Aunt Millie's licensing Wonder brand in Chicago
by Josh Sosland
FORT WAYNE, IND. — Aunt Millie’s Bakeries, a regional baking company based in Fort Wayne, has signed an agreement with Flowers Foods, Inc. under which Aunt Millie’s will have the exclusive license to bake and market Wonder and Home Pride brand bread in northern Illinois, including Chicago; northwest Indiana; and southern Wisconsin.
Terms and conditions of the agreement were not disclosed.
With the agreement, Wonder and Home Pride will return to store shelves for the first time since November 2012 in the area covered by the agreement. Aunt Millie’s presence in the Chicago bread market largely was made possible by the shelf space vacated when Hostess Brands was forced into bankruptcy, John B. (Bohn) Popp vice-president of marketing, recently told Milling & Baking News.
“We are now full blown 100% in Chicago,” he said. “And that’s expensive. We went from 20% to 90% in less than three months, adding 50 to 60 routes.” (See Milling & Baking News of March 4, Page 33.)
Allen L. Shiver, president and chief executive officer of Flowers Foods, Inc., said, “We’re excited about partnering with Aunt Millie’s, which produces quality fresh bakery foods and has a great distribution network. This agreement allows us to bring these well-known and well-loved bread brands, baked with the same recipes, back to consumers in this part of the Midwest.”
Flowers said its baking plants have been able to reintroduce Wonder and the other brands it acquired from Hostess Brands to its direct-store delivery market, which reaches approximately 79% of the U.S. population in the East, South, Southwest, and California.
In acquiring most of the assets of Hostess, Flowers purchased a number of baking plants in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, including one in Hodgkins, Ill., 17 miles from Chicago. Flowers has yet to reopen most of the plants it has bought in the transaction.
Aunt Millie’s operates baking plants in Fort Wayne; Coldwater, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Plymouth township, Mich.; and Sidney Ohio.
In November, Aunt Millie’s entered into a limited distribution agreement with Hostess Brands L.L.C. giving Aunt Millie’s the right to sell Hostess snack cakes, including Twinkies, Ho Hos and CupCakes, in its markets, including Indiana, most of Illinois (including Chicago), Milwaukee and the northern parts of Kentucky where Aunt Millie’s currently has distribution.