United Indian River Packers to close - The Packer

United Indian River Packers to close

03/06/2014 10:24:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

United Indian River PackersUnited Indian River Packers Inc., one of Florida’s oldest and largest citrus growing and packing operations, plans to discontinue growing and packing operations.

The Vero Beach, Fla.-based United Indian River plans to sell 2,900 acres of groves and a packinghouse in an auction scheduled for April 16.

The family owners are shifting their focus on other businesses, including a marina, Thomas Kennedy, vice president of Kennedy Holdings LLC, United’s parent company, said in a news release.

“The Kennedy Family, owners of Kennedy Groves Inc., … that has been growing Florida’s Indian River Citrus since 1909, has made the decision to divest the company of their citrus holdings in order to concentrate on the family’s other businesses,” Kennedy said in the release. “With the upcoming retirement of my father, Ken, and the nature of our business, which is very hands-on and management-intensive, the family has decided to divest ourselves of the citrus business.”

Thomas "T P" KennedyKennedyOn Feb. 28, Kennedy resigned his presidency of the Vero Beach-based Indian River Citrus League, which he had since 2012.

“We are adjusting here as well but we hate to see a family with over 100 years experience and a history like theirs leave the business,” said Doug Bournique, the league’s executive vice president. “It breaks your heart.”

From 2010 to 2012, United annually packed more than 1 million cartons of mostly grapefruit.

In 2013, production declined to 796,000 cartons, according to the Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Administrative Committee.

For the past two decades, United marketed fruit through DNE World Fruit Sales in Fort Pierce, Fla., but in 2013 changed to Vero Beach-based IMG Citrus Inc.

Properties for sale include groves that range from 63 to 414 acres in 9 tracts and a the 55,000-square foot packinghouse.

In 1991, the Kennedys sold their retail and mail-order citrus businesses to Hale Groves, operating under the United name, according to the release.

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