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Sun Belle signs long-term agreement with Mexican berry grower-shipper

Patricio Cortes, general manager Giddings Fruit Mexico, shown in a Giddings’ blueberry nursery in Michoacan, Mexico

Sun Belle Inc. BB #:126047 and Giddings Fruit Mexico jointly announce a long-term exclusive marketing and distribution agreement whereby Sun Belle Inc. will market all of Giddings Mexico’s conventional and organic blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

The agreement solidifies Sun Belle’s 18-year relationship with Giddings Fruit and is expected to extend the reach of Sun Belle and Giddings Fruit Mexico as principal producers and distributors of berries worldwide.

“This agreement completely aligns the two companies in their shared mission of providing top quality berries to consumers reliably and in good quantities,” stated Janice Honigberg, president and founder of Sun Belle Inc. “For example, we are excited to be marketing peak production through May of the new Aketzali blackberry variety that Giddings developed.”

Patricio Cortes, general manager and co-founder of Giddings Mexico, said, “This new strengthened relationship between our two companies further integrates the work of Giddings Mexico and Sun Belle at all levels – from top management, to sales, logistics and most importantly, varietal innovation and development.”

Cortes noted that Sun Belle has a first-class structure and reliable distribution of product through its four distribution centers in the US.

“The Sun Belle team brings years of experience and as a result is able to meet the demands of the market with production throughout the year from all major growing regions.”

Giddings is a leading integrated grower and shipper of conventional and organic berries in the states of Michoacán, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Sinaloa. Giddings’ state-of-the-art tissue culture propagation lab and extensive nurseries support its own farms and varietal development programs as well as grower partners. Giddings is recognized as an innovator in production as well as its genetic programs.

Sun Belle is a year-round marketer of a full line of organic and conventional berries and pomegranate arils, principally sold under the Sun Belle and Green Belle brands, with distribution centers in Schiller Park, Illinois; Jessup, Maryland; Oxnard, California; and Miami, Florida. Sun Belle supports retail, club, wholesale, and food service customers throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

The company is recognized for its commitment and service to its customers, its dedication to quality, and its ability to fulfill mixed berry programs.

“The agreement has formally consolidated the varietal development programs both companies have been pursuing during the past 13 years,” said Honigberg. “We have brought together agreements with major university and private geneticists in the US and Europe, as well as Giddings’ own varietal development programs. Our goal is to bring fabulous varieties to market to delight the consumer. To that end we carefully evaluate many attributes, including beauty, taste, mouth feel, size, shelf life, productivity and ease of harvesting, plant health and resistance to disease,” Honigberg explained.

“The Aketzali blackberry has excellent flavor and appearance while presenting fewer growing and shipping challenges than earlier varieties,” Honigberg said.

Giddings has 322 hectares of conventional and 40 hectares of organic Aketzali in production in very good quantities through the end of May. According to Cortes, “The Aketzali is a very sweet blackberry with good size and little regression. It is an excellent alternative to the Tupy variety, which we pioneered together starting in 2003. While the Tupy is no longer a productive variety, it established Mexico as the largest blackberry grower and shipper in the world.”

Honigberg added, “bringing excellent quantities of Aketzali to market this spring is just the beginning of closer work between Sun Belle and Giddings in developing and marketing other superb blackberry, raspberry, blueberry and strawberries varieties next season and in seasons to come.”

For further information please contact Lori Boym, lboym@sun-belle.com.