U.S. private equity firm Riverside Co has made an undisclosed investment in NuStef Baking Ltd, a Mississauga, Ontario-based manufacturer of Italian-inspired pizelle waffle cookies and artisan crackers under the Reko brand. Founded in 1985 by President and CEO Ces Nucci, NuStef has built a customer base in the grocery, mass, club and foodservice channels across the United States and Canada. Riverside Partner Meranee Phing said the firm will focus on expanding NuStef through investments in distribution, product innovation and marketing. This activity will be supported by Riverside Senior Food and Beverage Advisor Richard Lan.
Riverside Doesn’t Waffle, Invests in Nustef Foods
January 23, 2017
Italian Waffle Cookie Maker Joins Portfolio
The Riverside Company was happy to get caught with its hands in the cookie jar, investing in Nustef Foods. Based in Mississauga, Ontario, Nustef makes Italian-inspired pizelle waffle cookies and artisan crackers under the Reko brand.
Nustef’s customers include blue chip customers in the grocery, mass, club and foodservice channels across the U.S. and Canada. Pizzelle cookies are a delicate, baked fresh-to-order and lower-calorie segment in the growing specialty cookie space. The recipe dates back centuries to the Abruzzo region of Italy, and the Reko variety are made in the traditional artisanal style, coming out thin, crispy and delicious.
“Ces Nucci founded Nustef in 1985 to share his Italian family recipe throughout North America,” said Riverside Managing Partner Suzy Kriscunas. “Today it is the largest producer of pizelles on the continent.”
Nustef has been capacity constrained and Riverside sees numerous ways to grow, professionalize and improve the business, said Riverside Partner Meranee Phing.
“With a unique product and strong value proposition for retailers, we see a tremendous opportunity to further expand Nustef through increased investments in distribution, product innovation and marketing,” said Phing. “We can help Nustef quickly expand its customer base, and provide the support needed to increase production while gaining efficiency and maintaining quality.”
Riverside Senior Food & Beverage Advisor Richard Lan will work closely with the Riverside team and Nustef’s talented management on a number of growth initiatives. Lan has deep experience in Canadian baked goods manufacturing and an outstanding track record of expanding smaller producers.
“We’re extremely excited about working with Nustef,” said Lan. “It has enormous potential to add customers, produce new product lines, and operate more effectively, and CEO John Flanagan shares our goals for the company.”
Riverside has a growing slate of specialty food companies in its portfolio, and anticipates applying its experience to drive success with Nustef.
Working with Kriscunas, Phing and Lan on the deal for Riverside were Senior Associate Caroline Shettle and Associate Jon Gross.
The Riverside Company
The Riverside Company is a global private equity firm focused on making control and non-control investments in growing businesses valued at up to $400 million. Since its founding in 1988, Riverside has invested in more than 450 transactions. The firm’s international portfolio includes more than 85 companies.
The Riverside Company
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Photo courtesy of Nustef Foods Ltd