The California Walnut Board (CWB) and the California Walnut Commission (CWC) have named Robert Verloop as new Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, effective July 11, 2022.
In a statement, CWB’s Executive Committee Chairperson Bill Tos described the board’s excitement about “bring[ing] onboard an experienced strategic leader such as Robert”, stating that “his background will well serve the California walnut industry”.
Mr. Verloop recently worked as COO for Coastline Family Farms, a family-owned vegetable grower/shipper. Previously, he held leadership roles with Naturipe Farms/Naturipe Brands, Sunkist Growers Inc., and the California Avocado Commission. He also worked with various state and federal agencies, including USDA, FAS/ATO, CDFA, and FDA.
Tos highlighted Robert’s “unique experience of leadership roles as a grower/shipper of highly perishable produce and in commodity organizations”, his understanding of “the challenge to ‘move the crop’”, as well as his “extensive knowledge and creativity as a marketer working in complex domestic and international markets.”
International Fresh Produce Association CEO Cathy Burns commended Verloop’s “true drive to help find and create solutions for the global produce and floral community,” as well as “his focus on disciplined marketing and uncovering the implications in challenges and opportunities” when working on the then-Produce Marketing Association Board of Directors.
The CWB and CWC play a vital role in expanding walnut usage occasions and understanding walnuts’ health benefits, protecting the industry against burdensome regulations, and building demand for California walnuts globally.
When asked about his new role, Verloop assured that he will collaborate with growers and handlers to “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”.
Despite current supply-chain challenges, there is rising demand for walnuts given their versatility and wide range of studied health benefits. They not only contain protein and fiber, but are also the only nut that is an excellent source of essential plant-based omega-3 ALA.
Verloop recognized that “walnuts are highly versatile and nutritious, ideal for plant-based eating” and described the “dynamic industry” as having a “multi-generational nature” which dates 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.”
Tos concluded that Verloop, alongside the CWB and CWC teams will work “in collaboration with the industry to address the near-term challenges in supply chain logistics, port congestion and rising costs.”
Simultaneously, the company “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.”
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, including the UK.