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Seminole Tribe Sells Citrus Business

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In April 2014, the Seminole Tribe purchased a 60 percent ownership in a major citrus operation. After substantially growing the company, now the tribe and partner William G. Roe & Sons Inc. (the Roe family founded Blue Lake Citrus in 1927) are selling the brand to Miami-based Sun Orchard, reported The South Florida Business Journal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sun Orchard, founded in 1984, is owned by New York-based private equity firm Centre Partners.

“We are pleased to have found a home for Blue Lake's excellent assets with Sun Orchard, a natural successor to our efforts to provide the retail industry with high quality premium products. We are excited to continue to watch the growth and success of Sun Orchard as these assets continue on their journey of expansion,” said Tena Granit, executive director of Finance for Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.

The tribe continues to operate additional citrus groves and businesses. In April 2013, the tribe acquired a majority interest in Noble Food Service through Noble Produce Holdings Inc. Noble Food Service manages the sales and marketing of Blue Lake Citrus Products. That initial partnership greatly expanded the growth of the Seminole Pride and Noble brand of citrus juices sold throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Seminole Pride and Noble brands are recognized for their pure tangerine juice. They also offer orange, organic orange, tangerine clementine, tangerine guava mango, organic orange tangerine, blood orange, super red grapefruit, organic grapefruit, lemonade, lemon, lime, organic lemonade, organic apple, spring water and seasonal juices like Pummelo Paradise.

Winter Haven-based Blue Lake Citrus Products makes the Noble juice brand. Blue Lake boasts an impressive retail customer base of some of the largest supermarkets and grocery stores including Publix Super Markets, Ahold, ACME Markets, Giant Eagle Supermarket and Whole Foods Market, states a press release.

"We have been impressed with the Blue Lake products and their growth initiatives for quite some time and are delighted to bring products of exceptional taste and quality into our family of juice offerings,” said Sun Orchard Executive Chairman Jean-Marc Rotsaert. "The assets being acquired today present Sun Orchard with an exceptional opportunity to notably escalate its growth. In conjunction with our long-term strategy to augment distribution channels, the addition of increased retail presence and our ability to deliver our highest-quality products to more customers are exciting for Sun Orchard."

Beyond citrus and its successful gaming enterprises including the Hard Rock brand, the Hollywood, Florida-based tribe also owns and operates: cattle companies, the Brighton Seminole Campground, the Brighton Seminole Trading Post, credit and finance services, Seminole Sugarcane, a cigarette wholesale and distribution center, retail smoke shops, industrial cleaning services, Natural Beef Products, and commercial construction.