Bloomberg Businessweek

Wall Street’s Great Ice Cream Buyout

Investors love refrigerated warehouses, and that could hurt some small food companies
Greenbaum is closing the business his father built

While his friends played in the Florida sunshine, Elliot Greenbaum, then 11, was often bundled up in coat and hat, sweeping the floors in his dad’s refrigerated warehouse. As a teenager, he operated the forklift and loaded Danish canned hams into station wagons bound for Cuban sandwich shops.

Now 73, Greenbaum is closing the business he inherited from his Polish immigrant father, unable to compete in a $6 billion refrigerated storage industry dominated by institutional investors scaling up to serve food giants such as Unilever NV and Nestlé SA. As a result, some of his smaller customers—which recently included a specialty frozen-dog-food maker and a kombucha startup—are at risk of getting shut out of the cold. “We’re losing the exotic things that make America great,” says Greenbaum, who just sold his last warehouse. “Now other people far away are deciding how

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