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J Freirich foods: 100-Year-Old Renowned Food & Grocery Brand Declares Bankruptcy


Just because a product line has been around for a long time and enjoys high name recognition doesn’t guarantee its perpetual existence.

Consumers learned this lesson in 2012 when Hostess filed for bankruptcy, abruptly halting operations and causing iconic products like Twinkies, Fruit Pies, and Hostess Cupcakes to vanish from store shelves seemingly overnight.

Although these products eventually returned after a new company acquired Hostess’s assets, this outcome isn’t always the norm. Sometimes, even renowned brands with long histories vanish permanently when they declare bankruptcy.

Blue Harvest Fisheries, though not as widely recognized as Hostess, held significant dominance in the New England fishing industry with a vast distribution network. However, its sudden Chapter 7 filing in 2023 left vendors scrambling for new suppliers and fishermen struggling to find alternative wholesalers for their catch.

This upheaval not only adversely affected the economy, particularly in New England fishing communities, but also drove up prices as grocery chains sought alternative, non-local sources.

The bankruptcy filing of a major supplier can have far-reaching consequences beyond the disappearance of its products.

Founded by Julian Freirich in 1921, Freirich Meats has prided itself on offering the best-tasting and highest-quality meats, earning a stellar reputation over its 103-year history as a top provider for chains like BJ’s, Price Chopper, Giant, and Fresh Market.

Specializing in corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, deli meats, and other specialty items, the company has long been guided by its noble goals, articulated on its website.

Despite its illustrious history, the future of Freirich Foods is now uncertain, as the Salisbury, N.C., company has sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

With debts ranging between $10 million and $50 million, Freirich Foods has assured it will have funds available for unsecured creditors. Despite the bankruptcy filing, the company continues to operate, with accounts receivable totaling about $5.1 million and inventory valued at approximately $5.7 million.

While possessing around $13 million in assets, including inventory, machinery, intellectual property, buildings, and vehicles, the company’s second-largest creditor is BJ’s Wholesale Club (BJ), owed $1.6 million. The largest creditor is a trust owned by Jeff Freirich, a family member not currently in a leadership role within the company.

Paul Bardinas, who has been with Freirich since 1993, currently serves as chief executive and a director. The company has yet to submit a plan for financing its Chapter 11 reorganization to the North Carolina court where it filed for bankruptcy.

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