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Fyffes to acquire 50 percent of Turbana

CORAL GABLES, FL  Uniban SA, a top banana and plantain export company in Colombia, and Fyffes PLC, a leading fruit and vegetable distributing company in Europe, have entered into a strategic alliance under which Fyffes will assume a 50 percent ownership in Turbana Corp., the Coral Gables, FL-based marketing subsidiary of Uniban SA.

"We are in an alliance that will allow us to make Turbana a better company," said Turbana Chief Executive Officer Juan David Alarcon. Our industry needs consolidation, and we will improve through greater efficiencies; we will have the opportunity to grow at a faster rate while developing many new business lines. We will always build our business by providing solutions to our customers' changing needs.

This integration is a natural for Fyffes and Turbana, Mr. Alarcon continued. Turbana has been traditionally a banana, plantain and exotic fruit company, and now with Fyffes participation, there is synergy that will allow Turbana to apply increased expertise to expand our product mix through sourcing and logistics in several Latin American countries.

For more than 30 years, Fyffes has had a working relationship with Turbanas parent company, Uniban, based in Medellin, Colombia. Uniban is the largest supplier of bananas for Fyffes in the European Union. We were dating for 30 years, so it was about time to get married. Fyffes has all the strengths to make Turbana better. Fyffes is a very strong partner, Mr. Alarcon said.

While a trademark of Turbanas banana business has been offering flexibility to customer demands, new logistical relationships will make Turbana even more flexible and reliable.

Turbana was created in 1970 as the marketing company to represent Uniban, a grower-owned banana company. Uniban was formed by independent Colombian growers in 1966 and now represents 35 percent of Colombias banana exports. Uniban is also a major plantain exporter to the extent that Turbana is the United States marketing leader of plantains. Increasingly, in recent years Turbana has marketed organic bananas, FairTrade bananas and exotic bananas such as baby bananas, manzanos and red bananas sourced in Colombia as well as gold pineapples from Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala. Turbana will continue to market Turbana brand bananas in the United States. The company already custom packs private-label bananas and plantains for many customers and will continue to do so.

This is a very positive development for Turbana and a win-win situation for both companies, said Mr. Alarcon. Fyffes is the largest fruit and vegetable distributor in the European Union and has annual sales of around $2.6 billion. Fyffes stated long-term objective is to develop into the most successful player in the global fresh produce industry.

Fyffes is among the five largest fresh produce distributors in the world. The company first handled bananas in 1888 when E.W. Fyffe Son & Co. imported fruit from the Canary Islands.