April 21/Pittsburgh/Press Release -- TreeHouse Foods Inc. is bulking up on its private label broths, soups and gravies business, with plans to acquire Protenergy Natural Foods for approximately $150 million.

TreeHouse makes private-label soups and notes the purchase includes Protenergy's headquarters in the Toronto area and a second plant in Cambridge, Md. Protenergy employs about 300 people and reported 2013 sales of about $118 million.

“The acquisition of Protenergy is expected to expand our existing packaging capabilities and enables us to offer customers a full range of soup products, both wet and dry,” Sam K. Reed, chairman, president and CEO of TreeHouse Foods, said in the official announcement.

 Reed said the Canadian business has proven that private label companies don’t have to wait for brand name operators to take the lead in innovation and technology, which has helped it grow rapidly.

“Our plans are to continue that remarkable growth along two parallel paths,” he said. “First, we believe that other segments of the soup, broth, gravy and sauce categories will follow a growth trajectory of broth in the cartons. Aseptic packaging has transformed broth from a private label laggard to a customer brand growth engine.” He said 70% of broth is now packaged in cartons, and private labels' share of that business is growing.

Secondly, TreeHouse will move to use the technology across other product lines in the center aisles of the grocery store.