Evans, The Frozen Farmer in line to keep growing
BRIDGEVILLE, Del. — A Delaware produce farm and frozen dessert brand that got a big break on ABC’s “Shark Tank” two years ago has experienced a boulevard of green lights since and announced last month a multimillion-dollar credit line to fuel its continuing retail expansion.
WSFS Bank offered The Frozen Farmer in Bridgeville a $2.5 million credit line as it seeks to grow the number of retail locations where consumers can purchase the company’s ice cream, sorbet and “Frobert” featuring misfit fruit collected from Evans Farms LLC, the third-generation family farm that spawned Frozen Farmer.
Katey Evans, the company’s owner, could not be reached for comment, but said in a statement that additional financing was critical to her brand’s future.
“We went from a small family business that hand packed ice cream to a national distribution model really overnight,” she said in a statement by the Wilmington, Del. bank. “If you don’t have product, you don’t have sales, so it was critical that we secure funding to focus on our inventory build and stay ahead of production.”
The Frozen Farmer’s products are available in nearly 8,000 retail locations — double from a year ago — and benefitted from an association with Giant Foods established shortly after she first appeared on the popular ABC reality show. The brand launched in 2015 as Evans Farms searched for an outlet for blemished fruit that was still edible but unsalable in a retail context.
The Frozen Farmer is also the second “Shark Tank” competitor the bank has financed, said Graham Palusky, the bank’s vice president and senior relationship manager, but his statement did not name the second business.
“Our team moved extremely quickly on this deal because we believe strong in the purpose behind it,” he said. “This funding will be going to local, hard-working farmers and will help to break the cycle of food waste. This is the second ‘Shark Tank’-backed brand that I have worked with so I understand the demand that a quick rise to popularity can place on business operations and finances.”
Evans first appeared on “Shark Tank” on March 27, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. Lori Greiner, one of the show’s judges and a retail inventor known as the “Queen of QVC,” invested $125,000 in The Frozen Farmer for nearly a third of Evans’s company. Greiner was the only judge to make an offer. Billionaire Mark Cuban, the show’s most well-known judge, declined to invest because he felt the ice cream industry was too competitive. Greiner’s investment was contingent on the company finding distribution with a major grocery chain — a goal the company had already reached when the episode aired.
At the time, she told The Delmarva Farmer one of her bigger goals was to move from the center of the ice cream aisle at Giant stores to the endcaps. She returned to “Shark Tank” last year to update viewers on her company’s progress. The business was approaching $1 million in sales with another $15 million in orders. Greiner said Evans was one of the “hardest-working, most results-oriented entrepreneurs I’ve ever had.”
“The sky’s the limit as far as where I see myself in 10 years,” Evans told The Delmarva Farmer in 2020. “It comes down to how hard we work and how hard we hustle.”