Feb. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. consumer goods conglomerate General Mills said Friday it's agreed to buy pet food maker Blue Buffalo, in a deal worth about $8 billion.
Blue Buffalo, founded in 2002, is one of the fastest growing pet food companies -- and generated $1.2 billion in net sales last year, officials said.
"The addition of [Blue Buffalo] to our family of well-loved brands ... represents a significant milestone as we reshape our portfolio to drive additional growth and value creation for our shareholders," General Mills Ceo Jeff Harmening said in Friday's announcement. "We are competing more effectively in our existing categories by really listening to consumers and providing a variety of options that meet their needs."
Harmening said as is the case with human food, customers are looking for more premium, naturally-made foods for their dogs and cats.
"We have tremendous respect for how attentive Blue Buffalo has been to the needs of their consumers, pet parents and pets, as they have built their brand," Harmening said.
Blue Buffalo CEO Billy Bishop said he was impressed by General Mills' track record of accelerating growth for its natural and organic brands, while allowing freedom to maintain an identity.
"I felt a strong cultural fit between our two companies and believe they will be a great partner in our mission to reach more pet parents and feed more pets," Bishop said. "This transaction creates significant, immediate value for our shareholders, as it recognizes the strength of our competitively advantaged business model."