Food investment fund Agriculture Capital has made an undisclosed investment in organic blueberry supplier Firestone Pacific Foods (FPF).
FPF, founded in 1896, is an IQF processor based in Vancouver, Wash., and will use the investment to expand its business with new capabilities, including new processing and cold storage capacity.
The company was certified organic by Oregon Tilth in 2009, the same year its facility received sustainable agriculture certification from Food Alliance. Both label claims had been touted on FPF’s website.
However, after not finding FPF’s name on the current roster of Food Alliance-certified operations, Sustainable Food News was told by the sustainable ag group on Friday that FPF’s certification had expired in 2012.
Food Alliance then contacted FPF asking it to “cease and desist” using the claim on its website and FPF promptly removed it late Friday morning from its website.
San Francisco-based AC, co-founded in 2014 by Portland, Ore.-based money manager Equilibrium Capital, invests in permanent cropland and food processing businesses, and said the FPF investment marks its entry into frozen fruit processing.
AC currently manages more than 3,000 acres of blueberry farms in Oregon and California, and is one of the nation’s largest organic blueberry growers. The company also operates farms and facilities in the western U.S. focused on citrus, hazelnut, blueberry, and table grape production.
“[FPF’s] dedication to sourcing, freezing, and distributing the highest quality fruit makes it a natural fit at Agriculture Capital,” said Rob Hurlbut, AC co-managing director. “Given its innovative processing and frozen capabilities and Agriculture Capital’s organic blueberry production, our combined teams will provide healthy and safe organic berries for more people.”
“We are excited to embark on this next phase of our business and to join the AC Foods family of companies,” said FPR President Stan Firestone. “Agriculture Capital shares our values and their commitment to excellence, accountability, transparency and stewardship are well-aligned with our company’s passion to deliver the finest fruit quality with high levels of food safety and flawless operational performance.”