Bakersfield-based carrots giant Grimmway Farms said Monday it has purchased a Georgia company that will provide the climate, acreage and facilities it needs to expand production near key East Coast markets.
The acquisition of Lake Park-based Generation Farms has come nine years after Grimmway started experimenting with planting carrots in the southeastern United States, where sandy soil can be ideal for the crop even as the region's storms, rain and humidity will take some getting used to, Grimmway President Jeff Huckaby said in an interview.
"We've proven over the years that we can grow a really good carrot out of there," he said, adding Grimmway has been farming the crop commercially in Georgia and Florida since 2015. It opened a packing facility and warehouse in Sparks, Ga. in February of 2018.
With the acquisition, Grimmway now farms in seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and Washington — up from just two states a few years ago.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The purchase offers several benefits, Huckaby said, from year-round production capabilities — Bakersfield gets too cold in the winter to farm carrots — to low-cost land and Generation Farms' diverse processing capabilities. He said the ability to farm and process more organic produce will be particularly helpful.
Generation Farms also gives Grimmway access to greater acreage outside California, where Huckaby said groundwater pumping restrictions and other regulatory constraints limit the Golden State's long-term attractiveness. By contrast, he said the Southeast's regulatory climate is more accommodating.
Huckaby emphasized Grimmway has no plans to leave California, saying, "There's nothing like farming produce in California."
Generation Farms, previously known as Coggins Farm, was created in 2013. It grows carrots, blueberries, green beans, sweet potatoes and watermelon in northern Georgia and northern Florida. Grimmway said it plans to continue serving Generation's clients.
Grimmway did not buy Generation's onion growing, packing and shipping operation in Vidalia, Ga. Huckaby said it chose not to acquire that part of the operation because it is too far afield from the Bakersfield company's carrot focus.
"Carrots are still our No. 1 crop and commodity and every other crop that we do somehow benefits the carrot program in some fashion," he said.
Grimmway says it is the world's largest producer of carrots and a leading produce leader. It produces more than 65 organic crops and brands, including Bunny-Luv and Cal-Organic Farms.