UPDATED: Plain Jane expands Mexico greenhouses - The Packer

UPDATED: Plain Jane expands Mexico greenhouses

10/06/2010 09:13:19 AM
Mike Hornick

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 7) Greenhouse vegetable grower-shipper Plain Jane Produce is opening 25 new covered acres this month in Nayarit, Mexico and plans to expand the site to 250 acres in two years.


Initially the operation will grow only tomatoes, adding 200,000 to 250,000 cases to Nogales, Ariz.-based Plain Jane’s volume from September through January, said Alejandro Canelos, Jr., founding partner and chief operating officer.

“We’re starting a little late because of construction delays, which is typical,” Canelos said. “We’re looking at adding peppers down there for the future.”

Courtesy Plain Jane Produce

Plain Jane Produce is opening 25 acres of greenhouses outside of Tepic, Nayarit, in Mexico. The company plans to expand the site to 250 acres within two years.

When complete, Nayarit expansion is expected to boost the company’s total volume from 6.2 million cases of tomatoes, colored bell peppers and seedless cucumbers to 8.6 million. The increase will all come out of Nayarit from September to January annually.

The 750-acre operation near Culiacan, Sinaloa, grows from December to June.

“Rather than expand there, we’re looking to have produce in that fall window,” Canelos said. “The only time we won’t have product is July and August, but I don’t know that we’d ever want that.”

About 4 million cases of current production are tomatoes.

Along with the new acreage, Plain Jane plans to establish a second U.S. import point in McAllen, Texas. All Nayarit produce will move through McAllen. Sinaloa produce will continue to move through Nogales, and sales for both locations are handled there as well.

In McAllen, Plain Jane will eventually establish a distribution center if the expansion goes as planned, Canelos said.

The Nayarit operation is new construction, funded by $40 million in growth capital and an $8 million credit line. The bulk of the financing comes from Terra Nova Ventures, a private equity firm.

“Nayarit is not like Culiacan,” Canelos said. “It doesn’t have 50 years of ag infrastructure built in for water, power and communications. There’s plenty of water but you’ve got to dig a well. But it will be developed. A lot of people talk about going in there like they’ve gone into Jalisco in the last five years.”

The state government in Mexico is helping with infrastructure improvements in Nayarit, Canelos said.

Plain Jane expects to create about 1,000 new jobs in the next two years at Nayarit. The Sinaloa site employs more than 2,000.

Canelos manages Plain Jane with founding partner J. Fife Symington IV.

Plain Jane launched in 2007 after its breakaway as a supplier to Chiquita label.



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