In a March 2021 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Lori Grenier took a chance and made a deal with Katey Evans of The Frozen Farmer – the Bridgeville, Delaware-based creamery that creates frozen dessert from misfit fruits. After a quick rise to popularity following the show’s air date, the woman-owned company was in need of capital to meet growing inventory needs.
“We went from a small family business that hand packed ice cream to a national distribution model really overnight,” said Evans. “If you don’t have product, you don’t have sales so it was critical that we secure funding to focus on our inventory build and stay ahead of production.”
Not only was the consumer demand there, but national retailers had also come knocking. Which was a good thing since part of her deal with Grenier was contingent on the product being picked up by one national retailer. Today, The Frozen Farmer is available in nearly 8,000 retail locations nationwide.
“Our pattern of growth was pretty unusual for a consumer packaged goods company,” recalled Evans. “Usually you’ll start getting picked up by regional chains and then get the attention of big buyers like Kroger and Walmart but we placed our product in these chains early on. When we scaled our brand so quickly, we realized we needed to have a bigger banking partner to support that growth.”
The Frozen Farmer launched in 2015 in an effort to cut down on food waste from Evans Farms, a third-generation family farm. The Frozen Farmer flavors are made of upcycled fruit that is not cosmetically perfect, but still perfectly edible. Evans and her mother went to Ice Cream University and began creating original recipes to turn their fruit into super-premium ice cream, sorbet, and FrobertÒ – a blend of ice cream and sorbet containing less fat and calories than traditional ice cream.
The environmentally-conscious mission is one that WSFS Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager Graham Palusky could get behind.
“Our team moved extremely quickly on this deal because we believe strongly in the purpose behind it,” said Palusky. “This funding will be going to local, hard-working farmers and will help to break the cycle of food waste. This is the second Shark Tank-backed brand that I have worked with so I understand the demand that a quick rise to popularity can place on business operations and finances.”
In a matter of weeks, The Frozen Farmer secured a $2.5M line of credit from WSFS to help support its explosive growth. The terms of the deal and customer support were something the big banks just could not match, Evans recalled.
“What made the relationship with WSFS the perfect fit for us was having a community-focused bank that possesses national capabilities and a desire to grow with us,” said Evans. “In the small business phase, it’s difficult to find a banking partner willing to give you funding. Graham saw our potential and WSFS demonstrated flexibility and creativity to help us reach our goals. The team executed with speed and passion.”
What’s next for the farm-to-table brand? Customers can expect to see The Frozen Farmer products in more freezers and in more stores across the U.S. as their presence has more than doubled in the past year with exclusive flavors and new products.
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