(Oct. 22) FRESNO, Calif. — California stone fruit and asian pear heavyweight, Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, is jumping into an expanded produce ring with Fresno-based Bouquet of Fruits, an on-line firm specializing in gift packs.

While Internet sales will remain with the Bouquet of Fruits staff, the marketing department at Kingsburg Orchards will take on the responsibility of securing new retail and foodservice customers for the gift packs, said Dan Spain, the Kingsburg company’s vice president of sales and marketing. The search for new customers will be in the U.S. and globally, he said.

Kingsburg Orchards will make available to Bouquet of Fruits the grower-packer-shipper’s entire line of stone fruit and Asian pears, including its proprietary varieties and kosher-certified fruits.

The relationships Kingsburg Orchards has established with buyers around the globe were an attractive aspect of the venture for Bouquet of Fruits, said Stephen Paul, founder of Bouquet of Fruits and a partner in the new joint venture.

“It definitely exposes us to the worldwide market and presents opportunities in those worldwide markets,” Paul said. “We will be the ultimate service company.”

Bouquet of Fruits has been a Kingsburg Orchards customer for more than 15 years, Paul said.

The two companies began preliminary discussions more than 18
months ago and concluded when Kingsburg Orchards co-owner Mike Jackson acquired an interest in Bouquet of Fruits. He is the new company’s president and chief executive officer, Spain said.

“Our intent is to combine the success and business philosophy of a specialty and exotic fruit grower-packer-shipper-marketer with a family-owned specialty gift pack company that offers a diversified product line of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, chocolates, gift baskets and on-line marketing expertise,” said Mike Watts, a long time Kingsburg Orchards employee who is now the director of marketing for the combined company.

The joint effort has already begun to bear fruit. A shipment of chocolate-dipped strawberries was en route to Thailand the week of Oct. 15, a sale made possible by the Kingsburg Orchards’ marketing staff, Paul said.