Gilardis sell Freshway Foods

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

ROSEMONT, Ill. — US Foods announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire Freshway Foods, the Sidney-based fresh fruit and vegetable processor, repacker and distributor serving customers in 27 states throughout the eastern half of the United States.

Established in 1988, Freshway Foods is owned by brothers Phil and Frank Gilardi, of Sidney.

US Foods will be keeping the Freshway Foods building open and said in a release that it is pleased to welcome its employees to US Foods.

According to the Sidney-Shelby County Economic Partnership website, the local company has 329 full-time employees.

“We are very excited about this new partnership with US Foods,” said Phil Gilardi and Frank Gilardi in the release by US Foods. “Since we started this business, our success has been built upon our commitment to our associates and our customers, and we are looking forward to the next chapter for Freshway Foods as part of a well established and reputable company like US Foods.”

The transaction is expected to close June 10. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

US Foods Inc. is a food service distributor serving chefs and food service operators across the country. Its customers include independent and multi-unit restaurants, healthcare and hospitality entities, government and educational institutions. The company employs approximately 25,000 people in 61 locations nationwide and is headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois.

Freshway Foods is its fourth company acquisition since December, according to its website. In February, US Foods filed an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. Freshway Foods has been a privately held, family company.

The Gilardi family began selling produce in Sidney and the surrounding area in the mid-1890s, when they immigrated from Italy. Decades later, they established a flourishing pizza restaurant and developed a line of frozen pizza products. The produce and pizza businesses separated in the 1970s.

Freshway Foods and its employees have been much appreciated supporters of community activities and organizations, providing funding and in-kind donations to the United Way, food banks, the hospital, the YMCA, schools and other social service and cultural agencies.

Calls to the Gilardi brothers for more information about the sale and the future of Freshway Foods were directed to the corporate communications office of US Foods, which declined to comment further until the sale is complete.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.