The Hillshire Brands Co. (NYSE: HSH) is buying Van's Natural Foods for $165 million.

Van's, headquartered in Phoenix, sells better-for-you food, including frozen breakfast and snack foods. The company sells frozen waffles, frozen pancakes, cereal, crackers and snack bars. Van's is backed by private equity firm Catterton Partners.

Hillshire's Van's purchase underscores a shift in companies towards better-for-you food products as consumers change their eating habits, and move towards eating smaller and healthier meals. For more on the trend, see "Snack Time." 

Hillshire, the owner of the Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, State Fair, Sara Lee frozen bakery and Chef Pierre brands, expects the deal to strengthen its presence in the frozen food category. The deal is expected to close in May.

In September, the company agreed to buy Golden Island Gourmet Jerky, a dried meats producer. 

Catteron is a consumer-focused private equity firm that has more than $4 billion in assets under management. The firm invests in food and beverage, retail and restaurants, consumer products, consumer health and media companies. Catterton's investments include Odwalla, CorePower Yoga, Outback Steakhouse, Frederic Fekkai, Build-A-Bear Workshop and P.F. Chang's.

Centerview Partners acted as Hillshire's financial adviser, while Stinson Leonard Street provided legal advice. Jay Novak and Matthew Kaczmarek of Houlihan Lokey were Van's financial advisers, while Gibson Dunn & Crutcher acted as legal counsel.

Other recent food deals include Post Holdings Inc.'s agreement to buy Michael Foods Group Inc., in April, and B&G Foods Inc. (NYSE: BGS) purchase of Specialty Brands of America Inc., also in April. 


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