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September 12, 2014 – Akoya Capital Partners, LLC, in partnership with Balance Point Capital Partners and Plexus Capital and current management, has acquired Food Evolution LLC (www.foodevolution.com). Headquartered in Chicago, IL, Food Evolution is a leading producer of “gourmet,” fresh-prepared, grab-n-go sandwiches, wraps, salads and side dishes for numerous channels, including retail, food service, airports, universities, and contract feeders.
Lou Nieto, Akoya Managing Director and Consumer Food Sector Leader, will serve as Executive Chair of Food Evolution. Lou, former President of ConAgra Consumer Foods, stated, “We are delighted to partner with Balance Point and Plexus, and we are very excited about this opportunity given Food Evolution’s exceptional management team. The Company is extremely well positioned to take advantage of the positive trends in the prepared foods industry.”
Chris Franco, Akoya Operating Partner, will join the management team as CEO. "Bret Shultz, Judd Rosenberg, and Momo Maldonado have done an excellent job building and growing the business and we look forward to leveraging this success to take the Company to the next level. This partnership will provide increased value for our customers and employees, and further position the business to deliver superior products to an ever growing customer base."
Chris has more than 30 years of experience in the perishable food industry. Chris has successfully directed customer growth strategies, channel expansion initiatives, and new product development programs in multiple perishable categories. Chris spent 15 years as the CEO of Finlandia Cheese Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Valio Ltd., a multi-national Finnish Dairy cooperative. Prior to Valio, Chris held numerous sales and marketing positions at the Stella Cheese Company and Klement Sausage Company.
Justin Kaplan, Partner, Balance Point Capital, added, "The combination of Food Evolution’s management team, business model and strong competitive position along with Akoya’s consumer food industry experience and relationships should allow us to accelerate the growth in the business and build an industry leading company.”
Food Evolution is Akoya's eighth platform investment in the past three years. "The Food Evolution acquisition is consistent with our investment strategy of combining world-class executives, well-positioned companies, and fully developed value creation strategies to create significant value for management and investors," said Max DeZara, Managing Partner of Akoya.
Akoya Capital Partners, LLC is a highly skilled private investment firm that sponsors transactions with lower and middle market businesses that have attractive growth prospects. We bring together industry leaders, investment worthy executives, and private sources of capital to execute acquisition-based strategies to create significant value for sellers, management, and investors. We are a highly experienced team with a track record of success in executing transactions and accelerating value creation. We focus on selected industry sectors where we have deep domain and operating expertise. Each of our sectors is led by an accomplished industry executive with a history of building businesses and creating value within their industry. We currently focus on investments in the following sectors: Consumer Foods, Specialty Chemicals, Professional Information Services, and Consumer Products.