In its largest ever acquisition, Hormel Foods is buying Applegate Farms for a reported $775 million. Hormel Foods owns brands like Spam, Dinty Moore, Jennie-O, and Skippy, making Applegate Farms the company’s only exclusively organic and natural brand.
“A growing number of consumers are choosing natural and organic products. This deal allows us to expand the breadth of our protein offerings to provide consumers more choice,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer at Hormel Foods in a statement. “The Applegate team has built a great brand, and consumers can rest assured there will not be any changes to the way Applegate meats are raised and produced. Together, we can provide a faster path to expanded offerings in this high-growth category.”
Applegate Farms will still operate as a stand alone company at its headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J. The company has about 100 employees.
“Over the last 28 years Applegate has brought transparency and clean ingredients to American favorites and classics like hot dogs, bacon and deli meat,” Stephen McDonnell, Applegate founder and long-time CEO said in a statement. “It was my mission from the start to change the way we think about meat – how it’s raised and produced – and this agreement is definitely a continuation of that mission.”
McDonnell, who tried his hand at vegetarianism in the 70s, declared himself a meat lover for life and started what today is one of the largest producers of natural and organic prepared meats. The company raises livestock without antibiotics and hormones. Livestock are also fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet with no animal byproducts and their feed is free of GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Plus, the meat is free of nitrites, nitrates, and fillers. And with the exception of Applegate’s corndogs, as of July 2015, all products are free of genetically modified ingredients.
Similar acquisitions continue to happen as huge food brands try and expand into the organic and natural marketplace. Last year, General Mills bought Annie’s Homegrown for a reported $820 million. The company, which was founded in 1989, has grown to $204 million in food sales as a result of a growing interest in organic foods.
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