Atlantic Beverage buys Flying Fruit wholesale division

April 29, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

Flying Fruit Fantasy, a blended fruit concoction that got its start in Baltimore 14 years ago, is set to take a flying leap of its own with the sale of the wholesale business of Flying Fruit Fantasy, USA Inc. to Atlantic Beverage Co. Inc. of Baltimore.

"It will provide the resources and the talent to make the fruit shake reach its potential," said Robert E. Groth, Flying Fruit FTC Fantasy's president and founder. "I perceive it as a great opportunity."

Atlantic Beverage, a wholesale distributor of specialty nonalcoholic beverages, yesterday said it has acquired the worldwide marketing and distribution rights for Flying Fruit Fantasy Fruitshakes. The deal does not include Flying Fruit's seven retail outlets, Mr. Groth said. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Atlantic Beverage, which had sales of $26.3 million last year, distributes ready-to-drink teas, natural sodas, fruit juices, fruit drinks and still and sparkling waters in the Baltimore-Washington area, including such brands as Elliott's Amazing Juices, Crystal Geyser and Deer Park. The company had a loss of $611,000, or 48 cents a share, last year. But the loss was due to noncash charges such as depreciation and amortization of goodwill. Without that, net income would have been $895,110, or 37 cents a share.

Besides becoming the president of Atlantic Beverage's new Flying Fruit division, Mr. Groth, 43, also will become a member of the company's board of directors. Flying Fruit's six-person operation either will be absorbed by Atlantic Beverage or stay with the retail operation, Mr. Groth said.

Making his first batch of flying fruit shakes in a blender at Baltimore's Harborplace in 1980, Mr. Groth in recent years has developed automated machines to dispense the thick, nondairy blend of strawberries, bananas, pineapples and oranges.

The company's wholesale business has annual sales of about half a million dollars, Mr. Groth said.

Including its retail operations, the fruit shakes are available at 44 locations such as Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Loyola College and the U.S. Naval Academy.

There are six machines alone at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Working through its 7,400 existing beverage customers, Atlantic Beverage plans to install between 900 and 1,000 machines in new locations in the next three years. The company plans to set up 175 during the first year, according to Eric D. Becker, chairman of Atlantic Beverage.

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