- Utz Brands is acquiring assets related to Chicago snack brand Vitner’s from Snak-King for $25 million, according to a release. Utz said the deal, which is expected to close in February, will be accretive to earnings this year and beyond.
- Vitner's, which was started in 1926, has about 55 direct-store-delivery (DSD) distribution routes. The deal includes the Vitner’s trademark and DSD distribution of Vitner’s branded products. Most of Vitner's snack products are manufactured by Snak-King, but Utz plans to transition manufacturing for many of those products to its own plants.
- This is the third acquisition from Utz since it was acquired by blank check company Collier Creek Holdings and went public on the New York Stock Exchange last year. Utz said in the release that the distribution routes acquired in this deal will help to grow its brands in the grocery, drug and street channels in the Midwest.
Ever since Utz went public on the New York Stock Exchange, the company has accelerated its mission to grow its snacking empire through M&A.
In September, Utz announced it was buying the H.K. Anderson peanut butter-filled pretzel brand from Conagra Brands for less than $10 million. Two months later, Utz said it was purchasing Truco Enterprises, manufacturer of On The Border tortilla chips, salsa and queso, for $480 million. The company isn't slowing that pace down in the new year.
Utz is strategic about its purchases and this latest deal aims to expand the company geographically. The Chicago market is the fourth-largest salty snack market in the country with about $688 million in annual retail sales, according to IRI data cited by Utz. It grew roughly 9% in the 52 weeks ending Nov. 29. The company said in the release that the Vitner's acquisition will move Utz from the No. 7 spot to the No. 4 ranking among salty snacks in Chicago.
"This strategic acquisition will make Utz a more significant competitor in the Chicago area," said Dylan Lissette, CEO of Utz. "Combined with our recently announced acquisition of the On the Border tortilla chip, salsa and queso brand, we create a strong brand platform to better serve the primary salty snack channels and continue to expand rapidly in this important growth market."
When Vitner's was sold to Snak-King in 2012 for an undisclosed amount, it was one of the oldest family-run snack food companies in the United States. Vitner's, which makes potato chips, cheese snacks, corn snacks and popcorn, will likely fit in with the rest of Utz's portfolio of similar salty snacks. It also could also have synergies with its new family-run parent company: Lissette is the son-in-law of the Utz founders' grandson, and the company is turning 100 years old this year.
Utz, which produces more than 3 million pounds of snacks per week, has long used acquisitions for growth. The company bought Good Health Natural Products in 2014, Snikkidy in 2015, Golden Flake in 2016 and Inventure Foods in 2017. In 2019, it purchased Conagra’s DSD snacks business, bought Snyder of Berlin and completed a merger with Kitchen Cooked.
Although the company has been building up its salty snack portfolio in recent years, the acquisition of Vitner's also continues its strategy of expanding distribution in major metropolitan areas. Lissette said in the release that the company made similar moves in New York City in 1994, Boston in 2004, Pittsburgh in 2006 and Atlanta in 2011.