Bradenton, Fla.-based C&D Fruit and Vegetable Co. and Trio Farms are searching for a buyer after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February.
The companies grow strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, beans and squash and sell under the brands Berry Fine, Dover Classics and North River Vegetables, according to a news release. Assets of the companies include farmland, housing for farmworkers and a 40,000-square foot packinghouse.
In its bankruptcy filing, C&D listed estimated liabilities between $1 million and $10 million and assets in the same range.
Numerous challenges led the grower-shipper to file, according to the release. Like many companies in the industry, C&D found it tough to turn a profit amid rising labor costs and increasing competition from Mexico, but it was also dealing with the discovery in 2010 that an employee had embezzled $1.5 million.
“There were a number of factors that contributed to the filing,” president and founder Tom O’Brien said in the release. “If it had just been one or two, we would have been okay, but we got hit with multiple, internal and external, problems at the same time.
“We are optimistic this process will allow the companies to quickly exit bankruptcy, properly funded and ready to continue serving our customers,” O’Brien said.
C&D Fruit and Vegetable Co. and Trio Farms have hired Easton, Md.-based Equity Partners HG to conduct the search for a buyer.
“This is an excellent opportunity to acquire the substantial land and equipment assets of a fully functioning farm,” Equity Partners HG managing director Matt LoCascio said in the release. “The history of C&D and Trio speak volumes to the type of operation the O’Brien family has run for years. A new owner will be stepping into an exceptional situation.”