Posted on July 13, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

Organic produce distributor acquired by PE firm

Deal to expand Fresh Direct's reach into Canadian marketplace

Private equity firm, Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company, Inc. (HKW) said it has acquired Mike and Mike’s Inc., a distributor of fresh, certified-organic produce.

Indianapolis-based HKW is merging Mike and Mike’s operations in Woodbridge, Ontario with those of its Vancouver, B.C.-based Fresh Direct Produce, Ltd. business, an importer and distributor of more than 1,000 organic and conventional produce items to the Western Canadian market. HKW acquired Fresh Direct in December 2018.

Terms of the deal, which expands Fresh Direct’s reach into Ontario, were not disclosed.

Mike and Mike’s, founded in 2004, sources produce from U.S. growers and internationally as well as British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. The company also sells grocery and snack products.

Founders Mike Fronte and Mike Dattoli will continue to lead the company, HKW said. Mike and Mike’s serves more than 200 customers including national chains, independent retailers, wholesalers, and food service companies.

“The partnership between Fresh Direct Produce and Mike and Mike’s further expands Fresh Direct Produce’s Canadian distribution footprint, but just as importantly we believe it brings an understanding of the products and operations for a critical region,” said Tom Shaw, vice president at HKW. “As the third add-on acquisition to the Fresh Direct Produce platform, HKW’s emphasis on health and wellness remains a key area of focus, and this add-on further strengthens our commitment to the sector.”

In September, HKW acquired Islands West Manufacturing, Ltd., a wholesaler of value-added, organic and conventional produce and dried spices.

In July 2019, HKW acquired Emperor Specialty Foods, a distributor of mushrooms, pears, and other specialty produce, and merged those operations into Fresh Direct.

In 2016, HKW acquired PANOS brands LLC, a branded consumer foods company in the specialty, natural, organic and mass grocery channels with about $50 million in annual sales.

PANOS, founded in 2007 and headquartered in Rochelle Park, N.J., was a portfolio company of High Road Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New York City.

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