(Aug. 8) HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Shenandoah Growers Inc. will further expand the volume of its herb programs with the acquisition of Homestead-based Herbonics Inc.

With its headquarters in Harrisonburg, Va., Shenandoah Growers earlier this year brought online greenhouses in northern Florida that boosted its year-round herb volume by 60%. On July 26, the firm bought Herbonics and became the largest fresh herb producer outside California, said Timothy Heydon, the company’s chief executive officer.

Customers of both companies “can expect a seamless transition of ownership, with business as usual,” Heydon said. The Herbonics’ label Aberfoyle & Nith will remain following the acquisition, as will the parent company’s labels Shenandoah Growers and Kateri’s.

Heydon said his firm will now be able to meet virtually an unlimited demand for fresh herbs in the Eastern U.S., noting buyers won’t have to rely on airfreight or FedEx for deliveries from the West, which can compromise the cold chain.

“We can harvest and deliver the herbs cold within 24 hours,” Heydon said. “More importantly, we’re an exclusive fresh herb company. It’s a highly specialized category and needs an exclusive focus.”

Shenandoah Growers also will be able to fine-tune its herb production with the Herbonics acquisition. For example, Heydon said, fresh basil can’t be grown in Virginia during the winter, but the Homestead facility is an ideal location for it.

Customers of both companies can expect some enhancements to their programs, as well. Heydon said customers of Shenandoah Growers in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions will now have access to potted herbs, while Herbonics’ customers in the Southeast will have access to refrigerated salad dressings.