(Feb. 23) VENTURA, Calif. — Sunkist Growers Inc. and Taylor Farms are creating a joint venture that will expand the citrus cooperative’s value-added products.

Executives from Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist and Salinas-based Taylor have signed an agreement that creates a new, separate company called Sunkist Taylor LLC.

Details will be announced in the next three months, Sunkist president and chief executive officer Jeff Gargiulo said Feb. 22 at Sunkist’s annual meeting.

The joint venture will rely on Taylor Farms to process and ship Sunkist’s Fun Fruit packages and possibly other fresh-cut products, Gargiulo said in his final Sunkist annual meeting presentation. It has not been determined which processing plants will be used.

Representatives of Taylor Farms could not be reached for comment.

Packages made for school snack programs and specific foodservice applications also are possible through the collaboration, he said.

Pairing with an experienced processing company gives Sunkist a value it doesn’t have, he said.

“Sunkist doesn’t have operations experience, and Taylor Farms has the whole level of distribution,” Gargiulo said, adding that Sunkist will buy new machinery for the venture and Taylor Farms will use excess capacity in its plants to accommodate Sunkist’s products.

Rick Harris, general manager of Sunkist’s value-added division, will be president of Sunkist Taylor.

Gargiulo announced last month that he would leave Sunkist when his contract expires in June. Plans should be soon under way to find a successor.

A search committee likely will be used for the process, which could include consideration of internal and external candidates, Gargiulo said.

He said he plans to do whatever it takes before, during and after the process to assist the board of directors and search committee to find Sunkist’s next president.