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Frank M. Hunt III

Hunt Bros. Cooperative

Founded in 1922 by D.A. Hunt and Charles M. Hunt for grove development, Hunt Bros. gradually bought groves of its own. In 1928, it built the Highland Park Packing House. D.A. Hunt was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 1989.

Frank M. Hunt III is President and third-generation owner of the Hunt Bros. Cooperative, one of the six founding members of what is now Florida’s Natural Growers.

Like his father before him, Frank is also Vice-Chairman of Florida’s Natural Growers.


Your packinghouse is a well-oiled machine.
Well, we have been at it a while! According to our records, the only hiccup happened before we were even up and running—the 1928 Labor Day hurricane ripped the whole roof off!

It’s certainly a booming operation today. How did it start?
My grandfather, Deeley Hunt, and his brother Charles started Hunt Bros. in 1922. Deeley bought Charles out eventually, and in the ‘50s, his sons Ellis and Frank (my dad) joined him in the business. My grandfather was the first VP of Florida Citrus Canners, and later he became President and General Manager. My dad, Frank M. Hunt II, was on the Board of Directors for 51 years, 30 of them as Chairman and President.

Wasn’t your dad also the father of the “premium brand” idea?
You could say that. In his time with the co-op, Dad led the transition from a producer-oriented co-op to a market-oriented co-op. He helped develop our “premium brand” with marketing that focused on the people behind the juice—us grower-owners.

When did you come on board?
After college, in the mid-‘70s. My cousins (G. Ellis Hunt, Jr. and W. Deeley Hunt) and brother-in-law (John S. Matteson) also manage divisions of Hunt Bros.

And your son, Daniel?
Well, when Daniel finished school, he went to work for another corporation! But pretty soon he decided to join us over here. Must’ve figured, if he’s going to work that hard, he may as well work hard for the family business! My son, Daniel, along with his cousins, Michael Matteson and Deeley A. Hunt, represent the fourth generation of Hunt Bros.

You’ve spent nearly your whole life in the packinghouse.
Yeah, I can tell you the yearly numbers for Hunt Bros., what ratio of varieties went to what region and how it matched up to years past. It’s just part of being in a citrus grower family.

How important is family involvement, anyway?
Very. That’s how you create a personal interest in the business.

So, what are your personal interests?
Growing and marketing the highest-quality fruit possible—no compromises! Deeley Hunt established those values long ago. We pay close attention to the health of the oranges in the groves, because that brings better fruit to the packinghouse and better orange juice to the table.

In today’s global economy, what is the key to staying competitive?
Growing each crop so that the quality of fruit is above industry standards. We will certainly face stiff competition from other growing areas of the world. But I believe Florida can compete. We’re located closer to one of the best markets in the world. And with the right varieties and good per-acre production, Florida oranges will have a distinct edge. At the end of the day, it’s what my father and grandfather always said: “If you're going to stay in business, you’ve got to do what you need in order to grow the best fruit.”


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