Eden Creamery, which owns low-calorie ice cream brand Halo Top, is exploring a sale that could value the company at as much as $2 billion, according to Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter.
The ice cream maker is working with investment bank Barclays to prepare to run a sale process for the company, said the sources. There is no guarantee that Eden Creamery will agree to any deal, the wire service said.
- Reuters said Eden Creamery is hoping to capitalize on the appetite of big food companies for premium and healthy ice cream brands.
The maker of the trendy ice cream is looking to take advantage of its red-hot popularity. Eden Creamery's decision to at least explore a sale comes at a time when the company's Halo Top brand recently became the #1 selling pint of ice cream in the U.S., beating out iconic brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers. After launching in 2012, Halo Top has seen tremendous growth, including a 2,500% increase in sales last year.
Halo Top has benefited from growing consumer demand for products that contain clean and simple ingredients they're familiar with. Its low-calorie, high-protein and low-sugar content sold more than 17 million pints in 2016. Each container has 240 to 360 calories and 20 grams of protein.
Other ice cream companies have since introduced similar products. Breyers has responded by rolling out its own low-calorie, high-protein ice cream varieties called "Breyers delights" that also prominently feature calories per pint on their packaging.
A purchase of Halo would continue a trend of hot upstarts being added to the portfolios of big corporate giants. In 2000, Unilever struck a $326 million deal to buy Ben & Jerry's, the Vermont ice cream maker known for quirky flavors like Chubby Hubby and Cherry Garcia. It struck again in 2014 when it purchased gelato and sorbet maker Talenti, known for its see-through plastic jars that show the manufacturer — which uses fresh milk and pure cane sugar — has nothing to hide.
While a sale of Halo Top is no sure thing, it's a smart move for Eden Creamery to see what's out there. Reuters did not specify if the company has reached the point where it is talking to potential buyers, but it's likely that Unilever, General Mills and Nestle — all companies that have ice cream brands — would be among the logical acquirers.
Halo Top seemingly came out of nowhere to become the most popular seller of pint ice cream, but it's unclear if it will stay on top of the leader board for long. While it might be the big thing now, changing consumer tastes and interests — along with the deep pockets of the ice cream giants who are motivated to dethrone Halo Top — by no means guarantees it will remain there.