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Ferrero Group acquires Iowa’s Wells Enterprises, maker of Blue Bunny

Large bowls of Blue Bunny ice cream sit on a table.
Courtesy of Wells Enterprises
Ferrero Group has acquired Wells Enterprises, maker of Blue Bunny ice cream.

A global confectionery company announced its plans on Wednesday to acquire Wells Enterprises, the makers of Blue Bunny ice cream.

The Le Mars based company said it reached an agreement with the Ferrero Group, a company that owns popular brands Kinder, Nutella, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher. With the acquisition, the company headquartered in Luxembourg can now add Blue Bunny, Halo Top and Bomb Pops to that list.

In its more than 100 years of business, Wells has become the largest family-owned ice cream company in the U.S. It employs around 2,500 Iowans, with a total of 4,000 workers across the U.S.

It will continue operating offices in northwest Iowa, Nevada and New York. No jobs will be immediately impacted by the acquisition.

CEO and a member of the founding family, Mike Wells, will continue to serve as an advisor to the company during its transition. In a statement, he said he’s focused on the future of the frozen treat brand.

“This acquisition puts the business in the best possible hands, and I look forward to supporting the entire Wells team and Ferrero with the transition,” he said.

The Ferrero Group has acquired Wells Enterprises based in Le Mars.
Courtesy of Wells Enterprises
The Ferrero Group has acquired Wells Enterprises based in Le Mars.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she’s thankful the company will remain in Iowa.

“I want to express my gratitude to Mike Wells and his family for insisting that Iowa remain the home of Wells Enterprises including its facilities, products, and people as the business begins this new chapter,” Reynolds said in a statement. “I appreciate Mike’s continued dedication to the community of Le Mars and look forward to meeting the new leadership soon.”

The deal will grow Ferrero’s reach in North America. It comes on the heels of its acquisitions of Fannie May, Nestle’s confectionery business and Kellogg company’s cookies and fruit snacks department in recent years.

Executive chairman Giovanni Ferrero said he’s delighted that Wells has agreed to join the group.

“This represents a win-win partnership, bringing together ice cream experts and confectionery champions. Together, we have the power of one and are well placed to grow and compete in the ice cream market,” Ferrero said.

The terms of the acquisition have not been made public. The deal is expected to close in early 2023.

Kendall was Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA until Jan. 20, 2023.