Natural Balance, Del Monte Plan Merger

Natural Balance Pet Foods, a manufacturer co-founded by actor Dick Van Patten in 1989, is merging with Del Monte Foods, the companies announced today.

Natural Balance Dog FoodDel Monte is one of the nation’s largest producers of branded and private-label consumables for the pet and human markets. Its pet brands include Meow Mix, Kibbles ’n Bits, Milk-Bone, Nature’s Recipe and Milo’s Kitchen. Among its human food brands are Del Monte, Contadina and S&W.

“After careful consideration, we believe we’ve found the perfect partner to help the business grow for the next 25 years,” says Joey Herrick, co-founder and president of Pacoima, Calif.-based Natural Balance. “Not only does Del Monte care about pets as much as we do, they have a complementary culture and set of values, their respected brands are found in eight out of 10 U.S. households, and they have been a trusted name for healthy, quality consumer food for more than 100 years.”

Terms of the merger were not announced. The transaction is expected to close in mid-June.

Natural Balance’s premium food lines, such as L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Formulas and Delectable Delights Stews, appealed to Del Monte, company CEO Dave West says.

“Natural Balance is well-positioned in the superpremium pet specialty channel and Del Monte looks forward to supporting and further strengthening that position, while honoring the brand’s esteemed culture and history,” West says.

The merger is part of Del Monte’s strategy to further strengthen the company’s pet food portfolio, West adds. “This offers us exciting prospects for continued growth, particularly in terms of strengthening our reach to independent pet retailers,” he says.

Del Monte, based in San Francisco, generated net sales of $3.7 billion in fiscal 2012.

The private equity firm VMG Partners is selling its share of Natural Balance to Del Monte.

“We are excited about passing the baton to Del Monte Foods, who we believe will continue to grow and strengthen the Natural Balance brand,” says David Baram, managing director of VMG.

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