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Major B.C. mushroom grower merging into U.S. firm

Champ's Mushrooms to become arm of South Mill

One of Canada’s biggest mushroom producers is set to merge into one of the biggest North American players in the same sector.

Pennsylvania-based South Mill Mushrooms, which grows for distribution across the U.S. and into Eastern Canada, announced Tuesday it will combine its operations with those of Champ’s Mushrooms, based at Aldergrove in the Vancouver area.

The two companies said Tuesday their deal creates “one of the largest mushroom producers and suppliers in North America, servicing customers in all segments of the mushroom marketplace throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

A South Mill spokesperson said Thursday via email that the deal is expected to offer “numerous operational synergies” and the two companies’ customers “will benefit from the supply stability and depth created by this transaction.”

Champ’s, founded in 1998 by the Quach family as a small-scale operation, has since expanded to include 12 indoor mushroom farms in British Columbia, producing over 35 million lbs. of mushrooms per year for distribution across Canada and into the U.S.

The company employs about 600 people and sells conventional and organic white button, portobello, crimini and oyster mushrooms through retailers including Walmart, Loblaws, Save On Foods, Safeway and Whole Foods Market.

South Mill, based at Kennett Square, Pa., about 40 km southwest of Philadelphia, began in 1932 as a small mushroom farm operated by the Pia family.

The company today moves about 75 million lbs. of fresh, frozen and processed mushrooms per year, through distribution centres in Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston and Dallas, to points across the U.S. and into Montreal and Toronto.

South Mill supplies the retail market under its own South Mill brand, and also supplies foodservice markets such as the pizza industry, as well as frozen products and industrial ingredients for processors. Its network also imports and distributes vegetables and fruits for foodservice customers.

Terms of the deal between the two companies aren’t being disclosed, except that both firms will operate under the umbrella of the South Mill Mushrooms holding corporation and will continue to market their goods under the South Mill and Champ’s brands.

The management teams of both businesses “will remain active in the day-to-day operations of the business,” the companies said.

South Mill also emphasized via email that there will be “no plant closures, slowdowns or staff reductions​ of any kind as a result of this transaction.”

“Champ’s and South Mill share similar values, with a demonstrated commitment to and care for their customers and employees,” South Mill’s co-CEO Michael Pia said in Tuesday’s release.

“Together we will have production facilities on both North American coasts and a distribution platform to supply retail and foodservice channels nationwide.” — AGCanada.com Network

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