COVID-19 has led to significant and permanent changes in consumer purchasing habits, and Brynwood’s recent acquisition taps into two of them: the growth in breakfast and frozen foods.
Since they aren’t in a rush to get kids to school or arrive at the office on time, people are also spending more time eating breakfast. The newfound appreciation for a leisurely morning meal has made pancakes, waffles, breakfast sausage, bacon, and cold cereal more steady staples compared to the quicker, grab-and-go items from pre-pandemic days.
Frozen foods are also seeing a major uptick in popularity during the pandemic. Consumers are either stocking up to avoid additional trips to the supermarket or wanting a few easy options in the freezer to take a break from cooking.
The private-equity firm already has a presence in the breakfast segment through Hungry Jack and Arrowhead Mills, which it owns through its portfolio company Hometown Food Company, as well as Sunny Delight. It’s also no stranger to the frozen foods category. The fact that many De Wafelbakkers products are ready to eat in just 60 seconds could appeal to consumers who want to spend more time at the breakfast table without having to spend time prepping and making waffles or pancakes.
The firm has been an active investor in food and beverage companies in recent years, scooping up a number of discarded brands from J.M. Smucker for $375 million through its Hometown Food portfolio in September 2018. The acquisition brought Pillsbury’s shelf stable and baking products, Funfetti, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White under its umbrella.
Brynwood also acquired Buitoni Pasta’s North American division in June 2020. While falling outside the breakfast segment, consumer packaged goods across a variety of segments have caught a rising tide thanks to COVID-19 consumer trends like cooking more at home. With a number of pandemic trends showing sticking power in the post-pandemic world, Brynwood could see a nice boost thanks to its diverse food and beverage holdings.
The firm takes the helm of De Wafelbakkers during a time when eating habits and purchasing trends are in flux. The brand faces stiff competition from up-and-coming breakfast brands like Kodiak Cakes as well as traditional names like Kellogg’s Eggo.
Other investors are seeing the burgeoning opportunity in the breakfast segment. Last month, private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg acquired Aryzta North America, a business-to-business frozen baked goods maker. It services the retail, foodservice, and quick-service restaurant segment under brands such as La Brea Bakery and Otis Spunkmeyer.