Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn., entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Applegate Farms, LLC, the Bridgewater, N.J.-based owner of the Applegate brand and producer of natural and organic value-added prepared meats. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals in the United States, and is expected to close within 60 days.

“A growing number of consumers are choosing natural and organic products. This deal allows us to expand the breadth of our protein offerings to provide consumers more choice,” says Jeffrey Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and CEO at Hormel Foods. “The Applegate team has built a great brand, and consumers can rest assured there will not be any changes to the way Applegate meats are raised and produced. Together, we can provide a faster path to expanded offerings in this high-growth category.”

Applegate will operate autonomously as a stand-alone subsidiary in the company’s refrigerated foods segment. Applegate has 100 employees and will be managed by a core Applegate team plus a few new folks from the parent company who will relocate to Bridgewater. Applegate has strategic relationships with a diverse set of manufacturers and processors who draw from approximately 1,800 family farms.

“Over the last 28 years, Applegate has brought transparency and clean ingredients to American favorites and classics like hot dogs, bacon and deli meat,” says Stephen McDonnell, founder and CEO of Applegate. “It was my mission from the start to change the way we think about meat—how it’s raised and produced—and this agreement is definitely a continuation of that mission.”