UPDATED: Dulcinea Farms sold to Pacific Trellis

12/17/2013 09:50:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Dulcinea Farms(UPDATED COVERAGE Dec. 19) Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC is acquiring Ladera Ranch, Calif.-based Dulcinea Farms LLC from Syngenta International AG in a deal expected to close by the end of December.

Terms of the agreement between Syngenta, Basel, Switzerland, and Fresno, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit were not disclosed. There were no changes to operations or management, said Monique McLaws, Dulcinea Farms marketing director.

“The goal for Pacific Trellis, Syngenta and us is to keep business continuity for our growers and customers, so there are no immediate changes,” she said. “It’s business as usual.”

Dulcinea Farms grows and ships PureHeart and Ruby Bliss seedless watermelons; specialty cantaloupes; Amadoro and Primodoro tomatoes; and Honeybliss honeydew, among other products. Annual sales are about $80 million.

Pacific Trellis also signed a long-term supply agreement with Syngenta to continue to provide Dulcinea with mini-watermelon and specialty melon seed varieties.

The Syngenta relationship continues but had reason to change, said John McGuigan, general manager for Dulcinea Farms.

“It became apparent a couple years ago to Syngenta that they really didn’t need an ownership position, but a partnership position,” McGuigan said. “It’s a $12 billion agribusiness headquartered in Switzerland, and the only real connection they had to fresh produce was us, this little $80 million company in California.

“Publicly traded fresh produce companies in the U.S. can’t take the quarter-to-quarter earnings Wall Street always looks for with certainty, given the risks in our business. Syngenta as a publicly traded company struggled with that too. It became clear to them we would continue to buy our proprietary seed from Syngenta whether Syngenta had an ownership position or not.

“They saw an opportunity there. We can give you what you want, they said – a chance to be more like a grower-shipper and move into some other space or genetics that Syngenta might not have, and still have a solid supply agreement with them.”

Dulcinea was formed in 2004 in partnership with Tanimura & Antle, at first as a vehicle for branding proprietary miniature watermelon and specialty melon genetics to consumers through retail chains. Syngenta took full control of the company in 2005.

Pacific Trellis Fruit grows, imports and exports various produce items, mainly grapes and melons. It has sales and distribution centers in Los Angeles; San Diego; Philadelphia; Nogales, Ariz.; Santiago, Chile; Ica, Peru; and Barcelona, Spain. The company plans to open an office in Florida’s Port of Miami.

It packs North American tree fruit and table grapes under the Produce Kountry label.

“We are also working on several strategic acquisitions which will help enhance Dulcinea’s position within the industry and expand our relationship with Syngenta internationally in relevant growing regions,” Linda Chen, chief financial officer and partner at Pacific Trellis Fruit, said in a news release.

Efforts to bring new Dulcinea products to market will continue, Chen said, and the line will be supplemented by added production from Pacific Trellis acreage.

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