Gardein makes meatless alternatives for traditional animal-protein formats, including burgers, fish fillets and chicken tenders.


PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Pinnacle Foods is taking a bite of the rapidly growing plant protein market. The Parsippany-based company has agreed to acquire Garden Protein International, the manufacturer of Gardein meat alternatives, from Yves Potvin, founder and president, and TSG Consumer Partners LLC, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, for C$175 million ($153.8 million).

Based in Vancouver, B.C., Gardein offers a broad range of frozen substitutes for traditional animal-based protein formats, such as chicken strips and beef crumbles, with distribution in more than 22,000 retailers and more than 5,000 food service venues across North America. The brand is expected to generate net sales of approximately C$65 million ($57.1 million) in 2014.

Gardein joins Birds Eye vegetables in Pinnacle’s portfolio of health and wellness brands.

“The acquisition of Gardein is a key enabler to continue building Birds Eye into the leading health and wellness brand focused on helping Americans eat more vegetables,” said Bob Gamgort, chief executive officer of Pinnacle Foods. “By bringing Gardein under the Birds Eye umbrella, we will accelerate growth through expanded distribution, marketing and innovation. We believe that plant-based protein is at the tipping point of becoming mainstream, making Gardein an exciting new growth platform for the Birds Eye business.”

Products from the Gardein brand are made with non-bioengineered soy and wheat, ancient grains and vegetables and include such center-of-the-plate options as gluten-free black bean burger patties, golden breaded fishless filets, and turkey substitute stuffed with savory cranberry dressing.

“Over the past five years, we’ve developed one of the leading plant-based protein brands in the industry that fulfills the needs of consumers looking to diversify their protein in a healthier way,” Mr. Potvin said. “We’ve experienced tremendous growth in the last few years and are excited to work with Pinnacle and see the brand propel to new heights.”

The transaction includes a manufacturing plant in Vancouver and nearly 250 employees. Pinnacle plans to expand the brand next year and leverage its complementary positioning with Birds Eye in the marketplace. The company said it expects Gardein will have little to no positive impact on 2015 earnings.