Image: Golden Retriever
Orlin Wagner  /  AP file
A Golden Retriever named Jordan enjoys a Greenie, the nation's top-selling dog treat.
updated 4/13/2006 5:44:40 PM ET 2006-04-13T21:44:40

Mars Inc., maker of Snickers, Milky Way and M&M’s candies, is buying the manufacturer of the country’s best-selling dog treat.

Christopher Brandt, general counsel for S&M NuTec, a North Kansas City-based company that makes Greenies dog treats, and Alice Nathanson a spokeswoman for McLean, Va.-based Mars, said Thursday that the companies had signed an agreement for the acquisition.

The two privately held companies declined to comment on amount of the deal or give any details. It requires regulatory approval.

Mars already sells Whiskas and Pedigree branded pet food.

Greenies, a hard treat shaped like a bone on one end and a toothbrush on the other, is designed to help clean teeth and freshen breath. S&M NuTec, started in 1998 by Joe and Judy Roetheli, sold 315 million Greenies last year, far ahead of competitor Milk-Bone, according to marketing company Euromonitor International.

Del Monte Foods Co., one of the nation’s largest distributors of canned fruit and vegetables, said last month it acquired Milk-Bone and other brands from Kraft Foods Inc. for about $580 million.

Mars, with annual sales of more than $18 billion, said pet snacks is the fastest-growing segment in the industry.

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