Sale completes Apio move out of fruit category

12/18/2002 12:00:00 AM
Chuck Harvey

(Dec. 19) REEDLEY, Calif. — Apio Inc. has sold its domestic fruit sales and marketing business to Family Tree Farms, Reedley, which will conduct sales and marketing operations as Family Tree Marketing LLC.

The new company, which takes over Jan. 1, will maintain the existing office, nine-member office staff, customer base and rights to labels established by Apio, including the Great Whites label.

Family Tree Marketing also will ship fruit under the Flavor Safari, Bari and Logoluso labels.

Apio will continue to use its Eat Smart label for its vegetables and fresh-cut business.

SWITCHOVER

Family Tree Marketing will ship about 5 million cases of fresh fruit annually, said Don Goforth, former director of sales and marketing at Apio’s Reedley division. Goforth now is marketing director for Family Tree Farms.

A big portion of the business will be sales of white-flesh peaches and pluots, Goforth said.

The marketer also will offer other varieties of stone fruit and table grapes, he said.

Jennifer Browder, director of marketing for Apio, said the transition will be seamless.

Transition to the new marketing company follows Family Tree Farms’ purchase of Apio’s Reedley land and packing and cold storage plant in June of this year. Sale of the marketing business completes Apio’s exit from its domestic fruit business. Family Tree had leased the Reedley facility since last spring.

Apio declined to comment on the details of the sale. Discontinuing the marketing of fruit is part of the business strategy of Landec Corp., parent company of Apio, said Nick Tompkins, Apio’s chief executive officer.

VEGETABLES AT THE CORE

Tomkins would not elaborate on the strategy, but he said vegetables are the core and bulk of Apio’s business. In fact, Apio’s value-added division recorded its highest one-week sales volume in the third week of November, according to a news release.

Goforth said Apio is doing fine and enjoyed a successful year with its summer fruit.

However, many stone fruit grower-shippers have complained of difficulty in maintaining profitable f.o.b. prices in recent years.

Apio reports strong export sales and will continue to export fruit through its export subsidiary, Cal-Ex Trading Co. Under the terms of the agreement, Apio and Family Tree Farms entered into a multi-year agreement to keep Cal-Ex Trading Co. supplied with fruit.

The strategic alliance will enable Apio to sell fruit to international customers without a disruption in supply, Tompkins said.

Goforth said Family Tree Farms has been Apio’s largest fruit grower over the past five years. Family Tree Marketing is now a grower, packer, shipper and marketer, he said.

Family Tree Farms is a farming corporation owned by the Dave Jackson family, which collectively farm more than 2,500 acres of California stone fruit. The Jackson family has grown fruit in the San Joaquin Valley for nearly 40 years and is known for pioneering new varieties of stone fruit with an emphasis on enhanced flavor.



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