Smithfield Foods, Inc., Smithfield, Va., signed a non-binding letter of intent to form a 50/50 joint venture with Kansas City Sausage Co., LLC, Kansas City, Mo., and its sister company, Pine Ridge Farms, LLC, Greenville, N.Y. The transaction will be funded with cash on hand and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Terms of the letter of intent were not disclosed. Smithfield expects the transaction to be immediately accretive to earnings.

"With our strong ongoing focus on building our packaged meats business, and with 15% of the U.S. sow population, this joint venture is a logical fit for Smithfield. It will provide a growth platform in two key packaged meats categories—breakfast sausage and dinner sausage—and will allow us to expand our product offerings to our customers. These categories represent over $4 billion in retail and foodservice sales annually. This is a big opportunity for Smithfield to grow in two categories that have not historically been a focus for the company," says C. Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield.

"Kansas City Sausage is one of our largest live sow customers today. This joint venture will enable us to move raw material up the value chain from commodity live sows to branded packaged meats. We will merge Kansas City Sausage's low-cost, efficient operations and high-quality products with Smithfield's strong brands and sales and marketing team to continue to grow our packaged meats business. This combination should allow us to fill existing plant capacity and dramatically increase the joint venture's sales in a relatively short period of time," he adds.

With sales of approximately $200 million, Kansas City Sausage is a leading U.S. sausage producer and sow processor.

"We are excited to partner with the largest packaged pork company in the U.S. to grow our business by joining our state-of-the-art operations and expertise in sow processing with Smithfield's portfolio of leading consumer brands and sales and marketing capabilities,” says John Stadler, founder and chairman of Kansas City Sausage. “We believe that this joint venture will create significant value for both Kansas City Sausage and Smithfield."