US vegetable producer SK Foods and RHM Industrial/Specialty Food have filed for involuntary bankruptcy, the company announced yesterday (7 May).

The companies were preparing to commence voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions this week when their lenders commenced involuntary bankruptcy proceedings on Tuesday evening.

SK Foods, LP and RHM, had been working retain all of their employees and continue operations at both plants while the companies sought to consummate a sale of the businesses through anticipated bankruptcy proceedings.

The companies earlier retained investment bankers who had already been in extensive discussions with several prospective buyers.

The companies said they are currently discussing the issues with their lenders to try to obtain interim financing to permit them to continue operations during the course of the bankruptcy proceedings and to prepare for the upcoming tomato packing season.

They said they remain “hopeful” that the banks will join with them to keep the plants operating while these issues are worked out. “The most important thing to me is that is no loss of jobs and that the buyers receive a fully operating company,” said SK Foods CEO, Scott Salyer.

“Our companies have always strived to support our employees, vendors, growers and customers and have enjoyed a great reputation in the community,” Salyer said, “and we hope that everyone will keep that in mind. In this terrible economy, we hope that everyone will remain calm and work together to obtain the very best outcome for all, and particularly for our hardworking employees and the community.”

“These are still great companies with excellent fundamentals,” said Salyer, “I hope that prospective buyers and lenders will see that and work together with us in the weeks ahead.”