From: Florida’s Natural Growers
November 9, 2015 – Lake Wales, FL: The 82nd Annual Stockholders Meeting of Florida’s Natural Growers was held at the Lake Wales Country Club on November 9. During his opening remarks, Chairman Dennis Broadaway commented, “These record-breaking financial results could not have been achieved without the continuing success of our flagship brand, Florida’s Natural, as well as the outstanding performance of a dedicated team of Citrus World employees.”
Dr. Robert M. Behr, the cooperative’s chief executive officer, opened with key highlights of retired CEO Steve Caruso’s career, which included the Florida’s Natural brand and developing the company’s core value commitment. Behr emphasized delivering premium returns to the growers, increasing returns and shareholder value and the importance of the growth of Florida’s Natural®. Behr highlighted the companywide commitment to key cost reductions through efficiencies. He concluded with comments about the Planting Incentive Program (PIP), launched last year, resulting in over 1 million new trees in the ground, many already planted. The success of the PIP program is indicative of a growing sense of optimism.
Chip Hendry, chief financial officer, highlighted the strength of the balance sheet for the cooperative as well as key benefits to membership at Citrus World, Inc. Hendry announced the indicated pool returns for 2014-15 as $1.67 for grapefruit, $1.85 for early/mids and $2.10 for Valencias, and reported that, “These are the highest orange returns in Florida’s Natural history and will likely once again exceed the 2014-15 industry averages.”
Chris Groom, vice president of sales and marketing reviewed the sales results of 2014-2015 and highlighted distribution growth, new products and new advertising as key contributors to the cooperative’s success. He also mentioned that pricing advances were a key to the record grower returns. In looking at the 2015-2016 season, Groom outlined new packaging and continued strong advertising as a source of strength. In closing, he stated, “Our co-op’s growers face a huge challenge, and we will do everything possible to keep providing strong returns through the strength of the Florida’s Natural brand.”
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Steve Crisafulli, updated the group about current legislation at the state level and the importance of the citrus industry to the state of Florida.
Following the meeting, the board of directors met and elected the officers for the upcoming year. Re-elected as president and chairman was Dennis P. Broadaway; Frank M. Hunt, III, vice chairman and first vice president; Dr. Robert M. Behr, chief executive officer; Stephen Caruso, senior vice president; William J. Hendry, chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary; Christopher W. Groom, vice president of sales and marketing; L. Davis Crumbly, vice president of agricultural services; Charles T. Matthews, vice president of operations and John W. Clarke, Jr., vice president of planning.
Florida’s Natural members include Ben Hill Griffin, Inc., Citrus Marketing Services, Dundee Citrus Growers Association, Haines City Citrus Growers Association, Hunt Bros. Cooperative, Lake Placid Citrus Cooperative, Lake Wales Citrus Growers Association, Orange Growers Marketing Association, Peace River Packing Company, Southern Gardens Grove Corporation, Umatilla CGA, Waverly Growers Cooperative and Winter Haven Citrus Growers Association.
First formed in 1933, Florida’s Natural Growers is a cooperative of 14 grower organizations representing nearly 1,000 individual growers owning almost 60,000 acres of citrus in Florida. Its flagship brand, not from concentrate Florida’s Natural® brand, is sold throughout the United States and in more than 40 countries in the world. The cooperative is headquartered in Lake Wales, Florida, and operates plants there and in Umatilla, Florida.