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SAN FRANCISCO -- Former Sunkist c.e.o. Jeff Gargiulo has joined Sundia Corp. here as chairman of the board of directors and advisors. Gargiulo will team with Sundia c.e.o. and founder Brad Oberwager to build a global produce brand that benefits both growers and consumers.
The produce veteran executive cited Sundia's revolutionary approach to building a produce brand as the reason for joining the young company, including the company's strategy of developing value-added produce products, such as the Sundia line of watermelon juices.
"Sundia has accomplished in less than a year what other produce brands have taken decades to do," said Gargiulo. "In releasing its Sundia watermelon juices and branding 33 percent of the country's watermelon supply with the Sundia trademark through strategic partnerships with the country's leading growers and distributors, the company has become a category brand leader overnight."
Oberwager said he had been wooing Gargiulo to Sundia for months. "Jeff brings decades of produce smarts to Sundia," he said. "With Sundia being so young and agile, and thus without encumbrances, Jeff can more quickly apply his years of know-how towards building Sundia into a major global produce brand in record time."
Gargiulo began his produce career with the Naples Fruit and Vegetable Co. in Naples, Fla. He later founded Gargiulo, Inc., a fresh tomato and berry producer that was acquired by Monsanto in 1997, for which he stayed on as president of the produce business unit for two years. In 2001, he joined Sunkist as president and c.e.o., where he improved revenues and payments to the cooperative's members by introducing new products to leverage the Sunkist brand, expanding distribution into Wal-Mart and Costco, and sourcing fruits from other parts of the world to satisfy North American demand for year-round availability of citrus fruits.
Gargiulo has also served as chairman of the Produce Marketing Association, for which he participated in the GATT and NAFTA trade negotiations.