Brazil's JBS To Buy Cargill’s Arkansas Pork Operations In $1.45 Billion Deal

Jul 6, 2015

JBS USA Pork has agreed to a $1.45 billion deal with Cargill to acquire the company’s U.S.-based pork business, which includes part of the agriculture and food giant’s pork operations in Arkansas.

“(The) announcement of our agreement to purchase the Cargill pork operations is a strategic investment in the long-term growth of our domestic and global pork business and demonstrates our continued commitment to the U.S. livestock sector,” Martin Dooley, president and COO of JBS USA Pork, said in a statement.

“This transaction will strengthen our position as a producer and supplier of all major animal proteins around the world, and provide increased opportunities for our producer partners and key customers,” Dooley said. “The strength and success of Cargill’s pork team and hog suppliers, as well as its industry leadership in areas such as animal welfare, exports, bacon production and innovation, were significant and compelling factors that led us to pursue this acquisition and enhance our ability to serve our diverse, global customer base.”

Included in JBS’ acquisition of Cargill’s pork business are two Midwest meat processing plants, one in Ottumwa, Iowa, and the other at Beardstown, Ill. Both plants were acquired by Cargill in 1987, and in 2014 they processed a total of 9.3 million hogs. The purchase by JBS also includes five feed mills (two in Missouri, and one each in Arkansas, Iowa and Texas), and four hog farms (two in Arkansas and one each in Oklahoma and Texas).

In Arkansas, the nation’s largest privately-held multinational corporation has an administrative office for its pork operations in Russellville, two genetic pork processing facilities in Morrilton and Umpire, and a feed mill in London. JBS spokesman Cameron Bruett confirmed that the pork processing plants and feed mill are part of the deal, but did not say how many workers would be affected by the acquisition.

Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill, which had revenues of nearly $135 billion in 2014, is the nation’s fourth largest pork processor, harvesting and processing more than 10 million market hogs annually. Altogether, the food giant’s pork division generates more than 2.3 billion pounds of retail, foodservice, commercial, variety and rendered pork products.

“The strengths of the JBS and Cargill pork businesses are complementary. Together, they promise to offer enhanced service to customers and more opportunities for employees and hog producers while providing an important source of protein to consumers around the world,” said Todd Hall, Cargill senior vice president. “The professional and focused manner in which JBS approached Cargill demonstrated to us that they place a great deal of value on growing this part of their company to better compete in the marketplace and are willing to invest in its future. JBS is acquiring a business with excellent people and fixed assets, and an established track record of success.”

Brazil’s JBS S.A., the world’s largest meatpacker, first entered the U.S. pork market with the acquisition of Swift & Company in 2007 and has steadily improved performance ever since. The company has more than 6,000 employees and the total daily capacity to process more than 50,000 hogs at processing facilities in Marshalltown, Iowa; Worthington, Minn.; and Louisville, Ky.

JBS USA Pork offers a wide selection of well-known brands, including Swift and Swift Premium. The announced transaction will enhance JBS USA Pork’s ability to meet increasing global demand for high-quality, innovative fresh and frozen pork products, company officials said.

The completion of the deal, which was announced on Thursday, July 1, is subject to regulatory review and approval.