"We are very excited about the opportunity to add this important snack food brand and set of capabilities to our portfolio," Utz CEO Dylan Lissette said in a statement. "Since the 1930s, Kitchen Cooked brings a strong consumer following and unique craft heritage in its core markets. Their distribution and manufacturing capabilities, along with their customer relationships, enhance our ability to grow our Utz brand portfolio further west."
As a result of the merger, Kitchen Cooked will close its plant in Bushnell, Illinois, after more than 40 years of operation, Kitchen Cooked Vice President Paul Blackhurst told The McDonough County Voice.
Utz, known for its potato chips and pretzels, acquired Kitchen Cooked's snack food brand, its direct store delivery operations and its manufacturing operations. Kitchen Cooked makes Kettle Kurls, potato chips, popcorn and other snack items.
"We are excited to partner with Utz and believe that this is a great way for the two organizations to come together to create an even stronger manufacturing and distribution network throughout Illinois and Eastern Iowa," Blackhurst said in a statement.
Utz says it is the largest family-managed, privately held salty snack food company in the U.S.
The move comes as snacking is on the rise in the U.S., according to a report from Mondelez International and The Harris Poll. The average American now eats more snacks than meals and 60 percent of Americans prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day as opposed to a few large meals, the report found.
Meanwhile, about three-quarters of Americans said they were motivated to snack for a mood boost, to stay energized or to pamper themselves, according to the report. People in the rest of the world were slightly less likely to use snacks for energy and slightly more likely to enjoy a snack for a sense of comfort.
FOX Business' James Leggate contributed to this report.