 1990-1994. In 1995, he went to work for Sysco in its produce procurement office.
After managing a few different sites over the years, he was promoted to Brand Manager in 1997, Sales Manager in 1998 and left in 2002 for a couple years at Taylor Farms in Salinas, California. In late 2004, Greco came back to Sysco as Sales Manager and in a couple years was promoted to General Manager, overseeing the sales force.
In 2008, Greco was approached by corporate to take on a new role and moved to Southern California to work at one of its produce-only companies (FreshPoint Southern California). “I was given a great education in the distribution business in this move,” he says. Greco managed the specialty company, then the purchasing department and then all operations.
Greco says, “Although I developed a tremendous respect for the drivers and warehouse through this opportunity, I also realized that the Salinas Valley had been home, and I wanted it as home again. Corporate gave me the opportunity to move back and manage all produce sourcing for Sysco/FreshPoint/Sygma. I have now been in this role for six years and couldn’t be happier. I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for farmers as a whole, and this gives me the ability to work very closely with so many great ones.”
Greco adds, “I have a beautiful wife Emily, a princess for a daughter named Ava and a future Football and Baseball Hall of Famer in my son Mateo.”
Whole Foods Market
Global Field Inspector
San Diego, California
Katy Green is a Global Field Inspector with Whole Foods Market. She has been with the company since 2009. She oversees quality and varietal selection on the table grape program as well as several other commodities.
She is a graduate of Purdue University, School of Agriculture, with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and botany. Through college, she worked in Purdue’s research vineyard for wine grapes and spent a season working in the fields in Bordeaux, France.
She is extremely passionate about the future of agriculture, the table grape industry, and fruit genetics.
Bananar, Procurement Manager
Helgason’s career has revolved primarily around the supply chain for the past 30 years. He previously worked in the aviation industry for 10 years, for a small airline, where he oversaw purchasing for food and beverage and duty-free goods.
He is an expert in the supply chain and has trained in product management, with an international degree in project management..
For the past seven years, Helgason has been involved in the fruits and vegetable business, of which during the last six months he has served as procurement manager at Bananar Ltd., which is a market leader and the largest importer of fruits and vegetable in Iceland, with a market share around 45%.
As the CEO of IFG, Andy Higgins brings over 25 years of executive leadership experience to the company. His expertise in managing global, agricultural intellectual property companies is extensive. His mission at IFG is to realize the full potential of company-developed fruit varieties.
In addition, he is vigilant in defending and protecting all intellectual property assets, including trademarks and patents. He achieves these objectives through development of strong teams that are focused on improving the results of its licensees.
Before joining IFG in 2016, Higgins served as president of International Master Products Corporation for three years. Previous to that, he was CEO of Ecke Ranch, a global agricultural company engaged in the breeding and production of numerous species of ornamental plants. Over his career, Higgins has held numerous executive, production, sales and operational positions. He holds a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture and a Graduate Certificate in Management from UCLA.
Costa Group, General Manager
Jones joined Costa in 2001. Over the past 12 years, he has managed leading customer accounts across both domestic and export channels and then the General Manager role in the Costa grape category.
In June 2012, he was appointed General Manager responsible for the grape and citrus categories. He has a Bachelor of business degree and graduate certificate in food business management.
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Andy Kampa is the General Manager, Sourcing for Robinson Fresh. He manages the company’s global grape program as well as its South American deciduous fruits import program to North America.
He is involved in the planning and execution of Robinson’s category strategies and implementation; while also maintaining connectivity to the consumer side of its business.
Throughout his 19 years at Robinson Fresh, he has gained a unique perspective of bringing consumer demand back through the supply chain. This has led to a focus on brand strategy, varietal innovation, and the expansion of the global grape trade to best match consumer demand throughout Europe, Latin America, and North America.
Grapa Varieties, Chairman
Zichron Yaackov, Israel
Rafi Karniel, chairman of Grapa Varieties, is the driving force behind the company’s vision, goals and corporate strategy. Since 2009, he has led Grapa’s remarkable growth and evolution.
He holds a B.A. in Law and a Masters in Law and Business Management. In April 2017, he was elected to the board of CIOPORA, an international breeders’ association.
With Karniel’s vision to consolidate and unite industry stakeholders to enforce global IP protection, The Breeders’ Alliance Company was born in 2019. As one of the four founding members, Karniel holds a board seat as well.
