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Running on Ice: Acquisitions in Florida saving citrus trees

Hello, and welcome to the coolest community in freight! Here you’ll find the latest information on warehouse news, tech developments and all things reefer madness-related. I’m your new controller of the thermostat, Mary O’Connell. Thanks for having me!

All thawed out

Jim Allen/FreightWaves

IMG Citrus, a fresh citrus company, has acquired J&J Fresh Produce in Vero Beach, Florida. This purchase includes a new 185,000-square-foot cold storage and packaging facility and 1,000 acres of farmland. We’re talking over 3,000 pallet positions, state-of-the-art refrigeration technology, 20 dock doors and future expansion space. The new digs are located just a few hours north of Port Everglades and the Port of Miami. 

IMG Citrus is looking to expand its growing operations. This comes despite the fact that growing citrus in Florida has become more challenging in recent years with the state being plagued with citrus greening, a bacterial disease spread by a tiny insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the disease has been present in Florida since 1998 and has infected more than 1.5 million orange trees. More than 20 years ago, there were 900,000 acres of orange trees. 

“We are excited about the potential for this new facility to support our growth and strengthen our position as a leading provider of fresh citrus,” said Melanie Ressler, co-CEO of IMG Enterprises, the parent company of IMG Citrus. “We are committed to delivering the highest quality products to our customers and this acquisition allows us to continue to do so.”

Temperature checks

Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Nor-Am Cold Storage is now the proud owner of a 98,000 square-foot warehouse in Cherokee, Iowa, purchased  from Americold, formerly Cloverleaf cold storage, in December. The warehouse sits on a large tract of land that could be developed into additional warehouse space later on should the demand arise. The plan is to keep the warehouse’s usage for primarily food storage as it is currently. 

Quotable from Scott Albers, president of Nor-Am Cold Storage: “All of the existing employees at the Cherokee location have been retained. They are a very experienced team. We look forward to a smooth transition. The majority of our executive team grew up in the Galva-Holstein [Iowa] area, [so] this feels a bit like coming home. We are truly happy to be here, and we’re looking forward to being an active and involved member of the Cherokee business community.”

Food and drugs

Jim Allen/FreightWaves

RLS Logistics earned the highest ranking of “AA” by the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS) for all of its facilities. That encompasses its e-commerce fulfillment center in Salt Lake City; three cold storage warehouses in New Jersey and one in Pittston, Pennsylvania; RLS Gress in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and RLS Premier in Burleson, Texas. An AA rating means there were no more than five minor “non-conformances.” This new certification places RLS among the top 19% of refrigerated warehousing. 

The BRCGS ranking helps establish the global standard for food safety, packaging materials, storage and distribution, consumer products, agents and brokers — the list goes on and on. 

Cold chain lanes


Oh, how the Lower 48 look good in ice-cold blue. The FreightWaves Refrigerated Outbound Tender Rejection Index is one of the most important tools for measuring reefer carriers’ willingness to accept loads tendered by shippers under contract terms. It represents a percentage of loads, so when the area is darker, there are higher rejection rates (I see you North Dakota) and when it’s lighter, well, the rejections aren’t so bad (ahem, Southern California). When rejection rates start rising, spot rates follow. Knowing when a market is going to see an increase in demand can be the crucial advantage to adjusting spot market rates. 

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