Minnesota-based Cargill’s bid to buy the pork business of bankrupt Farmland Foods has cleared a key hurdle. The Justice Department decided to allow the sale of the unit, despite objections from Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley that it would be anti-competitive. Cargill is the second of two bidders for the last major unit Farmland has to sell off. Smithfield Foods, the largest pork processor in the United States, is offering about 364-million dollars. Minnetonka-based Cargill’s bid is more than 20-million dollars higher. Mark Klein is spokesman for Cargill.Klein says “Farmland Foods has a strong management team, solid relations with their suppliers, employees and communities, and efficient processing facilities. And we see it as a good fit with the direction Cargill is going with branded and value-added products.” Klein is referring to Cargill’s Excel unit, which is one of the top meat processors in the country. The number one U.S. pork processor, Smithfield Foods, is the other bidder. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court will host an auction for the Farmland business later this month. Cargill says it’s too early to say whether it would consider rebuilding the Farmland plant that burned down two years ago in Albert Lea. In Iowa, Farmland has facilities in Denison and Carroll while Smithfield has a plant in Sioux City.
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