Baker & Murakami Produce Co. LLLP is the merger of two of the largest shippers in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion-growing region, Murakami Produce and Baker Packing Co., both headquartered in Ontario, OR.
Negotiations for the merger have been in the works since 2016, and Kitamura explained, “Over a year ago, the management teams of Baker and Murakami began talks about creating a state-of-the-art packing facility, a facility that could stand the test of time and allow us to be more competitive in our industry.”
Both Murakami and Baker are well-established, premium packers, with Baker moving onions on a year-round basis and Murakami, owned in part by the six-farm Murakami Growers LLC, in a longstanding marketing partnership with Potandon Produce in sales.
With the passing of decades, each operation has seen significant growth in volume and industry stature.
Its roots in growing, Murakami Produce was founded by the late Sig Murakami in 1969 as the onion packing and shipping division for Murakami Farms Inc. Kitamura joined the company in 1980.
Murakami Farms ceased operations in 1983, at which time Murakami Produce became a commercial packer and shipper for area onion growers, and in 2006 the company formed a joint venture for sales with Idaho Falls-based Potandon Produce.
Baker Packing got its start as a division of DeBruyn Produce in 1972 when longtime produce man Jerry Baker began shipping onions out of a 7,200-square foot warehouse in Ontario. His son Steve joined the DeBruyn operation in 1984, and in 1997 the two bought the company and formed Baker Packing Co.
Over the years Baker Packing and Murakami Produce have established themselves as two of the region’s most reputable and highest-volume shippers. The merger of the two sheds creates a powerhouse in the industry.