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Hormel is spending $850 million to buy Columbus Craft Meats

The Spam-maker is dropping $850 million to scoop up Columbus Craft Meats.

The key to millennial shoppers' hearts? Craft salami.

At least that's part of the thinking behind an expensive new move by Hormel, which on Tuesday announced it will buy Columbus Craft Meats for $850 million.

Why?

Well for one, it beefs up (get it? har har har) Hormel's deli presence. Paired with Hormel's Applegate brand, the Austin-based company now has the turkeys and hams and chickens, plus salamis and other charcuterie. 

In addition, Columbus Craft Meats is targeted at millennials, said CEO Joe Ennen in Tuesday's announcement. 

That's become a pattern recently for Hormel, which has been adding brands and products that fit the "all-natural" and "health-conscious" labels young adult shoppers are drawn to.

Columbus meats have no artificial colors, flavors or trans fats, and everything except the honey mustard spread is gluten-free. The company is also working to ensure all the animals it gets meat from haven't been treated with antibiotics.

So yes, Hormel has the shelf staple Skippy peanut butter – but it also owns Justin's organic nut butter.

The processed (though pretty delish, based on our taste test) Spam isn't going anywhere – but the purchase of the all-natural, organic Applegate brand in 2015 gave Hormel access to a totally new type of customer.

Hormel actually owns 54 brands you have probably eaten, or at least seen in the store. Some have the Hormel name attached, others don't.

Wholly Guacamole? That's Hormel's.

Muscle Milk? Also Hormel's.

Del Fuerte, Valley Fresh, Cafe H, Di Lusso, Jennie-O ... all owned by Hormel.

And now you can add Columbus to the list.

Here's a telling explanation of the purchase from the Chicago Tribune's Greg Trotter.

"The deal reflects Big Food’s insatiable appetite for smaller, more premium food companies these days. Simply put, it’s easier to buy products that are marketed as natural or premium or authentic — all popular industry buzzwords these days — than it is to create them."

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