On the Street: ConAgra Buys American Pie

June 23/Woodbury, N.Y./Food & Farm Week -- ConAgra Foods Inc. has agreed to acquire the assets of American Pie LLC, based in Woodbury, N.Y. American Pie manufactures frozen fruit pies, thaw-and-serve pies, fruit cobblers and pie crusts under the licensed Marie Callender's and Claim Jumper trade names, as well as frozen dinners, pot pies and appetizers under the Claim Jumper trade name. Financial terms of the transaction, expected to close within 30 days, were not disclosed.

At close, the American Pie business will be managed as part of ConAgra Foods' existing Marie Callender's frozen business, within its Consumer Foods segment. The company's current Marie Callender's business includes pot pies and a wide array of single- and multi-serve frozen dinners and entrees, sales of which have increased 42% over the past five years, according to IRI data.

This transaction fits into ConAgra Foods' acquisition strategy which seeks to add depth and strength to its existing product lines in key strategic pillars. By purchasing the assets of American Pie, ConAgra Foods will have the opportunity to expand its presence in the largest category within frozen retail desserts -- frozen pies. The company has existing presence in frozen foods with consumer brands like Banquet and Healthy Choice in addition to its existing Marie Callender's branded product line.

"Acquiring the Marie Callender's retail dessert pie business will allow us to establish a strong presence in frozen dessert by leveraging fully the power of the Marie Callender's brand across the frozen case," said Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods. "Marie Callender got her start selling pies and the brand has a very strong equity with consumers. We look forward to continuing to grow the business by leveraging brand synergies and investing in its relationship with consumers and customers."

A production facility in Torrance, Calif., is included in the transaction and will join ConAgra Foods' existing manufacturing network. ConAgra Foods currently manufactures Marie Callender's-licensed frozen meals at facilities in Council Bluffs, Iowa; Marshall, Mo.; and Russellville, Ark. Those facilities are not impacted by this impending acquisition and will continue to operate normally. American Pie LLC currently employs nearly 125 people primarily located in Torrance, Calif., and an office in Woodbury, N.Y. All are expected to join ConAgra Foods at close.

From the July 6, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition