B&G Foods Inc. (NYSE: BGS) is buying Back to Nature Foods Co. LLC, a manufacturer of better-for-you snacks, from Brynwood Partners and Mondelez International Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) for $162.5 million in cash. The deal comes at a time when consumers are more informed and are demanding fresher, healthier, and better-for-you food options. Consumer interest and the growing trend has galvanized buyers into acquiring producers of organic and non-GMO foods.
Back to Nature produces a variety of low-fat and organic snacks using the Back to Nature and SnackWell brand names. The Naples, Florida-based target manufactures gluten-free and non-GMO cookies, crackers, nuts and trail mixes, granola, juices, soups and cereals. The SnackWell brand was launched in 1992 by Nabisco Inc., while Back to Nature came to form through a 2012 joint venture between private equity firm Brynwood and snack company Mondelez. Brynwood owned operating control, while Mondelez retained a minority stake.
“Consistent with our acquisition strategy and our recent Green Giant, spices & seasonings and Victoria acquisitions, we are continuing to diversify our portfolio of brands and invest in brands and products that we believe are most relevant to today’s consumer,” states B&G Foods CEO Robert Cantwell.
B&G Foods (NYSE: BGS) has remained a steady strategic buyer. In March 2016, the company sold nearly 4.6 million shares in a public stock offering in order to help repay outstanding debt and to look for acquisitions. The Parsippany, New Jersey-based buyer previously acquired frozen and canned vegetable product lines Green Giant and Le Sueur from General Mills Inc. for $765 million. B&G distributes a variety of well-known shelf-stable and frozen foods across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Dealmakers have a healthy appetite for better-for-you food and beverage companies. Related deals include: Fresh&co’s acquiring a 35-acre farm to focus on local ingredients; Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.’s purchasing of antioxidant drink company Bai Brands LLC; and General Atlantic’s minority investment in Joe & the Juice, a chain of urban juice and coffee bars.
Houlihan Lokey (NYSE: HLI) is serving as financial adviser to Back to Nature, while Holland & Knight LLP and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP are serving as legal counsel. Dechert LLP is serving as legal counsel to B&G Foods. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter in 2017.