For Immediate Release:
Monday, June 13, 2011
Vancouver, B.C., June 13 2011/CNW/
- Village Farms International, Inc. (the “Company”) (TSX: VFF) announced today its plans to build a state-of-the-art, greenhouse located in Monahans, Texas during 2011. This project broke ground in early June, it will be the fifth greenhouse built by the Company in the State of Texas, and will be based on the Company's innovative proprietary technology termed; GATES™, and is expected to begin production in early 2012. The first of its kind, the Company's GATES™ greenhouse has successfully operated over the past four years in nearby Marfa, Texas. Phase one of the Monahans greenhouse will incorporate a 30-acre production greenhouse in addition to various other service buildings including an advanced technology packing, sorting, and distribution facility. The long term plan is to build a total of 120 acres, on the 320 acre site. The Monahans greenhouse will initially employ 80 to 100 people and bear a capital cost of approximately US$42.0 million, which includes certain infrastructure improvements for future phases. Each consecutive phase would contribute approximately 30 acres of production area.
The Company is considering financing options and will finalize its plan in the coming weeks but expects to use mostly debt, cash and ongoing cash flow to fund the initial phase. The Company may raise equity, in the future, to provide equity capital for the additional phases or other greenhouse developments it is working on.
The Company's existing GATES™ greenhouse in Marfa, Texas has proven to be a highly efficient, year round, precision agriculture, production facility allowing the Company to produce 365 days per year, with demonstrated yields exceeding 100 kilos per square meter per year. In 2007, in its first year of operation the Marfa GATES™ greenhouse broke the world record for production of tomatoes. The new Monahans greenhouse will provide year round supply and enhance the Company's product offerings for its existing local and existing customer base. The additional capacity will also enable the Company to diversify and expand its product offerings at its existing 122 acre facilities in Marfa and Fort Davis Texas.
Michael DeGiglio, CEO of the Company stated, “Currently we face increased demand for our U.S. product because of the 'buy local' food movement. Given the momentum of this cultural change, our new facility is well positioned to support our customers in this increased demand for regionally grown fresh premium produce. We are very excited about this next project not only because it is in the State of Texas but also because it will be one of most advanced commercial food producing greenhouses built to date.”
The Monahans greenhouse will be based on a highly resource efficient hydroponic growing system. In keeping with the Company's “good for the earth” sustainability philosophy, the project is focused on water conservation, land preservation, food safety, integrated pest management, and reducing the overall carbon footprint. The greenhouse will recycle its water up to five times and utilize 86% less water compared to field tomato farming. Higher yields per acre equate to less land for producing greater quantities of food, up to 30 times more food per acre compared to field farming. In addition, the Monahans greenhouse will receive a portion of its electricity needs from renewable wind power. This state of the art facility will operate within a fully enclosed system mitigating outside contaminants and unwanted crop pressures in order to ensure the highest food safety standards and crop vitality available today.
In addition to its other next generation technologies the Monahans greenhouse will use supplemental lighting and be among the first greenhouses in North America to use diffused roof glass capable of increasing yields over conventional clear glass. The Company (in conjunction with its technology partners Verbakel Bomkas BV and Hortimax BV, both headquartered in The Netherlands) has developed advances in highly efficient growing systems enhancing our “from seed to fork” integrated business model, built with proprietary intellectual property strengthening our position as a leader in the industry.
The Monahans greenhouse will be the twelfth greenhouse that the Company has developed, built, acquired or operated over the past 22 years, including projects in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and Texas. In addition, the Company owns and operates the largest greenhouse in Canada located outside of Vancouver British Columbia.
There will be a conference call on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 to discuss the Company's new development and first quarter 2011 results. The teleconference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, (1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) and will be hosted by Mr. Michael DeGiglio Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Stephen Ruffini, Chief Financial Officer.
To participate in the teleconference, please dial into the call a few minutes before the start time: 1-888-231-8191 or 647-427-7450.
Should you be unable to participate, a replay of the call will be archived and can be accessed on the Company's Web site at www.villagefarms.com on June 15, 2011.
We look forward to having you participate in our call.
About Village Farms:
Village Farms is one of the largest producers, marketers and distributors of premium-quality, greenhouse-grown tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers in North America. This premium product as well as premium product produced under exclusive arrangements with other greenhouse producers is grown in sophisticated, highly efficient and intensive agricultural greenhouse facilities located in British Columbia and Texas. Product is marketed and distributed under the Village Farms® brand primarily to retail grocers and dedicated fresh food distributors throughout the United States and Canada. Village Farms currently operates distribution centers located in key markets in the United States and Canada. Since its inception, Village Farms has been guided by sustainable agricultural principles which integrate four main goals; environmental health, economic profitability, and social & economic equality. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.villagefarms.com.