The Karsten Group
Northern Cape, South Africa
Pieter Karsten is the CEO of Karsten Farms. Pieter took over from his dad in October 2021.
Together with his sister Belia (COO), they are heading up Karsten Farms and are the second generation leaders of Karsten Farms.
Karsten is a fully integrated farming entity with its roots in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Karsten’s main crops are grapes, dates, citrus and pecan nuts.
Founded in 1952 by brothers Bernard and Eugene Gelson, the company came on the scene as an extraordinary grocery shopping experience for discerning consumers and called Burbank, California, its home.
Fast-forward more than 65 years later, and the retailer has 27 stores in California, from San Diego to Santa Barbara to Rancho Mirage— the Golden Triangle, if you will.
Gelson’s is recognized for its superior architecture and fresh concepts, including its diverse range of produce items, highest quality meat, seafood and deli, an unmatched selection of wine and liquor, and exceptional service. While working directly with suppliers to ensure the best of the best graces the prime real estate of Gelson’s’ shelves, Kneeland also adds that organic items have had more of an impact on the stores’ buying decisions. The inventory across Gelson’s has upward of 30% of its items in its organic portfolio, including fresh produce, which is its mainstay as the ambassador of fresh when you walk through the front doors.
“Fresh produce has already made its way to other departments in the store,” says Kneeland. “I think foodservice and plant-based protein is a next big wave, but how do we highlight gluten-free as a lifestyle versus a health issue? How do we cater to all the other allergen-sensitive customers? Fresh produce must take the lead in menu creation for this group. We hit all the conditions that make us the products of choice for dietary needs. Think about it. One department you can go to in the store that satisfies every age group and any health disparity is produce.”
T.M. Kovacevich – Philadelphia, Inc. President
Tom Kovacevich is president of T.M.Kovacevich – Philadelphia Inc. (TMK), a wholesaler on the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.
In addition to his management responsibilities, he has been buying the grapes for TMK for more than 30 years— and remembers when “seedless” meant Thompson Seedless, the only seedless grape available at the time.
Product Manager/ Global Sourcing Division
Seoul, South Korea
Jay has been a fruit buyer at E-Mart, South Korea’s largest retailer, for 10 years and is in charge of sourcing grapes, cherries, blueberries, oranges, and pomegranates.
George Liu is the founder of Frutacloud, having previously spearheaded e-commerce and payment projects while serving in positions at both Amazon and Google.
He is a graduate of Northwestern University in the US, with a Master’s degree in Computer Science.
In 2016, George established Frutacloud as a subsidiary of the Kingo Fruits Group for the purpose of serving the rising e-commerce and “New Retail” segments in China. With Kingo’s 30 years of experience and with George’s innovative approach to the business, Frutacloud has become a leading brand to procure, market, and distribute fresh fruit from around the world to the Chinese market.
George’s ultimate mission is to make healthy lifestyles more accessible to everyone in an environmentally sustainable way.
SNFL Group, Chairman
Duncan Macintyre, SNFL Group Chairman, has spent over 40 years of his life working in the fresh produce industry, but certainly, he says, the past 20 have been the most stimulating and enjoyable.
Macintyre worked for Marks and Spencer for the previous 18 years. Over that time, he traveled the world extensively and gained great experience of a huge range of fruit and salad crops, where he has been seeking out high-end innovation, which brought him into contact with fruit breeders who were working to develop new and improved varieties. One of these breeders was Tim Sheehan, who was developing a new table grapes selection.
Inspired by Sheehan’s vision, Duncan decided to support his breeding business, and Duncan joined Alvaro Muñoz and the Muñoz Group (now AM FRESH) as technical director. He immediately re-connected with Sheehan, as the time was ripe for the old traditional varieties like Thompson to be replaced with new high-performance varieties like Timpson.
SNFL Group was set up to focus on the new variety breeding and development of table grapes varieties. Sadly, Sheehan passed away in 2009 but his legacy enabled SNFL Group to develop the business that it has today, initially with the Sheehan collection and now with the new Grapes Genesis breeding program.
“Tim always said to me that successful plant breeding was one third science, one third experience and one third luck,” Duncan says. “I think he was right but nowadays, of course, with our understanding of the grape genome and our knowledge of molecular biology within Grapes Genesis, there is a lot more science and a lot less luck involved. One of the most satisfying aspects of my career is to have been part of the development of the Sheehan varieties, and to see these varieties come to fruition.
