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April 19, 2024

Utz sells former Wachusett Chip factory to producers of Popchips as part of $18.5M deal

A factory sits behind a parking lot Image | Courtesy of Google Maps Wachusett Potato Chip Co. operated in Fitchburg from 1939 until 2011, when it was purchased by Utz Brand, which continues to produce the Wachusett brand.

Utz Brands, the Pennsylvania-based snack manufacturer who purchased the Wachusett Potato Chip Co. in 2011 and has been manufacturing the brand since, has struck a deal to sell its Fitchburg factory to Our Home, the New Jersey-based manufacturer of snacks including Popchips.

The transaction, which includes the Fitchburg facility and another Utz factory in Berlin, Pennsylvania, is valued at $18.5 million and expected to close on Monday, according to a press release issued by Utz on Thursday. Under the deal, Our Home will continue to manufacture Utz-brand products for a period of time under a co-manufacturing agreement.

The move will not impact the Wachusett brand, said Kevin Brick, vice president of regulatory and community affairs for Utz.

“There are no changes to our brands as part of this announcement, including the Wachusett brand, a long-time local favorite,” Brick said in an email to WBJ.

Utz said it plans on using the proceeds from the deal to pay down long-term debt and add cash to its balance sheet. 

“This transaction will allow us to focus on the next phase of our optimization efforts as we invest in our remaining facilities and continue to deliver on our value creation initiatives,” Utz CEO Howard Friedman said in the press release “We now operate eight primary manufacturing facilities, down from 16 in 2021, allowing us to allocate more volume to our larger manufacturing facilities and better leverage our fixed costs.”

Our Home will offer Utz employees in Fitchburg the opportunity to transition to working for the company. 

With this move, Our Home now has seven manufacturing facilities across the country. In addition to Popchips, the company produces brands that include You Need This, Food Should Taste Good, RW Garcia, and Good Health Snacks. 

Founded in 1939, Wachusett Potato Chip Co. was sold to Utz in 2011 by then-President Edward Krysiak, who took over the business following the death of his father in 1960. Krysiak passed away in 2022. 

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