You scream, I scream, we all scream for Wells Enterprises. The family-owned and -operated manufacturer is best known for its Blue Bunny brand of ice cream and frozen novelties, including ribboned Bunny Tracks and the Fourth of July favorite, red-white-and-blue Bomb Pop. Among its more than 1,100 products, Wells also makes frozen dairy desserts under license, including Cadbury ice cream bars and Yoplait frozen yogurt pints. It sells the lineup nationwide through supermarkets, discount retailers, convenience stores, and vending machines. A foodservice division supplies dairy desserts to restaurants, schools, and ice cream shops. Wells has a retail presence, too, through the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and Museum.
From its headquarters in Le Mars, Iowa, Wells Enterprises directs additional operations, such as its pair of production plants (one for ice cream and the second for frozen novelties) in Le Mars and a third located in St. George, Utah, for making ice cream.
Wells focuses solely on producing ice cream and frozen dessert products. The company churns out more than 150 million gallons of ice cream a year in more than 70 Blue Bunny flavors and lays claim to distributing some 500 Blue Bunny ice cream and frozen novelty products throughout all 50 US states.
Wells is the nation's third-largest ice cream producer after Nestle and Unilever. The US ice cream industry generates more than $10 billion in revenues according to the International Ice Cream Association. Ice cream purchased for home consumption represents about two thirds of the market, led by the increasing variety of indulgence options.
The company offered fluid milk and cultured dairy products, such as cottage cheese and fresh yogurt, until 2008. Wells exited the refrigerated dairy market by selling its Iowa fluid-milk plant and operations to US dairy giant Dean Foods and its Nebraska cultured-products plant and operations to Mexico's largest dairy company Grupo Lala.
Sales and Marketing
Wells sells its products through grocery stores and supermarkets, convenience and club stores, and from mobile vending trucks. It serves foodservice settings, such as educational institutions, hospitals, and restaurants.
While Wells is a privately held company, it has reported about $1 billion in annual revenue.
Reflecting the industry upswing, in 2012 Wells began to seek new capital to fuel growth. Among the possibly directions, the company may open itself up to outside ownership or investment. Its plans include becoming the #1 ice cream maker by 2020, adding new products, and expanding its sales territories. It has received interest from private equity buyers the likes of Oaktree Capital Management.
The company is taking a larger bite out of the ice cream market by launching a selection of new cones, snack-size frozen bars, and ice cream flavors. Its Blue Bunny Sweet Freedom line, made with the Truvia brand of stevia-based sweetener, boasts no sugar and lower fat and carbs than traditional offerings. Targeting demand for premium ice cream bars, the company collaborates with Cadbury to introduce new products dipped in chocolate. Wells has also teamed up with celebrity cake baker Chef Duff Goldman to offer cake-and-ice cream inspired treats.
Wells Enterprises is still owned and managed by the Wells family.
Founded as a small-town dairy in 1913 by the late Fred H. Wells with $250, the company has grown through acquisitions to achieve a national presence in the US. In 2011 the ice cream maker changed its name from Wells' Dairy to Wells Enterprises as it expanded the Blue Bunny ice cream brand.