Aiming to revolutionize the way fresh produce is bought and sold around the world, Mann Packing Company and Fresh Del Monte Produce have integrated “under one roof.” The Salinas, Calif.-based Mann has officially completed the final stages of its integration as the vegetable division of Fresh Del Monte Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.
Part of the 2018 acquisition, the final phase of integration includes the fusion of all teams — sales and sales support, as well as finance, logistics, sustainability and quality control, and marketing and innovation — all of which now fall under the Fresh Del Monte network. The brands will continue to maintain separate identities, company officials say.
The completion of this final step gives Mann Packing full access to all of Fresh Del Monte’s resources and its logistics network, which includes Network Shipping, a third-party shipping network that transports goods across the world using the company’s 13 owned vessels, as well as Tricont Trucking and Tricont Logistics, which use the company’s ships, ports and temperature-controlled warehouses located throughout 34 facilities in North America.
What’s next for the unified produce companies?
Alongside Fresh Del Monte President and CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, a team of executives will lead the next era for the integrated company. To learn more, The Packer recently spoke with members of the executive team, including Sevag Zaroukian, vice president of operations for Mann Packing; Mohammed Abbas, Fresh Del Monte chief operating officer; and Jesus Rodriguez, Fresh Del Monte senior vice president of North America sales, marketing and product management.
Best of both worlds
Uniquely and intimately positioned to understand the strengths of both companies, Zaroukian joined Fresh Del Monte Produce in 2014, and later, Mann Packing in 2020.
“In fresh produce, the supply chain is most important,” says Zaroukian. “Fresh Del Monte is a giant in fruit and Mann is big in vegetables. We both share the same culture in terms of getting product to the client efficiently and cost effectively, so it makes sense to put everyone in one basket.”
With the fully integrated companies, retail customers will no longer need to meet with Fresh Del Monte on the fresh fruit side of the business and Mann Packing for their fresh vegetable needs.
“We’re combining the best of Fresh Del Monte with the best of Mann Packing and adding so much value —that’s what I’m excited about,” said Zaroukian. “We’re definitely looking forward — we know it will work with two such strong companies under one roof.”
Innovation runs in the blended family
While one company specializes in fruit and the other in vegetables, both Fresh Del Monte and Mann Packing share a common goal to be category leaders in innovation. Mann is known for products such as broccolini baby broccoli and stringless sugar snap peas, while the Fresh Del Monte brand is synonymous with the Pinkglow and Honeyglow pineapples, as well as Goodvocados.
The two innovation teams are now working seamlessly together to continue creating innovative products for consumers to enjoy, says the company.
Both companies have a history and culture of innovation, says Abbas. “We want to preserve that innovation” while moving it forward, he added. As part of that forward momentum, the integrated fruit- and vegetable-focused companies have “big plans” and “new partnerships and collaborations” in the works, hinted Abbas. The new ventures are related to value-added, ready-to-eat and convenience, he said.
The joining of forces between Fresh Del Monte and Mann should also create greater operational efficiencies, cost savings and additional benefits.
“Sharing resources is a cost efficiency. Instead of going to the retailer with two separate trucks, now it’s one trip with both fruit and vegetables,” said Abbas, who further noted that pooling human resources, logistics, domestic and international transport, production expertise and more, are all benefits of the integration.
“With this integration, we will be a full solution for fresh-cut fruit, salads and vegetables,” he said. “For foodservice, [quick service restaurants], retail and online, we’ll be a one-stop shop corporate solution.”
In addition to the synergies of centralization — having legal, finance and quality control all under one roof — Rodriguez is also eager to apply the research, data and technology on the Fresh Del Monte side to help guide Mann into the future.
But the gains that come with the integration of two prominent fresh produce companies don’t stop there, he says.
“From a sales perspective, Fresh Del Monte is strong in the East and Mann is strong in the West,” Rodriguez said. The bicoastal presence and new customer-centric focus of the joint companies will leverage Mann’s location in the heart of California vegetable production, while Fresh Del Monte’s East Coast hub makes it well located to receive fresh produce from Central and South America.
A ‘big’ future
Mann Packing has five facilities across California. Its newest fully automated facility, located in Gonzales, opened in 2021 to handle both fruits and vegetables. Fresh Del Monte is currently selling fresh-cut produce out of the Gonzales facility.
Now integrated, the two companies are also looking to merge their sustainable agricultural practices, working to conserve biodiversity, save water, reduce energy consumption and reduce their impact on the climate, say officials.
“We have big plans for Mann Packing, and this is just the beginning,” said Fresh Del Monte Chairman and CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, in a statement. “By bringing Mann Packing completely into the Fresh Del Monte umbrella, we are not only able to expand our reach to more consumers, but we’re also able to further leverage the robust infrastructure we’ve built over our 135-year history at Fresh Del Monte — whether it’s our smart farming technology, innovation labs or comprehensive logistics network. Mann Packing and Fresh Del Monte are now synonymous and have access to the same resources.”