Nov 23, 2022
Fruit and vegetable veteran Tom Tjerandsen dies

Tom Tjerandsen, a California and Chilean produce industry icon, has died.

Tjerandsen, 80, was influential in California fruit exports and Southern Hemisphere imports. He was based in Sonoma, California, where he died Nov. 8.

Tjerandsen was a leader in the California Agricultural Export Council (CAEC), which promoted numerous specialty crops, and also headed the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA).


For 60 years, Tjerandsen, who possessed an advertising industry background, promoted fruit and vegetables. He promoted the marketing of numerous commodities, including apricots, potatoes, pecans, figs, dates and pomegranates, as well as Chilean stone fruit, berries, cherries, apples and avocados.

In 1997, Tjerandsen helped start the Pomegranate Council, and was its executive director from its founding until his death.

From 2004 to 2012, Tjerandsen was CFFA’s executive director and managing director of the organization which was the North American marketing arm of the Chilean Exporters Association. According to family members, he was a well known and popular figure with growers, exporters and other industry people.

Working for advertising agencies, including Ketchum and J. Walter Thompson, Tjerandsen helped market California apricots, Washington cherries and Hawaiian papaya and pineapples.

Seeing a need to help produce industry advisory boards promote their products, in 1991, Tjerandsen and business partner Barney McClure started McClure & Tjerandsen Inc., a San Francisco-based firm which specialized in promoting produce. The two brought their depth of experience working with marketing boards, exporters and retailers to fruit promotion and sales. McClure died in 1996.

Tjerandsen’s company also managed the California Fresh Apricot Council and the Pomegranate Council. It also marketed California asparagus and other crops, including raisins, stone fruit and papaya. Clients included Sun-Maid, Kingsburg Orchards and Del Monte.

The CAEC, which began in 1995, supports the international marketing of California agricultural producer organizations, including many smaller commodities which don’t possess the resources to access government promotion services, according to its website. CAEC markets for the California Fresh Apricot Council, California New Potatoes, the Pomegranate Council, the California Fig Advisory Board, the California Medjool Date Council, the California Olive Oil Council and Western Growers, as well as fresh California and Arizona vegetables and Arizona and New Mexico pecans.

Tjerandsen was also president of the California Fresh Apricot Council and was also involved with the Mission Highlands Mutual Water Co.

Tjerandsen was born in Manhattan, Kansas, but went to high schools in Chicago and New York. He graduated from New York’s Hobart College before serving in the U.S. Army in Panama during the early 1960s. After military service, Tjerandsen earned an MBA from San Francisco State University.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, a marriage lasting more than 50 years. Memorial arrangements are to be scheduled in January 2023, according to media reports.


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