Hearthside Food Solutions has announced two major acquisitions that the company hopes will help it expand rapidly in the fastest-growing bar categories in the Americas and Europe.
Specifically, the company has acquired VSI, the largest European producer of nutrition, diet, and functional bars. And, in a separate deal, Hearthside has acquired a U.S. production facility in Boise, Idaho from a subsidiary of Post Holdings, Inc. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed, and both transactions are expected to close in September of 2015.
The combination of these two acquisitions enables Hearthside to immediately bring nutritional bar production to the States, and significantly expands R&D, formulation, and development capabilities.
“This is both a category and geographic expansion, putting Hearthside into the three fastest-growing bar categories as well as in the European market, where VSI is a leader,” says Rich Scalise, Hearthside Founder and Chairman. “The R&D and production expertise of VSI in the fast-growth categories of nutrition, diet, and functional bars enables Hearthside to take a quantum leap forward, providing our customers with the most complete offerings in the industry.”
And Dwayne Hughes, Hearthside SVP of Supply Chain, says the new U.S. production facility in Idaho will save the company valuable time as it works to expand its presence.
“It takes two years from greenfield to operational bar plant,” he explains. “We wanted VSI capacity in the North American mix more quickly. This facility is ready to go today. The timing, the location, and the state-of-the-art equipment provides a perfect solution that makes us competitive in more bar categories immediately.”
Post Holdings, which opened the Boise plant in 1995 to produce PowerBars, announced it would close the facility in early March of this year. It shut down the facility this July.
Hearthside, which already had 19 U.S.-based facilities, is currently North America’s largest contract manufacturer of bars and baked goods. And, the VSI acquisition adds three European manufacturing facilities, as well as best-in-class R&D, formulation, and innovation capabilities. Those, plus the Idaho plant expands Hearthside’s network to 23 facilities.
The U.S. bar market is strong, according to growth predictions from market research firm Mintel. The data suggests that the category will only continue to grow as consumers look for convenience, snacking options and meal replacements. And the strongest growth is in health-related bar categories, including sports, functional, diet, and nutrition.
Both Hearthside and VSI are contact manufacturers for premier food companies and global brands. But the companies don’t foresee any redundancies or conflicts in complementary customers and product offerings.
“This is the right move for VSI at the right time,” says Gerard Janssens, VSI’s ceo. “Our people, our leadership team and our customers all benefit from this acquisition. We will be able to do more things for more customers in more places. For example, we can design, formulate, and commercialize a new bar, then produce it for customers in Europe and the Americas. This combined bar development and delivery platform sets new standards in the contract manufacturing industry.”
In 2014, Hearthside was acquired by the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs and Vestar Capital Partners.
Hearthside Food Solutions, headquartered in Downers Grove, Ill., is the largest independent baker in the United States and a full-service contract manufacturer of high quality, grain-based food and snack products for some of the world’s leading premier brands.