New NW apple company has sights on growth

February 15, 2019 03:18 PM
 
A North Carolina agriculture asset management firm has purchased Yakima Valley, Washington-based apple companies Legacy Fruit Packers, Valley Fruit and Larson Fruit Co.

A North Carolina agriculture asset management firm has purchased Yakima Valley, Washington-based apple companies Legacy Fruit Packers, Valley Fruit and Larson Fruit Co.

The purchase by International Farming Corp., Kinston, N.C., also includes interests in Sage Fruit Co., Yakima, Wash., and Pacific Coast Cherry Packers, Wapato, Wash. The new company is known as Columbia River Orchards LLC.

In 2015, Larson Fruit Co. and Valley Fruit III combined warehouse and packing operations in a new business, Legacy Fruit Packers LLC. Valley Fruit and Larson Fruit are members of the Sage Fruit companies, according to a story in The Packer on the venture.

International Farming Corp. (IFC) said in a news release that the new company, Columbia River Orchards, is positioned for rapid growth. IFC CEO Charlie McNairy said in the release it “plans on making substantial investments in orchard and packing technology to produce the highest quality fruit for our customers at Sage Fruit.”

Families of the fruit companies involved (Verbrugge and Larson) maintain ownership interests and have board positions.

The purchase includes about 4,000 acres of orchards and two packing facilities, which will handle about four million boxes of fruit a year, and plans call for increased planting.

The combined company will retain about 3,000 seasonal and full-time employees, hiring new positions as it grows, according to the release.

Sage Fruit markets apples, pears and cherries from the companies that formed Columbia River Orchards.

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