Universal Appoints Senior Vice President

Universal Corp. has appointed J. Patrick O’Keefe as senior vice president of Universal Global Ventures effective April 1, 2020. 

Universal Global Ventures is a wholly owned nontobacco subsidiary of Universal Corp. that holds FruitSmart, Universal’s recently acquired independent specialty fruit and vegetable ingredient processor serving global markets.

O’Keefe will oversee the company’s nascent plant-based ingredient platform and the company’s previously stated efforts to continue to build out a broader agri-products services platform.

“We are pleased to welcome Patrick to Universal Corporation as we expand and deepen our strong bench of executive talent in areas outside of tobacco,” said George C. Freeman III, chairman, president and CEO of Universal Corporation. “With almost three decades of food and beverage industry experience, Patrick brings skills that are directly relevant to our ongoing strategic and growth initiatives in adjacent industries.”

O’Keefe brings nearly 30 years of diverse, multilevel experience in the food ingredients industry. Prior to joining Universal, O’Keefe served as chief operating officer for Allen Flavors. From 2015 to 2018, O’Keefe served as CEO of the Americas for Dohler Group. From 2007 to 2015, he served as president of Finlay Tea Solutions U.S. and then CEO of Finlay’s Extracts & Ingredients. Earlier in his career, O’Keefe held roles of increasing responsibility at Sensient Flavors, Givaudan Flavors and International Flavors & Fragrances.