MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Its sales under pressure with fewer grocery lists including processed foods, General Mills will try to balance its own shift in that direction, and its revenues, with the $8 billion acquisition of Blue Buffalo, a higher end pet food products company.

It’s the first foray into pet foods of any kind for the Minneapolis company, and a potentially lucrative one.

Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc. had nearly $1.3 billion in net sales last year and General Mills sees consistent growth of between 3 percent and 4 percent in the $30 billion pet food market.

“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 and represents a significant milestone as we reshape our portfolio to drive additional growth and value creation for our shareholders,” said Chairman and CEO Jeff Harmening in a company release Friday.

General Mills has suffered three consecutive years of declining revenue as it follows customers seeking more fresh food on the dinner table.

As it transitions to accommodate changing tastes, General Mills said the Blue Buffalo acquisition will become accretive by fiscal 2020.

General Mills Inc. will pay $40 per Blue Buffalo share. That’s a 17 percent premium to the pet food company’s Thursday closing price of $34.12.

Shares of Blue Buffalo surged more than 5 percent in premarket trading Friday.

Once the deal closes, Blue Buffalo will be run as a new pet operating segment, General Mills said, and it will continue to operate out of its Wilton, Connecticut headquarters.

The acquisition is targeted to close by the end of General Mills’ fiscal year 2018.


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