Business

Monday, Jul 22 2013 06:02 PM

Grimmway plans to exit citrus business with sale to Paramount

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    By Aex Horvath / The Californian

    A Grimmway harvester works carrot field off Santa Fe Way last Wednesday.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Grimmway Farms is getting out of the citrus business in favor of a tighter focus on carrots and organic produce.

The Bakersfield-based carrot giant announced Monday that it plans to sell its citrus division to Paramount Citrus, part of Los Angeles-based Roll Global LLC.

Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close later this month, were not disclosed. All 125 employees displaced by the move are expected to be offered jobs elsewhere within Grimmway.

Under the deal, Paramount gets packing equipment and business relationships with more than 100 growers as far away as Ventura. Together, these growers represent 7,000 acres of citrus groves.

For its part, Grimmway plans to expand its carrot operation inside the Shafter packing plant where it has processed other farmers' lemons and oranges since buying Belridge Packing Co. from Shell Oil Co. in 1991.

"It gives us additional production space and allows us to focus more on our core markets, which are carrots and the growing and sales of organics," Grimmway General Counsel Jeff Green said.

Paramount Citrus President David Krause said in an email that the transaction will bring his company's total acreage to 54,000 acres, including the proposed transaction's 3,100 acres of navel oranges, 2,900 acres of lemons and 1,000 acres of Valencia oranges.

"This additional volume and share of market in crops we already represent will allow us to service our current and new customers in an even better way," Krause said, adding that Paramount will now account for about a fifth of California's domestic lemon sales.

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