Nationally renowned, family owned and operated lettuce producer Swanport Harvest, is expected to attract interest from fresh produce growers, marketers and investors alike, looking to secure one of the country's most iconic salad branded products, exclusive arrangements with one of the country's largest supermarket chains and the state-of-the-art irrigated landholding near Lake Alexandrina in South Australia.
The owners of Swanport Harvest have appointed Colliers' Jesse Manuel and Tim Altschwager to market for sale the business, its valuable intellectual property and land assets, which have been developed and continually improved and refined since the Ruggiero family established its market garden operation on the banks of the Murray River in the 1960s.
Colliers' director of agribusiness transactions, Jesse Manuel, said the Ruggiero family had positioned itself as a significant player in a staple food product line but within a very niche and value-added segment of the market that it has cornered, being the highly sought-after, wrapped iceberg lettuce space.
"Our wrapped lettuce product lasts twice as long as a fresh-cut lettuce," Don Ruggiero said, who with his wife Kathy, own and operate the Swanport Harvest business.
"Each lettuce is cut firm and packed into modified atmosphere packing which substantially extends the shelf life of the product.
"Each tray of lettuce is then snapped cooled within an hour of harvest and the rapid chilling process that we achieve through vacuum cooling is the other secret in producing the superior quality and long lasting product."
Mr Manuel said the Swanport Harvest business was underpinned by a high-quality horticultural landholding at Langhorne Creek, which has access to abundant water and the ability to grow produce over an extended period through rotations.
"The farm spans over 90 hectares and Swanport Harvest also has an option to acquire a nearby landholding of around 120 hectares for further expansion," he said.
"The region is one of very few places in Australia where lettuce and other crops such as broccoli and cauliflower can be successfully grown year-round.
"Swanport Harvest's well-established flagship product, Staycrisp Premium Lettuce, is an iconic product amongst the salad categories in Australia and its reliability, consistency and premium quality has earned its position as a household name and is underpinned by intellectual property and technology that are exclusive to and trademarked by the business.
"Swanport Harvest's transformation and value-adding to one of the most staple food products is genius and the business' ability to produce a product that outweighs its competition whilst maintaining a competitive price has cemented the company's position in the market."
A key feature of Swanport Harvest is its ability to bag certain lines of its product in-field.
Its unique systems means it it not reliant on a significant inventory of plant and equipment or machinery shedding, avoiding excessive equipment maintenance overheads and over-capitalisation.
Colliers Agribusiness national director, Tim Altschwager, said the Swanport Harvest business is on a growth trajectory.
"The recent expansion, the increasing demand for its products, and the ability to diversify into additional crops, the business is well positioned to enjoy significant growth," Mr Altschwager said.
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