HKW-backed Fresh Direct Produce buys Emperor Specialty Foods

Fresh Direct Produce Ltd has acquired Emperor Specialty Foods Ltd, a Richmond, British Columbia-based distributor of mushrooms, pears, and other specialty fruits and vegetables.

No financial terms were disclosed.

The seller was President Bob McDonald, who has led Emperor since its founding in 1986.

Fresh Direct Produce, a Vancouver-based distributor of fresh, ethnic, tropical, organic and specialty produce, said the purchase of Emperor’s products, customers and locations will create new growth opportunities.

Fresh Direct Produce was acquired last year by U.S. private equity firm Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Co (HKW).


HKW Announces Add-on Acquisition by Fresh Direct Produce

July 18, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–HKW, a middle-market private equity firm focused on growth-oriented companies, today announced that its portfolio company, Fresh Direct Produce, Ltd. (“Fresh Direct Produce”), has acquired Emperor Specialty Foods (“Emperor”). Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1986, Emperor is a distributor of mushrooms, pears, and other specialty fruits and vegetables. This add-on provides meaningful growth opportunities for Fresh Direct Produce, which distributes more than 1,000 domestic, imported, and organic fruit and vegetable items. Emperor is headquartered in Richmond, BC, Canada.

“With a talented management team and range of complementary products, we are confident Emperor will prove an important addition to Fresh Direct Produce, and play a critical role in our value-driven growth plan,” said Davis Yung, President, CEO, and co-founder of Fresh Direct Produce.

“The addition of Emperor’s products and customers, as well as a new location, will allow for smart, strategic growth opportunities,” said Kent Robinson, HKW Partner and Chairman of the Board for Fresh Direct Produce. “This is an important step forward for Fresh Direct Produce and we are excited for both teams. The acquisition is also strategically aligned within the Health & Wellness sector, a key area of focus for HKW.”

About Fresh Direct Produce
Fresh Direct Produce is one of Western Canada’s premier fresh produce importers, wholesalers, and marketers with three distribution centers, two in Vancouver and one in Calgary. Sourcing and importing over 1,000 conventional and organic fruit and vegetable items from 35 countries, Fresh Direct Produce’s commitment to growth and development allows them to attract and align with the best growers, customers, and talents in the industry. Fresh Direct Produce has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for eight consecutive years. To learn more about Fresh Direct Produce, visit

About HKW
HKW is a private equity firm investing in growth-oriented companies with talented management teams in the US and Canada. HKW targets small to mid-size companies in the Business Services and Health & Wellness sectors. Since 1982, HKW has sponsored 60 platform transactions of lower middle-market companies throughout North America, as well as 65 add-on acquisitions. For more information on HKW, please visit

Jim Snyder,, 317-705-8815