Fresh produce multinational Sun World has announced Merrill N. Dibble will take the helm as its new CEO, with plans to strengthen the company’s position as a premier grape breeder, producer, marketer and licensor.
Succeeding David Dever, Dibble was previously the vice president of California operations at AgReserves Inc’s almond, walnut, pistachio and prune business units.
“Sun World has the proprietary varieties that deliver a distinguishable difference in taste and quality,” Dibble said in a release.
“I am excited to lead the Sun World team as we focus our efforts on world-class plant science, exceptional farming practices and differentiated sales and marketing programs that allow us to be a superior supplier, and to deliver healthy, delicious grapes that delight consumers around the world.”
The company said the leadership transition was part of a strategy to optimize Sun World’s product portfolio, expand its international trading platform and bolster its variety development and licensing business.
The company has progressed in an aggressive California planting program for green, red and black grapes, involving new vineyards to supplement existing owned and leased properties in the Coachella and San Joaquin Valleys.
In the release, Sun World also said it intended to divest its pepper and strawberry farming, and citrus packing and marketing interests.
“In conjunction with Woodspur, an affiliated date company owned by Renewable Resources Group, Sun World’s Coachella Valley facility will be re-purposed for packing and handling fresh dates,” the company said.
“The Company’s citrus activities will be phased out. All Coachella-area farming activities will be centered on its grape acreage, which is slated for considerable growth in the coming years.”
The release also highlighted a commitment to continue expanding an already significant licensed production presence throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, South America and North America.