US-based popcorn seasoning company Kernel Season’s has been sold by VMG Partners and company founder Brian Taylor to middle market private investment firm Highlander Partners.

The purchase price of Chicago Custom Foods, which does business as Kernel Season’s, has not been disclosed.

Founded in 2000, Kernel’s product portfolio includes more than a dozen popcorn flavourings, ranging from simple butter and white cheddar to garlic parmesan and cheesy caramel corn, as well as popcorn oils and drizzles.

The company’s products are sold in more than 22,000 retailers, including mass merchants, grocery and speciality stores, throughout North America and internationally. They can also be found in movie theatres in more than 30 countries.

Jeff Hull, president and managing partner of Highlander, and newly-appointed chairman of Kernel Season’s, said: “This acquisition further emphasises Highlander’s focus on investing in high-quality food companies and the CPG sector in general. 

“Kernel Season’s is the number one popcorn-seasoning brand in the US and has tremendous growth opportunities driven by innovation, new customer penetration and increased consumer awareness. 

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“In addition, we have a track record of implementing a ‘buy and build’ approach with our investments and we see significant M&A opportunities that would complement Kernel Season’s product portfolio and business strategy.”

Scott Lerner, CEO of Kernel Season’s, said: “Our brand has an exceptional consumer awareness and we are well positioned to continue our historical success in the foreseeable future.”

Dallas-based Highlander, which has more than US$2bn in assets under management, focuses on investing in businesses in targeted industries in which the principals of the firm have significant operating and investing experience.