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Industry veteran Dick Keim dies

Dick Keim, who had a very active life and storied produce career stretching from citrus to tomatoes to avocados died on Nov. 27 at the age of 80.

Mr. Keim grew up in Tucson, AZ, the son of a produce distributor and then moved to California more than 50 years ago to start his own citrus packing company. He was involved in several different companies over the years in several different crops and even owned a wholesale business in Los Angeles for a while.keimDick Keim

According to Luawanna Hallstrom, who hired him late in his career at Oceanside Produce Co. in Oceanside, CA, "He was the first person to export grapefruit to Japan."

Hallstrom met him when she was trying to establish a marketing team at Oceanside Produce in the early 1990s for her uncle's farm, Harry Singh & Son. The company was a well-known and respected grower of pole tomatoes that decided it wanted to market its own fruit.

"When I meet Dick, I knew he was the right guy," she said. "The idea was to bring him in so he could teach the family about marketing and also bring another person in who he could train to take over the marketing department. That was Bill Wilber (current vice president at Houwelings Nurseries in Oxnard, CA). Dick stayed with us for a long time. I think it was well over a decade, and then he stayed with us as a consultant when he turned it over to Bill."

Hallstrom called him a "great teacher" and an "amazing man. I've never known anyone who lived life so fully."

She said he loved taking pictures of birds and always wanted to pursue that aspect of his life. So after retiring from the produce industry in 2006, he moved down to Costa Rica and did follow that path. In fact, on his Linkedin page, he relates his experiences of much of the last decade: "I retired to Costa Rica in 2006, and am active in wildlife photography. I have traveled to all seven continents and 48 countries doing photography as well as business. In 2012, I was asked to come back to help form a new tomato growing company. I live most of the year in Costa Rica and go back to California as the need arises."

At the time of his death, he was once again employed by the Harry Singh family at their new operation, West Coast Tomato Growers, also in Oceanside.

Hallstrom, who is not involved with that company, said Mr. Keim was a great family man very proud of his kids and his career.

"I am very saddened by his loss. He was a great man," she said.

Food Lion to provide 110,000 meals as part of #GivingTuesday

In celebration of #GivingTuesday, Food Lion is surprising clients at local hunger relief agencies in the Charlotte, NC, Salisbury, NC, and Roanoke, VA, with $25 Food Lion gift cards.

As clients arrive at these agencies on Tuesday, Dec. 2, for a daily meal or food distribution, Food Lion associates will greet them with gift cards. This donation, part of the nationally celebrated #GivingTuesday event, will provide more than 110,000 holiday meals to individuals and families in need.

#GivingTuesday is a movement to kick off the holiday season with a national day of giving to charitable organizations.

For more than 50 years, Food Lion has been a strong philanthropic partner in the communities it serves. Through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion is uniting with customers and partners to eliminate the choices families are forced to make when they are hungry. By the end of 2020, the company has pledged to provide 500 million meals to families in need in its local communities.

C.H. Robinson to acquire Freightquote in $365 million deal

C.H. Robinson has reached an agreement to acquire Freightquote.com Inc. for $365 million in cash. The agreement is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, but the closing is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2015.

Freightquote is a privately held freight broker providing services throughout North America. Its calendar 2014 gross revenues are projected to be approximately $623 million, net revenues are projected to be approximately $124 million and adjusted EBITDA is projected to be approximately $34 million.

Founded in 1999 by Tim Barton, Freightquote is one of the larger Internet-based freight brokers in the United States. Headquartered in Kansas City, MO, with approximately 1,000 employees, Freightquote provides truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal services to approximately 80,000 customers. Barton will serve as a consultant to Freightquote following the closing of the acquisition.

“Freightquote is a high-quality, innovative, growth company that brings a proven model serving smaller businesses," John Wiehoff, C.H. Robinson chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "Its proprietary e-commerce technology allows shippers to easily access competitive rates and automated load acceptance and payment functionality. E-commerce is going to be a bigger part of future supply chain services and Freightquote brings us a leading solution in our industry. Along with their track record of success, Freightquote has an established brand, a talented management team, excellent people, and a performance-based company culture.

“Freightquote brings synergies to our less-than-truckload and truckload businesses as well as a talented technology team with expertise developing a great e-commerce store front experience," Wiehoff said. "We look for quality companies and Tim has built a great model and team at Freightquote.”

