ConAgra Foods, (NYSE: CAG), one of the world’s largest branded food companies, and Sigma Alimentos (Sigma), a leading Mexican refrigerated and frozen food marketer, announced yesterday creation of a frozen foods joint venture. ConAgra Foods is acquiring 50 percent of Sigma’s frozen prepared foods subsidiary, Sigma Alimentos Congelados, S.A. de C.V., as part of the joint venture. Sigma retains ownership of the other 50 percent. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The joint venture will market frozen prepared foods across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. ConAgra Foods will bring product development and manufacturing expertise and its American and Canadian distribution network to the joint venture. Sigma brings its Linares, Nuevo Leon, plant, authentic Mexican food formulation expertise, Mexican customer base and established Mexican and Central American distribution network.

The frozen prepared foods joint venture will manufacture, market and distribute Sigma’s Mexican frozen brands such as El Cazo Mexicano, Menu del Sol and Sugerencias del Chef products. El Cazo Mexicano is a market leading variety of authentic Mexican frozen prepared food in distribution throughout Mexico. Menu del Sol is a line of authentic Mexican food intended primarily for the American retail market. Sugerencias del Chef consists of pizzas and chicken nuggets, among other products, sold in Mexico’s retail and foodservice channels.

In addition to Sigma’s existing Mexican brands, the new joint venture company will market and distribute ConAgra Foods’ Banquet, Healthy Choice and Kid Cuisine products, as well as other ConAgra Foods’ frozen products, throughout Mexico and Central America.

Francisco Garza, chief executive officer, Sigma, said, “The joint venture with ConAgra Foods brings opportunities in the export market for Sigma, especially in the marketing of our Mexican frozen prepared foods in the United States and Canada. That represents a major step in our goal of creating more value for our shareholders by accelerating the development of this business.”

Dean Hollis, president and chief operating officer of ConAgra Frozen Prepared Foods, said, “Mexico and Central America are important strategic growth areas for ConAgra Frozen Prepared Foods. Partnering with Sigma provides a strong infrastructure to increase the distribution of ConAgra Frozen Prepared Foods brands in Mexico and Central America. In addition, Sigma’s manufacturing capabilities provide us the opportunity to bring authentic Mexican food products to our American and Canadian customers.”

Sigma, a subsidiary of Alfa, S.A. de C.V. is the leading Mexican refrigerated food company, operating in the Mexican processed meats, yogurt and cheese segments. In 2000, sales were $850 million and it had 12,000 employees. Sigma’s refrigerated distribution network is the largest in Mexico, consisting of 1,700 refrigerated trucks delivering its refrigerated and frozen products to its more than 170,000 customers twice a week. Sigma’s consumer brands include FUD, San Rafael, Tangamanga, Chimex, Viva, Iberomex and San Antonio processed meats, and Chalet and La Villita cheeses. The company is also the exclusive franchisee in Mexico of Yoplait yogurts. For more information, Sigma’s website is .

ConAgra Foods, Inc. is North America’s largest foodservice manufacturer and second largest retail food supplier, with annual sales in excess of $27 billion. ConAgra Foods’ consumer brands include: Hunt’s tomato products, Healthy Choice, Banquet meals, Armour meats, Bumble Bee tuna, Louis Kemp seafood, La Choy, Chun King, Lunch Makers, Wesson, Country Pride, Blue Bonnet, Kid Cuisine, Parkay, Reddi-wip, Marie Callender’s, Cook’s ham, Butterball, Act II, Slim Jim, Decker, Chef Boyardee, Orville Redenbacher’s, PAM Cooking Spray, Snack Pack puddings, Van Camp’s, Peter Pan, Hebrew National, Gulden’s mustard, Pemmican Jerky, Swift Brown ‘n Serve Sausages, Swiss Miss, and many others. ConAgra Frozen Prepared Foods, an operating company of ConAgra Foods, Inc., is a leader in frozen food, offering a wide variety of top brands including Healthy Choice, Banquet, Marie Callender’s, Kid Cuisine, La Choy, POGO, Wolfgang Puck, MaMa Rosa’s, The Max and Patio. For more information, please visit us at