(May 24) IRWINDALE, Calif. — Irwindale-based Ready Pac Produce Inc. and Salinas-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. plan to merge the latter’s Salad Time value-added business with Ready Pac in a deal that would combine the third- and fourth-largest fresh-cut salad companies.

Executives at the two companies signed a letter of intent in May for a deal that would merge Salad Time’s fresh-cut salad and vegetable business for retail and foodservice in the U.S. and Canada with Ready Pac’s operations.

The deal is subject to approval by regulatory agencies and the boards of both companies and is expected to close by the end of the third quarter.

The deal would include the four Tanimura & Antle-owned fresh-cut processing facilities in Salinas; Montreal; Jackson, Ga.; and Plymouth, Ind. Tanimura & Antle would then focus on its fresh produce commodity business.

Ready Pac facilities are expected to remain as they are, officials said.

Under the deal, the senior officers of Ready Pac after the merger with the Salad Time business would be Dennis Gertmenian, chairman; Larry Kern, president and chief executive officer; and Craig Delaney, executive vice president and chief financial officer. Rick Antle, chief executive officer of Tanimura & Antle, would join Ready Pac’s board of directors.

“This partnership brings together the strong customer- and consumer-oriented businesses of two great companies,” Gertmenian said in a news release. “The strong value-added business that Salad Time has built, along with the locations of their processing facilities, are an excellent complement to Ready Pac’s current portfolio of products and facilities.”

Antle said the merger gives Tanimura & Antle the opportunity to focus more on its core business of growing and selling fresh produce.

Ken Silveira, president of Tanimura & Antle, said he and the company’s growers look forward to working with and supplying Ready Pac.