Bacon and chicken-nugget maker Applegate Farms is on the auction block, in what would be the latest in a recent string of meat-company sales.
The closely held company is working with investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to contact potential buyers, people familiar with the matter said. Applegate, which specializes in organic and frozen food, could fetch around $500 million in a sale, they said, adding that the auction has attracted other industry players.
A sale of the company would come on the heels of a year in which there was a number of sales of protein companies. Last year, Tyson Foods Inc. paid $7.7 billion for Hillshire Brands Co., which makes Jimmy Dean sausages. Post Holdings Inc. bought egg and dairy-goods company Michael Foods Group Inc. and Hormel Foods Corp. purchased Muscle Milk maker CytoSport Holdings Inc.
U.S. sales of packaged foods with protein-related claims on their labels rose to $7.5 billion in the year ended Feb. 15, up more than 50% from the same period four years earlier, according to research firm Nielsen.
A change in consumer eating habits is underpinning consolidation in the sector. Americans are moving to more protein-heavy diets and eschewing carbohydrates, while seeking more organic products.
By Dana Mattioli