Salinas, Calif.-based River Ranch Fresh Foods plans to close Nov. 8.
“Unfortunately, River Ranch’s costs today to produce a field pack carton of lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower continue to escalate in an ever challenging marketplace,” they said in the Sept. 12 letter.
Taylor Farms bought River Ranch in August 2010, hoping the company would improve its financial performance and “regain viability,” according to the letter.
Beginning Nov. 9, Taylor Farms California has agreed to service River Ranch’s foodservice value-added customers. Taylor Farms Retail will handle retail value-added.
Growers Express, which is not affiliated with River Ranch or Taylor Farms, will service River Ranch field-pack commodity requirements.
The closure brings an end to 171 jobs. River Ranch plans to seek opportunities for its employees with other Taylor Fresh Food operating companies and elsewhere in the Salinas industry.
In May 2012, River Ranch closed its 44,000-square-foot processing plant on Abbott Street in Salinas, moving those operations to Taylor Farms’ foodservice and retail salad facilities.
River Ranch was established as a limited liability company in 2002, when the company’s executives and local investors purchased River Ranch Fresh Foods Inc.’s assets from parent Albert Fisher Group PLC.
In 2005, the company was purchased by a group of private equity firms on the East Coast.
“They took on quite a bit of debt, and over the course of the years, the banks ended up forgoing the debt for ownership in the company,” Taylor Farms chief executive officer Bruce Taylor told The Packer in 2010. “Basically, (the banks) decided it was time to get out, so they instructed the River Ranch board to go find a buyer.”
Taylor said the company was debt-free when purchased.
“The banks took the debt back with them,” he said then. “Moving forward, they’ll be very solid financially.”
River Ranch had operations in Salinas and El Centro, Calif., but it was the El Centro location — a desert operation — that was especially attractive for Taylor Farms.