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California companies purchase Warrens cranberry processing plant
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California companies purchase Warrens cranberry processing plant

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Processing plant

The CranGrow facility in Warrens in 2018.

An idled cranberry processing plant in Monroe County has taken a step toward resuming production. Innovative Sales and Traina Foods, both of California, combined to launch American Berry Co. and announced Wednesday the new company has purchased the CranGrow processing facility in Warrens.

The plant shut down June 18 after its owner, Graceland Fruit, transferred production to a facility in Michigan.

CranGrow opened the $20 million facility in August 2016 but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2017. Graceland bought the plant in 2018 after a bankruptcy judge in Eau Claire approved a plan in which CranGrow leased the processing plant to Graceland and remained in business as a grower-owned cooperative. CranGrow board member Linda Prehn welcomed the acquisition. The facility has 58,000 square feet of processing space and is expected to employ 70 people.

“This is great news for our growers and the community, and we welcome the new owners to the Wisconsin cranberry family,” Prehn said. “They are a well-established, knowledgeable and successful team that is sure to inject new energy and expertise into the facility and industry.”

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American Berry will be led by newly appointed CEO Alan DeVore, who was Graceland Fruit CEO from 2011-19. He said American Berry is in the process of filling staff positions at all levels at the facility and “is reaching out to former Warrens employees in the hopes that we’ll see some familiar faces return.”

“We’re proud to join the Wisconsin cranberry community and bring new energy and perspective to the Warrens plant,” DeVore said. “As long-time growers ourselves, we understand the desires and concerns of cranberry growers and can be a better partner because of it.”

Willie Traina of Traina Foods said the new ownership team represents multiple generations in the dried fruit industry. Traina Foods grows, sun dries and produces sun-dried fruit. Innovative Sales sources bulk raw and dried fruit ingredients.

“The facility acquisition and formation of Amercian Berry provides unequaled syngeries for Traina Foods, Innovative Sales and local cranberry growers,” Traina said.

"This is great news for our growers and the community, and we welcome the new owners to the Wisconsin cranberry family. They are a well-established, knowledgeable and successful team that is sure to inject new energy and expertise into the facility and industry."

Linda Prehn, CranGrow board member

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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