Fresh produce wholesaler In2Food has been sold to food processing company Produce Republic, almost two months after it was placed in receivership.
Receivers from FTI Consulting said on Monday the sale will see the business sold as a going concern and save more than 400 jobs.
Produce Republic owns a number of food processing brands, including Aussie Frozen Fruit, which is based in In2Food’s original home in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.
In2Food entered administration and then receivership in mid-August, citing ongoing disruptions caused by lockdowns, and documents released in September revealed the company owed $53 million to creditors, including small businesses.
In2Food supplies fresh fruit and vegetables — which it purchases from small farms and producers — to supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, aged care facilities, governments, airlines and schools.
It was formed in 2018 through a merger of seven other food businesses and also traded as Yarra Valley Farms Australia. It has a national presence, with as many as 10 locations in each state and territory.
In2Food continued trading throughout the receivership process, with FTI Consulting’s Vaughan Strawbridge, joint receiver and manager to the company, commenting that the In2Food team showed resilience by “continuing to provide excellent service to their customers while managing COVID-19 and being in receivership”.
Strawbridge said in a statement the business had been “significantly impacted” by the pandemic, with demand dropping away from key industries such as tourism and catering, and travel restrictions presented challenges when attempting to sell the business as site and management visits were not always possible.
However, In2Food’s state and branch managers assisted with the sale process and Strawbridge said they should be congratulated for “showing off their operations in a real and authentic way with virtual tours made on their phones”.
“This innovative mindset carried over to virtual management meetings, making the sale process efficient as we avoided the complications and time delays of needing to arrange multiple national tours.
“Together with their teams, they are the ones to have made this competitive sale process a success.”
Strawbridge said In2Food’s ready-to-eat meals were removed from the company’s product mix during the receivership, following the withdrawal of a key customer in that segment earlier this year. The investment in that part of the business contributed to its financial difficulties, he said.
“The business is now well placed, focusing back on its core, and positioned to recover strongly as state border restrictions open back up the industries of key customers,” he added.