The nation’s most beloved maker of jams and jellies is buying up the pet food company that carries the name of the nation’s most beloved TV cook.
J.M. Smucker Co. has agreed to pay $1.9 billion to buy Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, which makes primarily the Rachel Ray brand dog Nutrish.
The acquisition is the latest pet food line taken over by Smucker, which also owns Kibbles n’ Bits, Meow Mix, Gravy Train, Skippy and Ol’ Roy brands.
By putting more emphasis on pet food — specifically so-called “premium” pet foods — the company hope to invigorate sales, which have been sluggish for consumer goods aimed at humans.
The purchase comes on the heels of recent recalls for some of Smucker’s canned dog food brands — Gravy Train, Skippy, Ol’ Roy and Kibbles ‘N Bits.
Traces of the euthanasia drug pentobarbital found in some cans led to the recall.
Smucker first got into the pet business in 2015 with a $5.8 billion acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands, according to Bloomberg. The company, best known for its namesake jam, also produces Folgers coffee and Jif peanut butter.
With the purchase of Nutrish, pet foods will become Smucker’s larges source of sales.
The company is also looking at selling off some of its human food products, including the Pillsbury line of baked goods.
It is focusing more on premium pet foods. High-end pet food has surged 33 percent industrywide over the past five years and now accounts for more than 50 percent of the market.
Smucker generates about 85 percent of its revenue in the U.S. and the acquisition of Ainsworth will make pet food its largest business unit, accounting for about $3 billion in sales.
Smucker is the latest food company to tap into the upscale pet market. General Mills Inc., mired in a three-year sales slump, agreed in February to buy Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc. for about $8 billion.