What the Utz-Inventure Snack Merger Means for Convenience Stores

Utz snacks

A $165 million agreement combining Utz Quality Foods and Inventure Foods, announced in late October, links two firms that offer great diversified synergy: Inventure Foods, a company that is honing a specialty, better-for-you food reputation; and Utz, a company with a strong foothold in traditional snacks, such as potato chips, pretzels, cheese snacks, corn chips, tortillas, popcorn and more.

The agreement is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter. Hanover, Pa.-based Utz, the largest privately held and family-managed branded salty-snack manufacturer and marketer in the United States, agreed to acquire all of Inventure’s outstanding shares of common stock in an all-cash transaction.

The merger is an opportunity to tap into a “strong heritage of innovation in healthy and indulgent snacking,” said Utz CEO Dylan Lissette, citing Inventure’s solid geographic footprint, customer relationships and distribution strengths as keys to the deal.

Terry McDaniel, CEO of Phoenix-based Inventure, said the merger followed sustained “diligent analysis and strategic deliberations” by Inventure’s board as far back as the summer of 2016. The deal is expected to deliver immediate and certain cash value to stockholders and new opportunities for its snack brands.

Utz operates 10 facilities, located in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Alabama. With manufacturing facilities in Arizona and Indiana, Inventure markets specialty better-for-you food brands under an umbrella that includes Boulder Canyon Foods, TGI Fridays, Nathan's Famous, Vidalia Brands, Poore Brothers and more.

Click through to view several top brands offered by both companies, and how operators might reap benefits via the companies' marketing and distribution strengths.

Inventure’s Bob’s Texas Style potato chips

Inventure’s Bob’s Texas Style potato chips

Inventure’s Bob’s Texas Style potato chips are derived from a top-secret kettle-cooking recipe in which thickly sliced premium potatoes are slow-cooked in small batches.

Utz's Crab Cheese Balls

Nathan’s Famous Snacks

Crab Cheese Balls pair a hearty pinch of Chesapeake Bay-style crab seasoning with a cheese ball recipe, resulting in a zesty, creamy white cheddar flavor payoff. Chesapeake Bay-style Crab Cheese Balls are gluten-free, made with real cheddar cheese and available in 3.5- and 8.5-ounce bags.

Nathan’s Famous Snacks

Nathan’s Famous Snacks

Inventure captures the taste of Coney Island’s iconic Nathan’s Famous hot dogs through its Nathan’s Famous Snacks, which allow consumers to feed their french-fry craving on the go. The crunchy fries are cut thick and hearty, and then cooked to a golden brown.

Utz’s Zapp’s chips

Utz’s Zapp’s chips

Cajun-made with a kettle crunch, Utz’s Zapp’s brand is the only kettle-cooked chip with a Cajun crunch that offers all the flavor of Louisiana, according to the company. Conventional flavors along with unique spices top these New Orleans kettle-style potato chips. 

Inventure’s Poore Brothers Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Inventure’s Poore Brothers Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Inventure’s Poore Brothers Kettle Cooked Potato Chips are an ode to founders Jay and Don Poore, who decided decades ago to develop their own snack brand by creating a kettle-cooked chip thicker than traditional varieties. These hand-crafted kettle-cooked potato chips are sliced a little thicker and slow-cooked at a lower temperature, one batch at a time. 

Utz holiday snack offerings

Utz holiday snack offerings

Utz holiday snack offerings have included Holiday Cinnamon Pretzel Sticks, Chocolate Pretzels, Snow Balls (white cheddar cheese balls) and Holiday Shaped Pretzels, all part of a holiday promotion dubbed the Nice List Giveaway. 

Inventure’s Tato Skins

Inventure’s Tato Skins

The secret of the popularity of Inventure’s Tato Skins chips is a formulation that features real potato skins and the finest potatoes, the company says.