Within the juice category, it’s high pressure processed brands that, amid surging consumer demand, have garnered the most significant interest from the investment community in recent years. Nevertheless, a middle market private equity firm is betting that foodservice operators will continue to see demand for tried-and-true pasteurized juice products.
Today, Centre Partners, which focuses on “control investments” in the consumer, healthcare and business services industries, announced the purchase of a majority interest in Sun Orchard, a leading provider of juices and other beverages for the foodservice industry. Within its portfolio, Sun Orchard sells not-from-concentrate citrus juices, bar mixers, specialty smoothie bases, and also offers custom-designed products, such as smoothies and Agua Frescas.
Based in Tempe, Ariz. with production facilities in Arizona and Florida, Sun Orchard also markets Fruit 66, a brand of 100 percent juices packaged in 8 oz. cans with primary distribution in U.S. school cafeterias and vending machines. Sun Orchard acquired Fruit 66 in August, 2013, and along with it the brand’s carbonated sub-line called Epic.
“Sun Orchard is well-positioned for continued success with the highest-quality products and strong relationships with customers and suppliers,” Michael Schnabel, a Centre Partners Managing Director, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Sun Orchard team to grow the business organically, by adding new product lines and entering new channels, and through select acquisitions.”
The transaction is one of over 70 that Centre Partners, which holds equity stakes in a number of other food and beverage producers, including Stonewall Kitchen, Bellisio Foods and Distant Lands Coffee Roasters, has been involved with since its inception in 1986. In a statement, the investment firm noted that Marc Isaacs, Sun Orchard’s President and CEO, will continue to serve in both roles, while Centre Partners’ Operating Partner Jean-Marc Rotsaert has been named as the juice company’s Executive Chairman. Rotsaert has previously held executive roles with The Campbell Soup Company, PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Co.