Private equity firm acquires school meal distributor

by Monica Watrous
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NEW YORK — Gold Star Foods, Inc., an Ontario-based food distributor to K-12 schools, has been acquired by Castle Harlan, Inc., a New York-based middle-market private equity firm, from Prospect Partners, a Chicago private equity firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Gold Star distributes nutritious meals through federal and state programs for breakfasts and lunches to more than 3,500 schools in 380 school districts in California, Arizona and Nevada. The company sells more than 6,000 products, including fresh bread and produce and refrigerated, frozen and dry menu items purchased from more than 600 food manufacturers and farms.

“Gold Star is a proven leader in the stable and moderately growing school food distribution market, and it promotes healthy nutritional meals to its customers,” said Bill Pruellage, co-president of Castle Harlan. “Gold Star has the scale to acquire smaller competitors in a fragmented market, as well as to expand into newer territories, such as Northern California and other Western states, additional product lines and new end-markets.”

Gold Star’s management will remain in place.

“Gold Star’s management team has an average of 25 years of industry experience,” Mr. Pruellage said. “Under the leadership of c.e.o. Dan Madsen, the company has transitioned to a new state-of-the-art distribution facility and I.T. platform, completed and integrated a strategic acquisition and significantly expanded Gold Star’s business with many of its existing customers.”

Founded in 1987, Castle Harlan has a diverse portfolio that includes Pretium Packaging, a manufacturer of rigid plastic bottles and containers, and Caribbean Restaurants, LLC, an operator of 171 Burger King restaurants in Puerto Rico.
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