Equity firm invests $24 million in Chef Solutions

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — Mistral Equity Partners, a private equity firm that earlier this year invested $19.55 million in smoothie maker Jamba, Inc., has invested $24 million in Chef Solutions Holdings, L.L.C. Chef Solutions, through its Orval Kent Food Company, Inc. subsidiary, is North America’s second largest manufacturer of fresh prepared foods for retailers and food service accounts.

“As consumers continue to live more time-pressured lifestyles and demand increased convenience without giving up quality and taste, traditional grocery, mass and club retailers are focusing on meeting these demands through expanded product offerings in the fresh prepared food area,” said Robert Fioretti, managing director of Mistral Equity Partners. “This provides an exceptional opportunity for Orval Kent, which, as one of the only companies in this sector with national scale, is well positioned to benefit from this growing trend. In addition, this transaction shows our continued focus on investing in consumer businesses with strong management teams that capitalize on demographic or psychographic trends.”

Based in Wheeling, Ill., Orval Kent operates five manufacturing facilities in North America and has approximately 2,000 employees. The company’s product line includes side dishes, deli salads, fresh cut fruit and hot meal additions.

In addition to Chef Solutions and Jamba, Inc., Mistral Equity holds an equity interest in Shearer’s Foods, Inc., a producer of seasoned snacks.

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