Combating food waste with dessert
The Frozen Farmer’s Katey Evans struck a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
In an episode that aired Friday, March 27 Evans convinced investor Lori Greiner to put up $125,000 for 30 percent of her business.
Evans described the taping of her “Shark Tank” segment last September as “a fight for my life."
“These ice creams are the best I’ve ever had in my entire life” said Greiner. “I think that your product is fantastic. You have something I think is blue ribbon.”
Evans wants to continue to expand distribution to multiple major grocery chains and feels Greiner's expertise will help with that. Greiner said she would assist The Frozen Farmer with packaging improvement “no matter what,” even before she made Evans an offer.
“We are humbled by the opportunity to present our farm-made products on a national platform,” said Evans. “It’s been an incredible experience hearing from folks all over the world asking for our ice creams. Soon we will be able to deliver to doorsteps and hopefully grow into more grocery chains across the country. Thanks, 'Shark Tank!'”
Greiner’s investment relied on Evans’ ability to get The Frozen Farmer into a major national chain, but in the six months between filming the episode and its airing, Evans has already accomplished that.
“You can find The Frozen Farmer on the shelves of every Giant Foods store in the nation,” said Evans.
The 32-year-old Evans is the wife of Kevin Evans, of Evans Farms in Bridgeville. Everything from watermelon to corn is grown on the farm, plus large-scale greens. The farm’s fresh market crop sales have grown significantly over the last decade.
Grocery stores have very high cosmetic standards for produce.
“It has to be a certain size and shape. It has to look a certain way. The more grocery customers we acquired, the more we found that we were having perfectly good food go to waste,” Evans said.
The Evans were throwing away undersized cantaloupes and misshapen strawberries that were perfectly edible.
“We came up the idea of making our imperfect fruit into sorbet. And that’s how the concept of The Frozen Farmer was created,” Evans said.
Her mother, Jo Ellen Algier of Greenwood, had been making her own ice cream for years. It was a hit at family gatherings. In February 2015, the two of them went to ice cream school.
They spent three days at Ice Cream University in West Orange, New Jersey, learning the science of making ice cream.
“We learned there were so many traditional flavors of ice cream that we could use fruit in as well,” Evans said.
The business plan was to make and sell ice cream out of a food truck. The mother and daughter team quickly realized making ice cream in a truck, without plumbing, electricity and space, was impossible. They needed a commercial kitchen.
“When we got back from ice cream school we were kind of starting from scratch. We had to find a commercial kitchen quick because prime ice cream season was coming fast,” Evans said.
They found one at Heritage Shores and cut the ribbon at the business in June 2015. The food truck arrived in July. They spent the season saving money to build a commercial creamery on the farm.
Things started moving quickly. They started building the farm creamery in early 2016 and moved in that summer. By then, Giant Foods was carrying The Frozen Farmer ice cream in eleven stores. By the end of the year it was 15 stores, and the number kept going up. Giant wanted to carry the product in 150 stores.
“Last year, we were entering a really critical stage for our business. We really needed to grow and to get to that next stage it was going to take a lot of money,” she said. “So we said, ‘Well, what the heck, let’s give it a shot.’”
Evans, along with 600 other entrepreneurs, attended a “Shark Tank” casting call in New York City in May 2019. The casting team liked her pitch, and in September, she went to California to film.
The rest is history. Her ice cream is on Giant Food shelves nationwide, and in numerous Redner’s Markets, ShopRites, Exxon Mobil convenience stores and restaurants.
Before "Shark Tank" taped, The Frozen Farmer had started preparing for e-commerce distribution. Since the episode aired, the company has scaled production to allow for nationwide distribution. According to Evans, she's already heard from interested customers all across the globe.
The Frozen Farmer will launch their e-commerce business in late April. Customers can sign up for online purchasing at TheFrozenFarmer.com.