Phoenix-based Inventure Foods, Inc. signed a non-binding letter of intent for the purchase of the berry processing business of Willamette Valley Fruit Co., LLC (WVFC), including building and ground leases. Terms were not disclosed, as the transaction remains subject to completion of due diligence, agreement on a definitive purchase agreement and other customary closing conditions.

WVFC began in 1999 as a small frozen processing operation, and has since become one of the Pacific Northwest's leading processors of high-quality berry products. Each summer WVFC processes an average of 13 million pounds of fruit, including strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blueberries, a variety of blackberries, cranberries and Marionberries. The berry business has annualized revenues of approximately $15 million. Consummation of the transaction is currently targeted for Inventure's second fiscal quarter. If consummated, Inventure expects the transaction to be immediately accretive to earnings.

"We have had a long-standing vendor relationship with Inventure Foods and recently expanded our berry processing business," says Dave Dunn, general manager of the Salem, Ore., berry processor. "The present owners believe this is a great opportunity as berry growers and also for the other berry growers in Oregon. Inventure Foods is a significant purchaser of berries, and the contemplated acquisition should help stabilize the local berry industry and provide growth opportunities for local farming operations."

"We have partnered with Willamette Valley Fruit Co. through the years to meet our growing demand for fruit, and look forward to combining their berry processing capabilities with ours," says Terry McDaniel, chief executive officer of Inventure Foods. "This acquisition will help us meet the growing consumer demand for berries nationwide, while also affording us the opportunity to work more closely with the local farmers of the area. In addition to closer ties with the Oregon berry community, we also anticipate this transaction to bring additional operational synergies."