MidOcean Partners, a New York-based middle-market private equity firm focused on the consumer and business services sectors, said it acquired Casper’s Ice Cream (Casper’s), a Richmond, Utah-based manufacturer and supplier of branded and co-packed frozen novelty products sold in grocery and mass retail outlets throughout the United States. Casper’s owns the FatBoy brand, one of the fastest-growing frozen novelty brands in the United States, as well as the Jolly Llama and ChurnBaby brands.
MidOcean Partners said it intends to accelerate the company’s growth and drive value through comprehensive organic initiatives and strategic mergers and acquisitions. Casper’s represents MidOcean’s second investment in branded food in the last six months, following the acquisition of Louisiana Fish Fry in July 2021. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 1925 by Casper Merrill, Casper’s provides a broad array of frozen novelty and ice cream products, including ice cream sandwiches, cones, bars, sticks, cups and other formats. The company operates three manufacturing facilities, one of which is the newest frozen novelty manufacturing facility in the country, MidOcean Partners aid. Casper’s is led by an experienced senior management team, including CEO Kyle Smith and Executive Vice Presidents Keith Lawes and Shane Petersen, under whose leadership the company has expanded distribution and increased capacity while maintaining its commitment to its core values and consumers.
“We are excited to partner with MidOcean to continue driving outsized growth for Casper’s,” said Smith. “MidOcean has an impressive track record in executing transformational growth. Their partnership, expertise and industry knowledge will enable us to dedicate our focus to key areas of our strategy, such as investment in our people and organic sales growth, which will come from expanded distribution and enhanced go-to-market strategy. We look forward to continue serving our customers and end consumers — existing and new — across the country.”
Daniel Penn, managing director of MidOcean Partners, said that his company has been evaluating opportunities in branded foods for a number of years, with a specific focus on the frozen novelty category.
“We are honored to be a part of the Casper’s family and look forward to being great stewards of legacy built by the Merrills over the last 95-plus years,” he said, “including the company’s commitment to service leadership, philanthropy and community relations. We are thrilled to partner with Casper’s exceptional management team for the company’s next phase of growth. Our focus in branded food has been in partnership with a host of MidOcean Operating Partners, including Steve Spinner, who will serve as chairman of the Casper’s board. Joining Steve on the board will be MidOcean Operating Partner DJ Jenson and Maura Mottolese, the former CEO of Cholula and Tate’s Bake Shop.”
Spinner joined MidOcean as an operating partner in 2021 and brings a broad range of capabilities to the firm including food distribution, strategic planning, human capital management, business services brands and data insights, MidOcean Partners said. Most recently, he served as chairman and CEO of United Natural Foods (UNFI), a wholesaler of grocery, proteins and produce. During his tenure, UNFI grew its sales to over $28 billion, with the Brands and Services business growing to over $1 billion and the transformational acquisition of SuperValu in October 2018. Prior to joining UNFI in 2008, he was a director and CEO of Performance Food Group Company.
“I’m excited to partner with the Casper’s management team and look forward to driving growth and building on the momentum of FatBoy and the entire portfolio of brands,” said Spinner. “Casper’s offers a wide variety of delicious products for its customers with numerous avenues for continued growth via expanding into new geographies, channels and product lines. We look forward to executing this strategic plan by working closely with the Casper’s team.”
Casper’s has been owned by the Merrill family for over 95 years, MidOcean Partners said. Paul Merrill, a third-generation family member, has overseen the company’s significant growth over the last 15 years as Casper’s expanded into multiple brands and new geographies supported by meaningful investments in manufacturing capacity.
“Having grown up in this business, I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, Casper Merrill, in pursuing the next phase of growth for Casper’s with a talented new partner in MidOcean and with the management team led by Kyle, Keith and Shane, all of whom helped drive us to this point,” said Merrill. “This transaction secures FatBoy’s position as a national brand leader in novelty ice cream. I could not be more excited to see where the FatBoy brand can go with additional resources and talented people at the table.”