Preferred Popcorn moves into organic market with K&W acquisition

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Interest is growing in organic popcorn. Photo: iStock - spafra
Interest is growing in organic popcorn. Photo: iStock - spafra

Related tags Organic food Organic farming

US manufacturer Preferred Popcorn has acquired its first organic production facility.

The business – which grows and processes popcorn for customers across the US and in more than 65 other countries – has acquired Missouri-based K&W Popcorn, which it described as “a leading provider of premium organic popcorn​”.

Preferred said the deal, which is its third acquisition since it was founded in 1997, “strengthens its position as one of the largest popcorn providers in the world​”.

The acquisition means Preferred joins the ranks of major manufacturers looking to meet increasing demand for organic, non-GMO, and allergen-free snacks.

Growing interest in organic

General Mills last month​ announced it had accelerated efforts to double its organic acreage as it looks to grow its revenue from natural and organic products. And Flowers Foods this month​ begins its national roll-out of organic brand Dave’s Killer Bread, stating organic bread is a key part of its growth strategy.

The move also enables Preferred to enter the organic market without the requisite three-years transition from conventional farms to organic farms.

It’s a very exciting opportunity​,” said Krug. “We are seeing an increase in demand for organic products in both domestic and international markets. Acquiring a certified organic popcorn facility allows Preferred Popcorn to immediately supply our customers with an organic, US-grown product​.”

Family businesses

Preferred and K&W are both family businesses, and Preferred Popcorn founder and CEO Norm Krug has known Bill Kennebeck, founder of K&W Popcorn, for more than 30 years.

The K&W factory in Trenton, Missouri, will continue to be run by Kennebeck’s son, John,

My father started K&W with the vision of operating a family-owned and operated business while producing premium quality popcorn​,” he said. “We love the thought of continuing that legacy with Preferred​.”

Market analysts Technavio have predicted global sales of popcorn will increase more than 40% to $12.4bn between this year and 2020. Although the US will remain the largest global market for the snack, the country’s share of the category is set to fall from 61.3% to 59.0% as Europe, APAC and Latin America grow at a faster rate.

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