Fresh Del Monte buys East Coast Brokers’ land, packinghouse

08/26/2013 04:45:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Del MonteDel Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. is the winning bidder for the majority of farmland that was auctioned by the defunct East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc.

In a bankruptcy auction, the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte paid $34.8 million for 5,851 acres of the former tomato grower-shipper’s land and packinghouses in Florida and Virginia owned by the Madonia family, according to court documents.

The purchase includes East Coast’s principal packinghouse in Mulberry, Fla., as well as in Mappsville, Va.

Del Monte’s bought 3,370 acres in central and south Florida and 2,481 acres in Virginia’s Eastern Shore, as well as numerous worker camps in both states.

Immokalee, Fla.-based Lipman-owned Kuzzens Inc., purchased a Mappsville packinghouse for $325,000, according to court records.

Jack Sizemore, president of Plant City, Fla. strawberry grower-shipper JayMar Farms, bought 178 acres of land near Lakeland, Fla., for $3 million, according to court records.

Potato grower-shipper Benny F. Hall & Sons, Hallwood, Va., paid $196,000 for East Coast’s Byrd Foods packinghouse in Greenbush, Va., according to court records. In a credit bid, a bank paid $770,000 for a Ruskin, Fla., packinghouse.

Other packing and cold storage facilities in Ranson, Va., and Winchester, Va., as well as the Madonia-owned Red Rose Inn & Suites in Plant City, went unsold.

A variety of real estate developers and individuals purchased other Madonia properties, homes and condominiums.

A bankruptcy court is scheduled to approve bids on Sept. 5.

One of Florida’s biggest tomato grower-shippers, East Coast stopped operations last fall and filed for bankruptcy protection in March.

When it closed, its owners owed at least $51 million to a variety of agribusiness and crop production-related firms.



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