AM FRESH Group and Special New Fruit Licensing (SNFL) announced a definitive agreement under which AM FRESH is acquiring International Fruit Genetics (IFG) and merging it with SNFL, creating a combined company that significantly advances SNFL’s and IFG’s abilities to develop further their breeding capacities and add to their portfolio to address industry demand. AM FRESH will be the controlling shareholder of the combined entity, with significant minority investment from EQT Future and continued investment from Paine Schwartz Partners.

The combined company will accelerate varietal breeding, development and commercialization, benefiting licensed growers, partners and consumers with more sustainable alternatives and improved varietal options. Together, AM FRESH, SNFL and IFG will propel innovation at large, ease production management for growers and facilitate commercialization to retail partners in order to deliver innovative varieties to consumers on a year-round basis.

“We are committed to delivering fresh, natural and healthy goods to excite consumers, and we strive to create the next frontier of sustainable fresh foods for the benefit of all,” says Alvaro Muñoz, AM FRESH Group CEO. “Together with IFG, we will spearhead varietal innovation and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of innovative varieties which are nature and health positive—benefiting growers, our retail partners and consumers. Through our combined R&D, innovation, agritech capabilities and high-quality standards, we are able to offer fresh propositions to our partners and together propel the table grape industry to the next level.”

“This transaction represents a huge advancement for the entire industry,” says IFG CEO Andy Higgins. “Since our establishment, IFG’s mission, our challenge and our inspiration has been to grow our fruit categories, and this merger is another example of this. SNFL and IFG have complementary gene pools and breeding teams focused on different development pathways. While much of IFG’s focus has been on consumer traits and flavor, SNFL’s focus has been centered on health benefits, disease tolerance and other important grower traits. Together, AM FRESH Group, SNFL and IFG will provide more variety choices to consumers, more industry solutions for growers, and an accelerated pace of innovation for the fruit breeding industry. This acquisition will bring forward the best that our companies have to offer as we build a dynamic foundation for the future.”

“IFG set out 20 years ago to change an industry. This combination of businesses is a ‘marriage of the minds’ as both AM FRESH Group and Sunridge Nurseries began as small family businesses working toward building something better in the fruit breeding industry,” says Higgins. “The type of ‘start-up spirit’ that propelled both of these companies to their current level of success is still thriving, as is our mutual commitment to meet the needs of our employees, licensees, partners and consumers.”

“By combining two breeding teams with profound and very diverse experience in different fields of plant genetics we will seek to propel varieties which will be a better fit for the future and will fast-track the development of more sustainable and healthier varieties aligned with the market trends,” says Josep Estiarte, managing director SNFL Group. “In addition, the integration of two different pools of talent developed over more than 15 years enables the implementation of best practices into the plant varietal development process.”

“AM FRESH has made substantial progress expanding SNFL’s capabilities and offerings since our initial investment in 2019. This transaction is an important next step in the Company’s evolution,” said Kevin Schwartz, chief executive officer of Paine Schwartz. “We continue to believe in the significant value creation opportunities that innovators like SNFL and IFG bring to the specialty produce sector. We are confident that the combined SNFL and IFG platform will have the necessary resources to deliver sustainable and healthier offerings that benefit growers, retailers and consumers alike. Looking ahead, we are excited to support the next generation of varietal innovation in grapes and cherries under AM FRESH’s leadership.”

EQT Future invests in companies that are transforming industries, and both SNFL and IFG are closely aligned with EQT Future’s “Planet” objective: to safeguard resources and climate by improving agricultural productivity and minimizing the use of fungicides in grape production. EQT Future also plans to support investments in digitalization and innovative breeding technologies, and support both companies’ combined and continued pursuit of R&D excellence.

The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Financials terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Morrison & Foerster LLP was the lead legal counsel for SNFL while Allen & Overy and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP were counsel for EQT Future with Pérez-Llorca and Bank of America advising AM FRESH. Credit Suisse served as financial advisor and Dentons US LLP served as legal advisor to IFG in relation to the transaction.