RICHMOND, VA. — Universal Corp. has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Silva International, a privately held company involved in dehydrated vegetable, fruit and herb processing, for $170 million in cash.
Silva, Momence, Ill., procures more than 60 types of dehydrated vegetables, fruits and herbs from over 20 countries. The company specializes in processing natural raw materials into custom-designed dehydrated fruit- and vegetable-based ingredients for a variety of end products. Founded in 1979, Silva International employs over 200 people and operates a 380,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.
Silva will become part of Universal Corp.’s plant-based ingredients platform, which includes FruitSmart, Inc. and Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, Inc. (CIFI). Richmond-based Universal Corp. was founded in 1918 with a focus on tobacco.
“We’re excited to have reached this agreement with Silva as we continue to diversify our offerings and generate new opportunities for value creation,” said George C. Freeman III, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Universal Corp. “This acquisition builds on our investment in FruitSmart and expands our plant-based ingredients platform. With this acquisition, we expect these businesses to represent 10% to 20% of our EBITDA by fiscal year 2022, ahead of our previously stated target outlined as part of our capital allocation strategy.
“With Silva as part of our plant-based ingredients platform, we will be able to offer customers a single source for vegetable and fruit ingredients solutions. Silva, FruitSmart and CIFI all serve similar industries but have different product portfolios and minimal customer overlap. We expect to leverage significant commercial synergies between these businesses, and we are excited by the prospect of leveraging Universal’s global network of hundreds of thousands of farmers to drive growth across the platform.”
Universal Corp. expects the acquisition to close in October. Kent DeVries, president of Silva, will continue to run the business and report to Patrick O’Keefe, senior vice president of Universal Global Ventures, a subsidiary of Universal Corp., which sources, processes and supplies agri-products.