Munger Brothers and Hortifrut to merge

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Carl Collen

BY CARL COLLEN

Munger Brothers and Hortifrut to merge

Munger-Hortifrut North America Inc will be a new subsidiary of Hortifrut S.A. and will manage North American berry operations

Munger Brothers and Hortifrut to merge

Kable Munger (left) and Robert Verloop at the Global Berry Congress

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Naturipe Farms partners Munger Brothers and Hortifrut have announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to merge Munger’s berry business with Hortifrut.

As a result of this merger, the companies will form a consolidated global berry organisation with operations in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Africa and Asia.

'Munger-Hortifrut North America, Inc.' will be a new subsidiary of Hortifrut and will manage its North American berry operations.

“We are extremely proud and honoured to join hands with the Munger family, whom we have known for well over a decade and with whom we have successfully collaborated on a wide range of berry projects” said Victor Moller, founder and chairman of Hortifrut S.A. “Our families share the passion, traditions and principles that are the hallmark of farming families spanning many generations. This unique alignment enables even greater stability for the next generation of our families, partners and employees who are already entrenched on the front lines of our respective companies.”

Munger Brothers, owned by David and Kable Munger, is the largest North American fresh blueberry producer with over 3,000 acres (over 1,200 hectares) in the premier producing regions from British Columbia to Washington, Oregon, California and Mexico.

The group is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in developing California's blueberry industry by introducing proprietary varieties, new growing techniques, advanced post-harvest technologies and unique innovations in packing and processing facilities.

The Munger companies have made significant capital investments over the last five years to expand their conventional and organic blueberry acreage, packing capacity, as well as construction of new dried fruit, IQF (frozen fruit) and value-added facilities. In 2011 they introduced proprietary 'Ready to Eat' blueberries, the first of its kind convenient consumer berry snack packs and pre-portioned foodservice servings.

Co-founder David Munger remarked: “Our family is thrilled to be merging with Hortifrut and the Moller family, our cultures and values are closely aligned and we are confident this will be a seamless transition. We have collaborated for many years sharing innovations, best practices, and at times, our highly experienced, dedicated and knowledgeable staffs.”

Co-founder Kable Munger added: “This merger will enable even greater synergies and dedication of resources to implement new projects in North America, as well as expanding upon many excellent opportunities to better serve our customers worldwide.”

The merger consolidates Hortifrut’s position as a premier global berry company, consistent with the strategic plan described in its initial public offering in 2012.

“With this unique event in the produce industry, we have integrated berry production across the spine of the Pacific coast line from British Columbia in the north to the southern tip of Chile," Moller noted. "With this merger, Hortifrut strengthens its position as a leading integrated blueberry grower-distributor globally. Additionally this will enable us to consolidate our position in other important markets such as Europe and Asia.”

The merger is subject to various conditions, including without limitation, successful due-diligence, Hortifrut shareholder approval, and receipt of various third party approvals. The parties contemplate the merger will be accomplished during the fourth quarter of 2016.

“The merger of two of the Naturipe Farms grower-owners, Munger and Hortifrut, is a natural extension of the collaboration they have long enjoyed” said Naturipe Farms CEO Dwight Ferguson. “Both are leading berry companies, highly innovative with experienced and knowledgeable management teams who have consistently focused on exceptional customer and consumer experiences.

"This integration will provide greater synergies and capabilities to the entire Naturipe Farms organisation; implementing exciting new berry development projects with a focus on proprietary varieties, Ferguson added. "This merger will continue to expand Naturipe’s sourcing and distribution of North and South American grown berries and enhance our ability to provide a consistent, secure supply of premium, great tasting berries for our expanding domestic and global customer base.”
 

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