AUSTIN, Minn. -- Hormel Foods Corp. today announced it has acquired Valley Fresh Inc. of Turlock, Calif., for approximately $78 million.

Valley Fresh has the leading market share in the canned ready-to-eat chicken category and distributes more than 50 convenient precooked chicken products on a national basis, primarily under the Valley Fresh brand. Valley Fresh is a privately held company and employs approximately 265 employees at its 90,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Turlock.

Valley Fresh annual sales are approximately $68 million, and Hormel Foods expects the deal expand its 2006 earnings.

"Our acquisition of Valley Fresh further strengthens the portfolio within our grocery products business segment," said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, Hormal president and CEO. "This healthy and convenient line of products is on-trend with today's consumer and we are excited about the growth opportunity within this category."

Ettinger said, "Valley Fresh provides manufacturing capabilities that will deliver synergies to our existing canned ready-to-eat chicken line of products. We will also benefit from leveraging the Hormel Foods purchasing, sales, marketing and logistics systems."

Hormel Foods Corp., based in Austin, Minn., is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products.

SOURCE: Hormel Foods Corporation via Business Wire.