Hearthside Food Solutions (“Hearthside”) announced two separate, definitive agreements enabling the company to expand rapidly in the fastest-growing bar categories in the Americas and Europe. Under one agreement, Hearthside is acquiring VSI, the largest European producer of nutrition, diet, and functional bars. In a separate agreement, Hearthside is acquiring a nutritional supplement bar production facility in Boise, Idaho, from a subsidiary of Post Holdings, Inc. (“Post”). These two transactions will enable the rapid scaling of VSI’s formulations, R&D, product development, and full-scale production in the Americas. Terms were not disclosed. Both transactions are expected to close in September of 2015.
“This is the right move for VSI at the right time”
Hearthside, with 19 U.S.-based facilities, is currently North America’s largest contract manufacturer of bars and baked goods. The VSI acquisition adds three European manufacturing facilities for nutrition, diet, and functional bars as well as best-in-class R&D, formulation, and innovation capabilities.
U.S. bar growth predictions from market research firm Mintel show continued category strength driven by convenience, snacking occasions, and meal replacement trends. The strongest growth is in health-related bar categories, including sports, functional, diet, and nutrition.
“This is both a category and geographic expansion, putting Hearthside into the three fastest-growing bar categories as well as in the European market, where VSI is a leader,” said Rich Scalise, Hearthside Founder and Chairman. “The R&D and production expertise of VSI in the fast-growth categories of nutrition, diet, and functional bars enables Hearthside to take a quantum leap forward, providing our customers with the most complete offerings in the industry.”
The acquisition of a recently idled nutritional supplement bar production facility in Boise, Idaho, enables Hearthside to begin production of these new categories in the Americas quickly. This facility, plus the three VSI operations, expands Hearthside’s network to 23 facilities.
“It takes two years from greenfield to operational bar plant,” said Dwayne Hughes, Hearthside SVP of Supply Chain. “We wanted VSI capacity in the North American mix more quickly. This facility is ready to go today. The timing, the location, and the state-of-the-art equipment provides a perfect solution that makes us competitive in more bar categories immediately.”
Both Hearthside and VSI are contact manufacturers for premier food companies and global brands. The companies see no redundancies or conflicts in complementary customers and product offerings.
“This is the right move for VSI at the right time,” said Gerard Janssens, CEO of VSI. “Our people, our leadership team and our customers all benefit from this acquisition. We will be able to do more things for more customers in more places. For example, we can design, formulate, and commercialize a new bar, then produce it for customers in Europe and the Americas. This combined bar development and delivery platform sets new standards in the contract manufacturing industry.”