Combined with last year’s acquisitions of WesPak Sales and Enns Packing, the agreement with the Stockton, Calif.-based cherry, apple and pear packer increases Rivermaid volume by about 2 million cartons. That includes stone fruit and grapes from WesPak and Enns.
“We can now support our retail customers with ample supply of cherries from the south San Joaquin Valley,” Ken Carter, Rivermaid chief marketing officer, said in a news release.
Rivermaid’s background in cherries was the most important factor in the move, according to Farmington Fresh general manager Bruce Hesse.
“With Rivermaid having operations in the center of both major cherry-growing regions in the state, our growers will be best served under the new arrangement,” Hesse said in the release. He anticipates new markets will open for Farmington.
Rivermaid recently added three sales and marketing veterans to its staff — Dave Parker as marketing advisor and Brad Gostanian and Mike Isola as salesmen.
Farmington Fresh plans to continue to produce sliced apple products in Stockton. Its Sweet Apple Bites label is marketed to foodservice and retail. Farmington’s cherry, pear and apple packing lines will also be used to process excess Rivermaid capacity.
Rivermaid handles more than half of California’s bartlett pear volume, according to the company, plus added pear production from the Pacific Northwest.
The partners in each company — the Rajkovich family at Farmington and founders Chiles Wilson and Brian Machado of Rivermaid — had longstanding personal relationships before the agreement, according to Hesse.