ATLANTA — Ayco Farms Inc. is expanding acreage, offering new commodities, building a distribution center and importing product into more ports.

Ayco Farms expands production, enters new linesDeerfield Beach, Fla.-based Ayco Farms is constructing a 60,000-square-foot distribution center in nearby Pompano Beach. The new facility, set to start operating in June, should expand Ayco’s storage and diversify distribution, said Avi Nir, president.

This winter, the vertically integrated grower, packer, importer and distributor plans to import product into Houston, Gulfport, Miss., and Norfolk, Va., ports, following a test program last winter. Ayco also imports through Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Launching a tropical produce line, Ayco adds limes, papayas, pineapples, plantains, and a variety of Asian vegetables to the company’s signature asparagus and watermelons.

Additionally, Ayco this fall plans to begin importing Argentinean blueberries.

“We are trying to diversify,” Nir said. “We are growing and the companies and farms we work with are growing and are working with our customers to increase our line offerings.”

Building U.S. watermelon acreage from 400 acres several years ago to 1,500-2,000 acres for 2012, the company should close any production games, said Ken Kodish, category manager.

“We plan to be one of the East Coast’s grower-shippers to produce our own domestic and offshore watermelons for year-round production,” he said. 

The expansions aren’t surprising as for a second year, Inc. magazine in September recognized Ayco as being one of its “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.” With $48.9 million in revenue, Inc. ranked Ayco at No. 4,503 in its September listing of the fastest-growing 5,000 U.S. companies.

Nir started Ayco in 2001. Ayco told its customers about the changes during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2011 expo.