One of the biggest companies in Kern changes hands | Business

Bakersfield carrot giant, Bolthouse Farms, will be sold to a Los Angeles-based private equity firm for $ 510 million in cash – about a third of what it was seven years ago – and welcomes its former CEO as part of a transaction announced Friday.

The sales agreement completes the sale by Campbell Soup Co. of its entire Campbell Fresh division, which the New Jersey-based company has announced it would sell in September.

The buyer, a subsidiary of Butterfly Equity, said his company was specialized in the sectors of agriculture and aquaculture, food and beverages, food distribution and catering services. Bolthouse represents his fourth investment.

Once the sale concludes this summer, former Bolthouse President and CEO Jeff Dunn will take over his management of the company, Butterly said. Dunn led Bolthouse from 2008 to 2016. He is now an operational partner of Butterfly.

"Bolthouse Farms holds a special place in the fruit and vegetable industry and my team and I are deeply committed to strengthening and expanding the unique heritage of Bolthouse Farms," ​​Dunn said in a statement. press Friday. "We are excited to start."

Campbell bought Bolthouse in mid-2012 for $ 1.55 billion in cash from Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, which bought the company for an undisclosed amount in 2005.

Originally, Mr. Campbell had stated that the acquisition of Bolthouse was part of a plan to strengthen its presence in the refrigerated section of supermarkets. But this strategy went wrong over time and in May 2018, the company lost its leading advocate for health food, former CEO Denise Morrison.

When Campbell announced the end of last summer that it would market Bolthouse for sale, the company said it wanted to refocus on its core business, including snacks, meals, and juices. not refrigerated. It also said it wants to repay its debts, maintain its investment grade rating and pay dividends to the company's shareholders.

The other two components of Campbell's fresh food division – Garden Fresh Gourmet and its Everett, Washington, DC soup kitchen – have since been sold, leaving Bolthouse as the only manufacturer of refrigerated food.

Bolthouse was founded in 1915 in Grant, Michigan. The company, headquartered in Bakersfield and Santa Monica, is a leader in fresh carrots and chilled premium drinks and salad dressings. She also makes smoothies, coffee drinks, protein shakes and protein milk.

As of mid-2012, half of Bolthouse's revenue came from carrots, while about one-third of its sales came from beverages and salad dressings.

Butterly said Bolthouse had access to more than 65,000 acres of popular growing land, fresh distribution capacity nationally, and a carrot and beverage processing facility at the cutting edge. technology. It also has 2,200 employees, 100 more than when Campbell bought it seven years ago, and operates in Bakersfield; Hodgkins, Ill .; Prosser, Wash .; and Wheatley, Ontario.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at to receive free information letters about local businesses.

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