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Shearer’s Foods

From a single grocery store to North America’s largest manufacturer of private label snacks

Shearer’s Foods and potato chips
Asset Class
Equities

Asset Class

Sector
Snack foods

Sector

Years invested
11

Years invested

The company

Shearer’s evolved from a single family-owned grocery store into a snack manufacturing giant. With plants in the U.S. and Canada, the Ohio-based company manufactures and distributes its products through contracts with leading brands and retailers. Ontario Teachers’ initially invested in Shearer’s in 2012 and became a significant majority owner in 2015. Under our ownership, Shearer’s grew into North America’s largest manufacturer of private label salty snacks, cookies and crackers. With the company well-positioned for future growth, we announced an agreement to sell Shearer’s in late 2023.

The opportunity

When Ontario Teachers’ first invested in 2012, Shearer’s had five plants across the U.S. and produced salty snacks exclusively. The snacking industry was fragmented even as the category’s growth outpaced that of the overall food and beverage sector. Ontario Teachers’ and Shearer’s saw space to create a scalable platform that could become a leader in the snack food category.

The OTPP difference

Over our more than decade-long ownership of Shearer’s, Ontario Teachers’ took an active approach in supporting the company’s growth. That included bringing in an experienced management team to help the business determine the best path forward. It also included advising management on acquisition opportunities and determining how Shearer’s could support its customers with better access and new products. Shearer’s expanded its product portfolio into two adjacent snacking categories – cookies and crackers. Further investments in automation helped Shearer’s increase capacity, drive efficiencies, lower costs and improve safety and working conditions.

The results

  • Under Ontario Teachers’ ownership, Shearer’s expanded to 17 plants from 5 through increased productivity, acquisitions and product diversification.
  • A focus on automation and safety improved the culture and reduced employee turnover, and the company grew to employ about 5,000 people across North America.
  • As a supplier of scale, Shearer’s became a reliable partner for some of North America’s biggest branded companies and retailers.

For me, investing to make a mark really means being great stewards of the businesses that we own. And when we pass them on to future owners, they’re in a better position than they were when we first acquired them.

Tricia Witty
Managing Director, Value Creation, Ontario Teachers’
Tricia Witty

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