ConAgra acquires Watts Brothers

by Eric Schroeder
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OMAHA — ConAgra Foods, Inc. has acquired Kennewick, Wash.-based Watts Brothers, a privately held vegetable processing and agricultural company. According to ConAgra, the acquisition will strengthen its core potato business operating under the Lamb Weston brand. Lamb Weston is the largest potato company in North America with annual sales of approximately $2 billion. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1977 by Don and Lori Watts, Watts Brothers own, operate and manage a vegetable processing business located in Washington and Oregon, along with an organic dairy, fertilizer, cold storage, packaging and agricultural farming businesses. The company, which generates approximately $100 million in annual net sales, supplies the retail, food service and industrial industries within the United States as well as export customers in Mexico, Japan, China and other Far East countries.

"The acquisition of the Watts Brothers entities will strengthen Lamb Weston’s position in its core Northwest growing region, providing a more stable raw material base while also strengthening the Lamb Weston supply chain," said Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods. "Additionally, Watts Brothers’ strong position in vegetables will complement existing potato product sales in both existing and new markets, providing additional opportunities for sales growth."

ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston for the past 10 years has been in a farming joint venture with Watts Brothers, in which Watts Brothers has supplied frozen vegetables to ConAgra Foods’ Consumer Foods business.

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