Deal marks a significant move into berries and cherries for the company
Frutura has announced its intent to accelerate its berry capabilities through the double acquisition of Giddings Fruit and Sun Belle. CEO David Krause described the agreements as “among the most significant acquisitions we have made to date”.
Speaking exclusively to Fruitnet, he said: “These two acquisitions are at the bullseye of the strategy we’ve been deploying. Berries and cherries are two crops that are enjoying very high consumption increases and are very important to our customers. Having both of these companies really does unlock our ability to serve our customers and consumers with great, high quality products through 52 weeks of the year”.
Giddings Fruit, headquartered in Santiago, is a leading global supplier of organic and conventional berries and cherries with significant berry growing and packing operations in Mexico and South America. Frutura said Giddings’ enviable position “as close to a 52-week supplier of premium berries and cherries as it’s possible to be” is critical to its strategy.
Sun Belle, based by Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, is a year-round marketer of a full line of conventional and organic berries, principally sold under the Sun Belle and Green Belle brands.
Its infrastructure and distribution platform comprises five US warehouse operations, assuring customers of reliable and prompt deliveries of fresh, high-quality berries.
The deal will leverage Frutura’s expansion into markets outside of North America. “We’re building a platform for global distribution,” Krause said. “We see ourselves expanding into European countries and the Pacific Rim, especially China In the case of the cherry business, which is very heavily focused on China, we’re looking to diversify that to North American markets where we have a firm foothold.”
Frutura said it anticipates a smooth integration as Sun Belle and Giddings have enjoyed a deep, decades-long relationship. The companies have worked closely together on distribution, marketing and logistics, with Sun Belle serving as the exclusive sales agent for Giddings’ berries grown in Mexico.
Additionally, the two companies share a reputation as innovators in berry varietal genetics through Giddings’ Black Venture Farm, as well as through partnerships with breeding ventures and leading academic institutions.
Founder Janice Honigberg will continue as CEO of Sun Belle and founder Julio Giddings becomes Chair Emeritus of Giddings Fruit. Signaling the importance of these acquisitions, both will join Frutura’s Board of Directors.
Honigberg said the Sun Belle team is thrilled to join Frutura in its mission to expand its worldwide business.
“Frutura has fulfilled my dream of bringing Giddings and Sun Belle together under one roof,”
Honigberg said. “This deal will unleash Sun Belle’s full potential to meet consumer desire for the best varieties of premium-quality fresh berries and other fruit in attractive and innovative packaging year-round.”
Giddings commented: “Janice and I have collaborated so closely, and for so long, that shared ownership feels like a natural evolution. I’m delighted to grow our now-collective platform together and to open new global markets for Frutura, as we seek to identify additional revenue streams.”
While the retail channel has been Frutura’s main focus to date, Krause said the company sees itself as a full service provider. “Our retail presence is the greatest and the one we covet the most, but we are in other channels like foodservice and wholesale as well. We need all of them to really fulfil customers’ needs,” he told Fruitnet.
Asked what the coming months will bring for Frutura, Krause did not rule out the possibility of further acquisitions but said the immediate focus will be on integrating the two new companies into the group.
“These are two very significant acquisitions – almost like a unicorn event for us,” he said. “This is an opportunity to bring together two great companies that have been working together for a long time in common ownership. We are going to focus on integrating them in the next few months. Both these companies have great leadership and we’re going to let them continue doing what they’re doing for more than a decade.”
Krause said the company is also working on bringing more Frutura-branded products to market following the launch of its Frutura-branded avocados earlier this year.
“Avocados were easy for us because it was a new product line that didn’t have any existing or legacy brands. Some of our other businesses have great trade brands, of which customers have a very good knowledge and awareness. But yes, we’ll be looking to brand Frutura on more of our products in the coming months and years,” he said.
New concepts in retail store design, the latest advances in vertical farming, new investment in sustainable packaging, and the development of alternative markets are among the central themes of this year’s Global Berry Congress.
The world’s leading event for the berry industry returns to the WTC-Beurs in Rotterdam on 28 November with another top-level lineup of expert speakers and highly relevant topics.
The agenda covers the latest trends and challenges that will shape the fresh berry category in the next 12 months, as well as game-changing innovations that will help the business to grow. Click here for more information.