Chelan Fruit Cooperative (“Chelan Fruit”), a premiere Washington-based grower, packer and shipper of apples, cherries and pears, has been acquired by International Farming (“IFC”), an institutional asset manager connecting investors at the nexus of farmland, farmers and food.
Founded in 1921, Chelan Fruit is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a grower-owned cooperative. Chelan Fruit is a leading vertically integrated tree fruit producer with 1,100 acres of apples and cherries orchards as well as state-of-the-art packing facilities, controlled atmosphere and storage assets. Chelan Fruit is also a worldwide owner of SugarBee®, a top proprietary variety with a well-recognized brand.
IFC is a privately-owned institutional asset manager that partners with farmers to help maximize farm profitability through progressive farming and preventive farming techniques. Founded in 2009, IFC has family roots in agribusiness that date back to 1827. IFC applies their deep knowledge of agriculture, in-house agronomy solutions and global relationships with farmers to unlock the value of farmland.
IFC has been a trusted, longstanding partner for Chelan Fruit for six years prior to the transaction and will continue to work with the grower base and preserve their legacy in the next phase of the business. The combination of Chelan Fruit’s grower base and IFC’s nearly 5,000-acre existing Washington State tree fruit footprint provides a unique opportunity to enhance grower economics through economies of scale and providing a consistent high-quality fruit supply.
“We are very pleased and excited to be part of IFC. Their heritage and performance demonstrate their commitment to the agribusiness community as evidenced by our affiliation through Monument Hills and Ice Harbor Orchards in Quincy and Pasco, WA. This transaction is definitely in the best interest of our member growers as evidenced by 90% of them having voted in support of this transaction” said Ed Johnson, CEO of Chelan Fruit. Mr. Johnson added, “We are looking forward to a future that is progressive and forward looking with the goal of consistently providing competitive returns to our growers. Just having reached the 100-year mark as a cooperative, this transaction is bittersweet. It will take time to mentally adjust to a new, private culture, but it is made easier by a partner in IFC whose focus is on what’s in the best interest of growers and in the end, their success ensures our success and sustainability.”
Charlie McNairy, CEO of IFC, comments “We are excited to partner with Chelan Fruit and its growers to help build a leader in growing, storing and packing premium fruit. Chelan Fruit can only succeed when its growers do. We are committed to supporting growers and reestablishing Washington State’s North District as the world leader in providing premium fruit.”
Scott Porter, Managing Director at Cascadia Capital added, “It was an honor to represent Chelan Fruit and its members in this transaction. We are thrilled to have helped find a partner that met the objectives of the co-op and also one that is so committed to serving the small grower. This transaction represents Cascadia’s eighth Eastern Washington agribusiness transaction in recent years. We remain committed to serving this vital piece of the Pacific Northwest economy and ecosystem.”
Other recent Eastern Washington agribusiness transactions advised by Cascadia Capital include the recapitalization of Auvil Fruit Company, the acquisition of FruitSmart, Valley Processing’s acquisition of Milne and the sale of Western Polymer.
Cascadia Capital acted as the exclusive financial adviser and Dorsey & Whitney LLP served as the legal advisor to Chelan Fruit. Brooks Pierce served as the legal advisor to International Farming.
For more information about this transaction, please contact:
Or other senior members of the Food, Beverage & Agribusiness team at Cascadia:
Chairman & CEO