“It is fantastic for me now to see how the SNFL team has grown and to be surrounded by all these very smart, young and energetic colleagues who share my passion for innovation and excellence,” he says.
Sam’s Club, Category Buyer for Grapes and Stone Fruit
Phil Macy has worked for 30 years at Sam’s Club, a U.S. chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs that are owned and operated by Walmart. During that time, he has spent 27 years with Sam’s Produce.
Currently, Macy is responsible for the chain’s table grape and stonefruit categories. In his role, he is a great advocate of flavor, quality, and the best grape varieties.
Sun World, President & CEO
A third-generation produce industry executive, David Marguleas joined Sun World in 1986 and has led just about every segment of the business, including sales & marketing, R&D, farming, and packing operations.
Well-known to the global grower community, Marguleas conceived, managed and grew the company’s international licensing business. He has served in leadership roles at countless produce industry organizations, including most recently, board chair of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA).
In 2020, he was named a ‘Vanguard’ by PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine, in recognition of his leadership in advancing the produce industry. He graduated from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Rupert F Maude
Sun World International, LLC
Rupert Maude was born in Kent in the south of England to an English mother and a half-American/half-English father. He grew up in the UK and attended boarding schools before going to New Zealand for a year.
On his return to the UK, he went to Agricultural college and later worked on various farms in the UK and Ireland in general agriculture.
In 1988, he started work on a large salad and vegetable growing operation, where he found the work much more interesting. From that company, he joined John Shropshire’s G’s Group and, after a short time, was sent to Spain to work in Murcia at G’s España.
This began his long relationship with Spain.
At that time, G’s España was a very small business and very different from today. He was able to do a lot of travel in Spain buying various salads and vegetables and worked very closely with people at every level, often working in the fields until well after dark. He then spent time in the off season at G’s UK office buying product from different countries and visiting supermarkets and other customers.
After G’s, Maude was UK representative for Primaflor, a very large grower based in Almeria, Spain. Based in the UK, his job was to promote and look after the many businesses of Primaflor in the UK and Europe. From Primaflor, he went to a garlic and almond company to start a salad business.
In early 2004, he became the Commercial Director of El Ciruelo, at the time a small fruit growing business which he help grow for nearly 18 years.
In Spring 2021, Maude joined Sun World as Brand Ambassador. He has lived in Spain for a very long time and finds Spain a great country with great people, weather and food
HMC Farms, Founder
Harold McClarty, founder of HMC Farms, is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a leader in the agricultural industry, serving as a board member for the Western Growers Association, executive board member and former chairman of the California Fresh Fruit Association, an elected commissioner of the Table Grape Commission and a member of the Center for Produce Safety.
The McClarty family has been farming tree fruit and grapes in California’s Central Valley since 1887. In 1987, Harold McClarty established the HMC Farms group of companies, growing his father’s original 40 acres into a fully vertically integrated, international operation that is one of the largest tree fruit and value added grape suppliers in the United States. HMC Farms now has four locations in California, and internationally in Chile, Mexico, and Peru.
While HMC Farms has grown dramatically, McClarty is still a family farmer. Harold and his wife Deborah have two children—Jonathan and Chelsea—who, along with their spouses Sarah and Drew, are actively involved with, and integral to, the operation of the business.
McClarty has a passion for education and served on both boards of trustees of the UC Davis Foundation and the State Center Community College Foundation. He has a strong connection with UC Davis, alma mater of his wife, Deborah. Harold and Deborah have worked closely with and provided support to UC Davis projects that promote all facets of California agriculture from the people who work the farms to the technological changes we will see in the future. The McClarty Family Foundation recently made a donation to Reedley College, which will bring educational opportunities to McClarty’s hometown through the future McClarty Center for Fine and Performing Arts.
Because of his industry leadership, commitment to education, and philanthropic efforts through the McClarty Family Foundation, Harold has been honored with numerous accolades; of note are the Farmer of the Year, Agribusiness Leader of the Year, Outstanding Business-Education Partnership Award, and the Nisei Farmers League Ag Business Award.
California Table Grape Commission, President/CEO
Kathleen Nave is president and CEO of the California Table Grape Commission. The commission is a state corporation charged by the California legislature with creating demand for the state’s table grape crop. With an annual operating budget of approximately $20 million, the commission fields a global marketing campaign; runs a worldwide grape licensing program; funds a four-pronged, multi-million dollar research effort focusing on consumers, the health benefits of grape consumption, mechanization and advanced automation, and viticulture production; and manages a wide range of market-impacting issues.
