J.M Smucker to Buy Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the Company Behind Rachael Ray Nutrish

J.M. Smucker is ready to add to its pet food portfolio with the acquisition of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the maker of Rachael Ray Nutrish cat food.

In an April 4th, 2018 press release, pet and human food conglomerate J.M. Smucker announced the acquisition of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the Pennsylvania-based pet food company behind Rachael Ray Nutrish. It’s a deal valued at $1.9 billion, offset by a $200 million tax benefit.

The sale includes Ainsworth’s Meadville, Pennsylvania headquarters, as well as two manufacturing facilities in Meadville, Pennsylvania and Frontenac, Kansas. J.M. Smucker will also take over a leased distribution facility in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

J.M Smucker plans to finalize the transaction early in the company’s fiscal year, which begins on May 1st, 2018.

Who’s involved?

J.M. Smucker

Founded in 1897, the company manufactures and markets peanut butter, jam, coffee, sandwiches, bread, baking product, juice, and other consumer goods. It’s been a leader in the booming pet food industry since 2015, when the company purchased Big Heart Pet Brands. In 2016, this Smucker subsidiary was the globe’s third-largest pet food company with over $2.2 billion in revenue.

Ainsworth Pet Nutrition

The company’s slogan is “Pet Store Quality. Supermarket Easy.”

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Ainsworth has been in existence since 1933 and manufactures pet food under various brands, including Dad’s and Better Than! foods. The company also manufactures pet food for private label sales, including Walmart’s Pure Balance.

The Rachael Ray Nutrish brand was created in 2008. Nutrish was the fastest-growing pet food brand in 2016 and currently accounts for an estimated ⅔ of the company’s sales.

What does this mean for the future of Rachael Ray Nutrish and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition?

Jeff Watters, the president and CEO of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, explains that the move aligns with Ainsworth’s commitment to high-quality food at reasonable prices: “At Ainsworth, our goal has been to improve the lives of pet families everywhere by making high quality pet food accessible to all pet parents.  This single-minded focus has resonated with consumers and will continue to resonate under Smucker leadership.”

Susan Thixton, creator of pet food advocacy site TruthAboutPetFood.com and advisory member of two AAFCO committees, expresses concern that J.M. Smucker may use its corporate weight to influence regulatory agencies and keep consumers in the dark:

“There is no way to know if Smucker will change the ingredients of the pet food at this point – it is a wait and see situation…My concern is more of large corporations jumping into pet food – the power they have to influence government authorities. Consumers deserve to understand what they are buying, and my concern is these powerful companies and their trade associations will influence government to keep the dirty secrets hidden – continue to be hidden.”

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Will Rachael Ray Nutrish continue to donate to charity?

According to comments from Rachael Ray, the company will continue its philanthropic efforts, which are a major selling point for Nutrish foods.

Rachael Ray announced that she was “…pleased that The J. M. Smucker Company is committed not only to maintaining the high quality of the Nutrish brand, but continuing the philanthropic efforts of the brand through donations to The Rachael Ray Foundation, which helps those animals that are less fortunate than our own.”

As always, we can read statements and make speculations, but it’s impossible to predict exactly how the J.M. Smucker acquisition will change Ainsworth Pet Nutrition and the cat food it produces.

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