The move runs against the recent trend for US firms to invest in UK. For example, US firm Hain Celestial acquired UK rice brand Tilda in January and US investment group Investcorp bought Tyrrells last year.
However, the deal also reflects growing interest in the US from UK food and drink manufacturers. Greencore continues to invest heavily in the US and Premier Foods is also targeting US growth.
Chaucer, which supplies specialist food and ingredients to brands such as Nestlé, Kellogg, Starbucks and General Mills, said Crunchies would boost its potential in the US and global freeze-dried market.
It would also enable Chaucer to more easily control all stages of the US supply chain for its products, it said.
Chaucer claimed the Crunchies brand had experienced strong, double-digit growth in the past year, driven by the growing market of consumers seeking healthy, nutritious snacks.
Since its inception in 2005, Crunchies has established strong supplier and distributor relationships and is now sold through high profile grocers including Walmart, Costco and Whole Foods.
Chaucer said its investment would provide Crunchies with access to its global reach and marketing and sales strength to continue its growth.
“We are delighted to announce our strategic investment in Crunchies, which illustrates Chaucer’s wider corporate strategy to become a truly global, market leading specialist food ingredient and consumer products producer,” said Chaucer ceo Andy Ducker.
“We are confident that with our operational expertise and investment, the already successful Crunchies brand will develop to its full potential in the US and maximise its opportunities in growing freeze-dried markets.
“In addition, the combination of the Crunchies and Chaucer companies will provide Chaucer with increased visibility and exposure to customers and suppliers in the North American markets.”
Chaucer sells products including freeze-dried fruit, cheese and yogurt and bread products such as croutons, sprinkles and toppings in more than 30 countries. Its headquarters is in Hull, but it has manufacturing bases in France, China and the US.