“With the addition of Freightquote, we will increase our market share with small businesses and significantly expand our presence in the Kansas City market,” Scott Satterlee, C.H. Robinson senior vice president of North America Surface Transportation, said in the release. “We have built our business over decades by providing unparalleled service to all types of customers and we are honored to add this strong organization dedicated to that same strategy. Freightquote will operate as one of our flagship operations in Kansas City and we plan to continue to aggressively grow the operations there."

“We spent a long time looking for the right strategic partner and are pleased to join the C.H. Robinson organization,” Barton said in the release. “The two companies complement each other and together we are well positioned for success into the future.”

River Point Farms breaks ground on state-of-the-art onion facility

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River Point Farms, a leading onion producer, announced it has broken ground on a new 70,000-square-foot whole onion packaging facility featuring state-of-the-art equipment. When complete, River Point Farms will operate over 95,000 square feet of whole onion packaging and shipping facilities at the company's headquarters in Hermiston, OR.

With a capital expansion plan valued at $17.5 million for 2014 to 2015, River Point Farms' new facility underscores the company's commitment to provide a high-quality product with an unparalleled level of service to its contract clients. The new facility will feature best-in-class equipment that the company has strategically vetted over the last two years in preparation for its doubling of production and shipping capacity in the next 12 months.

"As we nurture our current customers and prepare for growth, seamless execution in packaging and shipping facilities is paramount to our success," Bob Hale, chief executive officer of River Point Farms, said in a press release. "The new packaging facility provides us with an opportunity to fully automate our whole onion sorting and packaging process with a high level of accuracy and efficiency and also allows us to convert our current packing facility into a state-of-the-art shipping facility."

River Point Farms' long history of providing outstanding product quality, service and volume capabilities have strengthened the company and its ability to invest in this project. The new facility allows for amplification of capabilities and improvements in partnerships with customers as a single-source, year-round supplier of farm fresh onions.

During construction, River Point Farms will continue to operate out of its current facility until the day of the transition. The company will continue its guarantee to deliver top-quality onions at contract price and volume. The project is estimated to be completed by end of July 2015.

Sun Pacific's Cuties now available in McDonald's Happy Meals

Sweet, easy-to-peel Cuties from Sun Pacific, a family-owned fruit grower, are back in stores and this December, rolling into McDonald’s Happy Meals, Mighty Kids Meals and as an a la carte menu item. This marks the first time that McDonald’s will offer a fresh, whole fruit side option in kids' meals.cuties

"Cuties are a bit of West Coast sunshine for McDonald’s customers to enjoy, and parents can feel good knowing that they offer an excellent source of vitamin C and about one-quarter cup of fruit," Sun Pacific said in a press release. "Kids love them because they are sweet and easy to peel without the help of a grown-up."

McDonald’s and Sun Pacific have partnered to make Cuties available while in season, from December through March 2015.

 “Our partnership with McDonald’s allows us to share our sweet, easy-to-peel Cuties with even more people across the nation,” Victoria Nuevo-Celeste, vice president of marketing at Sun Pacific, said in the press release. “We’re eager to increase access to wholesome foods kids love and make history with McDonald’s by providing unpackaged, whole fresh fruit.”

The introduction of Cuties is the latest example of Sun Pacific and McDonald’s USA’s ongoing dedication to children’s nutrition and well-being. Cuties are a low-calorie snack and an excellent source of potassium, fiber and folate. They are also rich in antioxidants and packed with a number of vitamins.

In addition to the excitement with McDonald’s, Cuties are making their way back to stores with a new brand campaign, Unwrap Sweetness, which reminds everyone that the benefits of this fruit go beyond just nutrition and convenience. Cuties is activating a campaign that engages moms and kids with recipes, activities and content that fits a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle. The recently launched Unwrap Sweetness campaign includes terrestrial and Pandora radio, blogger partnerships and highly targeted, engaging social and digital media.

In addition to McDonald’s, Cuties can be found at most major grocery retailers in two-, three- and five-pound bags, as well as five-pound boxes at wholesale retailers. Cuties Juice and smoothies, which are 100 percent fruit and available in a variety of flavors, are available year-round.