J&J adds twist to pretzel business with acquisition

by Eric Schroeder
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PENNSAUKEN, N.J. — J&J Snack Foods Corp. has acquired the assets of New York Pretzel. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., New York Pretzel makes soft pretzel products sold primarily in the northeast region to both retail and food service locations. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“This is a natural extension of our soft pretzel product category, and we welcome New York Pretzel to our family of brands,” said Gerald B. Shreiber, president and chief executive officer of J&J Snack Foods.

According to New York Pretzel’s web site, the company bakes and ships locally and nationally, in fresh and frozen configuration, a variety of soft pretzels through a myriad of food service and retail channels.

“Our unique, hand-twisted products are nutritionally sound, cholesterol free and low in fat,” the company notes on its web site. “They are perfectly suited for placement in malls and shopping centers, schools and colleges, snack bars and food stands, stadiums and arenas, amusement parks, zoos, fast food and convenience stores. We have also achieved success at county fairs and fund-raising functions.”

The acquisition of New York Pretzel builds on J&J Snack Foods’ growing portfolio of pretzel-based products and comes about a year-and-a-half after the company acquired Chicago-based Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels. Founded in 1995 by Kim and Scott Hostein, Kim & Scott’s makes soft pretzels using all-natural, premium ingredients. The company’s products are distributed throughout food service and retail channels.

When J&J Snack reported third-quarter earnings in late July, Mr. Shreiber pointed to pretzels as a key driver in the 13% gain in earnings and 5% increase in net sales for the period.

“Sales of soft pretzels and food service continued to be extremely strong and include new products such as rolls, sticks and soft pretzel buns to casual dining restaurants and club stores,” Mr. Shreiber said during a July 30 conference call with analysts.

Soft pretzel sales to the food service segment increased 22% to $36,136,000 during the third quarter ended June 29.

Mr. Shreiber said J&J Snack has been able to build up its soft pretzel business by being innovative and reaching out to a variety of markets.

“If you look back at our soft pretzel, it’s a core product, and over the years we’ve expanded it, filled it, put it in boxes, put it in cages, made it twisted, made it longer, and filled it,” he explained. “We continue to do these things, and every once in a while a customer will come to us and they’ll want to have something that will be entirely different. And we’re working on some of these things now, and you may see one or two of these things over the next three to six months throughout the landscape.”

He said the company has done “a terrific job” of “infiltrating” the company’s pretzel products into fast-food and restaurant chains.

“We expect that we will continue to be hopefully stampeding with these products across the landscape,” he added.
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