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BRIDGEVILLE — A little over a year ago, Katey Evans won the fight for her life on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and landed a deal that promised to open the door to put The Frozen Farmer’s premium ice cream in the fridges of America.
Now, as “Shark Tank” plans to revisit The Frozen Farmer in a recap segment this Friday night, Evans said it’s been an unbelievable year, marked with uncertainty and unbelievable success. Frozen Farmer is now stocked at Walmart and Kroger stores, and 8,000 stores total in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
“It’s been like an amazing dream, and not something I pictured when we first started this journey. But it’s been a lot of hard work, and it’s humbling to see that work hit the shelves,” Evans said. “Our family started this tradition when we’re on vacation. When we go to the grocery store, we see what Frozen Farmer products they have. It’s incredible to think they’re in stores nationwide now.”
Frozen Farmer creates from scratch many flavors of allergen-friendly, super-premium ice cream, sorbet, and Frobert (a blend of ice cream and sorbet that has less fat, calories and sugar content than traditional sorbet) from the fruit grown on Evans Farms. The “Shark Tank” deal last March with investor Lori Greiner provided $125,000 to the business in exchange for a 30% stake, contingent on landing a deal with a national grocery chain.
The “Shark Tank” episode aired on March 27, and while Evans already knew how it ended, nothing would prepare her for the COVID-19 pandemic that put her plans off track.
“We were ready to go with production, since the plan was to start immediately to meet the demand. But then [with the pandemic,] it was just mass chaos and grocery operations for incoming products came to a complete halt,” Evans said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen, but we just kept going with production.”
In the last year, The Frozen Farmer brand also pivoted to an online ordering system that shipped to 42 states within the first month. But all that hard work paid off come June, when ABC re-ran the episode and then the calls Evans received when the episode first premiered three months earlier came back in full force — including one from Walmart that would double Frozen Farmer’s presence come April 2021. Then Kroger came knocking last winter, wanting to put the pints in stock in March.
“Looking back, thank goodness we built up all that inventory because we would not be ready for a large rollout. It gave us more time to build that inventory, as well as time to really work with our new connections to get us up to scale,” Evans said. “We just have one freezer here on the farm. To do something on that scale, you need warehousing and shipping, marketing and design. This deal really helped push products out that much faster than what we were doing without it.”
Evans is also working with a research and development team to help replicate the ice cream, sorbet and Frobert recipes made from scratch on the family farm. In particular, Evans mentioned that this partnership is working on reducing the sugar and calorie count in the sorbet to carve out a niche on the market.
“With our Honeydew Sorbet, it was something that was around 200 calories per pint, but now it’s 70 calories. That’s not something you can find often in the desert aisle,” she said.
Looking to the future, The Frozen Farmer will be developing new flavors in 2022 and working on forming other partnerships with other retailers.
“First and foremost, we’re a family business. It’s exciting to see a Delaware product on the shelves in California, Alaska and Puerto Rico,” she said. “It’s just awesome to see something from such a small state have such a great reach.”
To watch Evans and The Frozen Farmer’s update on “Shark Tank,” tune in to ABC at 8 p.m. Friday, May 14.