Olam International, a global agribusiness operation, announced Dec. 4 that it has signed a purchase agreement to acquire a 100 percent interest in Georgia-based peanut sheller McCleskey Mills at an enterprise value of $176 million.
McCleskey, or MMI, is the third largest peanut sheller in the U.S. with a market share of 12 percent and an annual capacity of approximately 250,000 Farmer Stock Tons. It owns processing facilities at two locations in Georgia and manages 20 buying points and farmer stock storage assets in the Southeast region with long-standing relationships with a diverse set of customers in the snack, peanut butter and confectionery space.
Olam, a global player in peanuts, has been operating in the U.S. peanut industry since 2007 through its acquisition of Universal Blanchers. The acquisition of MMI is consistent with Olam’s strategy to invest in prioritized platforms, which includes edible nuts. It extends Olam’s participation in the U.S. peanut value chain as MMI links its own procurement and supply chain infrastructure with Olam’s midstream processing capabilities, completing Olam’s value chain presence from farm gate to factory gate.
The deal will enhance Olam’s farmer relationships and market intelligence on the ground as MMI brings in a strong grower network, some of who can supply other crops such as cotton, to the company.
President of Olam’s peanut business, Anupam Jindel, said, “Today, the U.S. is the lowest-cost producer of peanuts and has the acreage and resources to expand production … evolved market structure and is advanced in its seed technology, which helps to keep the industry very competitive. We see a steady rise in production and exports in the future to meet the increased demand in emerging markets such as China and India. This provides a clear rationale to invest in U.S. peanut shelling operations and close out an existing gap in our supply chain. We are pleased to have secured this opportunity through MMI.”
“We are joining forces with Olam because there is a great opportunity to utilize each other’s strengths and create a best-in-class solution for both our customers and growers. We are very excited about the future,” said Jerry Chandler, MMI chairman and chief executive officer.
“With Olam, we will have access to the resources and infrastructure of a larger parent company that will afford our customers, growers and employees with tremendous stability,” said Joe West, executive vice president of operations and sales of MMI. “Notwithstanding the change in ownership, we will continue to drive the business as we always have.”
The MMI senior management team will continue to manage MMI’s operations from Smithville, Ga., after the acquisition and will be responsible for expanding MMI’s franchise with its growers and customers.