Universal Corporation (“Universal”), a publicly traded tobacco and ingredients company, has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase FruitSmart, a leading Washington-based producer of fruit and vegetable-based ingredients. Cascadia Capital acted as the exclusive financial advisor to FruitSmart in the transaction.
Founded in 1982, FruitSmart supplies a broad set of juices, concentrates, blends, purees, fibers, seed and seed powders, and other value-added products to food, beverage and flavor companies throughout the United States and internationally through value-added processing of various fruit and vegetable products. FruitSmart processes apples, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, pears, cranberries and strawberries as well as other fruits and vegetables. The business is headquartered in the Yakima Valley of the state of Washington, where it has approximately 200 employees and two manufacturing facilities.
Universal, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, sources, processes, and supplies agri-products. Tobacco has been its principal focus since the company was founded in 1918. Universal conducts business in more than 30 countries on five continents and revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, were $2.2 billion.
“Since outlining our capital allocation strategy in May 2018, we have been identifying a pipeline of strategic opportunities in adjacent markets around our core strengths: leveraging our highly localized rural infrastructure to source and process high-value, non-commodity, semi-perishable varietals from a large, reliant grower base for customers who demand fully traceable and compliant inputs,” noted George C. Freeman, III, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Corporation. “The acquisition of FruitSmart represents a foundational step in building out a broader agri-products services platform.”
The sale of FruitSmart represents the fourth successful transaction for Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest Food and Agribusiness sector in 2019. Recent transactions include Auvil Fruit Company, Firestone Pacific Foods and Western Polymer Corp.
For more information about this transaction, please contact the Cascadia Capital deal team:
Chairman & CEO
Senior Vice President