BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — AM FRESH Group and Special New Fruit Licensing (SNFL) today announced a definitive agreement under which AM FRESH is acquiring International Fruit Genetics (IFG) and merging it with SNFL, creating a combined company that significantly advances SNFL’s and IFG’s abilities to further develop their breeding capacities and add to their innovative portfolio to address unprecedented industry demand. AM FRESH will be the controlling shareholder of the combined entity, with significant minority investment from EQT Future and continued investment from Paine Schwartz Partners.
The combined company will accelerate varietal breeding, development and commercialization, benefiting licensed growers, partners and consumers with more sustainable alternatives and improved varietal options. Together, AM FRESH, SNFL and IFG will propel innovation at large, ease production management for growers and facilitate commercialization to retail partners in order to deliver innovative varieties to consumers on a year-round basis.
“We are committed to delivering fresh, natural and healthy goods to excite consumers and we strive to create the next frontier of sustainable fresh foods for the benefit of all,” said Alvaro Muñoz, AM FRESH Group CEO. “Together with IFG, we will spearhead varietal innovation and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of innovative varieties which are nature and health positive benefiting growers, our retail partners and consumers. Through our combined R&D, innovation, agritech capabilities and high-quality standards, we are able to offer fresh propositions to our partners and together propel the table grape industry to the next level.”
“This transaction represents a huge advancement for the entire industry,” said IFG CEO Andy Higgins. “Since our establishment, IFG’s mission, our challenge and our inspiration has been to grow our fruit categories, and this merger is another example of this. SNFL and IFG have complementary gene pools and breeding teams focused on different development pathways. While much of IFG’s focus has been on consumer traits and flavor, SNFL’s focus has been centered on health benefits, diseases tolerance and other important grower traits. Together, AM FRESH Group, SNFL and IFG will provide more variety choices to consumers, more industry solutions for growers, and an accelerated pace of innovation for the fruit breeding industry. This acquisition will bring forward the best that our companies have to offer as we build a dynamic foundation for the future.”
“IFG set out 20 years ago to change an industry. This combination of businesses is a ‘marriage of the minds’ as both AM FRESH Group and Sunridge Nurseries began as small family businesses working toward building something better in the fruit breeding industry,” said Higgins. “The type of ‘start-up spirit’ that propelled both of these companies to their current level of success is still thriving, as is our mutual commitment to meet the needs of our employees, licensees, partners and consumers.”
Retailers and consumers will equally benefit through the sophistication and development of the table grape category. SNFL’s and IFG’s combined efforts strive to increase the offer and possibilities of breeding differentiation.
“By combining two breeding teams with profound and very diverse experience in different fields of plant genetics we will seek to propel varieties which will be a better fit for the future and will fast-track the development of more sustainable and healthier varieties aligned with the market trends,” said Josep Estiarte, Managing Director SNFL Group. “In addition, the integration of two different pools of talent developed over more than 15 years enables the implementation of best practices into the plant varietal development process.”
“AM FRESH has made substantial progress expanding SNFL’s capabilities and offerings since our initial investment in 2019. This transaction is an important next step in the Company’s evolution,” said Kevin Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of Paine Schwartz. “We continue to believe in the significant value creation opportunities that innovators like SNFL and IFG bring to the specialty produce sector. We are confident that the combined SNFL and IFG platform will have the necessary resources to deliver sustainable and healthier offerings that benefit growers, retailers and consumers alike. Looking ahead, we are excited to support the next generation of varietal innovation in grapes and cherries under AM FRESH’s leadership.”
EQT Future invests in companies that are transforming industries, and both SNFL and IFG are closely aligned with EQT Future’s “Planet” objective: to safeguard resources and climate by improving agricultural productivity and minimizing the use of fungicides in grape production. EQT Future also plans to support investments in digitalization and innovative breeding technologies, and support both companies’ combined and continued pursuit of R&D excellence.
The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Financials terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Morrison & Foerster LLP was the lead legal counsel for SNFL whilst Allen & Overy and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP were counsel for EQT Future with Pérez-Llorca and Bank of America advising AM FRESH. Credit Suisse served as financial advisor and Dentons US LLP served as legal advisor to IFG in relation to the transaction.
About AM FRESH Group
AM FRESH Group is a global fresh food company focused on spearheading varietal innovation, agriscience and biotechnology, extensive farming and global commercialization of Citrus, Table Grapes, Tropical & Superfoods, Plant-Based Foods, Top-fruit, and Flowers at scale. Equipped with over 90 years of expertise, AM FRESH Group is privately held, present in over 60 countries with 6.200 employees with a passion and commitment to innovation, it operates as an end-to-end vertically integrated model to serve the top retailers worldwide. For more on AM FRESH Group, please visit www.amfresh.com.
About SNFL Group
SNFL Group (Special New Fruit Licensing) is a table grape R&D company. For over 25 years we have been breeding and developing new table grape varieties and licensing their production around the world. Our Innovation Centre is state-of-the-art and our multi-disciplinary team is made up of geneticists, molecular biologists, agronomists and technologists of the highest caliber. SNFL is present in 18 countries across the globe and we deliver innovation in mainstream, specialty flavored, disease resistant and high antioxidant table grape varieties. SNFL is committed to leading grape innovation for a healthier future. For more on SNFL, please visit www.snflgroup.com.
Headquartered in Bakersfield, California, USA, IFG is a premium fruit-breeding company. Founded in 2001, the company is internationally recognized for its top quality, non-GMO fruit varieties in the table grape, cherry and raisin industries that were pioneered by the company’s co-founder and former Lead Plant Breeder, world-renowned fruit scientist Dr. David Cain. Since Dr. Cain’s retirement, the team is now led by Dr. Chris Owens. IFG patents and licenses its varieties to worldwide marketers and growers, with licensees in 15 countries. For more information, visit www.ifg.world.
EQT is a purpose-driven global investment organization with EUR 73.4 billion in assets under management across 28 active funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas with total sales of approximately EUR 29 billion and more than 175,000 employees. EQT works with portfolio companies to achieve sustainable growth, operational excellence and market leadership. More info: www.eqtgroup.com. Follow EQT on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
About Paine Schwartz Partners
A global leader in sustainable food chain investing, Paine Schwartz Partners is a private equity firm focused exclusively on investment opportunities in the fast-growing, dynamic global food and agribusiness sectors. The firm’s investment, operations and finance professionals invest throughout cycles across the food and agribusiness value chain, and bring a collaborative and active management approach to portfolio companies. For further information, please see www.paineschwartz.com.