- John B. Sanfilippo & Son purchased “substantially all of the assets” of the Just the Cheese brand business from Specialty Cheese Company, the maker of nut and dried fruit-based products said in a statement. The purchase price was not disclosed.
- Just the Cheese sells 100% real cheese snack bars and cheese crisps. It primarily competes in the baked cheese snack category, which it estimates at $100 million.
- The acquisition by John B. Sanfilippo & Son continues what has been an active M&A period in the food and beverage space as companies look to build out their portfolios into faster-growing snacking categories.
While John B. Sanfilippo & Son may not be a household name, it has grown into one of the bigger players in nuts led by its Fisher brand and a presence in private label.
But the purchase of Just the Cheese shows the company has its sights set on expanding its reach in snacking through the addition of brands it can build up using its marketing, innovation and budgeting resources, as well as its relationship with retailers.
At the very least, the company will find a way to incorporate Just the Cheese’s products into an extension of one of its own nut offerings. Wisconsin-based Just the Cheese also expands John B. Sanfilippo and Son’s presence in on-the-go snacking with its bars and crisps made only from cheese.
"The acquisition of Just the Cheese ... will provide us a product that expands our portfolio into new snacking categories,” CEO Jeffery T. Sanfilippo said in a statement. “The assets and capabilities acquired will be complimentary to our existing product portfolio and are expected to lead to exciting innovation opportunities."
On its website, Just the Cheese noted that compared to the leading protein and meat bars, it has no sugar, fewer ingredients, carbs and calories, and roughly the same amount of protein — attributes that could interest consumers looking to eat healthier.
John B. Sanfilippo’s purchase of Just the Cheese marks the latest cheese-snacking company to be purchased by a larger CPG. Last December, organic and natural food maker Hain Celestial announced it would acquire ParmCrisps — high-protein, low-carb cheese crisps and snack mixes — as part of a $259 million deal.
Few companies have exemplified the snack expansion strategy more in recent years than confections giant Hershey, which has snapped up salty snack brands such as Dot’s, Pirate’s Booty and Skinny Pop to complement its namesake chocolate, Reese’s and other sweets.
Mentos owner Perfetti Van Melle Group, a European gum and confectionery maker, agreed to buy gum brands such as Trident and Dentyne sold in developed markets from Mondelēz International.
And Nutella owner Ferrero Group, which has been moving aggressively to capture more market share in the U.S, announced this month it would acquire ice cream maker Wells Enterprises, giving it ownership of brands including Blue Bunny and Halo Top.