Private-equity firm takes majority ownership stake in Dr. Praeger’s food business

Vestar Capital Partners, a New York-based private-equity firm, has made a majority investment in Elmwood Park-based plant-based food company Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods, it announced Thursday.

Dr. Praeger’s has sold nutritious frozen vegan and vegetarian foods for more than 25 years, and is led by second-generation family members Larry Praeger, CEO, and Adam Somberg, president. They will continue in their current roles and remain significant investors in the company, Vestar said in a news release.

Financial terms of the majority growth investment were not disclosed.

“We are extremely proud of the high-growth, better-for-you food brand our families have built,” Praeger said in a prepared statement. “When our fathers co-founded the company 25 years ago, they were truly innovators. In today’s competitive market, our partnership with Vestar will help provide the financial backing, industry relationships and category expertise to continue to build on our momentum.”

Jeffrey Ansell, a consumer industry veteran and senior adviser to Vestar, will become chairman of the Dr. Praeger’s board.

“With Vestar’s support, the company aims to launch further product innovations that will continue to deliver healthy, great-tasting foods at an attractive price,” Somberg said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have some of the most loyal customers in the industry, but with more consumers eating in and looking for better food choices, the timing couldn’t be better to team with Vestar to explore ways to expand the brand.”

Giannuzzi Lewendon served as legal counsel and J.P. Morgan served as financial adviser to Dr. Praeger’s. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel and Piper Sandler & Co. served as financial adviser to Vestar.