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Pinnacle Foods acquires maker of Gardein vegan food line for $154M

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Pinnacle CEO Bob Gamgort, center, says the acquisition of Gardein will help build the company's Birds Eye brand.
Pinnacle CEO Bob Gamgort, center, says the acquisition of Gardein will help build the company's Birds Eye brand. - ()

Pinnacle Foods Inc. announced Friday that it will acquire a Canadian maker of plant-based, vegan and vegetarian foods for $154 million.

Parsippany-based Pinnacle said in a news release that Garden Protein International Inc., maker of the Gardein line of proteins, will become part of the Birds Eye brand. The deal with founder and President Yves Potvin and strategic equity firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC includes a manufacturing facility in Vancouver, British Columbia, and nearly 250 employees, Pinnacle said.

"The acquisition of Gardein is a key enabler to continue building Birds Eye into the leading health and wellness brand focused on helping Americans eat more vegetables,” Pinnacle Foods CEO Bob Gamgort said in a prepared statement. “By bringing Gardein under the Birds Eye umbrella, we will accelerate growth through expanded distribution, marketing and innovation."

Garden Protein makes a line of plant-based frozen foods that serves as an alternative to traditional animal products, such as ground beef or chicken tenders. In addition to Birds Eye, Pinnacle offers such food brands as Duncan Hines, Vlasic and Wish-Bone.

Gardein is expected to generate approximately $57 million in net sales for the full year 2014. However, Pinnacle said that, as it intends significant investment in the Gardein line next year, the deal will have minimal positive impact on 2015 earnings.

"We believe that plant-based protein is at the tipping point of becoming mainstream, making Gardein an exciting new growth platform for the Birds Eye business,” Gamgort said. “We congratulate Yves and the Gardein team for pioneering new territory in food and look forward to welcoming them to Pinnacle."

The deal, which will be funded with available liquidity, is expected to be completed Friday. Perella Weinberg Partners is serving as financial adviser to Pinnacle, while Houlihan Lokey Inc. is serving as financial adviser to Garden Protein.

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