Benestar Brands expands snacking universe with acquisition of US soft pretzel bread 'pioneer'

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Pretzilla brand – a range of fresh, soft pretzel breads described as ‘light and airy with a touch of sweetness’ – was introduced in 2010. Pic: GettyImages/bhofack2
The Pretzilla brand – a range of fresh, soft pretzel breads described as ‘light and airy with a touch of sweetness’ – was introduced in 2010. Pic: GettyImages/bhofack2

Related tags: Benestar Brands, better for you, Miller Baking Company, pretzel bread, Evans Food Group, Highlander Partners

The recently created and investor-baked US snacks business has taken another step in its aggressive expansion strategy with the acquisition of Pretzilla brand owner Miller Baking Company.

This is Benestar’s third bolt-on since its formation in August 2019 by private equity firm Highlander Partners to house pork rind manufacturer Evans Foods Group, ​which it acquired from Wind Point Partners.

Benestar, a Catalan word that translates as wellness or well-being, is working to differentiate itself in the better-for-you snack category. Its brands include Mac’s, Cazo de Oro, Turkey Creek, PÖRQ and Chicas Chips.

The company is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has six production facilities around North America.  Its seventh plant – in Kings Mountain, North Carolina – is scheduled to open next year.

First mover

Under the leadership of Brian Miller, Wisconsin-based Miller Baking Company developed the knotted bread – described as ‘light and airy with a touch of sweetness’ – in 2007, creating a market for the product at retail in the US that did not previously exist.

The 97-year-old company has subsequently transitioning into a multi-product bakery specialising in producing non-GMO, allergen-friendly, vegan and kosher soft pretzel burger Buns, Mini Buns, Sausage Buns and Bites at its two Milwaukee-based facilities. The products are distributed to over 10,000 stores across the US.

As the first mover in the market, Pretzilla maintains a significant market share in the retail pretzel bread category.

“We are seeking exciting, innovative brands with strong growth potential across the snacking category and Pretzilla fits these criteria perfectly,”​ said Jeff L. Hull, president and CEO of Highlander.

“Pretzilla is the category leader in pretzel bread and dominates the market today due to superior innovation, consistent high quality and outstanding customer service.

“We intend to invest significantly in Pretzilla's production capabilities in order to meet the growing demand for its soft fresh pretzels and our plans for robust product innovation.”

Wide open space for development

Carl E. Lee, Jr., CEO of Benestar Brands – who previously served as president and CEO of Snyder’s-Lance Inc before it was sold to Campbell Soup for over $6bn in 2018 – added, “Pretzilla is a uniquely positioned brand. It is already a beloved household name with great awareness, yet it has hardly scratched the surface of its market opportunity.

“With Benestar's retail relationships and penchant for product innovation, we think there is an incredible opportunity to take Pretzilla to the next level. We know the pretzel category well and are amazed by the strides Brian Miller and his team have made to develop and produce products with such a high level of consistent quality.”

Miller said the brand is looking forward to achieving new levels of success.

“What started as a simple passion for baking pretzel bread has grown into an amazing brand that is recognised in households across the US. I’m extremely proud of what the Pretzilla team and its leadership have been able to accomplish.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Related topics: Health, Manufacturers, Markets, Bread

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