Hillshire Brands (owner of brands like Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, and Sara Lee) announced the acquisition of Pinnacle Foods today (owner of Duncan Hines, Birds Eye, Armour, and Vlasic, among others), to the tune of $6.6 billion. Hillshire will acquire all of Pinnacle's outstanding shares in cash and stock, and includes Pinnacle Foods’ outstanding net debt. Each share of Pinnacle stock will be exchanged for $18 in cash and 0.5 shares of Hillshire stock. The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and it is expected to close this September.
So what does this mean for your favorite frozen, boxed, and preserved foods? The "Compelling Strategic Rationale" Hillshire laid out when publicizing the deal includes expanding their existing brands, increasing "scale and presence" for frozen and refrigerated foods, and increased diversification. Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer of Hillshire Brands said, "The new Hillshire Brands will have a strengthened position in frozen foods, new opportunities in the center store for our brands and in refrigerated for Pinnacle Foods’ brand."
But how can they use that synergy to bring us whole new categories of delicious packaged supermarket treats? Here are The Wire's best guesses at what foods will (or should) result from the merger:
Chocolate Corn Dog:
Hillshire, who owns and operates www.corndogs.com, should consider battering their weiners with Pinnacles' Duncan Hines cake batter. Let's deep fry that.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese...And Maple Syrup:
A makeshift McGriddle: This would be the next step in frozen food that America just clearly needs to take. McDonald's has yet to get its act together and offer breakfast after 10:30 in the morning, so joining Mrs. Butterworth (Pinnacle) with Jimmy Dean's morning sandwiches would create a major player in the faux fast food game.
Angus Burger with Pickles:
This one seems like a no brainer. Hillshire owns Ball Park Franks, which makes frozen Angus beef patties, and Pinnacle (which began life as Vlasic Foods) brings us a wide variety of pickles. Prepackage a burger with both, and throw in Birds Eye (also Pinnacle) to provide the rest of the veggies.
Shiskabob TV Dinners:
Pinnacle dominates one of the major frozen foods groups: TV dinners. They own Hungry Man and Swanson. Hillshire has ownership of Aidell's, which brings us ready made meatballs on a stick. How about some meat balls on a stick in front of the TV?
Actually Good Frozen Pizza:
Hillshire's namesake brand makes sausage. It's actually pretty decent, well priced and hasn't been frozen for months. Pinnacle boasts frozen pizza giant Celeste, which are usually only a dollar a pizza. Combine the two and you have an amazing frozen, personal pepperoni and sausage pizza for only a buck.
Personally, I'm holding out for chocolate corn dogs.