Brynwood Partners, Connecticut-based private equity firm, buys Lightlife brand and factory in Turners Falls
TURNERS FALLS — Lightlife and the Turners Falls factory that produces the line of soy-based meat alteratives have changed hands.
Connecticut-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners announced Monday that it has purchased the Lightlife brand and factory from ConAgra Foods.
The factory is one of Montague’s largest employers and the brand is a Franklin County original.
According to a release from Brynwood, the new Lightlife Foods will be headquartered in the Boston area but its manufacturing plant will remain in Turners Falls.
Terms and conditions of the sale, including the purchase price, were not disclosed.
The release suggests the possibility of expansion.
“We look forward to investing in Lightlife Foods and extending the company’s refrigerated and frozen meatless offerings,” Brynwood Senior Managing Partner Henk Hartong III said in the statement.
Told of the sale, Mark Fairbrother, chairman of the Montague Select Board, said he is concerned about jobs.
“Well it’s obviously a large employer. I don’t care who owns it, it’s just a question of whether the jobs stay,” Fairbrother said. “You said equity firm, that doesn’t bode well.”
Chia Collins and Michael Cohen founded Lightlife in Greenfield in 1979, and moved it to Turners Falls in 1998. ConAgra Foods, based in Omaha, Neb., bought the company in 2000 for an undisclosed amount. At that time, Lightlife employed 150 people.
Lightlife was the town’s second largest employer in 2010, when ConAgra announced 10 jobs would be cut as the company dissolved the administrative offices and moved those jobs to existing employees in its Omaha headquarters, leaving about 115 jobs in manufacturing and sales at the factory, according to a spokesman at the time.
Daniel Hare, a ConAgra spokesman reached Monday, said the plant currently employs approximately 90 people and those employees transferred with the sale. Hare referred questions about the future to the new owner.
Lightlife’s products include soy-based hotdogs, hamburger, faux meat crumbles, soy and wheat imitation deli meats and other bean and grain foods.
Brynwood’s portfolio includes DeMet’s Candy Co., Pearson Candy Co., Back to Nature Foods Co. (a marketer of granola products and crackers) and High Ride Brands (marketing products including Alberto VO5 shampoo).