February 21, 2024
Prima is the most important peach producer in North America. Picture credit score: Display shot, prima.com

Prima, a private-equity backed California farmer that’s the largest producer of peaches and different stone fruit in North America, has filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety in Delaware.

The corporate, owned by personal fairness agency Paine Schwartz Companions, has about $679 million in debt, and plans to promote its enterprise in chapter, in response to court docket paperwork filed Friday. Prima farms peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots on its 18,000 acres of farmland within the San Joaquin Valley.

Prima has struggled below its excessive debt load, and it has additionally confronted vital setbacks since 2020, together with a salmonella outbreak that led to a recall of peaches within the U.S. and the 2020 Creek Fireplace within the Sierra Nationwide Forest, which broken orchards and lowered crop yields and high quality.

Prima will attempt to discover a purchaser for its property by November, hoping to keep away from an upcoming money crunch between its worthwhile harvest seasons. Prima has about $26 million in money, and it might run out of cash by January if it doesn’t discover a purchaser earlier than subsequent yr’s harvest season begins in Could, in response to court docket paperwork.

If no purchaser emerges, Prima will pivot to a debt restructuring or a liquidation of its enterprise, in response to court docket paperwork.

The corporate was shaped from a 2019 merger of Gerawan Farming Inc. and Wawona Packing Firm. The corporate had over $300 million in gross sales income in 2022, with 60% of that coming from sale of peaches, in response to court docket paperwork.

(Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; modifying by Sandra Maler)