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Dole acquires SunnyRidge Farm

Dole Berry Co., based in Watsonville, CA, has purchased Winter Haven, FL-based SunnyRidge Farm, a grower and marketer of domestic and imported berries. All divisions of SunnyRidge were included in the acquisition.

Dole Berry and SunnyRidge Farm made the acquisition announcement on Oct. 11. In a press release that day, David A. DeLorenzo, president and chief executive officer of Dole Food Co., said, “We are very pleased with our acquisition of SunnyRidge Farm and welcome their management team, employees and growers into the Dole family. Their premium blueberry and blackberry operations are an excellent strategic complement to our existing fresh and frozen berry operations, both of which have previously focused on strawberries. Blueberries and blackberries are some of the fastest-growing items in the produce category and also amongst the most nutritious fruits. The SunnyRidge acquisition lets us advance our commitment to providing the consumer with an ever growing array of healthful, nutritious fruits and vegetables.”

“The plan is to continue working exactly as we have in the past, with the goal of having Dole Berry being a full-service provider for all of our four berry categories to customers worldwide,” Keith Mixon, president of SunnyRidge Farm, told The Produce News. “The acquisition means access to the fresh category as well as Dole’s other divisions, including the frozen and value-added categories.”

Mr. Mixon said that during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit international convention and exposition in Atlanta, Dole representatives will be on hand at the SunnyRidge booth and SunnyRidge representatives will be at the Dole Berry booth so that people on both sides of the acquisition will be available to talk with customers about what the acquisition will mean going forward.

“We will continue to use the ‘SunnyRidge Farm’ label for now,” said Mr. Mixon. “In the future the label will meld into the Dole family of labels.

“SunnyRidge and the Mixon family are proud and delighted to be joining one of the world’s great food companies,” Mr. Mixon continued. “The Mixons will still be very involved in sales and leadership roles. We expect this acquisition to have a major impact on the berry industry. We share Dole’s passion for improving consumer health and nutrition, and look forward to building the business further, within the Dole family of companies.”

Dole, with 2010 net revenues of $6.9 billion, is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, and is the leading producer of organic bananas. Dole markets a growing line of packaged and frozen fruit and is a produce industry leader in nutrition education and research.