JM Smucker buys iconic brands of pet food made in Kansas

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Orville, Ohio-based JM Smucker said buying Big Heart would give it a presence in the rapidly growing $ 21 billion pet food industry.

Matt Rourke

The Associated Press

JM Smucker Co., which on Tuesday announced a $ 5.8 billion purchase of Big Heart Pet Brands, is adding iconic products made in Topeka and Lawrence.

Big Heart, which is based in San Francisco and was previously known as Del Monte Corp., has been operating in eastern Kansas for many years. The two factories in the region employ a total of around 470 workers.

The Lawrence Processing Plant has been producing Kibbles’ n Bits dog food since 1981, according to the company’s website. The establishment’s 144 employees produce seven varieties of dog food.

The 104-acre Topeka operation is much larger. Big Heart’s 390,000 square foot plant and 400,000 square foot distribution center together employ 326 workers. This includes 68 at the distribution center.

The factory produces Meow Mix, 9Lives, Milk-Bone, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry-outs, Meaty Bone and Pounce, according to the company.

Orville, Ohio-based JM Smucker said buying Big Heart would give it a presence in the rapidly growing $ 21 billion pet food industry.

Smucker does not plan to shut down any pet food facilities, a Big Heart spokeswoman said.

Smucker, whose brands include such commodities as Crisco, Jif and Folgers, said the acquisition would add $ 2.4 billion in sales for its fiscal 2016, with an estimated growth rate of 4-5% in over the next few years. It had $ 5.61 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year, which ended last April.

Big Heart is considered one of the largest producers, distributors and distributors of premium pet food and 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 finalized by May 3.

This story was originally published 4 February 2015 13:37.


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