Lassonde to buy Apple Valley

One of Canada’s major fruit juice makers has announced plans to buy southwestern Ontario juice maker Apple Valley Juice.

Toronto-based income fund Dominion Citrus announced Tuesday it would sell the assets and property of apple processor and juice producer Apple Valley, based at Clarksburg, Ont., about 75 km west of Barrie, to A. Lassonde Inc. of Rougemont, Que.

The deal is expected to close by about June 22, Dominion said in its release.

Lassonde markets its product in all 10 provinces and the New England states, including brands such as Rougemont, Oasis, Feeling, Orange Maison, Everfresh, Fairlee, SunLike, Tropical Grove, Olinda, Old South, Niagara, Junior Juice, Revive and Regain, and makes McCain and Tetley brand juices under license.

Apple Valley, which started operating as a regional fresh apple grower, has been owned by Dominion Citrus in 1997. Apple Valley makes juices, ciders and smoothies under the Fruit Fix, Froot Aura, Orange O’Lait, BoosterJuice and Apple Valley brand names, as well as private label products for Tropicana, President’s Choice, Master’s Choice and Jumpin Juice.

Neither company discussed the Apple Valley facilities’ future role in Lassonde, which already owns a subsidiary industrial apple juice processing plant just a few kilometres away at Thornbury, as well as a production plant at Ruthven, Ont., southeast of Windsor.

Lassonde’s other facilities include two plants at Rougemont, about 100 km west of Sherbrooke, Que., one each at Port Williams, N.S., Calgary and Toronto, and a direct beverage distribution business at Montreal.

Dominion Citrus, which converted to an income trust model in 2006, owns produce distributor Bo-Fruits, Toronto companies Meschino Banana Co. and Country Fresh Packaging, and Ontario-based Dominion Farm Produce.

The company in recent years has been more of a seller than a buyer, shedding its Delta Foods International maple syrup operations last year and its stake in Humpty Dumpty Snack Foods in 2005.

Dominion announced last May that it had received an “unsolicited expression of interest” to buy and run its operations, but the unnamed party hadn’t proposed a purchase price or any other terms.

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