(Oct. 17) Salad processor and marketer Fresh Express LLC has acquired all assets of family-owned Verdelli Farms Inc., Harrisburg, Pa.

The move gives the Fresh Express brand increased production and expands it into the Northeast.

The acquisition was finalized Oct. 15. The merger includes Verdelli’s 165,000-square-foot Harrisburg facility, the Verdelli Farms- and Harvest Select-branded bagged salads and fresh-cut vegetables for retail and foodservice and its fruit snacks. Verdelli Farms employees — about 400 — will keep their jobs.

“The Fresh Express brands will begin appearing as soon as possible after the validation of required levels of quality and safety,” Fresh Express spokeswoman Barbara Hines wrote in an Oct. 17 e-mail.

Fresh Express is a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, Cincinnati.

The company has annual revenues of $80 million and will be integrated into Chiquita’s Fresh Express unit. In 2006, Verdelli Farms produced more than 8 million cases of fresh salads, vegetables and fruit snacks, according to a news release.

Mike Mitchell, director of corporate communications for Chiquita Brands, said Oct. 16 that Fresh Express would continue to meet all customer commitments with the brands currently in place.

“We do expect over time to convert the value-added retail salads to the Fresh Express brand, and we’ll evaluate the viability of all of the Verdelli-branded products,” he said. “They do have some fruit-snack product, but it’s the salad business that we’re talking about.”

Hines said in the e-mail that the company acquired all Verdelli lines, including the fruit program, and that it would honor all co-packing contracts and agreements.

“As the integration begins, the collective team will review all product lines and programs to ensure company goals, customer needs and consumer demands are being optimally met,” she said in the e-mail.

Mike Verdelli, former vice president of sales and marketing, said the company only co-packs for Mann Packing Co., Salinas.

Mike Jarrard, president and chief executive officer of Mann Packing, said Oct. 17 that it’s business as usual from Mann’s perspective, as far as service to customers from Verdelli Farms-packed product is concerned.

“It will not be transitioning to any other label, but our label,” he said.