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Wind Point Partners-Backed Evans Food Group Doubles Down on Meat Protein Snacks

November 8, 2017

Evans Food Group, a leading global producer of branded and private label pork rinds, announced it has acquired California-based pork rind producer Gaytan Food Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 1935 in City of Industry, California, Gaytan is the leading producer of pork rinds on the West Coast, and is the first acquisition for Evans Food Group since it was acquired by Wind Point Partners in partnership with PepsiCo executive Jose Luis Prado, in April of last year.

Although they can be divisive, and have been in and out of favor over the years, salty meat snacks have grown in popularity with consumers who are following low carb or gluten-free diets – with the salty snack category seeing 3.5 percent growth as a whole in 2015, according to Food Dive. This trend has driven an uptick in deals within the meat snack and jerky segment, which could translate to increased activity within the pork rinds segment as well.

Meat consumption in the U.S. jumped by 5 percent in 2015 – the largest increase in 40 years, according to a report by Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory Group. Consequently, consumers are more often opting for snack foods as health plays a greater role in food choices, and younger consumers blur the lines between snacking and formal meals, reports Food Dive. Today, 24 percent of all snack foods are eaten during meal times, according to a report issued by The NPD Group, compared to 21 percent five years ago – a trend that is expected to continue, with expectations that the trend will increase by another 12 percent.

These shifts in consumer sentiment and in the market are driving larger companies to reconfigure their portfolios to include smaller CPG companies and startups that closely identify with these trends.

In March of last year Jack Link’s Protein Snacks announced it had acquired the meat snack division of Grass Run Farms – a collective of American family farms that produce 100 percent grass-fed beef and beef snacks from operations that raise beef cattle using sustainable and responsible methods without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. Terms of the deal, which included trademark and distribution rights, were not disclosed.

Last year also saw General Mills agree to acquire premium meat snack company EPIC Provisions, a Texas-based producer of meat-based protein bars from ingredients sourced from antibiotic and hormone-free chicken, turkey, pork, bison, lamb, and grass-fed beef; and saw Hershey acquire Krave Pure Foods – another premium jerky maker that Hershey told Bloomberg could become a brand worth $500 million.

More recently, in the spring of this year, Conagra Brands announced it had agreed to acquire Thanasi Foods, a protein-based snack manufacturer, and maker of Duke’s® meat snacks and BIGS Seeds, for an undisclosed amount.

And only weeks ago, Hormel Foods Corp. announced its largest acquisition to date, paying Arbor Investments $850 million for premium deli meat and salami company Columbus Manufacturing Inc.

Based in the Bay Area of California, Columbus – which makes deli meats, various types of salami, and Italian specialty meats – labels its brand as ‘millennial focused”, aligning its marketing efforts toward young consumers who are seeking out artisanal products well suited for a charcuterie plate.

For Evans, the addition of Gayton presents an opportunity to integrate and leverage both companies’ complementary portfolios and distribution capabilities.

“The merging of Gaytan and Evans, with the support of Wind Point, will create solid operational, distribution, and scale efficiencies that will fund our growth,” said Ryan Gaytan, president of Gaytan Foods. “ Leveraging Evans’ national brands and investment in technology with Gaytan’s expertise in the Hispanic segment will be a win-win for our customers and team members. I am excited to remain actively involved in the continuing combined businesses and I am as committed as ever to ensuring the success of all our stakeholders.”

Having Wind Point and Jose Luis Prado in their corner will be a great advantage to Gaytan. Wind Point’s team has been focused on investments in the food space since 1984, and Prado is a 30-year-plus veteran of the global snack industry. Together, the entire leadership team will work to continue to grow the Evans, and through it the Gaytan platforms, through organic growth, innovation, and further complementary acquisitions.

“We are excited about the combination of Evans and Gaytan,” said Joe Lawler, principal with Wind Point Partners. “Both companies share similar values and cultures. From a strategic perspective, the acquisition of Gaytan will enhance our presence and manufacturing capability in the important west coast market. We are also excited to expand our product portfolio and provide our customers with even more product solutions.”

-Lynda Kiernan  

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

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