Hillshire Brands has confirmed Pilgrim’s Pride has increased its takeover bid for the US food group, following speculation earlier today (3 June).

In a statement this morning, Hillshire said Pilgrim’s Pride, which last week tabled a US$45-a-share bid, had upped its offer to $55 per share – beating an bid from rival meat processor Tyson Foods, tabled last week, of $50 per share.

Pilgrim’s new offer would value a transaction at US$7.7bn. Tyson’s bid valued Hillshire at $6.8bn.

Hillshire said today it would hold talks with Pilgrim’s and Tyson over their bids for the business.

However, the Jimmy Dean sausage and Sara Lee desserts maker said the offers are still “conditioned on the termination of the Pinnacle Foods merger agreement”.

Last month, Hillshire struck a proposed deal to buy another US food group, Pinnacle Foods, in a cash-and-shares transaction worth $6.6bn.

Hillshire said today: “Hillshire Brands does not have the right to terminate the Pinnacle Foods merger agreement on the basis of either of these proposals or enter into an alternative acquisition agreement with either of these parties prior to termination.

“The Hillshire Brands board of directors is not withdrawing, modifying, withholding or qualifying its recommendation with respect to the Pinnacle merger agreement and the merger, or proposing to do so, and is not making any recommendation with respect to either the Pilgrim’s Pride or Tyson Foods proposals,” it added.

Tyson Foods told just-food today (3 June) it was “aware of the new offer” but had “no comment” when asked if it would be increasing its bid.