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Seald Sweet International: Name change highlights new global strategy

?We are turning the page in preparation for the future," stated David Mixon, senior vice president of Seald Sweet International LLC. "The addition of the word "International? to our name is to project to the trade and to the public what is now factual: we are a fully integrated and global organization."

Seald Sweet?s name change was announced in late December. Although the company was recognized as an international rather than a regional company in past years, recent major changes within the firm have given it a steadfast foothold in its global strategies.

In early December, the firm announced that Uni-Veg Group, the Belgium-based international produce leader, had become a majority owner of Seald Sweet. Mr. Mixon joined the company at approximately the same time. Previously the vice president of DNE World Fruit Sales in Ft. Pierce, FL, he became known as a pacesetter in the world citrus movement over the past two decades.

?Seald Sweet has officially moved from a cooperative mentality to an international supply enterprise," Mr. Mixon told The Produce News. "This means that we now encompass all sectors of the industry and in all corners of the globe. We deal in product from Florida, California, Texas, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and anywhere else we feel the quality of product meets our standards. In today?s market, it is imperative to understand the meaning of produce, and specifically how citrus is integrated into the North American supply chain. That knowledge will enable our customers to understand and to procure the right product, and in turn to gear it to their appropriate customers."

Mr. Mixon said that Seald Sweet?s past experience has given it a profound understanding of how to deal with suppliers in foreign countries. That it is vertically integrated enables the company to stay actively involved in the daily functions of its suppliers and to assist them in ensuring the production of the high-quality produce that Seald Sweet needs to satisfy its demanding customer base. It is also a strongly market-driven company that has evolved with time and kept pace with changes in technology and trade.

?Being fully integrated means controlling operations from the planting stage all the way to the table," said Mr. Mixon. "Many companies claim they are vertically integrated, but until a firm is controlling the quality of seed put into the ground, and then following the product all the way to the consumer?s table to acknowledge his level of satisfaction, the claim is not accurate. Seald Sweet can make that claim today."

Mr. Mixon added that the Uni-Veg Group is involved in many other commodities, which will enable Seald Sweet to head in new directions in the North American produce industry in the future.

Mayda Sotomayer, who was promoted to senior vice president when the Uni-Veg deal was finalized, said that Seald Sweet is currently going through the most exciting time in its history.

?I am privileged to be a part of the company today," she said. "I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for David when he worked with our competitor, and it is very exciting to be working with him today. Although Seald Sweet is a 96-year old company, it is fresh and innovative in marketing, technology and all other aspects of its operations. And our partnership with Uni-Veg only strengthens our abilities. The strategies we have set forth for our future reflect the advancement in our field, and we are prepared to move forward with solid momentum. Our enormous growth potential, combined with our strong team, results in a synergy that will ensure our future successes."

In response, Mr. Mixon said that he has the utmost confidence and respect for the Seald Sweet team, including Ms. Sotomayer.

?As a competitor, I always recognized Seald Sweet?s aggressiveness in its direction toward vertical integration," he said. "I agree that Uni-Veg will help to provide us with the tools to make this movement successful. The team we have in place today is very strong, and together we can now work to enhance our customers? opportunities. Mayda is strongly responsible for the successes the company has already enjoyed, and I know she will continue to be a driving force in our future accomplishments and growth."

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