Private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners has added Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods to its portfolio
Photo as seen on Dr. Praeger’s Facebook page

Vestar Capital Partners has made a majority growth investment into Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods, a fast-growing brand in the US specialising in plant-based frozen and refrigerated foods made from simple ingredients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Winston Song, managing director at Vestar, said: “The US better-for-you market has never been stronger, and we are excited to partner with a company that has been at the forefront of this trend and knows the market intimately.” Song is also co-head of the consumer practice at the company.

Dr. Praeger’s has been in the better-for-you food space for more than 25 years. The company was founded in 1994 by two heart surgeons with a mission to provide nutritious, delicious and convenient frozen foods.

The product line comprises a range of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, kosher, and non-GMO foods. Products are sold in food retailers, in-store and online across the US.

Headquartered in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, Dr. Praeger’s is led by second-generation family members Larry Praeger and Adam Somberg. Both will continue in their current roles of chief executive and president, respectively, and will remain significant investors in the company.

“We are extremely proud of the high growth better-for-you food brand our families have built,” said Praeger. “When our fathers co-founded the company 25 years ago, they were true innovators. In today’s competitive market, our partnership with Vestar will help provide the financial backing, industry relationships and category expertise to continue to build on our momentum.”

With Vestar’s support, the company aims to launch further product innovations.

As part of Vestar’s investment, Jeffrey Ansell, a 35-plus year consumer industry veteran and senior advisor to Vestar, will join the company board as chairman.

Dr. Praeger’s marks the most recent investment in Vestar’s long history of investing behind family and founder-owned businesses focused on better-for-you food.

The firm’s current food investments include bakery brands Simple Mills and Nonni’s; specialty foods supplier Roland Foods; and Presence Marketing, a US sales broker dedicated exclusively to representing natural and organic food, beverage and personal care brands.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal counsel and Piper Sandler & Co. as financial advisor to Vestar.

Giannuzzi Lewendon served as legal counsel, and J.P. Morgan acted as financial advisor to Dr. Praeger’s.

Date published: 22 January 2021

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