LEAMINGTON — A Dublin-based fruit company has purchased four Ontario mushroom-growing facilities.
Fyffes, which produces and markets bananas, melons, and pineapples internationally, purchased Highline Produce Limited on March 31 for $145 million. Highline is Canada’s largest mushroom producer, with four locations in Ontario and one in Quebec, and markets 58 million lb. of mushrooms per year.
Highline’s management team, including president and CEO Glenn Martin, will stay on and run the business. Highline has four growing facilities: Two in Leamington, one in Kingsville, and one in Wellington, as well as a distribution centre in Montreal.
You don’t sell mushrooms internationally. “It’s very different,” Martin told Farmers Forum. “What we pick today is sold today. We’re ideally located close to our major markets, and there’s no chance of reproducing fresh mushrooms in another country.”
It’s a healthy market to be in, said Martin. “The mushroom category has been growing at a rate between three and five per cent year over year.”
Fyffes’ chairman David McCann called this diversifying move a perfect fit for the company’s goal of “adding an additional product to its existing three through the acquisition of an established, successful, integrated operator.”
The April 1 acquisition announcement left some wondering if it was an April Fool’s Day gag. “We got asked that a lot,” said Martin. Fyffes has a history with April Fool’s jokes. In 1998, the company paid for a newspaper ad about a moon mission to build a greenhouse to grow bananas for astronauts.