( Church Brothers/ Growers Express )

Salinas, Calif.-based Church Brothers Farms has acquired the commodity vegetable business of Growers Express LLC, also of Salinas. 

In addition, the acquisition includes a licensing agreement to extend the Green Giant Fresh brand to new varieties in partnership with Growers Express, according to a news release. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but the release said the deal is expected to expand Church Brothers Farms’ overall annual production by 15% to 20%.

In the release, Church Brothers Farms said the acquired assets include the growing, harvesting and selling of field-packed vegetable commodities currently branded under Growers Express’ Green Giant Fresh license. Growers Express, according to the release, retains the high growth, value-added segment of its business, where innovative products like Cauliflower Crumbles, Vegetable Noodles and Green Giant Fresh Vegetable Bowls were brought to market. 

"The transition of our commodity vegetable business allows us to better leverage our expertise as innovators, and marketers,” Jamie Strachan, CEO of Growers Express, said in the release. “It also gives us bandwidth to deliver more new products, consumer-focused innovation and value-added products to advance the business of our customers.

Strachan said in the release that Growers Express has been serving the commodity category for 30 years.
“It was vital we find a partner that allows for seamless continuity for our farming operations, and Church Brothers Farms is an ideal partner,” he said.

The Growers Express commodity sales team will move to Church Brothers Farms before the end of the desert winter growing season, according to the release. That should give customers the same quality, service, branded product, personnel, volume and service levels throughout the transition, according to the release.

Brian Church, CEO of Church Brothers Farms, said in the release that the company is positioned to align the new business into an existing vertically integrated program. That, he said, helps make the shift in business a “seamless change” for Growers Express customers in the consistency of the field packed vegetable product line.

“This move increases efficiencies and leverages the strengths of both organizations,” Church said in the release. “There will be no overlap of customers by combining these programs; our existing program is predominantly food service and Growers Express’ is retail. Existing customers of both companies can be assured their designated volume is still in place, just shifting all under one company.”