CAMDEN, N.J. — The Campbell Soup Co. has entered an agreement to acquire Bolthouse Farms for $1.55 billion from a fund managed by private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners.

“Bolthouse is a great strategic fit with Campbell,” said Denise Morrison, president and chief executive officer of Campbell. “Its business platforms, capabilities and culture are well aligned with the core growth strategies we announced last year. Its strong position in the high-growth packaged fresh category complements our chilled soup business in North America and offers exciting opportunities for expansion into adjacent packaged fresh segments that respond directly to powerful consumer trends.”

Campbell said the acquisition will provide the company with significant presence and a new platform for the growing market for packaged fresh foods. The addition of Bolthouse’s refrigerated beverages will complement the V8 business, and their position in fresh carrots also will provide an opportunity for growth in value-added products in healthy snacking.

Campbell plans to operate Bolthouse Farms as a separate business unit.

“We are delighted to be joining Campbell and its family of beloved brands,” said Jeff Dunn, president and c.e.o. of Bolthouse. “Campbell’s 140-plus year history of providing high-quality foods and beverages to consumers complements Bolthouse’s history of growth and innovation in fresh and packaged fresh foods. We are excited by the alignment between our strategic visions and the significant opportunities for accelerated growth for both companies.”

The transaction is expected to close in late summer, and Campbell expects the acquisition will add 5c to 7c per share to its adjusted net earnings before transaction costs in fiscal 2013.

Bolthouse Farms was founded in 1915, and is headquartered in Bakersfield, Calif. The company has annual sales of $689 million.