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Jan 22, 2019
Three Washington tree fruit companies acquired by N.C. firm

Three large Washington tree fruit companies have been acquired by a North Carolina firm.

International Farming Corporation (IFC), a North Carolina asset management firm focused on the agricultural sector, said in a released statement Jan. 22 it had acquired Legacy Fruit Packers, Valley Fruit and Larson Fruit, which are all located in Washington’s Yakima Valley. The combined companies, which had been owned by the Larson and Verbrugge families, will now be known as Columbia River Orchards.

The combined operations’ tree fruit land base, state-of-the-art packing and storage facilities, outstanding horticultural expertise and forward-looking marketing desk, are qualities the IFC said positioned Columbia River Orchards for future growth.

The new firm “plans on making substantial investments in orchard and packing technology to produce the highest quality fruit for our customers at Sage Fruit and we are appreciative that both families will maintain ownership interests and hold board positions to provide guidance for the new company,” said IFC’s CEO Charlie McNairy.

McNairy is the seventh generation to run his own family’s diversified agricultural firm that dates back to 1827, according to IFC. He is excited “to formally unite two historic agricultural family businesses into an industry-leading tree fruit grower-packer-shipper,” according to IFC’s statement.

The acquisition includes about 4,000 acres of orchards and two packing facilities which handle about 4 million boxes of fruit annually, according to IFC. IFC said it plans to develop more acreage in the future. Columbia River Orchards is also retaining 3,000 seasonal and full-time employees, while planning to hire additional staff as the business grows, according to IFC’s statement.

IFC’s acquisition also includes interests in the Sage Fruit marketing company of Yakima and Pacific Coast Cherry Packers of Wapato.

The Larson Fruit Company and Valley Fruit III in 2015 had combined their warehouse and packing operations to create Legacy Fruit Packers, selling through the Sage Fruit’s marketing office, according to a Sage website.

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