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LNK Partners sells Niman Ranch to Perdue Farms

The US private equity firm has sold the California ranch, which supplies naturally-reared pork to Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, after nearly doubling its business.

US private equity firm LNK Partners has agreed to sell California’s Niman Ranch, supplier of naturally-reared pork to Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, to family-owned poultry farmer Perdue Farms, after nearly doubling the size of the business in four years.

Niman Ranch, the flagship brand produced by Natural Food Holdings (NFH), and Perdue, the largest US producer of organic chicken, said they expected the deal to close soon, but did not disclose any financial details.

The sale marks a successful exit for LNK after tapping into growing consumer appetite for naturally-reared meat without antibiotics. New York-based LNK, which focuses primarily on consumer and retail sectors, is currently seeking $460 million for its third private equity fund.

“This sale represents an excellent result for our investors as well as a terrific outcome for the NFH team and the Niman Ranch brand, which have found a great long-term home at Perdue,” LNK partner David Landau stated.

LNK bought into NFH in 2011 through a $68 million deal to recapitalise the company and accelerate its growth plans. Since the investment, it has nearly doubled the size of the leading pork producing brand and expanded the number of US farms it sources from to over 725. The Niman Ranch brand has also secured large customers like the Chipotle Mexican Grill, which operates more than 1,500 restaurants principally in the US and sources sustainably-produced ingredients.

Niman Ranch executive vice-president Jeff Tripician was reported earlier this year as saying that demand for the company’s products outstripped supply and it would like to double the number of farmers it works with. NFH also operates the Sioux-Preme and Prairie Grove Farms brands.

Perdue Farms is a third-generation family-owned poultry producer with annual sales of some $6 billion, according to company data. It has been increasing its own focus on antibiotic-free meat and became the US’ largest producer of organic chicken after its acquisition of Coleman Natural Foods in 2011.