Bonduelle, a world leader in ready-to-eat canned and frozen vegetables, has entered into an agreement to buy Ready Pac Foods in a move that will expand the French company’s U.S. presence.
Pending regulatory review and approvals, the deal is expected to close by the end of March.
Ready Pac spokesman Alan Hilowitz said no layoffs are anticipated.
“There’s no plan for any kind of workforce reduction at all,” he said. “Tony Sarsam will continue as the head of the company and the entire leadership team will also stay in place.”
Irwindale-based Ready Pac employs 3,500 workers company-wide with additional operations in Jackson, Ga., Swedesboro, N. J. and Florence, N.J. as well as offices in Salinas and Bentonville, Ark.
About 300 of the 2,200 employees at the company’s 480,000-square-foot Irwindale headquarters and processing plant work in corporate roles, Hilowitz said, while the additional employees function as front-line workers, preparing and packaging the salads and other products. The Irwindale facility is located at 4401 Foxdale Ave.
Acquisition will expand Ready Pac’s growth, innovation
Christophe Bonduelle, Bonduelle’s chairman and CEO, said Ready Pac will benefit from a greater level of investment in its growth, innovation and global reach.
“We were impressed with the strength of Ready Pac Foods’ operational excellence, commitment to innovation and talented management team,” Bonduelle said in a statement. “Our interest in Ready Pac Foods was not only because of its attractive product segment and rapid growth, but the value the company delivers to their customers and their committed workforce.”
Ready Pac will operate as a wholly-own subsidiary of Bonduelle (pronounced Bondwell), which is headquartered in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France.
Some Ready Pac history
The family owned company produces freshly prepared salads, vegetables, snacks and other produce. Ready Pac has been in business for 50 years and its products are sold in retail stores and online across North America and around the world. It is the nation’s top producer of single-serve salad bowls through its Bistro Bowl line of products.
The company generated about $700 million in revenue in 2016 and that number is expected to hit $800 million this year.
“We have plans in place to expand or upgrade all of our facilities,” Hilowitz said. “As a result of this acquisition we’re hoping to see added investment, and we’re looking to increase the number of jobs we have across the company.”
Sarsam said Ready Pac Foods has seen “significant growth over the last several years.” Joining forces with Bonduelle, he said, validates the company’s current business approach.
“This is a fantastic new chapter for our 3,500 associates and a great step forward,” Sarsam said in a statement.
Some Bonduelle history
With more than $2 billion in revenue, Bonduelle is a family-owned company, with seven generations of the Bonduelle family involved since its founding in 1853. The French company owns four brands of canned, frozen and fresh vegetables with a presence in 100 countries around the world.
Company recalls product that could be contaminated
Ready Pac is poised to grow but the company still faces occasional challenges.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Ready Pac facilities in Irwindale, Swedesboro, N.J. and Jackson, Ga. were recalling more than 59,000 pounds of 7.5-ounce chicken salad bowl packages that might be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes food poisoning.
Listeriosis can cause such symptoms as fever, muscle aches, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. It can additionally lead to miscarriages, stillbirths and premature delivery. Serious and sometimes fatal infections also can occur in older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
The problem was discovered Tuesday when Sargento Foods Inc., Ready Pac’s cheese supplier, notified the company that the cheese in its chicken salad products was included in an expanded cheese recall due to potential contamination.
There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the products.
“The announcement made it sound huge but it really wasn’t that big at all,” Hilowitz said. “We have very stringent policies and procedures regarding safety and the quality of our products. We’ll do anything to make our products as safe as we can.”