Hormel closes deal to acquire Justin’s; Guanella named COO

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, May 31, 2016


It’s a deal.

Hormel Foods Corp. closed the deal to acquire Justin’s LLC, the owner of the Justin’s brand and maker of several nut butter-based snacking products, and it appointed Michael Guanella as chief operating officer of Justin’s.

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Hormel first announced the $286 million deal during its second quarter earnings call on May 18. Justin’s markets four nut butter-based snack lines: spreads, squeeze packs, peanut butter cups and snack packs.

Justin’s Specialty Nut Butter Brand specializes in nut butter-based snack items, and Hormel leaders expect the brand to compliment its developing Skippy peanut butter brand and the expect it to tie into the goal of appealing to younger, on-the-go consumers.

“Justin’s affords us that opportunity to really be more complimentary to the Skippy brand in a category that’s a rapidly growing category,” Hormel President and Chief Operating Officer James Snee said earlier this month. “We know that it attracts a younger, more health-conscious, millennial consumer.”

Guanella is currently a senior brand manager at Hormel Foods responsible for Skippy peanut butter.



“We are excited to welcome Mike to the Justin’s team,” said Justin’s CEO and President Peter Burns said in a press release. “Mike’s expertise in innovation, operations and product development will be a welcome addition to our mission. We are confident that he will bring new opportunities to the Justin’s family of products.”

Guanella led the integration of the Skippy brand in 2013 and has been responsible for brand strategy, consumer marketing and product innovation in the U.S. retail market. Most recently, Guanella led the innovation and launch of Skippy P.B. Bites.

“Mike has led the Skippy brand to a new level of innovation, growth and market share. Congratulations to him on this new role with Justin’s. I am confident that he will be an excellent addition to their talented team of professionals,” said James M. Splinter, group vice president of Grocery Products at Hormel Foods, in a press release.

Over his nine-year career at Hormel Foods, Guanella has held leadership roles in data analytics and business development as well as product management roles. Prior to joining Hormel Foods, he spent time in information technology leadership positions both in retail and manufacturing, including tenure as a consultant for Deloitte and Touche. Guanella holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College in International Relations and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Hormel Foods was advised by HT Capital Advisors in the deal, and Piper Jaffray & Co. was the exclusive advisor to Justin’s.