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Pacific Coast Producers has called off its planned acquisition of a fruit processing facility in Modesto, California, owned by Seneca Foods Corp.

The two food companies announced last week that the asset purchase agreement signed in March had been terminated by mutual agreement because of delays in getting the deal approved. Pacific Coast Producers had planned to buy the plant and associated business for some $175 million.

Both companies recently received a "second request" letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking more information to determine any competitive issues with the transaction.

In light of the delay associated with this request, the two companies agreed that it was in their best interests to terminate the agreement and focus on the upcoming production season.

Dan Vincent, CEO of Pacific Coast Producers, and Kraig Kayser, CEO of Seneca Foods, said in a joint statement: "It is a discouraging outcome given the many very real challenges facing our industry; however our immediate priority must be to focus on the pack as the harvest is just weeks away."

Seneca Foods' chief financial officer, Tim Benjamin, told just-food that the information requested by the Department of Justice was "a lengthy list" but gave no further details. He added that the two companies had not yet decided whether to pursue the planned transaction again in the future.

Seneca Foods is a leading U.S. provider of packaged fruit and vegetables, while California-based Pacific Coast Producers is a grower-owned agricultural cooperative formed in 1971. The cooperative processes and packages fruits and tomatoes for retail, foodservice and industrial markets under private label brands.