Nave, who has a master’s degree in mass communication research and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno, is serving her 35th year with the California Table Grape Commission, her 23rd as president.
Bananar ehf, Purchasing Manager
Bardur Nielsson is the purchasing manager of Bananar ehf, the main importer and distributor of fresh produce in Iceland.
In 2015, the company celebrated its 60th anniversary, and it has grown into an integral part of the Icelandic food landscape.
With tourism to Iceland reaching an all-time high, Bananar is in a unique position to capitalize on its strong relationship with Icelandic retailers, as well as the growing number of hotels and restaurants. Over many years, Nielsson has created an enviable network of growers and suppliers all over the world. He is considered to be an authentic fresh produce specialist.
Pandol Bros., Director of Special Projects
John Pandol is the director of special projects for Pandol Brothers Inc., a farming and sales concern based in Delano, CA, specializing in grapes.
After graduating in international marketing from the University of Southern California, Pandol did additional studies at the Catholic University of Chile. He has 25 years of experience in supplier development in Chile and Mexico and export trading from the USA to 20 countries.
In the early 2000s, Pandol began focusing on the entire supply chain in the North American market. Currently, he spends 120-plus days visiting production areas, retail outlets and all intermediate points in addition to trade shows and industry events. He comments frequently at various events, in the press and online.
He also serves as chairman of the grape division of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, a trade group of importers based in Nogales, Arizona.
Perfection Fresh Group, CEO
Perfection Fresh Australia is one of the Australia’s best-known growers, marketers and processors of fresh fruit and vegetables. Perfection Fresh was established in 1978, now employing approximately 1,200 people nationally, currently operating across eight produce categories with significant market share in each.
Simonetta joined Perfection Fresh in 1984, following six years working in the accounting field. His first role was in sales at the company’s Flemington site, and he has served as CEO since 1991. He has been instrumental in growing the business from a small domestic operation to a major national and international marketer in the fresh produce industry. Under his direction, Perfection Fresh has introduced many new horticultural products to the Australian market and led its now significant investment in production.
Simonetta also introduced the concept of ‘branded’ fruit and vegetables to Australia, using trademarks to protect Perfection Fresh’s exclusive marketing rights. He has held board positions with numerous industry organizations, including the International Fresh Produce Association.
Sprouts Farmers Market
Senior Director of Produce Innovation
Caitlin Tierney is the new Senior Director of Produce Innovation for Sprouts Farmers Market, in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout her 15-year career in the produce industry, she has gathered a unique perspective of up-and-coming innovations, such as CEA growing, seed science, e-commerce, prepared foods, packaged produce, discount retail, private label, and market strategy.
Her career path has led her to reinterpret produce to be ingrained in innovation and pour energy into thinking outside the traditional brick-and-mortar box.
Caitlin’s retail career started as a category assistant to produce for Michigan-based Spartan Stores, where she spent several years as a buyer before joining New York-based Fresh Direct as a Senior Produce Buyer.
She also worked for 99 Cents Only Stores for five years and for Fresh & Easy. Prior to joining Sprouts Farmers Market, she was the West Coast Business Director for Mastronardi Produce, the SUNSET® brand, adding to her pioneering mindset.
She also serves on the board of directors for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council and the board of PMA’s Center for Growing Talent.
Fresh Farms LLC
Sr. VP Sales & Marketing
Rio Rico, Arizona
David Watson is a career industry member since 1978, working in senior level positions with multinationals and privately owned family businesses and growers, distributors across multiple categories in the fresh produce sector, including Dole, Chiquita, Del Monte, SunWorld, Columbine, and Fresh Farms LLC.
Watson has a keen interest in enabling growth in the grape category through education, information and category management value propositions within the various channels and bringing consumers the best eating and health-conscious experience.
Senior Director Purchasing
Stephan Weist is Senior Director Sourcing/Category Management for produce and flowers for Europe’s third largest retailer, REWE, in Germany.
He is also the brand manager for “REWE Regional,” their private label for all food categories for strictly regional products.
Alumnus of VWA Cologne and Insead France, Weist has over 30 years of experience in the fruit industry, encompassing management positions with retail (REWE), production (Landgard) and import/multinationals (Chiquita).
He served our industry as president of Freshfel, the European fruit association, from 2018 -2022.
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We look forward to working together to advance the industry at The Global Grape Summit 2022!