Written by The Business Journal Staff
A New York venture capital firm has made an equity investment in Wawona Packing Co., providing an influx of cash to be used for future expansion plans.
Bob Smittcamp, whose father Earl founded the peach farming and packing operation in 1948, confirmed that Paine Schwartz Partners has been brought in as an equity partner.
He declined to offer any details on the investment and how it positions the venture capital firm in the third-generation family business, but did say the deal would fund future expansion plans he said were “confidential.”
People with knowledge of the deal say it is worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Smittcamp said customers would not notice any changes in the business, which includes 8,500 acres of tree fruit and a packing operation that pushes more than seven million cartons of tree fruit and citrus a year.
Smittcamp’s son, Brent, is the president of Wawona Packing.
“Brent will continue to run the business,” Bob Smittcamp said. “Life will be good.”
Paine Schwartz Partners focuses its resources in agribusiness, investing more than $1 billion in the sector over the last 10 years. With offices in New York and San Mateo, Paine Schwartz Partners invested in Wawona Packing as part of its $893 million funding round dubbed “Food Chain Fund IV.”
The Smittcamp name is iconic in the Central Valley food and farming industry. Earl Smittcamp, who died in 2014, laid the foundation for the family’s farming interests. Today, Bob Smittcamp is chairman and CEO of Lyons Magnus Co., a major supplier to the foodservice and ingredient industries. His brother Bill is president and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods.