Sproutman sells out to Golden Arches supplier

Snapfresh founder Ashley Berrysmith
Golden State Foods chief financial officer Neil Cracknell

A leading New Zealand supplier of fresh salad leaves and associated fresh produce, Snapfresh, has sold its burgeoning retail relationship with New Zealand's largest supermarket chains to US-owned Golden State Foods, a global supplier of fresh vegetables and sauces for the McDonald's burger franchise.

The parties will not disclose value, but Snap Fresh owns and has developed well-known New Zealand brand Sproutman, since the 1980s, and packs its KrispKut, Fresh Harvest and Farmer Bill's peeled baby carrot brands to be the main supplier in such lines to the Australian-owned Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand.

It also supplies the New Zealand-owned Foodstuffs group, owner of the the New World and Pak'n'Save brands, with house brand greens, but has less of a foothold against other local suppliers.

Snapfresh founder Ashley Berrysmith told BusinessDesk the business was the second he'd created over 17 years and sold. The transaction required a year-long process to separate the retail part of the Snapfresh business from its farming operations, which Berrysmith keeps in the deal.

The company wanted to sell rather than expand and targeted Golden State as an "ideal buyer", he said. The choice to sell came when Berryweather decided he didn't want to commit $15 million to a new facility at the upcoming expiry of a major lease and would prefer to onsell the branded retail products part of the business to a new owner. The compay will not release any commercial details about its operation, but employs more than 150 people.

The farming operation will remain contracted to supply Golden State

It has a small, potentially larger export presence in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, currently generating under 10 percent of total revenue.

"There's certainly potential to grow that," said Berrysmith.

Neil Cracknell, chief operating officer at Golden State said in a statement: "The addition of Snap Fresh provides great growth opportunities for GSF particularly in the retail salads segment, while providing new products and capabilities to our existing food service customers in the region."

California-based Golden State Foods made its first acquisition in New Zealand in February last year, when it bought Wellington-based food service firm Groenz Group, adding sauces and condiments, including the local French Maid and Kiwi Style brands to a range that includes the original Big Mac sauce, also for an undisclosed sum.

At that time, GSF was servicing more than 25,000 fast-food outlets around the world for some 50 companies and was ranked the 73rd biggest private company in America by Forbes, with annual revenue of US$4.8 billion last year.

"Golden State understands about dealing with one very important customer," said Berrysmith of the strategic fit with Snapfresh.

Golden State's website says the company "pioneered the one-stop-shopping concept that forms the basis for McDonald's highly touted distribution system." It is a "value-driven company" that believes "in God and the dignity of all people."

(BusinessDesk)

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