Overhill Farms, Inc., Los Angeles, said it signed a sales, distribution, and co-manufacturing agreement with Bellisio Foods, Inc., Minneapolis, to distribute Boston Market brand frozen foods.

Under direction of Overhill Farms, Bellisio will provide sales management services for the Boston Market line. Services include customer sales, promotion management, broker management, customer invoicing and customer administration. Bellisio also will manufacture approximately 50 percent of the Boston Market products at its plant in Jackson, Ohio.

Overhill Farms is a contract frozen food processor supplying branded retail, private label, foodservice and airline customers nationwide. Its product line includes entrées, plated meals, bulk-packed meal components, pastas, soups, sauces, poultry, meat and fish specialties, as well as organic and vegetarian offerings. Its customers include prominent nationally recognized names such as Jenny Craig, Inc., Safeway Inc., Panda Restaurant Group, Inc., Pinnacle Foods Group LLC and American Airlines, Inc.

"We have known Bellisio for several years as an efficient, well-managed food company with which we do not directly compete," said James Rudis, Overhill chairman, president and CEO. "When Overhill Farms acquired the license to the Boston Market retail food line, we saw an opportunity for our companies to work together. Bellisio has an experienced sales and marketing organization with longstanding relationships with virtually all major retailers, mass merchandisers, club stores, convenience stores and the military. They also efficiently distribute products to these major retailers and other outlets, which include all Boston Market customers. Utilizing these capabilities enables Overhill Farms to implement a smooth and cost-effective transition from the previous supplier of Boston Market frozen meals."

Rudis said the Bellisio agreement should result in lower costs to manufacture and distribute Boston Market Products. The Boston Market products can be combined with Bellisio products in full-truck shipments to the Boston Market customer base, which presently is heavily represented in the East and Midwest. The agreement also enables Overhill Farms to avoid the cost and time needed to develop an equivalent sales and distribution system internally, he noted.

All Boston Market products, including those manufactured by Overhill Farms, will be warehoused and distributed by Bellisio through their facilities centrally located in Jackson, Ohio. Overhill Farms will be responsible for overall product quality, and for development of new items for the Boston Market line.

Bellisio Foods has production facilities in Lakeview, Minn., and Jackson, Ohio. The privately-held company is the nation's third-largest producer of frozen entrees, officials say. Its brands include Michelina's, Authentico, Zap'ems Gourmet, Anytime Snackers and Joy of Cooking Foods. It also serves the foodservice industry through the Arden Culinary line.