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Calavo Growers Inc. acquires Renaissance Food Group LLC

by (Press Release) | May 26, 2011

Calavo Growers Inc. announced May 26 that it has signed an agreement for the acquisition of Renaissance Food Group LLC, a closely held fresh-food company that produces, markets and distributes nationally a portfolio of healthy, high-quality lifestyle products. The transaction, which is expected to close on June 1, is for a combination of cash and stock, including earn-out payments based on financial performance. Terms were not further disclosed.

Renaissance started in 2003 and experienced 54 percent compound annual growth in sales from inception to 2010. Current-year revenues are projected to exceed $100 million.

Headquartered in Rancho Cordova, CA, Renaissance operates six processing facilities nationally, with the Sacramento, CA, and Houston, TX, locations being company owned. It has 400 employees and serves major retailers throughout the United States.

Renaissance will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Calavo Foods business unit, whose current products include Calavo’s all-natural guacamole, a line of premium fresh salsas, guacamole hummus and premium tortilla chips.

Lee E. Cole, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Santa Paula, CA-based Calavo, said in a May 26 press release, “Our acquisition of Renaissance Food Group and its outstanding ‘Garden Highway’ brand represents a transformational step forward for Calavo. RFG will be a key growth driver of our company’s expansion in the fresh refrigerated packaged goods category in both the retail produce and deli departments.”

He added in the press release that ‘Garden Highway’s’ national processing and fast-to-the-market infrastructure provides an “ideal platform for accelerated growth in Calavo’s current product lines, continued product development in the ‘Garden Highways’ line, as well as numerous further expansion opportunities as Calavo continues to evolve in coming years.”

Mr. Cole emphasized that “Calavo invested a considerable amount of time and energy over the years identifying the right sizable transaction. I believe we found the perfect company that is ideally positioned in a significant growth category, comes with a strong brand and allows us to effectively leverage our blue-chip customer base by selling more products to them. Importantly, RFG’s management is extremely professional and talented. The transaction will be immediately accretive to earnings, as Calavo’s management continues to act in the best interest of its shareholders.”

Renaissance was founded by Jim Catchot, Ken Catchot and Jim Gibson. Jim Catchot, president, stated in the press release, “We are truly excited to join forces with a company of Calavo’s quality and stature, and are convinced that their industry presence, financial strength, outstanding customer list and overall produce expertise will be invaluable in furthering the rapid expansion of our business.”

Describing Renaissance, he said that the company is “a leader and innovator in the fresh product category with a focus on rapid, new product development and responsiveness to the needs of our retail customers and consumers. We support our retailers with the just-in-time delivery of fresh, high-quality, great-tasting products, which are produced regionally to their specifications. Essentially, we have the ability to deliver anywhere in the United States. Customers order today and receive their order the same or the next day.”

Renaissance has an expanding array of retail product lines for produce, deli, meat and food service departments. Produce lines include fresh-cut fruit, ready-to-eat vegetables and “Chef Essentials” recipe-ready vegetables such as Asparagus Sauté and Savory Butternut Squash. Deli lines include ready-to-eat “grab-n-go” salads, healthy fresh snacks, deli-style sandwiches, wraps and fresh party trays.

Mr. Cole added that Renaissance also will be able to draw upon its new parent company’s fresh produce sourcing capabilities, as well as Calavo’s Value-Added Depots across the country for ripening needs, further enhancing synergies.

“We have an intense focus on expanding and leading the category by understanding the needs of the consumer,” Mr. Catchot said in the press release. “An important trend is the desire of consumers for healthy nutritious eating options. They are seeking quality, variety and greater convenience in an increasingly busy world.”

“We are confident that this transaction moves our company to a new level of significance and prominence,” added Mr. Cole. “We have developed a strong position in three of the best growth categories in the entire food industry: avocados, premium fresh dips and fresh food. I am excited to say that our importance to retailers will grow reflecting our ability to provide them with a greater number and variety of products that the end-consumer is strongly demanding.”