General Mills is shelling out $8B for natural pet food firm Blue Buffalo

The Golden Valley company is branching out into pet food.
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Not content with feeding humans, General Mills is branching out into the animal world as well. 

The Golden Valley-based company announced on Friday it's agreed to a deal to buy Blue Buffalo Pet Products for a whopping $8 billion.

It's a sign the company is looking to grab a slice of the growing pet food market that is increasingly moving toward natural products.

Blue Buffalo, founded in 2002, makes food and treats for dogs and cats and sales have been good, with growth rising by 12 percent on average over the last three years.

"In pet food, as in human food, consumers are seeking more natural and premium products and we have tremendous respect for how attentive Blue Buffalo has been to the needs of their consumers, pet parents and pets, as they have built their brand," General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening said in a statement.

As USA Today notes, General Mills is repositioning itself as consumers move away from canned and dried goods, seeking healthier, more natural options.

General Mills has been shifting with its human food offerings through the takeover of organic brands like Annie's, Larabar and EPIC.

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