Duluth-Based Bellisio Foods Bought by NY Firm

Bellisio was previously owned by Jeno Paulucci, a well-known Minnesota businessman who died last month; financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Duluth-based Bellisio Foods, Inc., has been sold to a New York-based private equity firm for an undisclosed sum.

The buyer is Centre Partners, which announced the deal on Friday-a few weeks after the death of the company's previous owner, well-known Minnesota businessman Luigino “Jeno” Paulucci.

Bellisio is one of North America's largest manufacturers and distributors of frozen, single-serve entrees and meals-which are sold primarily under the Michelina's brand.

Bellisio also produces private-label frozen products for retailers across the nation and provides co-packing services to consumer packaged goods customers.

Centre Partners, which has a middle-market focus, has invested more than $3 billion in 90-plus transactions and has partnered with management teams across a broad spectrum of industries.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Centre Partners,” Bellisio CEO Joel Conner said in a statement. “Their financial support and expertise will enable us to accelerate our growth plans for the business while allowing us to maintain our focus on providing the highest quality product while being the low-cost operator. This transaction is a clear endorsement of the strength of our dedicated management team and the strength of our market position.”

Bellisio was one of several business ventures of Paulucci, who died November 24 at his Duluth home. Paulucci had a humble beginning as the son of poor Italian immigrants; he eventually became a millionaire through a series of ethnic food businesses.