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Universal Corporation to Acquire Flavoring and Extracts Provider Shank's Extracts

Universal said the move should bolster its plant-based ingredient offerings and that it aligns with stated capital allocation priorities for the company.

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September 8, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. — Universal Corporation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Shank's Extracts, Inc., a privately-held, specialty ingredient, flavoring and food company with bottling and packaging capabilities. Following the close of the transaction, Shank's will operate as part of Universal's plant-based ingredients platform, which includes Silva International, Inc., and FruitSmart, Inc.

Founded in 1899, Shank's has established a presence within the flavoring, extracts and bottling marketplace, with significant vanilla expertise. In addition to pure vanilla extract products, Shank's offers a robust portfolio of more than 2,400 other extracts, distillates, natural flavors and colors for industrial and private label customers worldwide. Headquartered in Lancaster, Pa., Shank's employs more than 200 people and has a 191,000-square-foot manufacturing campus.

"This agreement with Shank's marks another important step forward in Universal's efforts to identify and execute on opportunities that broaden and enhance our plant-based ingredients platform," said George C. Freeman III, chairman, president and CEO of Universal Corporation. "The Shank's acquisition fits squarely in our new platform and our capital allocation strategy, bolstering our offerings for customers and expanding our value-added services by adding flavors, custom packaging and bottling and product development capabilities."  

"As the domestic natural food flavors market continues to accelerate, we are pleased to be able to expand our customer proposition with Shank's portfolio of high-quality botanical extracts," said Freeman. "Shank's shares our commitment to food safety, as reflected in its continued investment in equipment, facilities and its highly trained and certified employees. We look forward to welcoming Shank's impressive team to Universal as we leverage our companies' combined 200-plus years of history to bring the business into a new phase of growth."

"Shank's has been providing high-quality products and services for more than 120 years, earning a reputation for consistency, traceability and dependability. This has allowed us to build a strong portfolio of long-tenured, blue-chip customers. As part of Universal Corporation, Shank's will benefit from the resources and scale of a global organization as we look to expand our offerings and enter new, lucrative end markets," said Jeffrey Lehman, president and owner of Shank's.

Shank's integrated manufacturing operations allow it to produce, package and deliver its final product consistently and dependably, in customers' preferred packaging. Boasting decades-long working relationships with its sourcing partners, Shank's has a secure supply chain with global traceability that protects its strong position in the fast-growing specialty flavorings market.

Universal Corporation expects the transaction to close in calendar-year fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions, and anticipates the acquisition will be accretive to earnings in fiscal year 2023. Following the close of the transaction, the existing management team will continue to run the business and report to J. Patrick O'Keefe, senior vice president of Universal Global Ventures, Inc.