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Walter P. Rawl & Sons expands business

by | January 14, 2010
PELION, SC -- Walter P. Rawl & Sons Inc. in Pelion, SC, recently acquired a majority ownership stake in Mississippi Sweet Corn Producers Inc. in Indianola, MS. The acquisition more than doubles Rawl's current sweet corn volume.

Effective Dec. 31, 2009, Rawl assumed the controlling interest of the vertically integrated Mississippi Delta grower-shipper that specializes in the production of sweet corn. The original stakeholders, all growers and landholders of Mississippi Sweet Corn Producers, will remain actively involved in the business, continuing to grow sweet corn and expand into year-round vegetable crops, according to Rawl.

"As growers at heart, we are eager to partner with MSCP and help grow crops from some of the most fertile land in the U.S,Y Ashley Rawl, director of sales and marketing at Walter P. Rawl & Sons, said in a Jan. 15 press release. eThe combined knowledge of these traditional row-crop farmers, along with our nearly 90 years of experience as vegetable producers, makes this new business merger an exciting opportunity for all."

As part of the new agreement, Mississippi Sweet Corn Producers will continue to grow sweet corn, while diversifying into year-round crops, including a variety of leafy greens, cilantro and green onions. The Mississippi firmRs staff members will remain in their current positions, with sales, marketing and accounting functions being transferred to the South Carolina offices of Rawl.

"The Mississippi Delta has been an often-overlooked growing area, and we saw an opportunity,Y Mr. Rawl said in the release. eIts rich soils and proximity to major markets are positioning this region for an agricultural resurgence in a time of sustainable marketing when consumers are thinking about things like food miles. Our geographic proximity to Midwest and West Coast markets gives us an advantage over other major production regions during the same growing window."

The business transaction, facilitated by agribusiness investment bank AgriCapital Corp. in New York, allowed the Mississippi company's majority equity holder to work with AgriCapital to find a strategic partner that would help expand its existing business through increased resources in sales, marketing, production and funding.

Matt Gruber, chairman of Mississippi Sweet Corn Producers, said in the release, "We worked hard to build our existing business with a strong base in sweet corn. Like many organizations, we wanted to grow and expand into a more efficient year-round operation by including leafy greens and specialty crops. We believe that WP Rawl meets our core needs in a strategic partner based on their growing experience, marketing skills and financial strength."

Currently marketed as eDelta Harvest,Y Rawl will begin marketing bulk and club pack yellow, white and bi-color sweet corn from Indianola starting in June with the new crop. The season runs through July. The first greens will be available in April.

Dating back to 1925, Walter P. Rawl & Sons is a third-generation family farm which has grown to become a grower, shipper and processor, specializing in year-round bulk and value-added leafy greens and vegetables in the eRAWL,Y eNature's GreensY and eVersatile VeggiesY brands.