Conagra is buying Thanasi Foods, which owns Duke's meat snacks and BIGS' Seeds, the upstart food manufacturer behind Duke's, a timely investment in protein products as consumers search for more protein in their diets. The Slim Jim and Chef Boyardee maker, now located in Chicago, announced on March 16 it agreed to acquire Thanasi. The agreement is expected to become final this summer.
Following the completion of the transaction, the Duke's and BIGS brands will continue operating out of Boulder, Colo.
"This is another exciting step in our ongoing efforts to reshape our portfolio to be more premium and modern," said Conagra president and CEO Sean Connolly. "These on-trend brands extend our meat snacks and seeds businesses into faster-growing, more premium segments."
Conagra, which already makes Slim Jim meat sticks and the David seed brand, says Duke's is a fast-growing premium-priced meat snack brand, with products including Duke's Smoked Short Sausages and Duke's Steak & Brisket Strips. BIGS' sells large in-shell sunflower seeds and sunflower seed kernels. Conagra will likely try to expand distribution, bolster marketing for the brands and perhaps look to branch out into other categories.
"What started 13 years ago as a simple passion for fire roasting seeds and slow smoking meats, has grown into two terrific brands that are recognized in households across the U.S.," said Justin "Duke" Havlick, Duke's and BIGS founder and CEO. "This is an incredibly exciting time for our brands and our team, and we are looking forward to working with the Conagra Brands team on the next chapter in our journey to take Duke's and BIGS to another level," Havlick continued. "The Conagra Brands team values our brand beliefs and is committed to continuing to use quality ingredients and the craft methods that deliver the creativity and flavor our consumers and fans love today."