Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., Middleborough, Mass., announced on Feb. 2 it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Atoka Cranberries, Manseau, Quebec, from The Bieler Group. The purchase will expand Ocean Spray's manufacturing footprint in Quebec, the second largest and fastest growing cranberry farming region in the world, it says. This transaction should close in the coming weeks.
"This is a strong investment for Ocean Spray and our 700 Farmer-Owners," said Ocean Spray CEO Randy Papadellis. "Ocean Spray's brand strength and global marketing reach, coupled with Atoka's unique product portfolio and location, will benefit all of our farmers and expand the reach of the overall Quebec cranberry industry."
Along with acquiring the Atoka brand and processing facility, Ocean Spray intends to purchase The Bieler Group's freezer and receiving facilities in the coming year. The cooperative also intends to make additional capital investments in the facilities to further increase efficiency and improve yield. The Bieler Group will retain its world-class cranberry growing operations and become a farmer-owner of the Ocean Spray cooperative.
Atoka's approximately 130 employees will become part of the Ocean Spray manufacturing network, which includes five food plants located in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington, and Lanco, Chile as well as four beverage facilities in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Nevada.
"The employees of Atoka and Ocean Spray share a similar culture of quality and customer focus, as well as a unique dedication to increasing demand for cranberries," said Marc Bieler, chairman and CEO of The Bieler Group. "Bringing together these two businesses is exciting and we look forward to joining Ocean Spray as a farmer-owner."
Added Papadellis, "This acquisition comes exactly 60 years after Quebec growers first joined the Ocean Spray cooperative in 1958. Our farmer-owners have a long and proud history in Eastern Canada, and partnering with Bieler Cranberries, true pioneers of the Quebec cranberry industry, is a very exciting way to begin the next 60 years."