Snyder’s alum drives newly-formed Benestar’s debut in BFY snack space with Evans acquisition

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Mac's - produced by Evans - is the number one multi-outlet store brand for pork rinds in the US. Pic: Evans Food Group
Mac's - produced by Evans - is the number one multi-outlet store brand for pork rinds in the US. Pic: Evans Food Group

Related tags Snyder's-Lance Evans Food Group Benestar Brands better-for-you pork rinds M&A Campbell soup company

US pork rind snack producer Evans Food Group has been acquired by Highlander Partners through its newly-formed food platform Benestar Brands, which is to be headed by Carl E. Lee, former CEO of Snyder’s-Lance.

Jeff L. Hull, president and CEO of Highlander, said the move is part of the private investment firm’s new focus on the better-for-you salty snack category.

Pork rinds – or ‘chicharrónes’ – are a popular snack, particularly among millennials, as they are high in protein, gluten-free and contains no carbs.

“We have developed a team to focus in this area and to identify outstanding opportunities to grow our presence in the food sector,”​ said Hull. “We intend to make additional acquisitions around this strategy, both for Benestar and in other sectors of the food industry.”

Leading producer

Chicago-headquartered Evans is a leading producer of branded and private label pork rinds, with a presence in more than a dozen countries in North America, Latin America and Asia.

Its branded portfolio includes Mac’s Snacks (the number one multi-outlet store brand for pork rinds in the US), Turkey Creek, Don Rudy, Cazo de Oro and Domingo’s.

Carl E. Lee – former president and CEO of Snyder’s Lance,​ which was sold to Campbell Soup for more than $6bn last year​ – has been appointed president and CEO of Benestar Brands.

Evans will continue to be uniquely positioned to capitalize on this fast-growing snack category under Benestar, which is a Catalan word that translates as ‘wellness’ or ‘wellbeing’.

Tapping Snyder’s successes

“This business reminds me of Snyder’s when I joined as CEO, a leading manufacturer and distributor in a fast-growing category focused on a shift toward better-for-you snacks,”​ said Lee.

“There is tremendous potential within Evans, and I look forward to implementing some of the strategies we used in the past to bring Evans’ products and other snacks to more consumers across the US."

Jeff Partridge, MD of Highlander – and former CEO of Truco Enterprises, the licensee for On the Border Tortilla Chips – has been appointed chairman of Benestar. Jose L. Prado, Evans’ previous chairman and CEO – and former president for Quaker Oats North America – will be his running mate as vice chair.

“I am excited about the potential of Benestar executing a 'buy and build' strategy in the snack food industry, as we target companies with strong growth potential and excellent brand equity. Benestar's principals have executed dozens of transactions in the food and snack category and will be using their expertise to acquire both standalone businesses and carveouts,” ​said Hull.

Benestar acquired Evans from Wind Point Partners for an undisclosed amount.

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