Minneapolis, Minn.-based Bellisio Foods is acquiring Overhill Farms for approximately $81 million in an effort to expand the company’s reach in the frozen entrée business, reports the Minneapolis-Star Tribune. The acquisition is expected to close this summer. Bellisio produces the Michelina’s line of frozen entrees, and both companies have produced and distributed frozen meals under the Boston Market brand through a licensing agreement.

The deal “is a major part of our growth strategy,” said Jeff Tuttle, Bellisio’s senior vice president of new business ventures. “It brings a nice brand to us under the Boston Market license.”

Overhill Farms also makes frozen meals for Jenny Craig, Panda Express, Safeway and Target.

Bellisio was founded by packaged food entrepreneur and Iron Range native Jeno Paulucci, who created the Michelina’s brand about 20 years ago. A day before he died at age 93 in 2011, Paulucci agreed to sell Bellisio to Centre Partners, a New York private equity group.

Bellisio has a large plant in Ohio and a smaller one in Lakeville, and makes frozen foods for private label and food service customers — just like Overhill. Bellisio has around 1,300 employees, including about 200 in Minnesota. It doesn’t disclose sales. But Overhill had nearly $200 million in revenue in its last fiscal year, with around 700 employees.

Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune