Frontera Foods, the Chicago-based gourmet Mexican food brand founded by Chef Rick Bayless, has been acquired by ConAgra Foods, known for packaged food brands like Banquet, Reddi-wip, and Slim Jim. Financial details have not been revealed, but the purchase includes the packaged foods businesses of Frontera Foods, Inc. and Red Fork LLC, including the Frontera, Red Fork, and Salpica brands.
"In ConAgra, we’ve found people who respect our integrity and uncompromising standards,” Rick Bayless explained upon the revelation of the deal. “We will continue to make high-quality food with the same standards of excellence and operate with the same values and fresh ingredients that have helped the business to become the premium brands they are today. This is the start of a new era for Frontera, Salpica, and Red Fork, and we are thrilled.”
The Frontera Foods brand was incepted in 1996 by both Bayless and Manny Valdes, a former executive at Kraft Foods, with the mission of creating authentic regional Mexican food products. The products span a wide array of salsas, tortilla chips, and seasoning mixes. The Chicago Tribune reports that both Bayless and Valdes will stay on as advisers and will continue to help with product development from the nearby test kitchen. Current Frontera Chief Operating Officer, Albert Valdes, will continue to lead the business as part of ConAgra Foods.
“We are excited to add the Frontera, Red Fork and Salpica brands to our portfolio,” said Sean Connolly, President and Chief Executive Officer of ConAgra Foods. “In particular, the Frontera brand is a preeminent gourmet Mexican food brand in North America. We believe it provides a tremendous platform off which we can build.”
The company’s note that this acquisition does not cover any of Bayless’ restaurant assets, also includes Frontera-branded restaurants.