Protein-enriched foods

A bigger leader in protein: Tyson Foods divests bakery businesses and creates protein crisps brand

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Tyson Foods will be a bigger leader in the protein foods market. Pic: ©GettyImages/Rimma_Bondarenko
Tyson Foods will be a bigger leader in the protein foods market. Pic: ©GettyImages/Rimma_Bondarenko
Tyson Foods is selling its Sara Lee frozen bakery and Van’s businesses to private equity firm Kohlberg & Company for an undisclosed sum to focus more on its protein-enriched products.

The sale includes the Chef Pierre, Bistro Collection and Van’s brands and a license to use the Sara Lee brand in certain channels.

Tyson will sell its rights to Sara Lee’s frozen bakery products, while Bimbo Bakery USA will retain Sara Lee’s fresh bakery business.

“These are great assets with outstanding team members. However, we’re focused on expanding Tyson Foods’ leadership position in protein,”​ said Sally Grimes, president at Tyson Foods’ prepared foods division.

She said the deal also includes the sale of the company’s prepared foods facilities in Tarboro, North Carolina, and Traverse City, Michigan, as well as a sales office in Canada.

The 1,160 workers employed at the two facilities and sales offices will remain in their positions within the new company, noted Grimes.

However, she did not disclose the extent to which bakery will account for its overall business after divesting Sara Lee and Van’s.

Former Sara Lee CEO to lead acquired brands

Once the deal is completed, C.J. Fraleigh, who served as CEO of Sara Lee North America from 2005 to 2011, will become the executive chairman of a newly created business that combines Sara Lee frozen bakery and Van’s under Kohlberg.

Fraleigh currently serves as a board member at Nonni’s Food Company, a premium biscotti maker. He also worked in various positions at PepsiCo in the 1990s.

“With established and iconic brands, including Sara Lee, this business is well positioned to continue its historical growth trajectory,”​ said Fraleigh.

“I look forward to working with the company’s employees to execute on growth opportunities we’ve identified and continue providing customers with excellent service, innovation and consistently high quality products,”​ he added.

Creating new protein snacks through innovation lab

Tyson Foods’ innovation lab has created its first food brand, ¡Yappah! to expand its protein portfolio.

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¡Yappah! protein crisps use upcycled vegetable and grain-based ingredients to fight against food waste.

The innovation lab was launched last year to develop products that meet changing consumer behaviors, according to the company.

¡Yappah! includes a line of protein crisps using upcycled vegetable and grain-based ingredients in a range of unique flavors, including curry-flavored chicken carrot, mojo-flavored chicken celery, chicken IPA white cheddar and Shandy beer-flavored chicken.

The goal is to address food waste while creating high-protein snacks, said Rizal Hamdallah, head of Tyson innovation lab.

He noted the range was co-developed through partnerships between Tyson Foods and “like-minded food companies,”​ such as Molson Coors (which provides spent grain from its beer brewing for the ¡Yappah! crisps).

“We will continue to seek out other great partners, large and small, who have resources and goals that complement our own,”​ added Hamdallah.

The new range will also undergo a series of trails before being officially launched, including feedback from Indiegogo members​ and a 90-day trial in July at a Chicago grocery store.

The company said ¡Yappah! will ultimately act as the umbrella under which future products or product categories will be launched to tackle major social challenges related to food.

“For the ¡Yappah! brand, sustainability is not an add-on, it’s our DNA,”​ it said.

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