Snyders-Lance buys 100% of UK popcorn maker Metcalfes Skinny

Snyder's-Lance buys 100% of UK popcorn maker Metcalfe's Skinny

Snyder's-Lance, the US snack maker, today (1 September) it has acquired full ownership of privately-controlled UK popcorn firm Metcalfe's Skinny.

The deal, struck for an undisclosed sum, was completed through Snyder's-Lance's UK subsidiary Kettle Foods, which bought a 26% stake in Metcalfe's in January when it was still owned by Diamond Foods. That investment came three months after Snyder's-Lance had struck a deal to buy US peer Diamond Foods for US$1.91bn. Snyder's-Lance's acquisition of Diamond Foods was completed in February.

Snyder's-Lance said Kettle Foods, the owner of the Kettle Chips brand, has an ambition to "evolve into a more widely-based premium snacking leader in Europe".

Carl Lee Jr., the president and CEO of Snyder's-Lance, added: "We see tremendous growth in the UK with additional opportunities for further international expansion for our innovative collection of snacking brands. This addition to our branded portfolio provides us with another better-for-you option in a growth snacking category in the European markets."

Metcalfe's Skinny was formed last year when UK group Metcalfe's Food Co. split in two. The move created Metcalfe's Skinny and Itsu Grocery, which supplies Asian-style food.

Julian Metcalfe, the founder of UK-based sandwich store group Pret a Manger and Asian-inspired fast food and restaurant chain Itsu, set up Metcalfe's Food Co. in 2009. He wanted to sell popcorn and healthier snacks to the foodservice outlets. A year later, food entrepreneur and former investment banker Robert Jakobi joined the business as MD. The two men remained owners of Itsu Grocery and Metcalfe's Skinny.

In a statement on Snyder's-Lance taking full control of Metcalfe Skinny, Metcalfe and Jakobi said: "This is a unique opportunity to bring our snacking talents together under one roof to truly give Metcalfe's skinny the international opportunity it deserves. This is a positive step on many levels that we know will not only showcase the brand's potential but will benefit our customers in the long term as well."

Citing data from Nielsen, Snyder's-Lance said the UK popcorn market is "one of the fastest-growing categories" within the country's food sector, growing by 45% of the last two years. Snyder's-Lance said UK consumers were "increasingly" looking for "better-for-you snacking options".