Pilgrim's Pride Corp., Greeley, Colo., announced a definitive agreement to acquire GNP Co., a St. Cloud, Minn.-based provider of premium branded chicken products in the Upper Midwest, for $350 million. It is anticipated that the proposed transaction would close during the first quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory review and approval and customary closing conditions.

"The Pilgrim's team is excited to combine the collective strengths of Pilgrim's Pride and GNP Co.," says Bill Lovette, chief executive officer of Pilgrim’s Pride, a division of JBS USA. "GNP Co. boasts outstanding state-of-the-art assets in geographic areas where Pilgrim's is not currently present, providing Pilgrim's the opportunity to expand our production and customer bases, while maintaining our high standards for quality service and great-tasting products."

In addition, GNP Co.'s operational competencies and use of innovative technologies, including gas stunning, aeroscalding and automated deboning, will enable Pilgrim's to significantly increase the rate of adoption of new technologies in existing facilities, enhancing the company's production efficiencies and operational excellence.

The addition of the GNP Co.'s portfolio of Just BARE Certified Organic and Natural/American Humane Certified/No-Antibiotics-Ever (NAE) product lines further positions Pilgrim's as a leading provider of high-quality products.

"Today's announcement is a clear demonstration of Pilgrim's commitment to our growth strategy of disciplined acquisitions that enhance both our portfolio of value-added products and our ability to provide key customers with the high-quality products demanded by consumers," Lovette adds. "We look forward to welcoming GNP Co.'s team members and family farmer partners to the Pilgrim's team, as we continue to position Pilgrim's as the preferred choice of consumers and retail and foodservice partners across the country."