On the Street: Inventure Expanding

May 13/Food & Beverage Close-Up -- The Inventure Group Inc. will expand its Bluffton, Ind., manufacturing facility to add extruded snack production capabilities later this year. The $4 million expansion is expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2010.

The addition of the latest extrusion technology expands manufacturing capabilities at the Bluffton facility to include sheeted dough, pellet and extruded baked snacks. The Inventure Group will bring manufacturing inside that is currently outsourced, including its popular Burger King Onion Rings and T.G.I. Friday's Mozzarella Sticks.

"This new extrusion technology allows us to take our expertise as snack food innovators to a new, growing category of snack foods," said Terry McDaniel, CEO of The Inventure Group. "It allows us to leverage our current Bluffton infrastructure to increase margins for all of the products we manufacture at that facility, and ultimately it increases in the number of new and innovative products we'll bring to market each year."

According to a recent Information Resources (IRI) report, sales of cheese and extruded snacks are up 10% over last year, pushing the extruded snack category to an all-time high of $732 million in sales.

In the past 12 months, The Inventure Group has added a number of new extruded products including Burger King French Toast Sticks and T.G.I. Friday's Buffalo Sticks.

"The extruded snack category began with the basic cheese puff years ago, so it's amazing to see the innovation that has happened in recent years" said Steve Sklar, vice president of marketing at The Inventure Group. "We've been on the cutting edge with our extruded concepts, and certainly the new manufacturing capabilities are going to allow us even greater creative flexibility when dreaming up the next French Toast Stick or Hot & Spicy Onion Ring snack."

Clextral Group, a international food processing company, will manufacture and install the proprietary extruded production line in Bluffton.

From the May 24, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition