All-natural, clean label, fresh soups, made the old-fashioned way
Founded just outside of Boston in 1986, Kettle Cuisine makes all-natural soups the old-fashioned way, in small batches from scratch for restaurants, grocery retailers, and foodservice operators who take pride in the food they share with their guests. To Kettle, it’s simple. Real quality ingredients make soup that’s more flavorful, healthier and delicious. To make that happen, Kettle sources only the finest vegetables and naturally raised meats, dairy, and poultry from purveyors they trust.
The Value Creation Opportunity
Kainos partnered with Liam McClennon, a 30-year food industry veteran, to acquire Kettle Cuisine in July 2015. Our vision was to create the first coast-to-coast national fresh soup supplier in the U.S. and stay true to Kettle’s artisan cooking roots, while serving customers delicious fresh soups at scale.
Fresh and prepared meals are one of the fastest growing segments of retail foods, taking share from center of the store shelf-stable competitors. Kettle Cuisine’s clean label ingredient deck further differentiates its product offerings relative to its competitors, as consumers desire simple, easy-to-understand ingredients. With the addition of coast-to-coast service capabilities, Kettle Cuisine is well positioned to serve the growing national base of customers looking for higher quality, all-natural products and convenient meal solutions. Kettle Cuisine’s products also allow foodservice operators to serve consistent, high-quality meals while decreasing cost, complexity and labor in their operations.
Change Capital At Work
Working hand-in-hand with Liam and supporting the Kettle management team, we set out to create the first fresh, clean-label national soup supplier.
Within one year of investing in Kettle, we made two very strategic acquisitions. First, we acquired Chef Creations, a Florida based soup and sauce manufacturer, expanding our portfolio of national restaurant chain businesses. Next, we acquired Del Monaco Foods, a family-owned food company with deep roots in the industry and a well-aligned passion for food, which had a 86,000 square foot facility in Morgan Hill, CA. The facility was custom built in 2009 and complimented our custom designed 160,000 square foot facility that was built in 2014 in Lynn, MA. We had in short order achieved our goal of becoming the first coast-to-coast fresh soup supplier.
Kettle entered the next phase of strategic acquisitions in August 2018 when it merged with Bonewerks Culinarté, a company that produces demi-glace, sous-vide entrées, and other flavor foundations used by restaurant chefs and foodservice operators across the country. This combination represented an attractive opportunity to add additional new products to the Kettle line-up and leverage the Kettle salesforce and customer network, capitalizing on the growing demand among foodservice operators for cost effective solutions to their sauce, broth and entrée needs. We contemporaneously acquired in the frozen soup business of NORPAC Foods, an Oregon-based producer of high-quality frozen soups and chili for the foodservice channel, and Savory Creations, a California based manufacturer offering a full range of premium broths, stocks, and sauces to the retail, foodservice and industrial channels. All of these businesses operate as Kettle Cuisine and are led by Liam and the executive team we assembled at Kettle Cuisine.
New Products = New Customers
We supported the Kettle team with consumer research and product category analysis to help the team make grounded decisions to develop their product innovation strategy. We assisted Kettle in launching Farm and Kettle, a new consumer brand of refrigerated, certified organic soups, featuring ingredients from expert and artisan growers, ranches and dairies into the retail channel.
We expanded into adjacent fresh food categories, including macaroni & cheese, chili, oatmeal, pasta, sauces, sous-vides and demi-glace. We also have strategically worked to expand our frozen capabilities that increase the shelf life of the product and provide access to additional markets and underserved channels, allowing Kettle to offer quality products that are true to our mission but at different price points.
Kainos is proud to have helped Kettle Cuisine secure many national grocery, club, and mass retailers, national restaurant chains and foodservice customers during our partnership.
We helped build out the management team in the operations, supply chain, human resources, finance and sales functions. We made significant investments in the sales team and further evolved Kettle’s sales strategy, concentrating on expanding distribution into new retail customers and foodservice channels.
Working in partnership with our Kainos operations team, we assisted Kettle’s management in enhancing margins through operational improvements in the plant, SKU rationalization, increased purchasing discipline and freight cost management. We also invested significant capital in our facilities to create highly automated SQF Level 3 certified facilities to increase plant capacity and line speed.
Finally, we look for ways to make the highest quality products in a way that is as efficient and sustainable as possible. That is why Kettle partners with trusted ingredient suppliers with responsible farming practices. All of Kettle Cuisine’s food waste supports a local farm as pig feed and organic compost; all fat and grease is recycled or converted into biodiesel fuel; and all metal, corrugated and waxed cardboard is recycled.
To Kainos and the team at Kettle, it is not enough to just make great products, we also make sure we are operating in a way that ensures long-term financial and environmental sustainability.
We are excited for the continuation of our story as we continue to scale and provide clean-label soups, sauces, side dishes, demi-glace, sous-vide entrées, and other flavor foundations across the country – stay tuned!Back