Verus International, Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., acquired Big League Foods, Inc., a Rocklin, Calif.-based holder of a license with Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. (MLB), New York, to sell MLB-branded frozen dessert products and confections. The license covers all 30 MLB teams.
The initial ice cream product line includes grocery store-type packaging in 1.5-quart and pint container sizes, in addition to novelty “grab-and-go” size ice cream in cone, bar and sandwich versions. Products feature “home team” packaging to match the fan base in each region.
The first flavors to hit the marketplace are:
Bases Loaded. Premium vanilla ice cream with thick swirls of caramel and quality chocolate pieces.
Double Play. Premium vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and brownie pieces.
Grand Slam Sundae. Premium chocolate ice cream with mini marshmallows, caramel swirl, fudge brownie pieces and almonds.
Vanilla “Beaned.” Premium vanilla ice cream with specks of vanilla bean.
These flavors will initially be branded under the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies logos in their respective markets, and eventually extend out to cover all 30 MLB teams.
“This is a great acquisition for Verus because it gives us a 100% U.S. business channel and has the potential to scale up significantly over time,” says Anshu Bhatnagar, chief executive officer of Verus. “These types of licenses come with built-in loyalty because the product will bear the MLB logo and the signature name and emblem of the local team. In 2019, we intend to start distributing products to a handful of teams, with the goal to roll out products featuring all 30 teams as we build out our new business segment.”
Big League Foods founder, James Wheeler, will continue to lead the company’s new wholly-owned subsidiary as president.
“After 30 years in the food business, I know how important it is to have a great team and the right resources to successfully grow and gain shelf space,” says Wheeler. “Joining forces with Verus will enable us to grow much faster than we could have done as a private enterprise. Our ultimate vision is even bigger than this first MLB license, but also includes other confectionary products and other sports leagues and branding opportunities. Sports fans are loyal consumers, and we have the opportunity to gain a foothold in the $25 billion frozen dessert market via that loyalty.”
The new MLB-branded ice cream flavors are available in the freezer case of more than 2,500 retail locations, including large national and regional retailers.