Fresca making new General Mills foods
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed between Louisville-based Fresca and Minneapolis-based General Mills (NYSE: GIS).
Fresca plans to build the new line through its own sales and marketing efforts, said Liz Myslik, executive vice president for marketing and sales. The company has hired eight new employees to work on the new line, and more may be added as the product grows, Myslik said.
"We think it's a great business opportunity. It's a need that the consumer has that is not being met today," Myslik said. "In terms of growth, we're going to let the market tell us what to do."
Marketing employees have created a social-media campaign built around the website progressivefrozenfoods.com, Myslik said. Food-sampling events at stores and a "brand ambassador" program will round out some of the untraditional marketing efforts around the food line.
"What is unique about this model is that we're taking a very natural foods/entrepreneur/grassroots approach for a new product line for an established brand," Myslik said. "We're really making it personal and grassroots and viral."
The frozen sauce and pasta line includes five products made with natural ingredients - Marsala sauce, roasted red pepper sauce and wine sauce, ravioli and tortellini, according to a Progresso website. The line is available at more than 300 locations of Albertsons LLC grocery stores in Arizona, at Dierberg's grocery stores in Missouri, and at Meijer Inc. grocery stores in Michigan, Myslik said. Fresca is pursuing other retail partnerships across the country as well, Myslik said.
Fresca has grown more than 45 percent in each of the past nine years, and has more than 200 employees. The company is privately held, operating in a 135,000-square-foot building in the Colorado Technology Center business park.
Fresca also does contract manufacturing for Boulder-based Justin's Nut Butter, 34 Degrees LLC and Boulder Ice Cream products, Denver-based Love Grown Foods products, and others.
General Mills consumer brands include Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Progresso and Old El Paso. The company had fiscal 2012 net sales of $16.7 billion.
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