Juan Ignacio Allende Hortifrut

Juan Ignacio Allende

Hortifrut is to acquire Huelva-based Atlantic Blue, a leading company in variety development, growing and sales of berries in Europe and Northern Africa, for €241m (US$280m).

The deal will allow Hortifrut to increase its growing area by about 20 per cent, adding roughly 850ha across the three countries where Atlantic Blue operates, including 400ha in Spain, 248ha in Morocco and 200ha in Peru.

Hortifrut, which has maintained a partnership with Atlantic Blue since 2000, said the addition of the company’s Moroccan acreage would allow it to supply blueberries in Europe year-round.

Together with its raspberry production of raspberries in Morocco and Portugal, Hortifrut is on its way to being able to supply the full berry category all year-round to its European customers.

In addition to Atlantic Blue’s farms and facilities, the transaction includes the SAT processing plant, 100 per cent of the Euroberry trading platform, with annual sales of approximately €200m, and Atlantic Blue’s variety and breeding development programme for blueberries and low chill cherries worldwide.

This opens up substantial new growth and investment opportunities for Hortifrut in Europe, providing a solid foundation to meet the growing demand for European customers and consumers for high-quality berries.

“We are very excited, because this is a significant step towards boosting our growth in Europe, the second largest market in the world for fresh berries,” said Hortifrut CEO Juan Ignacio Allende.

“Without a doubt, this is one of the most relevant and strategic acquisitions in Hortifrut’s history and will allow us to strengthen our leadership position within the global berry industry.”

According to Allende, “the transaction provides us with the leverage to strengthen and build our variety development and breeding capabilities, enabling us to accelerate growth and deliver a greater product range to our customers around the world, since we will be the only major player with year-round supply of consistent high-quality berries. Along with this, Hortifrut will continue to provide its high-level service, for which the company is known for globally”.

Atlantic Blue is a family business founded in Almonte in 1993 by Ulf Hayler and Jose Antonio Ruix. It was a pioneer in Europe in growing high-quality blueberries in hot climates and is currently one of the main growers and marketers of blueberries in Europe.