Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
Blue Buffalo, a major manufacturer of pet food sold at veterinary clinics and retailers, is being purchased by General Mills Inc. in a transaction valued at $8 billion, the companies announced Feb. 23.
Minneapolis-based General Mills, whose food brands include Cheerios, Yoplait, Nature Valley and Pillsbury, is getting into the pet channel for the first time.
“The addition of Blue to our family of well-loved brands provides General Mills with the leading position in the large and growing wholesome natural pet food category,” said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills.
Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc. was founded in 2002 and sold its first stock in July 2015.
“I have been impressed by General Mills’ strong track record of accelerating growth for its natural and organic brands, while giving them the freedom to maintain their own unique culture and identity,” said Billy Bishop, CEO of Blue Buffalo. “General Mills will be a tremendous home for our Blue brand as our talented team of over 1,700 ‘Buffs’ joins this new extended family.”
Bishop will continue to lead Blue Buffalo and will report to Jeff Harmening, the companies stated.
The purchase is valued at $40 a share in cash and is subject to regulatory approvals.
The announcement came on the same day Blue Buffalo released its 2017 financial report.
The Wilton, Connecticut-based company reported fourth-quarter net sales of $337 million, an increase of 14.2 percent from the same period in 2016. Net sales in 2017 totaled $1.275 billion, up 10.9 percent, and net income was $194 million, a jump of 48.6 percent.
The company is forecasting 2018 net sales of $1.4 billion to $1.43 billion.
Blue Natural Veterinary Diet is Blue Buffalo’s veterinary-channel therapeutic pet food for cats and dogs. The company sells directly to consumers natural foods and treats under the names Blue, Blue Life Protection Formula, Blue Wilderness, Blue Basics, Blue Freedom and Earth’s Essentials.