J.M. Smucker Co. is expanding its pet food business by buying the maker of Rachael Ray-branded dog food.
Smucker, known for its namesake fruit jams, already owns Kibbles 'n Bits, Meow Mix and other brands. But people are pickier about what they feed their furry friends, and Smucker said the Rachael Ray Nutrish brand will help it grow because it uses higher-quality ingredients.
Rachael Ray, a well-known TV cook, appears in ads for Nutrish and on some of the brand's packaging.
Smucker said it is paying about $1.9 billion for Nutrish's parent company, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition. Ainsworth's other brands include Better Than! and Dad's.
"Ainsworth Pet Nutrition is an excellent strategic fit for our company, as the Rachael Ray Nutrish brand adds another high-growth, on-trend brand to our pet food portfolio," J. M. Smucker Chief Executive Officer Mark Smucker said in a statement.
The deal, which the company will fund with debt, is valued at $1.9 billion, excluding an expected tax benefit of about $200 million.
Ray has a licensing agreement with Ainsworth, which will continue with Smucker after the deal is completed in the coming months.