Sovos Brands to Purchase Rao’s Specialty Foods

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jun 09, 2017

Sovos Brands, a new food and beverage company formed by Advent International private equity investors, has agreed to acquire Rao’s Specialty Foods, Inc., New York. The deal should be completed in the third quarter of this year. Advent formed San Francisco-based Sovos to purchase and build one-of-a-kind brands to establish a scale player in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.

Established in 1992, Rao’s Specialty Foods produces Rao’s Homemade, a premium pasta sauce made with no tomato blends, paste, water, starches, fillers, colors or added sugar. In addition to sauces, the company produces premium dry pasta, dressings, marinades, olive oils, vinegar, tomatoes and fire-roasted red peppers.

Sovos is led by CPG partners Todd Lachman, Bill Johnson and Larry Bodner. Lachman has been a senior executive at major consumer products companies, including Mars, Del Monte Foods, H.J. Heinz and Procter & Gamble for 25 years. Bodner has more than 25 years’ experience as a financial executive at companies including Big Heart Pet Brands, Del Monte Foods, Walt Disney and Procter & Gamble. Johnson was formerly chairman, CEO and president of H.J. Heinz, where for 31 years, he grew top- and bottom-line results across multiple segments to transform the company into a global food industry leader.

"Rao's Specialty Foods is a great addition to the portfolio we are creating of one-of-a-kind brands in the food and beverage sector," said Lachman, president and CEO of Sovos Brands. "Its unwavering commitment to authentic, delicious-tasting products using only the highest quality ingredients aligns with our strategy of partnering with unique brands that are in demand with discerning consumers. Working alongside the company's talented management team, we see numerous opportunities to grow the Rao's Homemade brand and expand Rao's Specialty Foods into adjacent food categories."

Rao's Specialty Foods is the second investment by Sovos Brands, which, in January, purchased Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods Inc., a producer of premium frozen Italian entrees. The company focuses on high-quality brands in categories with the potential to accelerate growth by investing in distribution, marketing, production and product innovation.

The Rao's Homemade brand dates back to the opening of Rao's Italian restaurant in East Harlem, New York, in 1896. Established in 1992, Rao's Specialty Foods produces super premium pasta sauce, known for high quality ingredients, clean labels and superior taste profiles.

The transaction does not include the iconic Rao's restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, which will remain under current ownership.

l"Sovos Brands is making great progress on its strategy to establish a scale player in the consumer packaged goods industry," said Jeff Case, a managing director at Advent International. "We continue to work with the Sovos team to support and grow its brands and acquire other leading branded players offering delicious food that meets today's consumer demand for high-quality, clean ingredients."

Advent International has invested more than $9 billion in 71 companies across 21 countries worldwide. In addition to Sovos Brands, recent North American investments include Noosa Yoghurt, lululemon athletica, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Serta Simmons Bedding, Party City, Bojangles' and Five Below.

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