MILBRIDGE, Maine — Jasper Wyman & Son, the largest U.S.-owned grower and processor of wild blueberries, announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement to acquire 8,000 acres in northern New Brunswick in order to increase its supply of the low-bush blueberries.
At the same time, the company announced the opening of an expanded processing plant on Prince Edward Island that will begin operations Aug. 1.
The 13 square miles of land the firm acquired from a private owner in late June — a mixture of wild blueberry fields and timberland located on the Acadian Peninsula — eventually will yield at least 5,000 acres of wild blueberry cropland, the company said in a news release. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
With 1,000 acres the company already owns in New Brunswick, the acquisition will make it a large landowner in the province and a “rational and sustainable buyer” for blueberry growers in the region, the company said.
The acquired property is unique for its wild blueberry potential, contiguous roads and bridges, and its location in the middle of the fastest-growing wild blueberry supply region, according to Wyman.
“We have been looking at several strategic opportunities to expand our berry supply, but as soon as we toured the land, this jumped to the front of the line,” said Ed Flanagan, Wyman president and CEO. “Our sales have been very strong thanks to the health benefits of wild blueberries and our own marketing efforts, and it has been our primary objective to increase supply. This land acquisition and the [factory expansion] on Prince Edward Island are two major commitments toward that objective.”
The expansion, a $20 million investment, added 125,000 square feet to an existing processing plant. It added 13 million pounds of blueberry processing capacity and 10 million of cold storage, more than doubling and tripling those two capacities, respectively.
The expanded processing plant will have a positive impact on the company’s operations in Maine, Flanagan said. The company was having to send millions of pounds of Canadian blueberries to its plant in Cherryfield in the past because there was insufficient production capacity at the Prince Edward Island plant. This resulted in a slowdown of harvesting operations in Maine and blueberries that could not be harvested in time.
Wild blueberries harvested from the newly acquired property will be processed at the company’s plant on Prince Edward Island.
Wyman’s expects to double the local workforce at the Prince Edward Island plant by adding 25 full-time and 75 seasonal employees.
With the acquisition, Wyman now farms 12,000 acres in Maine, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Wyman, which has a processing plant in Cherryfield, headquarters in Milbridge and executive offices in Massachusetts, offers a line of wild blueberry products and complementary frozen berry products through retailers, foodservice and industrial distributors throughout the country.
Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Jasper Wyman & Son is headquartered in Massachusetts. The company has executive offices in Massachusetts but is headquartered in Milbridge, Maine.