Private equity-owned US food group Pierre Foods is to merge with two food makers – Advance Food Co. and Advance Brands.

The plan, approved by each company’s board and unveiled yesterday (28 July), will create Advance Pierre Foods.

Funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, which are currently the majority shareholder in Pierre Foods, will keep a majority stake in the new company.

Advance Pierre Foods will sell sandwiches, bakery goods and fully-cooked chicken and beef products into the retail, convenience store, foodservice and school channels.

Pierre CEO Bill Toler, who will become chief executive of the new company, said the three businesses were “wonderfully complementary”.

“The new and expanded product offerings and distribution network will give our combined customers tremendous variety, quality and value,” Toler said.

Advance Food Co. was founded in 1973 in Oklahoma by Paul Allen and David McLaughlin. Since then, the business has been led by members of the Allen and McLaughlin families.

The families will keep a minority stake in Advance Pierre Foods and current Advance Food Co. CEO Greg Allen will join the board of the new company.

Advance Brands was a venture formed in 2001 by Advance Food Co. and Cargill Meat Solutions.

“Both Pierre and the Advance companies are coming off of successful years,” said Oaktree MD Matthew Wilson. “We are very excited about the growth opportunity created by putting these three financially strong companies together.”