IMG Citrus buys grapefruit acreage from Duda

12/11/2008 12:00:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier


Workers grade dark red grapefruit at IMG Citrus Inc., Vero Beach, Fla., in late October. The season is bringing larger-sized fruit, as compared to last year. IMG packs mostly grapefruit and oranges from its more than 6,000 acres throughout Florida and expects to pack nearly 2 million equivalent cartons of citrus this season, up from last season’s 1.4 million cartons.

(Dec. 11, 12:38 p.m.) Duda has sold some of its Florida citrus acreage to an Indian River citrus grower-shipper.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., has sold 322 acres west of Vero Beach, Fla., to Vero Beach-based IMG Citrus Inc. The acreage produces fresh grapefruit.

Duda officials say the sale doesn’t mark a lessening of Duda’s commitment to the Florida citrus deal.

“Our Florida citrus program remains a very important part of our global citrus offering,” said Mark Bassetti, Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ vice president of customer development. “We strategically aligned ourselves with Peace River Packing, in Fort Meade, Fla., three years ago in an effort to continue to strengthen our Florida program.”

Peace River, like Duda, is a family-owned and -operated company committed to the Florida citrus industry, Bassetti said.

“We have consolidated a good portion of our fresh fruit to run through Peace River, as well as other facilities, again to gain efficiencies and manage a quality Florida citrus product offering,” he said.

Michel Sallin, IMG’s president and chief executive officer, said the purchase is a part of IMG’s expansion plans.

“In growing, packing and marketing fresh citrus all over the world, we need more fruit,” he said. “We may be crazy, but we believe in the fresh citrus market. We plan to be in the citrus industry long term.”

IMG packs mostly grapefruit and oranges from its more than 6,000 acres throughout Florida and expects to pack nearly 2 million equivalent cartons of citrus this season, up from last season’s 1.4 million cartons.

Duda has 8,280 citrus acres in Florida and Texas, with more than 3,200 acres from Duda’s California grower-partners.

IMG paid $3.36 million for the groves. The sale was completed in September.



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