J.M. Smucker Co., which on Tuesday announced a $5.8 billion purchase of Big Heart Pet Brands, is adding some iconic products made in Topeka and Lawrence.
Big Heart, which is based in San Francisco and was formerly known as Del Monte Corp., has had operations in eastern Kansas for many years. The two area plants employ about 470 workers altogether.
The Lawrence processing plant has produced Kibbles ’n Bits dog food since 1981, according to the company’s website. The facility’s 144 employees produce seven varieties of the dog food.
The Topeka operation, which sits on 104 acres, is much larger. Big Heart’s 390,000-square-foot factory and 400,000-square-foot distribution center have a combined employment of 326 workers. That includes 68 at the distribution center.
The plant produces Meow Mix, 9Lives, Milk-Bone, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry-outs, Meaty Bone and Pounce, according to the company.
J.M. Smucker, based in Orville, Ohio, said the Big Heart purchase will give it a presence in the fast-growing $21 billion pet food industry.
Smucker does not plan to close any pet food facilities, a Big Heart spokeswoman said.
Smucker, whose brands include pantry staples such as Crisco, Jif and Folgers, said the acquisition will add $2.4 billion in sales for its fiscal year 2016, with an estimated growth rate of 4 to 5 percent over the next few years. It had revenue of $5.61 billion in its latest fiscal year, which ended last April.
Big Heart is considered one of the largest producers, distributors and marketers of premium pet food and pet snacks.
The company is owned by a group of investors, including several private investment firms such as KKR & Co. The sale, which requires regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by May 3.
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