TORONTO — SunOpta Inc. has signed definitive agreements to acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of Dahlgren & Company, Inc. for approximately $44 million, a move that is expected to create one of the largest confection sunflower businesses in the world, with vertically integrated operating capabilities via operations in North America and China. The transaction, which is expected to be completed today, is subject to normal post closing adjustments, plus an earn-out based on pre-determined targets over the next two years.

Founded in 1955 and based in Crookston, Minn., Dahlgren is an integrated processor and global supplier of confection sunflower seed products, including in-shell and kernel products, roasted sunflower and soy nuts, bird food, hybrid seed and other products. The company has four operating facilities in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, supported by a staff of approximately 150 employees.

Dahlgren serves a number of sectors, including the snack food, bakery, food ingredients and bird feed industries, and approximately 40% of its products are marketed to customers in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada and South America. The company has annual sales of about $80 million.

SunOpta said Dahlgren’s three owners — Thomas Miller, Charles Considine and Timothy Egeland — will remain with the business following the transaction.

“We are excited to be joining forces with SunOpta as we believe our companies have similar values, a common understanding of our markets and products, and a commitment to product innovation and customer service,” said Mr. Miller, chief executive officer of Dahlgren.

Allan Routh, president of the SunOpta Grains and Foods Group, added, “The acquisition provides our combined operations with the size and scale required to be a key player in growing domestic and international markets. We are very excited to add value and grow the sunflower business working with the Dahlgren team.”