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EMAILED ON April 6, 2018 BY THE HUSTLE

As customers bark for healthy foods, Smucker’s buys $1.9B pet-food company

The jam company Smucker announced its $1.9B purchase of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition while simultaneously confirming plans to sell its baking division, which includes brands like Pillsbury and Hungry Jack.

Mass-produced foods are going to the dogs

Smucker Co. has already spent some serious money trying to appeal to its collar-wearing customer base, buying Big Heart Pet Brands for $5.8B in 2015. With this new sale, Smucker’s pet-food division will become larger than its human-food division.

Smucker and other big food brands like Mars and General Mills — which recently acquired pet-food company Blue Buffalo for $8B — are betting on the trend of pet “humanization” to cash in on the $30B pet food market

Hungry Jack lost his appetite

America’s insistence on all-natural Meow Mix for Mrs. Fuzzlesworth only tells half of the story — on the flipside of the food bowl, human consumers are gravitating away from cheap prepared food. 

As humans demand healthier foods for pets and people, brands are finding pets easier to please than their finicky handlers — at Smucker’s, the for-sale baking division makes $370m annually, while Ainsworth pet brands are expected to drive $800m in year one.

For Mr. Whiskers, Smucker makes a wheat-free salmon pâté — but for Tommy? He’ll have to stick with a PB&J.

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