A Sussex County farm that makes some of the region’s richest, most delicious ice cream and sorbets will be getting national attention later this month as one of its owners makes a pitch to the ruthless investors on ABC’s TV hit Shark Tank.
The Frozen Farmer owner Katey Evans will dip into the Tank’s dangerous waters solo on Friday, March 27, at 8 pm. Evans will be pitching the investors on behalf of her four-year-old business in Bridgeville, which produces super-premium ice cream, sorbet and “nice-cream,” a hybrid of the two. Producers invited the Delaware native to be on the show following an open casting call.
Evans’ appearance on the show will be the second recent star-turn by a Delaware entrepreneur, following Markevis Gideon, Jake Voorhees and Jonathan Hoxter’s valiant effort last year to attract Shark Tank investors to their business NERDiT NOW.
The young mom pitching her homegrown ice cream business is anything but a quaint idea. Evans, along with her husband Kevin and her mother, Jo Ellen Algier, are just as serious about sustainable farming practices as they are the delicious taste of their small-batch ice cream.
Katey and Kevin are farmers and third-generation owners of the 2,000-acre Evans Farm, where fruits and vegetables are hand-picked and field packed. Their produce and grain products are available at every Giant Foods store in the nation as well as Rednor’s warehouse markets in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Because of the high cosmetic standards for produce at large chain stores, Katey says a lot of delicious produce — Katey says up to 20 percent — would normally go to waste.
“So over the years we have picked up a ton of grocery store chains as clients, and we were throwing away food that tasted great but it didn’t look perfectly good,” said Katey. And with their main customers being grocery stores, this also meant a major loss of profit.
“That’s why we established the Frozen Farmer in 2015 – as a way to reduce waste while creating a value-added product straight off the farm,” she said. The Frozen Farmer takes the “farm to table” trend to the next level as these farmers really are the chefs.
“We thought how many flavors of fruit we could turn into super-premium ice cream and sorbet,” says Katey. “Super-premium refers to the amount of overrun in ice cream. We make our ice cream in small batches and it’s a very dense product. So essentially you get a creamier flavor in every bite.”
Their fresh, made from scratch frozen treats include flavors picked right off their farm – like Peach, Pineapple, Blueberry Strudel, Strawberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, Banana’s Foster and even Sweet Corn ice cream. But they also make loads of other fun flavors like Coconut Almond Bliss, Maple Walnut and Sweet-N-Salty Caramel – 30 flavors in all.
Katey says she can’t divulge tasty flavors she offered the Sharks.
Jo Ellen Algier made ice cream as a hobby for over a decade prior to opening Frozen Farmer with daughter Katey and son-in-law Kevin in 2015. “There was a lot of testing that went into each of our recipes. We used my mom’s recipes and her formulations to come up with some really fantastic flavors,” says Katey.
But consumer demand is now outpacing their ability to supply the market. And that’s why The Frozen Farmer turned to Shark Tank for an investment.
“Taking our product to the next level is a very costly venture. We went to Shark Tank to help us with our phase of growth,” said Katey.
The Bridgeville farmer says she can’t say when the taping took place, the details of her pitch nor of course the outcome. But she did say that The Frozen Farmer no longer hand cranks small batches of the frozen treats. “We have gone to hand packing every pint to an air-piston fueled depositor to help us pack the pint, to now pitching for an investment that would give us the capability to provide nationwide distribution,” she said.
Evans did acknowledge that appearing on the show was pretty intense.
“The experience was quite overwhelming. I never thought we would have this kind of opportunity. But for years, everyone said, ‘You’ve got to pitch your product to Shark Tank. You are really making a statement about food waste and your role as a farmer to be sustainable and to reduce food waste.’”
Evans says their frozen treats match up against some of the biggest names in the nation’s freezer.
“Our creamery products are even more dense than Ben & Jerry’s. Our sorbets are dairy, gluten and fat-free, and making sure that we take food allergies very seriously was important to us.”
Be sure to tune in on March 27 to see how Evans’ pitch goes!