Utz expands DSD footprint with Kitchen Cooked acquisition

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Kitchen Cooked's snack potfolio includes Kettle Kurls, Kettle Pops, popcorn, pretzels, tortilla chips, pork rinds and other snack items. Pic: Kettle Cooked
Kitchen Cooked's snack potfolio includes Kettle Kurls, Kettle Pops, popcorn, pretzels, tortilla chips, pork rinds and other snack items. Pic: Kettle Cooked

Related tags Utz direct store delivery Kitchen Cooked Conagra Brands

US snack food giant Utz Quality Foods has added the direct store delivery (DSD) business of Illinois-based Kitchen Cooked to its burgeoning portfolio of snack brands.

The nearly 100-year-old company made the announcement on New Year’s Eve. Financial details were not disclosed.

Under the DSD model, manufacturers ship products directly to retail stores.

Pennsylvania-based Utz – purportedly the largest family-managed and privately held salty snack food company in the US – currently operates more than 1,700 DSD routes around the US for its range of convenient, on-the-go and take-home sized snack foods.

The transaction will enable Utz to expand its DSD footprint in central Illinois and eastern Iowa, where Kitchen Cooked distributes its own brand and other snack items. It also includes Kitchen Cooked’s manufacturing assets; however, it will close its plant in Bushnell, Illinois, after more than 40 years of operation.

Expanding capabilities

“We are very excited about the opportunity to add this important snack food brand and set of capabilities to our portfolio,”​ said Utz CEO Dylan Lissette.

“Since the 1930s, Kitchen Cooked brings a strong consumer following and unique craft heritage in its core markets. Their distribution and manufacturing capabilities, along with their customer relationships, enhance our ability to grow our Utz brand portfolio further west.”

In September 2019, Utz snapped up the DSD snack business of US giant Conagra, which brought the Tim's Cascade Snacks, Hawaiian Snacks, Erin's, Snyder of Berlin and Husman's brands into the fold.

"We are excited to partner with Utz and believe that this is a great way for the two organizations to come together to create an even stronger manufacturing and distribution network throughout Illinois and Eastern Iowa,"​ added Kitchen Cooked VP Paul Blackhurst.

“Utz and Kitchen Cooked have almost a century each of experience in bringing great tasting snacks to our communities, and we believe this transaction only strengthens our ability to do so going forward.”

Snacking on the rise

The move comes as snacking is on the rise in the US, according to Mondelēz International’s State of Snacking report published last year. Today, the average consumer prefers to snack throughout the day,​ bumping out the set three-square-meals-a-day routine.

“We see that the average global adult now eats more snacks than meals on a given day, driven by a number of evolving demands largely associated with how we live today, including a growing need for convenience, yearning to share nostalgic and cultural experiences, expanded wellbeing preferences and the desire for choices that range from wholesome to indulgent,”​ Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelez, said in a statement.

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