Posted on September 12, 2019 by Sustainable Food News

PE firm grows newly acquired organic produce biz

HKW adds another produce supplier to its Fresh Direct Produce biz

Private equity firm, Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company, Inc. (HKW) said Wednesday it has acquired Islands West Manufacturing, Ltd., a wholesaler of value-added, organic and conventional produce and dried spices.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HKW is merging Island West’s operations in Victoria, British Columbia 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, which it acquired in December 2018.

Fresh Direct sells organic oranges under the Simply Fresh Organic brand and organic avocados under the Simply Ripe brand. Fresh Direct also sells house-brand organic spices.

“This acquisition meets several key objectives for Fresh Direct Produce, offering our customers a range of complementary new products, a wider and more efficient distribution network, and a state-of-the-art processing facility, adding capacity and improving operations,” said Davis Yung, CEO and co-founder of Fresh Direct. “With a strong leadership team already in place, Islands West immediately provides the fresh-cut capabilities our customers want, while at the same time expanding our overall product offering and geographic reach.”

In July, 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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