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Seald Sweet expands West Coast operations via deal with Fresh Select

Seald Sweet International, based in Vero Beach, FL, announced a major expansion of its West Coast operations through a partnership with Fresh Select, a new state-of-the-art packing and cold storage facility located in Dinuba, CA.

The company announced separately that industry veteran Rick Eastes has joined the company and will head the firm’s West Coast operations as general manager.

The agreement with Fresh Select substantially increases Seald Sweet West’s overall volume and production capacity of domestic and imported fresh produce. Seald Sweet West’s sales offices will also relocate to the new facility, enabling the sales and production teams to operate within the same location.

The Fresh Select facility is approximately 110,000 square feet in size, with nearly a third of that devoted to cold storage and the rest devoted to processing. Controlled-atmosphere packing rooms in the facility are equipped for specialized packing of a wide range of commodities.

The total annual potential of product capacity is estimated at 2.5 million cartons of fresh citrus fruit.

“As part of our strategic plan, the expansion of our California operations not only substantially increases our production capacity but further underscores our commitment to our customers and growers,” Mayda Sotomayor, chief executive officer of Seald Sweet, said in a Sept. 20 press release announcing the expansion. “Fresh Select is a high-caliber facility, and this partnership is a perfect fit for our quality and growth objectives.”

Scott Critchley, managing partner and owner of Fresh Select, added in the press release, “We are excited to have a partner like Seald Sweet for this joint venture and look forward to the tremendous growth opportunities this brings to both companies.”

Initial programs born of the new partnership include fresh citrus from the central San Joaquin Valley, dramatically expanding Seald Sweet’s direct involvement in both packing and marketing in the region for the 2011-12 citrus season. In addition to California fresh citrus, Seald-Sweet’s new programs with the Fresh Select facility will include production of other commodities such as grapes and cherries.


Rick Eastes named general manager of West Coast operations

Mr. Eastes brings substantial experience and qualifications in fruit growing, packing and marketing, with a specialized focus on the global arena. His role with Seald Sweet will be to integrate the company’s many international and domestic synergies to benefit its buyers as well as its current and future California growers.

“We are very excited Rick has joined our team, and we look forward to the success and opportunities he will bring to Seald Sweet through his experience in the industry,” Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, chief executive officer of Seald Sweet, said in a Sept. 21 press release. “Rick’s diverse global fresh produce experience will be valuable not only to our California operations, but will also be important in how Seald Sweet and Univeg continue to expand services to our international grower and customer base in the global marketplace. Our new relationship with Fresh Select coupled with Rick’s arrival will bring our West Coast operations and our company to new heights.”

Although Mr. Eastes’ involvement will be primarily dedicated to growing Seald Sweet’s California-based production, he will also focus on further developing sales and marketing programs based on year-round product availability through domestic and imported supplies.