Described as Russia’s largest fruit importer by industry sources, the JFC Co., St. Petersburg, filed for bankruptcy recently, citing unrest in the Middle East as a major factor in the decision.
The Russian publication Vedomosti, a joint venture by The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, reported Feb. 23 that a JFC official said the company faced losses in 2011 as unrest in several Arab countries ruptured its business relations, caused its foreign partners to go bankrupt and resulted in loss of foreign markets and loan defaults.
Jeff Correa, international marketing director for Pear Bureau Northwest in Milwaukie, Ore., said Feb. 23 that it had been known “for a while” that the company, also known as the Joint Fruit Co., was having problems. He said he doubted its bankruptcy would have much affect on U.S. exports because other companies will likely step in to fill the void.
“They had really grown in the past decade,” Correa said, “but I believe the depreciation of the Russian ruble caused problems for them.”
Correa said in 2010 Russia was the third-largest export market for pears from the Northwest U.S. The country slipped to the fourth position in 2011, with about 290,000 44-pound boxes of pears exported there. That was about a 20% drop from 2010.
Founded in 1994, JFC Co. has 10 distribution centers and was listed by Forbes as one of the top 200 privately owned Russian companies. It not only buys and sells produce but also owns various growing operations around the world, including 3,000 hectares of bananas in Ecuador and Costa Rica.