ConAgra, Inc., (NYSE: CAG - news), one of the world's leading food companies, and Lightlife Foods, Inc., a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of premium vegetarian and soy products, today announced that ConAgra has purchased all assets of Lightlife. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Twenty-one-year-old Lightlife Foods is a leading refrigerated brand of vegetarian and soy-based food products in the United States. Lightlife manufacturers a variety of meatless products including hot dogs, burgers, deli slices, ground meat substitutes, as well as popular vegetarian items like tempeh and seitan.

"We are increasing our focus in this area because of consumer demand for healthful vegetable-based products," said Bruce Rohde, ConAgra chairman and chief executive officer. "The Lightlife acquisition is evidence of our commitment to serve the growing number of consumers who are looking for natural foods in their diets."

Driving this market are the health benefits of soy protein. In October 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized food manufacturers to include a health claim that reads "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease" on products that contain at least 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. More than 70 percent of Lightlife's products meet this criterion.

Lightlife Co-founder and President Chia Collins said, "Joining forces with ConAgra is very exciting for all of us at Lightlife, as it allows us to fully expand the growth potential of our products and our people. We are pleased to be a partner with a world-class food organization like ConAgra."

Michael Cohen, Lightlife chief executive officer and also a co-founder of the company, agreed, "ConAgra is the right fit since the company has broad resources to realize greater opportunities."

Lightlife's two-year-old manufacturing facility, which is included in the transaction, will continue to operate in Turners Falls with existing employees. The Lightlife group will report to Tim Harris, ConAgra's Refrigerated Prepared Foods president and chief operating officer.

ConAgra, Inc., ( a $25-billion-plus food company, is North America's largest foodservice manufacturer and second-largest retail food supplier. The company employs more than 80,000 people worldwide.

In 1988, ConAgra developed Healthy Choice®, a brand that brought the concept of healthy eating into the mainstream. Advantage\10, another ConAgra brand that was developed two years ago, is a full line of vegetarian foods and is endorsed by noted physician Dean Ornish, M.D.

Marketing such category leaders as Smart Dogs® and Tofu Pups® meatless franks, Smart Deli® slices, Smart Ground®, Gimme Lean® and Lightburgers, Lightlife Foods, Inc. ( is the leading supplier of refrigerated meat alternatives in the United States. Lightlife employs about 150 people.