(Nov. 18) VERO BEACH, Fla. — Consolidating its Florida citrus base, Seald Sweet LLC has entered into a joint venture acquisition and operating agreement with a longtime Indian River growing operation.

The addition of Fort Pierce-based SunBrite Citrus Inc. will bring 1.5 million cartons of grapefruit and oranges to Seald Sweet’s worldwide sourcing and marketing program. The move will make Seald Sweet one of Florida’s largest fresh citrus marketers.

Brantley Schirard, SunBrite’s president and majority owner, said he will retain some ownership of the 45-year-old company. He declined to state the percentage.

David Mixon, Seald Sweet’s senior vice president, said the deal gives Seald Sweet ownership of SunBrite’s groves, packinghouses and operating facilities. He declined to state the purchase terms.

As a grove caretaking and maintenance organization, SunBrite has developed up to 30,000 acres of Florida citrus since its 1960 founding, Schirard said. The company, which has worked with Seald Sweet since the 1970s, was one of Seald Sweet’s main grower members when Seald Sweet was a grower-owned cooperative.