Bain Capital bets on sous vide and recession resiliency in Cuisine Solutions

"We like the fact that the food sector tends to be a necessity and stable," Cristian Jitianu said.

Bain Capital earlier this week took a minority stake in Cuisine Solutions, a Sterling, Virginia based maker of sous vide products, through a $250 million investment. PE Hub caught up with Bain Capital managing director Cristian Jitianu to learn more about the deal.

Cuisine Solutions provides prepared sous vide food products to a wide range of clients both domestic and international, among them airlines, military, and retail customers, other transportation services like Amtrak, hotels and restaurants. The company counts 22,000 restaurants and 6,000 retailers among its customers.

Bain Capital is the first PE firm that is coming on board to help scale up the company, which was founded more than three decades ago by its current board chairperson, Stanislas Vilgrain.

“This was a process for the company to raise capital and ultimately find a partner that they felt could add value to their strategy and execution capabilities with a global footprint and deep consumer experience to help the business expand internationally and into new channels,” explained Jitianu.

Cristian Jitianu, Bain Capital

In today’s macroeconomic environment with recession fears on the horizon, Jitianu said “we like the fact that the food sector tends to be a necessity and stable. We expect it to be more recession-resilient than most other consumer sectors.”

With sous vide, raw meat is put in a pouch that is vacuum sealed, and the pouch is placed in a water bath at a precise temperature for a specific amount of time so it will cook uniformly. This preserves juices, unlike on a grill, where different portions get different heat exposure. Besides meet, sous vide can be used for preparation of fish, vegetables and fruits, gourmet sauces and desserts.

Proponents argue that the technique reduces the amount of labor and time required to cook food and is convenient for environments such as airplanes and trains, where precooked food is ideal.

“We will be looking for M&A opportunities where we can find businesses to accelerate the growth by leveraging the existing platform, especially internationally,” Jitianu said.

The PE firm is also focused on increasing the commercialization of the sous vide products to big box retailers and restaurant chains.

“With the confluence of new capacity and new innovation, as well as some new customer conversations the company is having, significant growth opportunity has been created for the business that should allow it to scale rapidly in the next several years,” he said.