Fresh Express Acquires Verdelli Farms

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Fresh Express Acquires Verdelli Farms

CINCINNATI -- Fresh Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, Inc. here, has acquired Harrisburg, Pa.-based Verdelli Farms, a premier regional processor of value-added salads, vegetables and fruit snacks which markets its products under the Harvest Select and Verdelli Farms brands.

Verdelli Farms, which operates in 10 states from Massachusetts to Virginia, will be integrated into Chiquita's Fresh Express unit.

"The acquisition of Verdelli Farms, with its focus on meeting the needs of consumers for fresh, healthy and convenient foods, superior food safety and strong customer relationships, is a great fit within our sustainable growth strategy and an excellent complement to our Fresh Express brand," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman/c.e.o. of Chiquita Brands International.

Aguirre said the acquisition further accelerates Fresh Express's expansion into the Northeast, "where there is strong demand from the largest U.S. concentration of value- added salads consumers, but where the Fresh Express brand has
been under-represented."

Dan, Mike and Jen Verdelli, as well as other members of Verdelli Farms management team, will remain with the company following the acquisition.

Founded in 1924, Verdelli Farms is a third-generation, family-owned business that employs approximately 400 people. With annual revenues of approximately $80 million, the company in 2006 produced more than 8 million cases of fresh salads, vegetables and fruit snacks for more than 80 customers in 10 states from Massachusetts to Virginia.

Recognized as a leader in food safety and as the creator of the ready-to- eat fresh salad category, Fresh Express is credited with a number of other important "firsts" in the fresh salad category, including the first complete salad kit and the first salad blend with multiple varieties of lettuces and greens.