The 75th Annual Stockholders Meeting of Florida’s Natural Growers was held at the Lake Wales Country Club on Monday, the 17th of November. The theme of this year’s meeting, “Growing Returns and Stakeholder Value,” was appropriate since the Cooperative reported one of the highest Orange Returns in its history, despite an extremely challenging economic environment. In fact, Chairman Dick Fort stated, “When considering the fruit returns and the growth to members equity, it is no exaggeration to say that 2007 and 2008 have been the best back-to-back seasons in the history of Florida’s Natural Growers.”
LAKE WALES, Fla. (Business Wire EON) November 24, 2008 -- Chip Hendry, Chief Financial Officer, reported that, in addition to generating Orange Returns on Early/Mids at $1.48 per pound solid, Valencia at $1.71 per pound solid, and Grapefruit at $.92 per pound solid, the Company generated a profit on non-member business that significantly strengthens the Co-op's balance sheet.
Steve Caruso, Chief Executive Officer, said that despite unprecedented cost increases for energy, operations were successful in managing costs through productivity increases.
Walt Lincer, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, reported, "Overall sales grew 2% and Florida's Natural Brand slightly outperformed the NFC category. Both Net and Gross sales set all time records."
First formed in 1933, the growers' cooperative was named Florida Citrus Canners Cooperative, as its main function was canning grapefruit sections and juice for its grower members. After the development of frozen concentrated juices in the 1940s, the Cooperative invested in the necessary infrastructure and became one of the largest juice processors in the state. In 1969, the Canners Cooperative changed its name to Citrus World, Inc. to better reflect its diverse product line. Today, the majority of the Cooperative's sales are derived from the Florida's Natural Brand, now the second largest selling premium NOT From Concentrate brand in the United States. The cooperative now uses Florida's Natural Growers as its name. Florida's Natural Brand is the only national brand of Not-From-Concentrate Premium juice that uses oranges From Florida and Only Florida™.
Florida's Natural Growers is comprised of 12 grower organizations representing almost 1,000 individual growers who own nearly 50,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida. Florida's Natural Growers operates its processing plant in Lake Wales, Florida, with a juice packaging plant in Umatilla, Florida. The Lake Wales facility employs 850 employees and can extract over 9 million pounds of fruit every 24 hours in peak season. Brands produced in Lake Wales include Florida's Natural, Florida's Natural Growers Pride, Donald Duck, Bluebird, and Earth's Own Organics.
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