Robert Brown, managing director of Encore Consumer Capital, said, “Thanasi Foods’ founder and CEO Justin ‘Duke’ Havlick decided to bring on a strategic and financial partner, and we are honored that he chose Encore to help the company grow. We could not be more proud of what he and the team have accomplished in building two premier brands in protein-based snacking – Duke’s smoked meat snacks and BIGS seeds.”

“Encore provided strategic guidance to and unwavering confidence in our team to help us execute our vision,” said Justin Havlick, Founder of Thanasi Foods. Havlick added, “What started 13 years ago as a simple passion for fire roasting seeds and slow smoking meats, has grown into two terrific brands that are recognized in households across the U.S. This is an incredibly exciting time for our brands and our team, and we are looking forward to working with the Conagra Brands team on the next chapter in our journey to take Duke’s and BIGS to another level.” Havlick continued, “The Conagra Brands team values our brand beliefs and is committed to continuing to use quality ingredients and the craft methods that deliver the creativity and flavor our consumers and fans love today.”

Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc. provided strategic and financial advisory services to Thanasi Foods. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP acted as legal counsel to Thanasi Foods.

About Encore Consumer Capital

Encore Consumer Capital is a San Francisco-based private equity investment firm focused on the consumer products industry. The firm has raised over $600 million in equity capital and invested in 25 companies. Encore’s current and prior investments include food and beverage companies (Aidells Sausage Company, Ancient Harvest, Brownie Brittle, Ciao Bella, Full Sail Brewing, Isopure, Navitas, PhillySwirl), personal care products companies (butter LONDON, MyChelle Dermaceuticals, LORAC, Tarte Cosmetics), and pet products companies (ThunderWorks, Zuke’s), among others. The firm targets companies with between $10 million and $100 million in annual revenues where Encore’s strong operating expertise in strategy development, brand marketing and distribution expansion can help drive performance. For more information please visit

About Duke’s Smoked Meats

Thanasi Foods LLC is a leading maker of premium meat snacks, including Duke’s® Smoked Shorty® Sausages and Duke’s Brisket & Steak Strips. Focused on crafting the highest-quality smoked meat snacks available, the family-operated business refuses to take shortcuts and is committed to producing its products in small batches with real, whole ingredients, fresh never-frozen pork and chicken, 100% grass-fed beef, and authentic hardwood smoke pairings. For more information, please visit

About BIGS Seeds

Based in Boulder, CO, BIGS® produces a line of premium, USA-grown seed snacks, including jumbo, fire-roasted in-shell sunflower seeds, sunflower seed kernels, and homestyle-roasted pumpkin seeds. BIGS partners with some of America’s most iconic and loved ingredient brands to bring big, bold flavors to its seeds. For more information, visit

About Conagra Brands

Conagra Brands (NYSE: CAG), headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America’s leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, Conagra Brands combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The company’s portfolio is evolving to satisfy people’s changing food preferences. Conagra’s iconic brands, such as Marie Callender’s®, Reddi-wip®, Hunt’s®, Healthy Choice®, Slim Jim® and Orville Redenbacher’s®, as well as emerging brands, including Alexia®, Blake’s® and Frontera®, offer choices for every occasion. With an ongoing commitment to corporate citizenship, Conagra Brands has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability™ North America Index for six consecutive years. For more information, visit