Rhode Island firm has agreement to acquire Tony’s Fine Foods

Published: Tuesday, May. 27, 2014 - 8:40 pm

West Sacramento-based Tony’s Fine Foods, a homegrown food distribution company with an 80-year local history, is about to be snapped up by a Rhode Island company that distributes more than 65,000 organic and specialty food products throughout the United States and Canada.

Providence-based United Natural Foods Inc. says it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tony’s. Upon completion of the nearly $200 million deal, which is subject to various closing conditions, Tony’s will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of UNFI.

UNFI said the purchase price for the business and related real estate is expected to be about $195.3 million and will consist of approximately $187.8 million in cash and about 112,000 shares of stock.

Founded in 1934 by the Anthony Ingoglia family, Tony’s products are sold primarily to retail and specialty grocers, food service customers and other distribution companies. The local company distributes perishable food products – including meats, cheese, deli items and bakery goods – throughout the western United States, plus Alaska and Hawaii. For its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the privately held Tony’s amassed $714 million in net sales, according to UNFI.

Karl Berger, Tony’s Fine Foods’ co-president and part of the third generation of family managers including Chief Financial Officer Scott Berger, said in a statement that “we are thrilled to become part of UNFI, one of the leading natural, organic and specialty distributors in the U.S. and Canada, while maintaining our West Coast distribution and logistics network.”

UNFI, which owns a warehouse distribution facility in Rocklin, said that acquiring Tony’s Fine Foods will enable the company to continue expanding its national product offerings. “We welcome Scott and Karl Berger and look forward to working with the entire Tony’s Fine Foods team of professionals as we build upon their more than 80 years of marketing, logistics and distribution excellence to continually deliver exceptional customer service and drive future growth,” said Steven Spinner, UNFI president and CEO, in a statement.

Anthony “Tony” Ingoglia Sr., who died in 2010 at the age of 98, started what would become a major Northern California food distribution business with his wife, Adele. Working from a small truck that doubled as his warehouse, Ingoglia began distributing Italian-style salami and cheese to grocery stores. After the newlyweds settled in Sacramento, Adele took phone orders while her husband drove along Highway 40 – the two-lane predecessor to Interstate 80 – between Sacramento and San Francisco. Anthony Ingoglia made rounds and added customers along the way, keeping track of inventory and prices in his head. He logged hundreds of miles, starting at 3 a.m. daily.

The company eventually grew to employ more than 600 and now operates out of a 120,000-square-foot facility in West Sacramento.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

Read more articles by Mark Glover

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