Pinnacle Foods Takes A Trip Down The Healthy Aisle, Pays $710M For Boulder Brands

boulderbrandsIf you’re a major player in the food industry, the cool thing to do these days is buy up brands with a natural and/or organic bent to them to show consumers how healthy and hip you are. Pinnacle Foods is no different, taking a trip down the organic aisle to scoop up natural packaged foods maker Boulder Brands for $710 million.

Boulder Brands floated the news in August that it was exploring its strategic and financial options, which included fielding suitors interested in a possible deal, reports Reuters.

Pinnacle says the transaction is valued at around $975 million, including about $265 million of net debt.

Pinnacle Foods has a wide portfolio already, but apparently it had a hankering for something a bit… crunchier. It serves more than 85% of American households, with brands like Hungry-Man frozen dinners, Birds Eye frozen products and Wish-bone salad dressings. The acquisition may sooth Pinnacle’s ruffled feelings, after its failed merger with Hillshire Farms. In that breakup scenario, Hillshire ditched Pinnacle at the altar for Tyson Foods.

This is just the latest example of a large, packaged foods company trying to figure out its place in the modern grocery store, where customers are increasingly turning to foods that they see as healthier than other options: Hormel Foods recently snapped up Applegate farms for around $775 million so it could peddle meat free of hormones and antibiotics, and in September, Flower Foods, maker of Wonder Bread, snapped up Alpine Valley Bread Co. for $120 million to get a bit of its own organic cachet.

Though it remains to be seen what, if any, changes Pinnacle will make to Boulder’s offerings, customers shouldn’t freak out just yet. For the most part, these huge food companies have learned to leave their new organic holdings alone and let them do what they do best, which is selling organic products — the reason they bought them in the first place.